This section of the book is from the "How and When to Be Your Own Doctor" book, by Dr. Isabelle A. Moser with Steve Solomon, published in 1997.
From The Hygienic Dictionary
Vitamins.  The staple foods may not contain the same nutritive substances as in former times. . . . Chemical fertilizers, by increasing the abundance of the crops without replacing all the exhausted elements of the soil, may have indirectly contributed to change the nutritive value of cereal grains and of vegetables. . . . Hygienists have not paid sufficient attention to the genesis of diseases. Their studies of conditions of life and diet, and of their effects on the physiological and mental state of modern man are superficial, incomplete, and of too short duration. They have, thus, contributed to the weakening of our body and our soul.Alexis Carrel, Man the Unknown.
I have already explained the hygienist's view of why people get sick. The sequence of causation goes: enervation, toxemia, alternative elimination, disease. However, there is one more link in this chain, a precursor to enervation that, for good and understandable reasons, seemed unknown to the earlier hygienists. That precursor is long term sub-clinical malnutrition. Lack of nutrition effects virtually everybody today. Almost all of us are overfed but undernourished.
I have already explained that one particular head of broccoli does not necessarily equal another head of broccoli; the nutritional composition of apparently identical foods can be highly variable. Not only do different samples of the same type of food differ wildly in protein content, amino acid ratios and mineral content, their vitamin and vitamin-like substances also vary according to soil fertility and the variety grown.
These days, food crop varieties are bred for yield and other commercial considerations, such as shipability, storage life, and ease of processing. In pre-industrial times when each family propagated its own unique open-pollinated varieties, a natural selection process for healthy outcomes prevailed. If the family's particular, unique varieties carried genes for highly nutritious food, and if the family's land was fertile enough to allow those genes to manifest, and if the family kept up its land's fertility by wise management, their children tended to survive the gauntlet of childhood illness and lived to propagate the family's varieties and continue the family name. Thus, over time, human food cultivars were selected for their nutritional content.
But not any longer! These days, farming technology with its focus on bulk yield and profit, degrades the nutritional content of our entire food supply. Even commercial organically grown food is no better in this respect.
Sub-clinical, life-long, vitamin and mineral deficiencies contribute to the onset of disease; the malnourished body becomes increasingly enervated, beginning the process of disease. Vitamin supplements can increase the body's vital force, reversing to a degree the natural tendency towards degeneration. In fact, some medical gerontologists theorize that by using vitamins it might be possible to restore human life span to its genetically programmed 115 years without doing anything else about increasing nutrition from our degraded foods or paying much attention to dietary indiscretions. Knowing what I do about toxemia's effects I doubt vitamins can allow us to totally ignore what we eat, though supplements can certainly help.
More than degraded nutritional content of food prompts a thinking person to use food supplements. Our bodies and spirits are constantly assaulted and insulted by modern life in ways our genetics never intended us to deal with. Today the entire environment is mildly toxic. Air is polluted; water is polluted; our food supply contains traces of highly poisonous artificial molecules that our bodies have no natural ability to process and eliminate. Our cities and work places are full of loud, shocking noises that trigger frequent adrenaline rushes and other stress adaptations. Our work places are full of psychological stresses that humans never had to deal with before.
Historically, humans who were not enslaved have been in control of determining their own hour to hour, day to day activities, living on their own largely self-sufficient farms. The idea of working for another, at regular hours, without personal liberty, ignoring or suppressing one's own agenda and inclinations over an entire lifetime is quite new and not at all healthy. It takes continual subconscious applications of mental and psychic energies to protect ourselves against the stresses of modern life, energies that we don't know we're expending. This is also highly enervating. Thus to remain healthy we may need nutrition at levels far higher than might be possible through eating food; even ideal food might not contain enough vitamins to sustain us against the strains and stresses of this century.
And think about Dr. Pottenger's cats. Our bodies are at the poorer end of a century-long process of mass degeneration that started with white flour from the roller mill. Compared to my older clients I have noticed that my younger patients seem to possess less vital force on the average, show evidence of poorer skeletal development, have poorer teeth, less energy, have far more difficulty breeding and coping with their family life, and are far more likely to develop degenerative conditions early. Most of my younger patients had a poor start because they were raised on highly refined, devitalized, deficient foods, and grew up without much exercise. Their parents had somewhat better food. Some of their grandparents may have even grown up on raw milk and a vegetable garden, and actually had to walk, not owning cars when they were young. Their great grandparents had a high likelihood of enjoying decent nutrition and a healthful life-style.
Unfortunately, most of my patients like the idea of taking vitamins too much for their own good. The AMA medical model has conditioned people to swallow something for every little discomfort, and taking a pill is also by far the easiest thing to do because a pill requires no life-style changes, nor self-discipline, nor personal responsibility. But vitamins are much more frugal than drugs. Compared to prescriptions, even the most exotic life extension supplements are much less expensive. I am saddened when my clients tell me they can't afford supplements. When their MD prescribes a medicine that costs many times more they never have trouble finding the money.
I am also saddened that people are so willing to take supplements, because I can usually do a lot more to genuinely help their bodies heal with dietary modification and detoxification. Of all the tools at my disposal that help people heal, last in the race comes supplements.
One of the best aspects of using vitamins as though they were healing agents is that food supplements almost never have harmful side effects, even when they are taken in what might seem enormous overdoses. If someone with a health condition reads or hears about some vitamin being curative, goes out and buys some and takes it, they will at very least have followed the basic principle of good medicine: first of all do no harm. At worst, if the supplements did nothing for them at all, they are practicing the same kind of benevolent medicine that Dr. Jennings did almost two centuries ago. Not only that, but having done something to treat their symptoms, they have become patients facilitating their own patience, giving their body a chance to correct its problem. They well may get better, but not because of the action of the particular vitamin they took. Or, luckily, the vitamin or vitamins they take may have been just what was needed, raising their body's vital force and accelerating the body's ability to solve its problem.
One reason vitamin therapies frequently do not work as well as they might is that, having been intimidated by AMA propaganda that has created largely false fears in the public mind about harmful effects of vitamin overdoses, the person may not take enough of the right vitamin. The minimum daily requirements of vitamins and minerals as outlined in nutrition texts are only sufficient to prevent the most obvious forms of deficiency diseases. If a person takes supplements at or near the minimum daily requirement (the dose recommended by the FDA as being 'generally recognized as safe') they should not expect to see any therapeutic effect unless they have scurvy, beri beri, rickets, goiter, or pellagra.
In these days of vitamin-fortified bread and iodized salt, and even vitamin C fortified soft drinks, you almost never see the kind of life-threatening deficiency states people first learned to recognize, such as scurvy. Sailors on long sea voyages used to develop a debilitating form of vitamin C deficiency that could kill. Scurvy could be quickly cured by as little as one lime a day. For this reason the British Government legislated the carrying of limes on long voyages and today that is why British sailors are still called limeys. A lime has less than 30 milligrams of vitamin C. But to make a cold clear up faster with vitamin C a mere 30 mg does absolutely nothing! To begin to dent an infection with vitamin C takes 10,000 milligrams a day, and to make a life threatening infection like pneumonia go away faster might require 25,000 to 150,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily, administered intravenously. In terms of supplying that much C with limes, that's 300 to 750 of them daily--clearly impossible.
Similarly, pellagra can be cured with a few milligrams of vitamin B 3, but schizophrenia can sometimes be cured with 3,000 milligrams, roughly a thousand times as much as the MDR.
There are many many common diseases that the medical profession does not see as being caused by vitamin deficiencies. Senility and many mental disorders fall in this category. Many old people live on extremely deficient diets comprised largely of devitalized starches, sugars, and fats, partly because many do not have good enough teeth to chew vegetables and other high roughage foods, and they do not have the energy it takes to prepare more nourishing foods. Virtually all old people have deficiency diseases. As vital force inevitably declines with age, the quantity and quality of digestive enzymes decreases, then the ability to breakdown and extract soluble nutrients from food is diminished, frequently leading to serious deficiencies. These deficiencies are inevitably misdiagnosed as disease and as aging.
Suppose a body needs 30 milligrams a day of niacin to not develop pellagra, but to be fully healthy, needs 500 milligrams daily. If that body receives 50 milligrams per day from a vitamin pill, to the medical doctor it could not possibly be deficient in this vitamin. However, over time, the insidious sub-clinical deficiency may degrade some other system and produce a different disease, such as colitis. But the medical doctor sees no relationship. Let me give you an actual example. Medical researchers studying vitamin B 5 or pantothenic acid noticed that it could, in what seemed to be megadoses (compared to the minimum daily requirement) largely reverse certain degenerative effects of aging. These researchers were measuring endurance in rats as it decreased through the aging process. How they made this measurement may appear to some readers to be heartless, but the best way to gauge the endurance of a rat is to toss it into a five gallon bucket of cold water and see how long it swims before it drowns. Under these conditions, the researcher can be absolutely confident that the rat does its very best to stay alive.
Young healthy rats can swim for 45 minutes in 50° Fahrenheit water before drowning. Old rats can only last about 15 minutes. And old rats swim differently, less efficiently, with their lower bodies more or less vertical, sort of dog paddling. But when old rats were fed pantothenic acid at a very high dose for a few weeks before the test, they swam 45 minutes too. And swam more efficiently, like the young rats did. More interestingly, their coats changed color (the gray went away) and improved in texture; they began to appear like young rats. And the rats on megadoses of B 5 lived lot longer--25 to 33 percent longer than rats not on large doses of B 5. Does that mean "megadoses" of B 5 have an unknown drug-like effect? Or does that mean the real nutritional requirement for B 5 is a lot higher than most people think? I believe the second choice is correct. To give you an idea of how much B 5 the old rats were given in human terms, the FDA says the minimum daily requirement for B 5 is about 10 milligrams but if humans took as much B 5 as the rats, they would take about 750 milligrams per day. Incidentally, I figure I am as worthy as any lab rat and take over 500 milligrams daily.
My point is that there is a big difference between preventing a gross vitamin deficiency disease, and using vitamins to create optimum functioning. Any sick person or anyone with a health complaint needs to improve their overall functioning in any way that won't be harmful over the long term. Vitamin therapy can be an amazingly effective adjunct to dietary reform and detoxification.
Some of the earlier natural hygienists were opposed to using vitamins. However, these doctors lived in an era when the food supply was better, when mass human degeneration had not proceeded as far as it has today. From their perspective, it was possible to obtain all the nutrition one needed from food. In our time this is unlikely unless a person knowingly and intelligently produces virtually all their own food on a highly fertile soil body whose fertility is maintained and adjusted with a conscious intent to maximize the nutritive content of the food. Unfortunately, ignorance of the degraded nature of industrial food seems to extend to otherwise admirable natural healing methods such as Macrobiotics and homeopathy because these disciplines also downplay any need for food supplementation.