Adelle Davis Revisited:
Vitamin B

"Be particularly careful to see that your diet is continuously adequate in the entire vitamin-B complex; choose 100% whole grain breads and cereals; eat rice germ and wheat germ; liver one or more times each week." _You Can Stay Well_, 1942

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Why the B vitamins are perhaps the most important single group of vitamins

Do not rely on pills; always accompany vitamin pills with natural B-rich foods

The ideal B vitamin pill is still incomplete

B-rich foods to enjoy, and B-robbers to shun!

B-rich Snacks

The B vitamins may be more important to your health than any others

Adelle Davis devotes not one, but eight entire chapters (8 through 16) in Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit to the B vitamins.

In her earlier (1948) work, Vitality Through Planned Nutrition, she devotes 5 chapters to the B vitamins, while giving one chapter to each of the other vitamins.


Many people who have a smattering of knowledge of nutrition take the so-called vitamin-B-complex capsules, thinking they supply all the B vitamins needed. At the present writing (1948) such capsules usually supply the minimum daily requirements of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, and an extremely small amount of pyridoxin. The equally important B vitamins, biotin, folic acid, para amino benzoic acid, cholin, and inositol, are not supplied. Research indicates that there are still more B vitamins not yet isolated. The only way to obtain all of the vitamins of the B group is from natural foods.
Vitality Through Planned Nutrition
, p. 191-2.

Reasons for using natural sources> Natural sources of the vitamin-B complex, such as liver and yeast, appear to contain all the vitamins of the group both known and unknown. Not all of these have been made chemically. There is much evidence that several others exist. These vitamins which have not been made chemically can come only from natural foods.
Vitality Through Planned Nutrition
, p. 180

The B vitamins appear to be needed equally by every cell in the body. For example, if a well-fed animal is killed and its tissues are analyzed separately, these vitamins are found to be evenly distributed throughout the tissues. Conversely, when animals are kept on a deficient diet, then killed, and separate tissues are analyzed, each tissue is uniformly deficient.

Most of the other vitamins are needed more by certain tissues than by others. Dr. Roger J. Williams has pointed out that because these vitamins are needed equally by all cells, a deficiency can produce severe damage before the condition can be noticed. The damage is nevertheless real. Instead of one organ showing abnormalities, as do the eyes during a vitamin-A deficiency, the entire body degenerates into a one-hoss-shay collapse. This overall abnormality is difficult to recognize in an adult, but severely stunted growth makes it markedly noticeable in the young.
Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit, p. 65.

Do not take B vitamins in pill form for more than a few months at most, and always take them together with B-rich foods

Virtually every time Adelle mentions a B vitamin supplement, she adds that one must always take them with natural sources (i.e., foods) rich in the B vitamins. This is for the reason that the B vitamins work together (synergistically), and if one gets a lot of a few B vitamins, they act without the missing B vitamins but increase the need for the missing ones, thereby creating a deficiency in the B vitamins missing from one's supplement. Further, it is probable that science has not yet discovered all of the B vitamins. Therefore, it makes sense to get one's B vitamins from food, not from pills, except under expert nutritional guidance, and then only for a limited period of time.

The "Ideal" B vitamin pill: ratios of B vitamins that should be in a B-vitamin supplement

If you require a short-term B vitamin supplement, the ingredients in that supplement should contain all of the known B vitamins, and in the right proportions as they are required by the body. Chapter 15 of Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit describes it thus:

"In case you take a tablet of mixed B vitamins, examine the label for the following: if your tablet supplies 2 milligrams of vitamin B1, it should also contain equal amounts, or 2 milligrams, of vitamins B2, B6, and folic acid; approximately 20 times more niacin amide, pantothenic acid, and PABA than B1, or 40 milligrams of each; 500 times more inositol and cholin, or 1,000 milligrams of each of these two. I know of no studies of the amount of biotin required. Only 1 to 3 micrograms of vitamin B12 appear to be needed daily."

In chart form, the ratio is thus:

1 part:
Folic acid

20 parts:
Niacin amide
Pantothenic acid

500 parts:

Plus 3 micrograms/day of B12, and "some" biotin

B-rich foods and B-robbers

For the last several decades, primarily since World War II, developed and developing countries of the world have become more and more dependant on white flour and white rice, not to mention the ever-expanding use of sugar in virtually all meals (restaurants and cook-book authors are even putting sugar into vegetable dishes and salads that include garlic!!! YUCKYYYYY!!).

The lucky few in the world are growing smaller and smaller, those who can get to health food stores, or whose town mill can grind its own grain and sell 100% whole wheat and whole grain products. More and more people now must survive on the stripped down white starch alone. This is because the giant mechanized food processors can make big bucks on white rice and white flour. Milling the grains removes the baby plant embryo, rich in protein and B vitamins, and leaves only the simple starch. These grains of denatured starch will not support life. Rats and pests cannot grow in them! Thus they are the perfect food for the manufacturers to store cheaply and indefinitely.

Along with white rice and products made from white flour, we are also consuming more and more alcohol, coffee, and black tea. Delicious as they may be, the now-constant, several-times-daily consumption of these non-foods causes the B vitamins to be used up in the body. If the B vitamins are not returned to the body through the diet, we end up in a state of deficiency in not just one but usually in several of the B vitamins. The body breaks down "like a one-hoss shay," different symptoms for each person, making B vitamin deficiencies very hard to diagnose.

Rich food sources of B vitamins are liver; wheat germ; rice polish; molasses; seeds -- sunflower, flax, sesame, especially, as well as the beans and legumes (lentils). Whole wheat and whole grain products also contain the complete spectrum of B vitamins, though less concentrated than in the germ. Almost every product that is made with flour can be found made of 100% whole wheat flour: pastas of all shapes and sizes, breads, pizza dough, pie crust, you name it. (It's amazing that whole wheat pasta can be cooked in very little water, then let it stand before serving to soak up the remaining water --- so the B vitamins are not thrown away with the cooking water.)

The best plan, it seems to me, is to just make a decision not to buy white rice, white flour products, or sugar or honey for a few weeks, until the adjustment is made. Buy only brown rice, whole grains, whole wheat flour, 100% whole grain boxed cereals (shredded wheat, grape nuts, etc.), and whole wheat pastas. For sweeteners, there are any number of sugarless jams sweetened only with fruit and grape juice, or using frozen concentrated orange and apple juice is also delicious, as is blackstrap molasses (organic only!) on some things. Better yet, after you've quit the sugar sickness, natural fresh fruit becomes DELICIOUSLY SWEET!!! You will find, with a good market, that you can locate fruit that is so sweet to your palate you won't need or crave any white sugar junk.

The simple starch of white grains turns so quickly into sugar in the body that there is an excess that then turns to fat. Whole grains do not turn as readily into sugar, but are digested much more slowly. Plus, they come already packed with B vitamins to replace the B's used as the body revs up from all those calories.

If you must use white rice, you can replace much of the B vitamins by simply sprinkling on a teaspoonful of wheat germ or wheat germ mixed with ground up sunflower, flax, and sesame seeds, into the pot of rice. Stir it into the rice and it won't even be noticed. Sometimes we use half white, half brown rice, which seems to cook faster than all brown rice. The ratio is 2/3 cup each of white and brown rice to 3 cups of water. Then, add a wee bit of wheat germ mix at the end to boost the loss from the white rice.

B-Rich Snacks

Whenever you're running out of energy, make yourself a B-rich snack, and let others watch out as you blaze around.

B-rich Drink

A mug of Trader Joe's organic, un-homogenized cream-top milk, heated 2 minutes in microwave, then a heaping tablespoon of raw wheat germ and a measured tablespoon of blackstrap molasses added. (Or, it seems much more energy-boosting to make a preparation of ground up raw sunflower seeds ~ grinding in a coffee grinder is fine ~ mixed 50-50 with raw wheat germ. This, and blackstrap molasses, really knox the sox off.

B-rich Cereal

A bowl of whole-grain cereal, such as shredded wheat, grape nuts, grape nuts flakes, weetabix, instant oat flakes, or any 100% whole grain cereal with no sugar added. To this add a spoonful or so of the above wheat germ-ground-sunflower-seeds mixture you've made by blending up sunflower (and maybe sesame seeds and flax seeds) together in the blender or coffee grinder. Pour good milk on, such as Trader Joe's 100% grass fed milk (their Cream Top Organic milk), and sweeten with organic blackstrap molasses.

Plain yogurt with fruit-sweetened toppings

Plain yogurt with sugarless jam (fruit sugars OK!) or orange juice concentrate for sweeteners, if you need it sweet, followed by a glass of milk to give the yogurt something to grow on in your digestive system

Usually, these snacks bring on excellent energy within a short time. But on occasion, one becomes quite sleepy. I take this as a sign that I need a nap, and the B vitamins made me feel that need, whereas without them, I was just in stress mode.

Other B-rich Snacks

AkMak crackers with tahini, or nut butters
A tiny bowl of wheat germ with milk and molasses
Sunflower seeds, best raw
Raw pumpkin seeds, dry-fried to pop them, then sprinkled with soy sauce while hot
Whole grain breads and crackers

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Adelle's Book
Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit


NEWS ITEM: The Adelle Davis Foundation will be re-publishing Adelle's books in the not-too-distant future. We are soooo happy! A whole generation of people has not heard of her work, due to the demise of the Health Food Movement in the early 1970's.

Adelle's advice for people taking radiation treatments


Acid: a substance or chemical that has a high number of electrons in the outer shell, which gives the substance certain reactive properties; capable of combining with a base to produce a salt

ALERT: abbreviation for Adelle's book Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit

Alkaline: also called a base; a substance or chemical that has a low number of electrons in the outer shell, which gives the substance certain reactive properties; it is capable of combining with an acid to produce a salt

Amino Acids: An amphoteric organic amino acid containing the amino group NH2: esp: any of the alpha-amino acids that are the chief components of proteins and are synthesized by living cells or are obtained as essential components of the diet. They are the building blocks of protein. Amino acids contain nitrogen, unlike other foods. There are 22 kinds of amino acids. Thousands of kinds of proteins can be made from these 22 amino acids. (See "Essential Amino Acids" below.)

Atom: the basic unit of matter, generally thought to be composed of three kinds of smaller particles (protons, neutrons, and electrons), the number of the particles in the atom determining the observable properties that that substance has; generally, the nucleus of the atom is made of protons and neutrons, while the much smaller electrons orbit around the nucleus, one electron for each proton, in an arrangement of spherical shells, or so it has been conceived in the past; there are only about 100 different kinds of atoms in the universe, numbering from 1 (which is hydrogen, having one proton and one electron) to Lawrencium (having 103 protons and electrons) (See "Elements" below.)

Beriberi: a disease caused by B-vitamin deficiencies, marked by inflammatory or degenerative changes of the nerves, digestive system, and heart caused largely by a lack of, or inability to assimilate, the B vitamin thiamine, as well as other B vitamins

Bioflavonoids: Ketone derivatives that occur in many parts of primroses and other plants, and which enhance the activity of Vitamin C in humans; sometimes used as dyestuffs

Calorie: 1. One of two recognized units of heat. The large or great calorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water 1 degree Centigrade. The small calorie is the amount of heat required to raise one gram of water 1 degree Centigrade. 2. Physiol. The large calorie, a measure of the energy value of foods or the heat output of organisms./ An amount of food having an energy-producing value of one large calorie.

Carbohydrates: Sugars, starches and cellulose; compounds containing carbon combined with hydrogen and oxygen, which break apart to release quick energy

Chemical: a substance derived by chemical processes, or used to create something through chemical processes; a chemical is usually composed of just one kind of molecule, or a specific blend of several kinds of molecules in specific proportions

Complete Protein: A protein food that contains all 8 essential amino acids, and thus is capable of supporting life if no other protein source is consumed.

Compound: a mixture of chemicals; also called a "chemical compound"

Element: a substance composed of just one kind of atom; look up "element" in your dictionary for a list of them; they can be gaseous, liquid or solid; there are 102 different kinds of elements, at last count.

Emulsified: when a substance has been blended into another substance in an emulsion

Emulsion: a combination of two liquids that normally will not mix, accomplished by breaking up one liquid into extremely tiny particles that remain suspended in the other liquid; most commonly, a combination of an oil or fat in a water-based liquid; oil-based vitamins are often treated this way in hopes they will be better absorbed in the digestive tract

Essential Amino Acids: Of the 22 amino acids, all but 8 can be manufactured in the body. These 8 amino acids must be obtained from foods; thus they are termed "essential." They are tryptophane, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, valine, leucine, and isoleucine. Two more are sometimes essential to children: histidine and arginine. The proteins of beans (legumes) and grains have complementary essential amino acids, and when the two foods are eaten together, the resulting protein provides all 8 essential amino acids.

Essential Fatty Acids ("EFA's"): Fatty acids that the body cannot produce, and which are extremely important for myriad health processes. There are two types of EFA's: Omega-3 and Omega-6. They cannot be interchanged in the body. Omega-3's come largely from the green parts of plants (especially grass eaten by ruminants) but including some seeds, and the sea plankton eaten by fish. Omega-6's come from many seeds of plants and animals that eat them. Today, with most of our food animals being fed corn and other grains, Americans are extremely high in Omega-6's and deficient in Omega-3's, which can cause major health disorders. Many, many nutritionists are recommending supplementing the diet with Omega-3 EFA's as a preventative measure for myriad diseases. This was research that was just beginning to come to the public's attention in the 1980's; before that time, Adelle Davis was seeing the very earliest research when she commented on the linoleic, linolenic, and arachnidonic EFA's.

Fatty Acids: Any of numerous saturated aliphatic monocarboxylic acids, including many that occur naturally, usually in the form of esters in fats, waxes, and essential oils; any of the saturated or unsaturated monocarboxylic acids (as palmitic acid) usually with an even number of carbon atoms that occur naturally in the form of glycerides in fats and fatty oils

Gram: a unit of measurement of weight; about 454 grams ("g") equal one pound. About 28 grams equal one ounce. In measuring vitamins, 1/1000th of a gram is a milligram, written "mg"

Hypervitaminosis D: "chronically elevated, >70 ng/ml, levels of 25(OH)D, caused by supplementation and/or UV-B light exposure whether from sunlight or UV-B lamps" [Krispin Sullivan]

Iodide: any of several compounds containing iodine, artifically added to salt to prevent goiter, an enlarging of the thyroid gland of the throat due to deficiency of iodine; Adelle believed strongly in using real sea salt, or iodized salt

Iodine: chemical element number 53, using the symbol "I"; needed by the thyroid glands to produce the hormone thyroxin, which profoundly regulates growth and metabolism; certain soils that were once under the ocean (along the Atlantic Coast, and parts of Kansas, South Dakota, Utah, western Texas and New Mexico) have enough iodine to produce foods of adequate iodine content --- elsewhere, the only reliable sources are sea foods including ocean fish including shellfish, kelp of all kinds, and real sea salt (ALERT p. 181)

I.u.: International Units, a unit of measurement for oil-based vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E. One milligram (mg) of vitamin A equates to 4,000 to 6,000 international units (i.u.)

Mg: Milligram, one one-thousandth of a gram

Mineral: homogeneous substance composed of molecules made of a combination of several elements, usually in solid and/or rock form, often as crystals, generally found in the ground and sea water (which contains all of the elements on Earth); when nutritionists speak of "minerals" they usually mean elements, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, many others; this website will use the term "mineral elements" for such chemicals

Nanogram: (ng): one billionth of a gram, the unit used to measure vitamin D in the body's blood and tissue, as nanograms per milliliter ~ ng/ml

Nutrient: a general term for any substance in foods, or added to foods, that promotes health in describable ways

Organic: Adelle writes, "grown on humus-rich soil without the addition of artificial fertilizers" and in her day, the term "organic" meant food grown to be vibrantly health-promoting, full of life, close to nature, and all the indefineables we all know mean naturally grown on rich soil, managed by good farmers who keep down pests through their expertise and skills; in chemistry, the term "organic" simply means molecules that contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which all life is largely composed of; today, states and countries define the term differently, but it usually means food that does not have added artificial chemicals of any kind; such a term says little or nothing about the vibrancy of life in the food

Pellagra: a disease caused by a multiple B-vitamin deficiency, marked by dermatitis, gastrointestinal disorders, and central nervous system symptoms, and associated with a diet deficient in niacin, protein and other B vitamins (See "Beriberi" above.)

Protein: Unlike other living molecules, proteins contain nitrogen. They are made from "Amino Acids" (q.v.); there are thousands of kinds of proteins. The body is built largely of proteins. Therefore, meat, fish, milk, cheese, and eggs are excellent sources of protein.

Retinol: the original "vitamin A," which is the unadulterated compound found in animal fats, especially liver

Salt: the word itself is cognate to the Greek hals, meaning both "salt" and "sea"; sodium chloride, or "table salt", is just one type of salt, which generally means a residue left over from the evaporation of a large amount of water.

Sea salt: as a food labelling term, this means any kind of salt derived from the sea, even pure sodium chloride; usually this product has added iodide to protect against goiter, and some other chemical to keep it from attracting moisture. The term was popularized during the Health Food Movement when people made real sea salt by evaporating sea water and keeping all the crystals and compounds that were formed; the salts thus obtained are composed of all the numerous mineral elements on Earth, in proportions needed by the body (mineral elements occur in the blood in almost the identical proportions in which they occur in sea water). Ironically, there is more iodine in real sea salt than in the commercial product, and in its natural form. Yet the FDA has decreed that real sea salt must be labelled with the repelling words: "Does not contain iodide, a necessary nutrient." Currently we have not found any way to determine from the label whether anything called "sea salt" contains the numerous elements of the ocean, or only sodium chloride. Real sea salt (we make our own) is gray and stays moist due to its power to attract water from the air. Any salt that does not get wet has an added chemical, not required to be identified on the label.

Synergistic: When compound (or muscle) enhances the effectiveness of another compound (or muscle); compounds that work together in the body, an absence of one can cause inefficiency of the others; an oversupply of one or more synergistic compounds can cause a deficiency in the others; pertains especially to the B vitamins

Unit: International Unit, or iu: a unit of measurement for oil-based vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E. One milligram (mg) of vitamin A equates to 4,000 to 6,000 international units (i.u.)

Vitamin: literally means simply "life-giving"; a man-made chemical or naturally-occurring compound derived from foods, plants, or animals, that is essential to human health

Vitamin A: Fat-soluble vitamin obtained largely from animal sources (IF the animal is allowed to eat green plants, not grains, a rarity in the US today); the absence of vitamin A results in hardening (keratinizing) of the mucous membranes

Vitamin B: Water-soluble vitamin complex found especially in the germs of seeds, in yeasts, liver, and vegetables that have varied metabolic functions and include coenzymes and growth factors; the B vitamins work synergistically, and a deficiency of one or some may bring about deficiencies in others

Vitamin C: Water-soluble vitamin found largely in fruits and leafy vegetables, or made synthetically; absence of vitamin C causes scurvy, a breakdown of the cell walls of the body's cells; vitamin C detoxifies toxins in the body, and is used in food preparation to prevent destruction by oxygen

Vitamin D: Fat-soluble vitamins chemically related to steroids, essential for normal bone and tooth structure, and found esp. in fish-liver oils, egg yolk (from naturally-raised chickens), and milk (from grass-fed cows), or produced by activation (as by ultraviolet irradiation) of sterols: as vitamin D2, an alcohol usually prepared by irradiation of ergosterol and used as a dietary supplement in nutrition and medicinally in the control of rickets and related disorders, called also calciferol, or vitamin D3, an alcohol that is the predominating form of vitamin D in most fish-liver oils and is formed in the skin on exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays

Vitamin E: Fat-soluble vitamins that are chemically tocopherols, are essential in vertebrates for fertility, preventing muscle degeneration and vascular abnormalities; found especially in leaves and in seed germ oils; used chiefly in animal feeds and as antioxidants

Vitamin G: Riboflavin, one of the B vitamins

Vitamin H: Biotin, one of the B vitamins

Vitamin K: Two fat-soluble vitamins essential for blood clotting because they promote the production of prothrombin; can be produced in the intestine when yogurt is consumed

Vitamin P: Bioflavonoids; enhance the activity of vitamin C

Water-Miscible: a vitamin or other substance, normally not able to mix with water, that is altered to be able to be mixed into water without separating out; water-miscible vitamin A is ten times more toxic than oil-based vitamin A

Wheat Germ: Every seed has an embryo plant inside it called the "germ." It is the part that grows to become the new plant. This embryo is full of vitamins and protein. Since growing cells need B vitamins, the germ is rich in B vitamins. The germ is ground off and sold separately (sometimes it is given away) when wheat and rice are milled. The rest of the wheat and rice grain is mostly pure starch, without many B vitamins.

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