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 »  Home  »  Health News Index  »  Nutrition & Health  »  Beware — Food is Your Medicine, Not Supplements
Beware — Food is Your Medicine, Not Supplements
by Joseph Mercola, D.O. | Published  8/24/2004 | Nutrition & Health | Rating:
Joseph Mercola, D.O.

Dr. Mercola is a licensed Osteopathic physician and board-certified in family medicine. He served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center for five years and has been trained in both traditional and natural medicine. Dr. Mercola has been practicing natural medicine actively since 1990 and is the publisher of www.mercola.com, the most visited health site on the internet. 

View all articles by Joseph Mercola, D.O....
Use Food, Not Supplements
Despite the known health benefits of folate, researchers say caution is needed in regard to folate supplements.

Folate in its true natural form can be obtained from fresh vegetables, but it can also be found in its synthetic form in supplements and processed foods. This form, called pteroylmonoglutamate (PGA), does not occur in nature and is both cheap and stable--unlike most native forms of the vitamin.

It is a known fact that folate is good for you. However many people take folate in its supplement form or by consuming it in processed foods. Researchers do not know the long-term effects of the synthetic form when consumed this way and suggest the best way to get folate is through natural food.

Folate is known to help treat a broad range of diseases, such as cancer, vascular disease, birth defects, complications of pregnancy and deficiencies in B vitamins.

January 24, 2004;328:211-214 (Free Full Text Article)

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

Around 2,500 years ago, Hippocrates first popularized the "food as medicine" concept, which, unfortunately, fell into obscurity by the 19th century. The first 50 years of the 20th century saw the discovery of the essential elements and vitamins, particularly in the context of deficiency diseases. This led to "enrichment" of processed foods to help people regain the health they lost when they abandoned real whole foods. The article above greatly expands on that concept.

Unfortunately, its foundation is seriously flawed. The answer in no way, shape or form involves the wide scale supplementation of dead and denatured foods. The real solution to the epidemic of chronic degenerative disease in the world is to establish new and improved food distribution systems that allow the regular consumer to obtain whole foods of high quality at a reasonable price. It is only unprocessed foods that contain all the perfect nutrients, in the proper concentrations, with the essential cofactors that will reverse and treat the disease. Relying on supplements to perform this miracle is idealistic fantasy.

Ideally, folic acid is best obtained by the consistent intake of large amounts of high-quality, fresh, uncooked vegetables. Nearly everyone would benefit from eating as many vegetables as possible within the allowances of their metabolic type. An easy and enjoyable way to consume your raw vegetables on a daily basis is vegetable juicing. It is an important tool because it allows us to radically increase the amount of vegetables we are able to consume.

The following table lists the folic acid content of some popular vegetables

(1/2 cup cooked unless otherwise indicated)
Folate Content
Avocado, 1/2 raw56
Mustard greens51
Brussels sprouts46
Endive, 1/2 cup raw36
Sweet Potato25
Turnip Greens32
Acorn squash11

The bottom line on this is don't be fooled by cheap substitutes. You need to get your supplements from foods, not pills, and if you chose to do otherwise beware of the unforeseen consequences.

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