Orthomolecular therapy

What is orthomolecular therapy?

Orthomolecular therapy is based on natural occurring molecules in the form of food or supplements, to give the body exactly what it needs, to cure itself. It is the study of vitamins, minerals, trace-elements, amino acids, fatty acids, enzymes, hormones and phytonutriënts (plant chemicals like resveratrol from grapes or sulfurofane from broccoli).  Even some natural occurring sugars might me interesting to study like for instance ribose, which is being used by sportsmen or people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The natural occurring chemicals can not be patented and therefore only get studied by non-profit organisations, because you can not make money out of it. Orthomolecular therapy can be studied in exactly the same way as modern day medicine: by using a double blind, placebo controlled crossover study. It is therefore by definition a science and not a “pseudo-science”, like many doctors learned in college.

Who was the founder of the term “orthomolecular therapy”?

The founder of orthomolecular therapy is Linus Pauling (1901-1994), a two-time Nobel Prize winner. The American chemist won the Nobel Prize for his research into the nature of chemical bonding (1954). He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his enormous efforts to reduce above-ground nuclear tests (1962). His IQ was 190, which is 25 higher than Albert Einstein’s (IQ 165) and yet, strangely enough, hardly anyone has heard of him.

The term: “orthomolecular therapy”, or “orthomolecular medicine” was first used by Linus Pauling. He meant: medicine by giving the body exactly what it needs to cure itself. However, the question is and remains: what do we need to heal certain diseases?

How orthomolecular therapy influenced world history

Scurvy was a horrible disease among crew members of ships during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, because they hardly ate any fruit and vegetables. fThe English fleet was the first to have good dietary guidelines for crew members, including eating sufficient fruit. Every ship was required to have fruit on board. So you can see that orthomolecular therapy has contributed to the world domination of the great British Empire. Even before Linus Pauling used the term. One may  argue that the concept goes back even further; to the first healers who used herbs to heal wounds. Some herbs can be considered natural antibiotics, for instance seaweed contains iodine, which kills bacteria.

Vitamins within orthomolecular therapy

Vitamins are absolutely essential for the human body. These are mainly substances that are not, or insufficiently, produced by the body itself. So you have to get the vitamins through the food. Or by strong sunlight in the case of vitamin D. If you get a deficiency of a certain vitamin, you become ill. There is a deficiency based disease associated with almost every vitamin:

With a vitamin A (Retinol) deficiency: eye and skin diseases, night blindness, tearing of the wall of the eye.
With a vitamin B1 (Thiamine) deficiency: Beriberi. One form affects the heart and blood vessels and another form of beriberi gives neurological symptoms.
In case of vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) deficiency: Glossitis. Inflammation of the tongue by fungi or bacteria
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) defficiency causes: Pellagra (diarrhea, inflammation of the skin, dementia and death).
In case of vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) deficiency: Anemia: insufficient red blood cells.
And many other diseases.

Eating white bread for instance is a very bad idea, because that causes a B-vitamin defficiency and symptoms from the list above. It is always better to get the most natural source you can get, including a wholefood plantbased diet, which is currently endorsed by Harvard university. For instance eating oatmeal instead of white carbohydrate products may be the best choice you will ever make.

Orthomolecular therapy is NOT pseudoscience

So if you have a vitamin deficiency, you become ill. The bizarre thing is that the Dutch Center for Nutrition, for example, indicates that vitamin therapy has not been proven, while you could die if you have serious deficiencies. Strange, isn’t it? Orthomolecular therapy is still catching up, because nobody can patent these chemicals to earn massive amounts of money with them. Besides that there is however a hidden truth. Most vitamins in pills are not the same as the natural molecule, because the industry needs to produce chemicals, which are stable and can be used for months or years even.

Those industrial fake vitamins often need to go through the liver before they get changed into active vitamins. For instance folic acid gets changed into folate, the active version of vitamin B11. That proces isn’t always efficient and maybe only 2% get’s translated into folate. Everybody is different so how do we know how much of those vitamins get translated into the real vitamin? That is why some scientists consider orthomolecular therapy a pseudoscience, because they use fake vitamins in their scientific research. Let me give another example. Giving somebody magnesiumcarbonate can be completely useless, because some people have a lack of stomach acid. It is better to know what you are doing and use some magnesiumcitrate with a small amount of lemonjuice or apple cider vinigar to increase uptake.

Even the dutch nutrition centre indicates that you are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals if you adhere to all their dietary requirements, such as the five-point diet pyramid. So take care of your diet. Maybe Linus Pauling was right that diseases are caused by nutritional deficiencies.

Which vitamins, minerals and trace elements do people in Western society most often lack?

The shortages you have, even if you adhere to the guidelines of the nutrition center, are:

  • Iron (some people have to much though, because they eat to much red meat)
  • Zink
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B11 (folate, not the fake chemical folic acid)
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D

A large part of the population also has a shortage of:

  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin C (not that they get scurvy, but their immune system isn’t as strong as it should be)
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

As you can see, the deficits in Western society are quite present.

In addition, there are other deficiencies that are known but insufficiently highlighted by the nutrition centre:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids (present in: salmon, mackerel etc.)
  • Iodine (only in jozo salt or bread or seawead and fish)
  • Protein

In Western society, the problem among older people is that they are more likely to have accidents due to muscle weakness. On average, elderly people lose about 3% of their muscle capacity each year. Muscle weakness can easily be prevented by good nutrition and sufficient exercise. Orthomolecular therapy is therefore also important in healthy aging.

Is taking multivitamin enough?

Unfortunately, people who take multivitamin are still too often deficient. First of all, the so-called recommended daily amount is often not sufficient. The RDA is the absolute minimum necessary to not die. But real health guidelines are insufficiently indicated by the RDA. Examples of shortages that occur despite the use of multivitamins are:

  • Vitamin C  70mg, recommended by scientists: 2 grams per day.
  • Vitamin D 400IU (international units), recommended by scientists: 2000 IU per day, which is about 50 micrograms=mcg.
  • Magnesium 250-350mg, recommended by scientists: 300-400mg
  • Omega 3 fatty acids, recommended by scientists: 3 capsules of 1 gram per day.
  • Iodine if you don’t eat bread.

Within orthomolecular therapy, the focus is mainly on optimizing health rather than minimizing it within the medical guidelines.

Vitamin C

Humans cannot produce vitamin C themselves, unlike which is by the way the case with almost all animals in the animal kingdom. Humans do have the gene to make vitamin C, but it is turned “off”, so to speak, so that an important enzyme is missing in the liver. Losing the ability to produce vitamin C ourselves is probably due to a genetic mutation in one of our ancestors. But the need to get enough of it hasn’t gone away.  So Vitamin C is much more important than most people know especially with virusses like for instance covid-19. That is because vitamin C is essential for your immune system. It is needed for the production of antibodies.

If you convert the production of vitamin C from animals to humans, then humans should produce at least 2 grams of vitamin C per day. If you convert the production of goats to humans, humans should even have 13 grams of vitamin C per day. With illness, the production of vitamin C in animals increases enormously, up to 15 to 25 grams per day if you convert it to humans. This is an indication that humans should also use more vitamin C in case of illness.

The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C

The recommended daily allowance is: 70 milligrams. That’s a huge difference with the observation of scientists. In other words,  the RDI is really not enough for good health. But it’s enough not to die of scurvy. The standards used by the nutrition centre are therefore not sufficient for optimum health.

If you take vitamin C you can choose between sodium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate, ester-c and ascorbic acid. Sodium ascorbate is generally better when using large amounts, because it is not acidic and therefore more body specific. Ascorbic acid is more likely to cause side effects such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea.

Don’t your supplements pee out too fast?

Sometimes you hear from people that you urinate vitamin C again and that it’s a waste of your money. If that is true, some medicines would also be useless and animals would produce so much vitamin C for nothing. It also depends on what you swallow. Magnesiumascorbate is a good form of vitamin c and it even adds some magnesium to your diet as well. What kind of symptoms are an indication of vitamin C deficiency?

Shortages of vitamin C lead to:

  • A much higher susceptibility to infectious diseases from the normal cold to pneumonia.
  • Vitamin C is very important for the immune system.Dry, damaged skin.
  • Slow healing wounds
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Fatigue
  • Weight increase
  • Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress (bad for the health of the body cells and possibly a possible cause of cancer).
  • Excitability

Theoretically, you can also get these complaints if you only take the recommended daily amount.

Vitamin D

For vitamin D money you shouldn’t have too much, but then you have to take more than 6000 IU to get to much.  Taking 2000IE per day contributes to optimal health, even reducing the average risk of death from serious illness by 20%. That’s a huge effect. There are multiple forms of vitamin D and D3 is the most important type, because it stays in your body way longer.

Vitamin D3 can only be found in food to a limited extent:

  • Salmon 450 IU per 100 grams
  • Herring 800 IU per 100 grams
  • 2 sandwiches spread with margarine: 25 IU

If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you only need it from the sun. The big problem is that in the western world the sun only shines sufficiently in the summer months. Autumn, winter and spring do not give enough sunshine to even come close to the 2000 IU (2000 international units is 50mcg) per day.

Vitamin D deficiency

According to the theory of evolution, the first humans originated in Africa, near the equator. This nursery of the first man was exceptionally rich in sunshine throughout the year. In addition, there was plenty of fruit and vegetables everywhere and animals to hunt.

In the course of thousands of years, man has spread over the rest of the earth. However, with the same genes, man has a vitamin D deficiency in countries far from the equator. Especially black people, who come to Northern Europe, almost always have a vitamin D deficiency.

What are the possible consequences of vitamin D deficiency?

So a vitamin D deficiency is common in Western society, but what are the main symptoms of a deficiency?

  • A deficiency of calcium in the blood caused by a deficiency of vitamin D
  • Osteoporosis, complaints of joints, back and dental problems
  • Muscle pain
  • High blood pressure (cardiovascular diseases)
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as allergies
  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma.
  • Diabetes (both type 1 and type 2)
  • MS (multiple sclerosis, a disease characterized by worsening failure symptoms)
  • Depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Weight gain and fatigue

And vitamin D plays an important role in reducing the risk of dying from serious diseases (by as much as 20% on average).

Omega 3 fatty acids and iodine

Humans mainly lived in areas with a lot of water and fish and other food from the sea such as algae and marine animals. These were therefore a daily source of nutrition. Fish, algae and shellfish are rich in iodine and fish are rich in omega 3 fatty acids.

Both iodine and omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Iodine, for example, can be used in the treatment of wound infection. Omega 3 plays an important role in the health of heart and blood vessels and the brain. The use of omega 3 promotes good mental health.

Some multivitamin supplements contain sufficient iodine (150mcg). On the other hand, omega 3 deficits cannot be remedied by taking multivitamins. Recommended: 3x 1 gram omega 3 per day (with preferably a lot of EPA). Be aware of the fact that omega 3 thins your blood. Consult your doctor if you take any medications.

Symptoms of omega 3 fatty acid deficiency

A lot of people don’t even know that they can have a deficiency of these fatty acids. Unfortunately, omega 3 fatty acids are really important for your health. Without sufficient omega 3 fatty acids you can get the following symptoms:

  • A diminished state of mind or depression. Omega 3 is important for the state of the brain.
  • Fatigue and overweight. Omega 3 plays an important role in cells in the body that are vital for metabolism.
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Impaired eye health.
  • Joint pain and arthritis.
  • Reduced ability to concentrate.
  • Bad skin.

Symptoms of iodine deficiency

  • Cognitive problems  such as: concentration problems and memory loss. Even a lower IQ.
  • Tiredness, lethargy slowness.
  • Depression, depression
  • Weight gain, thick ankles and a swollen face.
  • A slowed heartbeat.
  • Bad skin and bad hair, including hair loss.
  • Problems with eyes and hearing, such as swollen eyes and impaired hearing.
  • Muscle aches and cramps. Magnesium and potassium deficiencies are however a more likely explanation of muscle cramps.
  • Getting cold fast.
  • A lowered libido (reduced desire for sex).
  • Obesity

In Western society, iodine deficiency is addressed by adding it to salt in, among other things, the bread. Also, multivitamins may contain some iodine. However, shortages may still occur if, for example, you eat little bread or have a low salt diet.  Symptoms of iodine deficiency may be: With untreated shortages you get a swollen thyroid gland, which is also called a goiter. As a result, your thyroid hormones are insufficiently produced. Either you have too many thyroid hormones or you’re short.

There are certain molecules that can reduce the uptake of iodine. For instance fluoride can take the same place as iodine and reduce the uptake. Another way inwhich your iodine uptake can be reduced is because of the intake of goitrogens from for instance some raw vegetables.

For pregnant women, the risk of a miscarriage or the birth of a child with abnormalities is much higher. This is the case for both physical and mental abnormalities. In children, iodine deficiency has consequences for growth and development.

Iodine plays an important role in crisis management after a nuclear disaster, such as in Fukushima. This is because iodine helps protect the thyroid gland from the absorption of radioactive iodine. In addition, iodine helps prevent certain forms of cancer.

That’s why the government provides iodine pills to the population within a 100km radius of a nuclear power plant. But according to the Nutrition Center, orthomolecular therapy has not been proven… Strange, isn’t it? The effect of, for example, iodine and many other supplements has been very well proven.


In the past, people naturally ingested more magnesium by drinking water rich in minerals, eating seaweed and algae, leafy vegetables, nuts and bananas, for example. In the west, magnesium is to a lesser extent found in farmland. By the way, there is still some magnesium in the water coming out of the tap.

In general, water companies try not to let the drinking water contain too many minerals, because hard water, for example, is very bad for the washing machine and certain kitchen utensils.

Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system and muscles. It is very important to have strong bones. You also need sufficient calcium, but in general people already get enough of it. A ratio of 2 to 3 to 1 is recommended between calcium and magnesium (RDA: calcium 1 gram, magnesium: RDA=300 -400 mg).

You can buy magnesium as magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate. Magnesium citrate is absorbed much better.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency

Heavy magnesium shortages are not common in Western society. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have a little more of it than the RDI, because in the past man ingested more magnesium. You can get the following complaints in case of a magnesium deficiency:

  • Stress, drowsiness, poor sleep, restlessness and panic attacks.
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Muscle cramps
  • Bowel problems, such as constipation.
  • Migraine and theoretically also cluster headaches, provided you have a predisposition for either.
  • Tension headache
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing sounds
  • Reduced blood flow and a cold feeling.
  • Heart problems such as palpitations and arrhythmia.

Shortages of vitamins and minerals caused by medication use

Many medicines are known to cause shortages in the long term. For example, cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) are known to cause a shortage of coenzyme Q10, because their production is blocked by the drug.

There are many more known examples of shortages that occur due to the chronic use of medication:

  • Statins (cholesterol-lowering) causes a shortage of co-enzyme Q10, vitamins A, B12, D, E, B11(folate) and iron.
  • Gastric acid inhibitors causes a shortage of vitamin B12, B11(folate), vitamin D, calcium, zinc.
  • The contraceptive pill=>deficiency of vitamins B1, B6, C, D, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, sodium.
  • Antidepressants cause a deficiency of coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B12.
  • Antibiotics cause a deficiency of B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and the intestinal flora are affected.
  • Painkillers cause a deficiency of vitamins B, C and minerals.
  • Medicines for diabetics cause a deficiency of  coenzyme Q10, vitamin B12 and B11 (folate).
  • Inhibitors of inflammation cause a shortage of vitamin C,D, folate (B11), iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc (may vary depending on the type of anti-inflammatory agent). Corticosteroids in particular reduce vitamins: A, D and C.
  • Blood pressure reducing drug cause a deficiency of: B6, Q10, melatonin (hormone released when it gets dark and necessary for a good night’s sleep).
  • Diuretics (also called pee pills cause a deficiency of vitamins B1, B6, C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc and some diuretics: Q10.
  • Hormone replacement therapy cause a deficiency of B2, B3,B6, B11(folate), B12, C.

The worst aspect of this is the ignorance of the majority of doctors. Most doctors have learned that the beneficial effects of vitamin supplementation have not been sufficiently proven. That’s the standard of current medical care: causing new problems to sell even more medication for all the side-effects that will occur from the deficiency disease that you get.

Orthomolecular medicine should be part of standard care

Isn’t the above list shocking? Many of the above medications are used chronically, by diabetics, or people with chronic heart problems. Then these people are deprived of the vitamins, minerals, trace elements and coenzymes that they probably need very badly for their recovery. In fact, the recovery is even thwarted by deficits. Orthomolecular therapy should therefore play an important role in medicine.

Coenzyme Q10 is absolutely necessary for the production of sufficient energy molecules (ATP) to feed the muscles, such as the heart. So people who take cholesterol-lowering drugs are actually exhausting their heart from the energy source. The result is that you get a higher blood pressure and have to take even more medication. This should probably be sufficient reason for cardiologists to use Q10 supplementation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen often enough. It’s much worse than this.

Most cardiologists will say that the use of Q10 has not been sufficiently scientifically proven. What they forget, however, is that the caused shortage is stated in most of the leaflets. And drugs are subjected to massive research before they are approved by the government. The application of Q10 is therefore necessary, even though its effects may not have been sufficiently proven for healthy people.

To finalize. 

Shortages of vitamin C, D, omega 3, magnesium and iodine are still too common in Western society. And that’s unnecessary. Through orthomolecular therapy many problems can be prevented.In addition to side effects and negative interactions, many medications also cause a shortage of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Yet there are almost no doctors who give advice on how to supplement these shortages.All in all, orthomolecular therapy is more than just supplementing vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Even if you are not theoretically deficient, you can, by means of supplementation of certain vitamins, minerals and trace

Shortages of vitamin C, D, omega 3, magnesium and iodine are still too common in Western society. And that’s unnecessary. Through orthomolecular therapy many problems can be prevented. In addition to side effects and negative interactions, many medications also cause a shortage of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Yet there are almost no doctors who give advice on how to supplement these shortages.

All in all, orthomolecular therapy is more than just supplementing vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Even if you are not theoretically deficient, you can still achieve certain positive effects through supplementation of certain vitamins, minerals and trace elements.


The most fantastic resource is a college of studium generale on youtube (it is in dutch unfortunately) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzfAPhhSa0M&t=3587s.


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