I went to the dentist a fortnight ago and he was coughing. I had to return to the dentist a fortnight later and he was still coughing! After a tussle with myself, I decided to suggest that taking a decent zinc would help his clearly feeble immune system regain some oomph. He informed me that taking too much zinc is not good for you and that he took his Berocca. I bet he does. And it clearly works at tickling his sweet taste buds but not much else. I have had short term clients earnestly inform me that they take their Berocca – often before downing a bottle of wine. I really am not joking. A sweet fizzy drink that brags it contains
essential nutrients that work in synergy to help those with hectic lifestyles be at their best.1
Well, my dentist was not at his best. If we should catch a cold, the wretched thing should go away in a fairly short space of time, leaving us cough and snot free. This is what having an immune system means.
I felt very sad when my dentist was worried about taking too much zinc. This seems to be a reason to take either no zinc – or the very little, inferior form of zinc, such as found in Berocca. The zinc in our soil has been leached away: as already blogged on, these days we have to eat 30 cabbages to get the same nutrition as we got from one cabbage in 1914. And people worry about overdosing on a nutrient when taken in supplement form. 2 Or fondly believe that they get all their nutrition from the food and those flying pigs.
I woke this morning to the news broadcast telling me that Britain’s most senior medical adviser says that the rise in drug resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency akin to a major flu pandemic and so on. Where has our immune system gone to?
Berocca is not the worst vitamin supplement on the supermarket shelves. It contains vitamin C, a variety of the B vitamins, including the stress buster, B5 or pantothenic acid, magnesium and zinc. The vitamins and minerals are not especially bio-available, but they could be worse, for example the zinc is zinc citrate which is better than zinc oxide but not a patch on zinc sulphate for example.3 Berocca also contains about five different sugar substitutes, some very controversial, like aspartame and acesulfame potassium. It is cleverly designed, clearly sweet and also made to have a good mouth feel. I suppose it can be likened to Yakult or Benecol. Great claims are made for feeble products. Are they better than taking nothing? Probably. But we are talking a very small positive effect here – akin to farting against a hurricane. 4 Are they designed to tickle our taste buds whilst giving us an illusion of curing all our ills? Kerching.
Charles Poliquin does an extraordinarily effective version of Vitamin C, called Uber C. Uber C is available in both pill and powder form. Its predecessor, in powder form, tasted wonderful. A supplement to take with joy. And then he updated his product because he’d found a way to make it more effective. I ordered it, and, with taste buds already watering had my first glass. Oh, it tasted awful. Really bitter. What a disappointment. I did actually take it up with him, only to be blasted across the room since the new one works much better. What do we want from our supplements? Effectiveness or a diddled with taste bud?
The moral of the story: if we frequently catch colds or find the aftermath of a cold goes on for weeks, this has to equate to an immune system of a geriatric on a cruise-ship. Some of the major nutrients that build the immune system are zinc, vitamin D, glutamine and vitamin C and methylated folate. There are others that help the immune system in crisis. And, to be honest, a well functioning immune system is a sign of a well functioning body which will have good levels of all the nutrients, since synergy is indeed the key, as the quote from Berocca rightly says. So next time the cough suppressant is reached for or we trail off to the docs feeling all sorry for ourselves and hoping for some anti-biotics to do what our immune system should have done, take it as a warning sign. Wake up and smell the Uber C or buy shares in hospital beds.
- Google Berocca and this is under their website listing. [↩]
- The one exception to the rule of overdosing is Vitamin A, which should be treated with respect to avoid liver damage. But other favourite vitamins to be given a good finger-wagging warning about over dose, like vitamin D, can be taken in high dose with little fear of overdoing it. Partly because the nutrient is missing from the food chain (or sky when it comes to D) and partly because our guts are in such a weak mess, that our uptake of nutrients is low. [↩]
- Minerals in liquid form have a better uptake than minerals in solid form. In fact an even better form of zinc, for example, is zinc orotate. This is because minerals are best combined with a protein, which is how they arrive in the body from food. ‘Ah Ha’, says the gut. ‘I recognise this stuff, and boy, do I need it!’ [↩]
- Farting against a hurricane is a favourite expression of Charles Poliquin when talking about weak products. [↩]