There are certainly indications that
vitamins and other micronutrients do more than just prevent deficiency
diseases, which is how the medical profession has viewed the science
of nutrition to date. Vitamins, together with penicillin, helped
create an era of miraculous cures for medical science. Simply by
improving the diet to ensure adequate intakes of specific vitamins,
such serious deficiency syndromes as scurvy, beriberi, rickets and
pellagra have today become quite rare in developed countries. Our
immune system is also compromised by certain vitamin deficiencies.
Vitamin A deficiency has been found in patients with low numbers of
circulating lymphocytes (the immune system which can detect cancer
cells). Vitamin C deficiency impairs protein synthesis and all the
cells of the immune system operate below par (smoking destroys vitamin
C, adding insult to injury). Wound healing is delayed in the absence
of sufficient vitamin C. Lack of iron, folic acid, zinc, riboflavin
(B2), niacin (B3) and magnesium also significantly depresses our
immune defenses. The last three are essential for making antibodies.
For many years, doctors, scientists and governments have been trying
to determine the amounts of vitamins and minerals that are needed in
the human diet.