Getting the Right Parts: Understanding Orthomolecular Nutrition

Two-time Nobel Prize winner, Dr Linus Pauling coined the term “orthomolecular nutrition” in 1968 to help express the concept that disease is greatly affected by nutrition. The word ortho is Greek, meaning “correct” or “right.” The entire phrase refers to the right molecules being provided through nutrition. Orthomolecular nutrition also refers to the wrong molecules because certain foods (especially highly refined and processed foods) provide materials which have a negative impact on health.As much of the food eaten today is processed and grown in nutritionally depleted soils, orthomolecular nutrition calls for a heightened awareness of the foods we eat and their true nutritional value. Highly processed foods can be refined to the point where the critical nutrients, found in the food’s original form, are completely removed. Occasionally, these missing nutrients are “fortified” with chemically synthesized equivalents but are not likely to include the myriad phytochemicals which may be required for maximum benefit in the body.Orthomolecular nutrition is not something to be applied sporadically. Nutritional deficiencies can build up for months, and even years, before the body expresses any symptoms of malfunction. Likewise, the improvement of nutrition (including the limitation or elimination of harmful foods) requires consistency and time before the full benefits can be recognized. Nutritional requirements vary greatly from one person to the next because each person has a unique body, physiology, environment, diet and lifestyle. So-called Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) have been established to indicate the average daily intake for an individual nutrient necessary to prevent a serious nutritional deficiency disease. However, the RDA does not account for how much of a particular nutrient is necessary for optimal function and optimal health.Western Medicine and orthomolecular nutrition are not in opposition to each other. For trauma care, Western medicine practices are regularly responsible for miracles and saved lives. Orthomolecular nutrition is the other side of “the coin” in that it is intended to focus on supporting correct physiological function. For example, folic acid is now recommended by physicians to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy. This does not make folic acid “alternative medicine,” but rather recognizes it as essential, and more so in women during pregnancy. By simply recognizing that the body needs the correct parts to function normally, further study simply improves the understanding of specific areas in biology where specific nutrients are critically important.Orthomolecular nutrition is a fancy phrase, but the concept behind it is simple: you are what you eat. Decide today if you want to be made from high quality parts or low quality parts, and make your dietary choices based on that decision.

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