Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I would like to do a little bit of nagging today in my post. Usually when I speak on this subject I have to post about, people start to look around and say "yeah, yeah, yeah". Here in this forum---you can't do that. Though you can just switch to another web site :-)

My subject of choice today is vitamin deficiencies and human health. Let me bore you by starting near the beginning of understanding for us--- and I will try and keep it somewhat short since I believe I have posted on this a bit already.

When we began to raise our cows and sheep we, because of one of our black cows turning red, realized we had a problem with copper deficiency on our property. Now as we have been told over and over again----sheep do not need copper so we were NOT suppose to worry about them and just treat the cow. However, during research into this subject (I am not one to accept the first explanation someone gives me) I found that, through soil testing, it was actually the health of my soil that was affecting the absorption of copper in my cow. We have too much of some good things and not enough of others. These extremes all effect absorptions rates of various minerals from the soil, into the plants and eventually on to the animals and my family (either through eating the plant ourself or the animal that ate the plant).
At first we just supplement the cows with some extra copper---but we started to realize that there was more to the issue than just adding a bit of copper to the cows and doing nothing for the sheep. Also we had some minor health issues that seemed, when studied from a holistic viewpoint, to have to do with other mineral issues. We could have done just the "normal" thing most livestock owners are taught and purchased medicine from our vet---but we didn't want to always treat our animals---we wanted truly healthy animals.
Well, to make a long story and long research condensed---we chose to take a step that most veterinarians will never think to suggest: We eventually sent in a liver from a sheep to a testing laboratory (that we had butchered) and had it tested for various minerals. We couldn't butcher the cows since they were breeding stock and not eating stock, so the sheep was the next best thing. This is something I highly recommend for those that keep livestock---especially if you lose an animal. Just cut out the liver (I know---some find that yukky) and freeze it to send off.

This past year we tested for more things than ever and found out that though we now supplemented our animals with a number of healthy things AND that overall they are doing very well----we still were surprised to find ourself low in some nutrients. Our more expanded testing we did through the Colorado Veterinary Diagnostic Lab told us that we had successfully raised our copper and selenium up and that a host of other nutrients were very good. It did though go on to tell us that we were borderline deficient or outright deficient in some other nutrients we had never really considered: Cobalt (B12), magnesium, and zinc. All things now being attended to in our mineral program.

The health of the soil---as pointed out above---affects all "veggies" that grow in it. Whether or not that "veggie" is for a human or a cow/sheep/chicken/goat is irrelevant. We ALL get some of our vitamins and most of our minerals from the plants that grow in soil.
IF the beef or chicken or whatever did not get those nutrients in their food---you will not either.
After we started to learn about our problems we encouraged others to test their animals too and lo and behold---many many many livestock owners found that they had deficiencies in the mineral/vitamin health of their livestock even though they did what the experts recommended.

Now on to some observations and articles:

Recently a friend was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Then...another friend was too. One lives near me---the other very far away. Right about the time I found this out from both of them (within a weeks time) one of the magazines I read came in the mail. Just by chance it had an article about Vitamin D deficiencies (there is also another link within this article to explore) and that experts are now realizing that many people, especially those with fibro, may have vitamin D deficiencies. Of course I told both friends---one took me seriously because she too has checked her animals and realizes what aspect correct vitamins/minerals play in health. The other----her eyes glazed over and she said that she would just drink a few more glasses of fortified orange juice. However amounts and absorption rates vary with each glass. 100% does not necessarily mean you get 100%. Also---in regards to vitamin D did you know that if you live in a Northern local you receive less rays to help you each day? Did you know that you need approximately 30 minutes a day (on a large amount of your body--not just hands and face) to receive your "daily" amount of D? Did you know that I was dumb enough to think the world was small and that I did not live in the North? hahaha North in this case is....north of the equator! So, anyone above Atlanta or Las Angeles lives in a "northern" aspect. Go figure! Funny how we view our world sometimes!
Anyway one of the biggest problems with figuring vitamin/mineral intake, either from eating food or taking supplements, is the absorption rates. Take a glass of milk. Say it has 1500 mg of calcium in it (lets assume here the cow was fed a healthy diet and not some funky food they like to feed). You don't necessarily receive ALL 1500 mg---it ranges depending on what else you ate, what's in the body already to help it get absorbed etc etc.
Also---did you know that just because you buy vitamins you may not be buying the one best absorbed? Calcium is a good point and one piece of information I actually learned from my mother's cancer doctor. Calcium Citrate is the version you should be taking and not the other forms --one of which is oyster shell.

Now, vitamin/mineral supplements can help we all know----but maybe not as efficiently and easily as we are led to believe. That is why you need to check to make sure you take the BEST form of a given mineral or vitamin. The form most easily absorbed.
My family has taken Calcium supplements for years (since my mother's bone density came back borderline during cancer treatment) with added vitamin D (in the form of "D3" which is one of the better forms).
We now also take a copper and a B12 supplement since we realize we may not be getting enough in our diet because we eat quite a bit of our food either from our own soil (which currently still needs some improvement) or also food from the store that is not organic. Organic does not imply that all minerals/vitamins will be there---it depends on how they care for their soil. It does however give you a better chance since the "organic care" of soil including compost and other organic amendments help the soil to reacquire or else to "unbind" the minerals.

Some really good places to learn more about these types of things are:

Pat Coleby's books on natural livestock care (she has one for cows, horses, sheep and goats). Even if you don't own livestock the information on soil health and vitamins and minerals is easy to read, and easy to understand. It will get you headed in the correct direction for sure. This is were we started-----and we highly recommend it----but we do not exactly follow the mineral mix for the livestock anymore.

Acres USA. This "magazine" is quite informative. I don't always get use from every article and the editor is very outspoken (which I like---but maybe some others wouldn't) but it is good and very well geared to organics/soil health/better livestock care etc. This one is NOT just for those who raise livestock. It is for those that garden too. They also have an excellent book store with many books that deal with the subject of nutrients (and our lack of them).

The reason I posted this is for this: more and more I realize what nutrients mean to overall health. I also realized, in dealing with "high up" officials during my search for information, that most doctors/vets/livestock people will just regurgitate exactly the same thing over and over. They know nothing more than the standard information supplied to them that seems to me to be obsolete and worse---incorrect. Your children and your health depends on the correct nutrients. Please...make sure you are getting it.


Hayden said...

Excellent post, thank you for sharing thoughts, insights, sources.

This is a subject I'm quite obsessed with - in part, because I'm personally "changing over" and take nothing for granted. I've been organic for a long time; I used to think this was enough. There is SO MUCH to learn.

When the vitamin D research appeared I immediately equated it to our initial response a zillion years ago to vitamin C - it was thought that enough to prevent scurvy was sufficient. We've learned pretty much everything else about C in the last 60 years!

So when it hit me that the "proper target quantities" of vitamin D were based on preventing rickets - rather than on what good health requires - I immediately started rethinking vitamin D.

How could we ever have doubted that earthlings would require ample amounts of vitamin we manufacture with the help of our sun?

Robbyn said...

Excellent points! We believe it all starts with the soil, and then each point of contact in between soil and the table, for optimum health. We're currently trying to unlearn the modern "conventional health wisdom" and rather adopt the older ways. But the world's a different place, and so is our soil...and your entry is great...we should get ours tested, and keep doing so. You're right on with the mention of the best FORMS of absorable nutrients...some work in unison with others, and some cancel yet others out. There's a lot for my husband and myself yet to learn, that's for sure :)

maggie said...

I probably read the same article on vitamin D. I found it quite intriguing (being someone who suffers from some syptoms which could be autoimmune related, but still tests negative for autoimmune disorders.

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Hayden---there is ALOT to learn I agree. Overwhelmingly so---to bad we weren't taught this all throughout our lives aye?

Robbyn---yes, the soil is so very very important and as I said above--to bad we have not been taught this all along.

Maggie---good luck. I know that figuring out what you have can be long and frustrating both from my own and friends experiences. It's especially annoying when Dr.s tell you it's all in your head. (!?!?)

Twinville said...

Gosh! Thanks for educating me on minerals and nutrients, especially Calcium.

I think much of what we know of this subject is what we are taught in school. And basically that is to eat healthy, take a daily vitamin, spend time in the sun, etc.....but it's never really explained why to to do these things and that it might not be enough.

Now I'm questioning my choice in giving free-feed oyster shell for my chickens. They don't eat much of it anyway. I wonder if they know something I don't....or didn't, until now?

I wonder if daily servings of milk, whey, kefir and yogurt alone given to chickens would also help up their calcium levels for strong eggs and bones?