I have now been carrying forward these studies for five years extending the areas from which samples [of butter and cream] are received for analysis of the level of the activating substances of many countries throughout the world. These samples are received either once or twice a month from the same place. This enables us to plot seasonal curves. These are now available for many countries for comparison with other vital phenomena.
I have reported this phase of the problem in many communications. [See References.] These also contain data relative to method for analysis.
These researches are disclosing annual cycles in vitamin levels which are strikingly similar from year to year for given places. They are also showing a marked difference in different places at the same time and season of the year. In some districts the levels are continually relatively low as compared with other districts. In a few districts, the levels are relatively high as compared with the average.
In general, from a superficial examination of the data it would seem that since the vitamin levels are generally higher in the summer and lower in the winter in the temperate zones, the vitamin level is in direct proportion to the sunlight. A more careful examination of the data, however, discloses that this is not what we find, for in many communities the vitamin curves do not correspond to the sunshine curve. If, as seems to be generally supposed, the higher mortality and morbidity curves for the winter months are a direct result of the lessened sunshine this will go far toward justifying this interpretation. If, on the contrary, the mortality and morbidity curves have important variations from the sunshine curve, this will suggest a need for a search for other factors. If it should be that morbidity and mortality curves are found to follow the vitamin level curves rather than the sunshine curves, they have importance just in proportion as there are adequate supporting data establishing the value of the vitamin curves and vitamins as nutritional defensive factors.
It is not possible in this survey to present a large quantity of extended data. I have accordingly consolidated the data, on the following factors; namely, the seasonal level of vitamins by months, the death rate from heart disease and pneumonia by months, and the possible hours of sunshine for various areas when the United States and Canada are divided into sixteen districts of many thousand square miles each. These are arranged by latitude zones in the order that they occur.
The mortality data are taken from government and municipal reports and are shown as averages for several years. The vitamin levels are those which I have found in the many thousands of butter and cream samples that have been sent to me from the general area. (See the graphs, posted at the end of this article.)
Several factors will at once be observed in a general view. The vitamin level curve may be said to follow the sunshine curve and both may be said to be in reverse phase of the mortality curve. A critical examination of the graphs reveals that in many areas the vitamin curve is depressed in the summer months and is in opposite phase, therefore, to the sunlight curve. It is further seen that in some of these districts there is a summer rise in the mortality curve following in general the sunshine curve. Note particularly the summer depression in the vitamin curve for all four of the Pacific areas and particularly the rise in the mortality curve of Northern California, Idaho and Utah. There is a reversal of these curves for Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Florida. It is particularly important that we note that the vitamin curve goes higher in the summer or in the spring or fall or both in some of the Northern districts than in the Southern districts, the highest point being reached in western Canada. The summer depression is less pronounced there than in most of the other areas.
It should be a matter of profound concern and even alarm that the height of the mortality curve in the winter, spring and fall for these diseases should be so high in our New England and the north Central states. It is important that we note critically that the records of the American Heart Association show this disease is steadily on the increase in many of the states in this general district and this notwithstanding increased knowledge and improved care together with prophylaxis. The summer depression on the level of the vitamin curve for the northwest districts is probably related in part to smoke from forest fires.
There is need for knowledge as to whether the factors which we are discussing as vitamins and activators are directly related to breakdown in health and whether by supplying these factors health can be reinforced. As an approach to this phase we will consider a group of turkeys . . . which began to go down with what was thought by the owner to be a contagious rheumatic affection. The joints would swell and the turkeys would be unable to rise. The so-called disease seemed to be spreading through the flock. They were on a standard ration prepared and sold to meet all the needs of growing turkeys. Six of them were brought to my laboratory at my request, after I was asked for advice regarding their care. A quantity of their food was also brought to me. The turkeys were divided into three groups of two each. Two of them were kept on the same food and they were used as controls. In the period of observation they gained 8.3% in weight. Two others received this same stock ration, but in addition were given 2% of cod liver oil of high vitamin content. These gained 16.7% or twice as much as the first group. They did not, however, get up. The third pair received the same stock ration and the same quantity and kind of cod liver oil, but in addition, a butter-vitamin concentrate. These gained over four times as much as the controls and over twice as much as the cod liver oil group. The weight increase was 37.5%. One of these turkeys is shown standing, though with its leg rotated, the foot pointed laterally instead of forward as the turkey walked. It grew to full size and seemed to be little if any handicapped by this deformity. No turkeys got up from the other groups.
A chemical analysis of the blood from these turkeys is particularly important. The calcium in group one is seen to be very much lower in this group than in groups two and three. Indeed it is half again as high in the latter two groups. The phosphorus increased in group three but not in group two indicating that an important contributing factor was provided in the butter-vitamin concentrate.
[Earlier] I have indicated the effect produced by the addition of butter activators in the development of bones in the process of growth. It will be of interest to observe the effect of different quantities of this substance. [I have studied] the paws of eight rats all on the same basic ration (Steenbock 2965), the difference being only in the kind and quantity of activators. Number 1 received no activators; number 2 received 0.5% butter activators; number 3 received 1% butter activators; number 4 received 2% butter activators; number 5 received 4% butter activators, number 6 received 8% butter activators; number 7 received 2% cod liver oil and number 8 received 2% of each cod liver oil and butter activators. In rat number 1, the carpal bones of the wrist were scarcely formed. There was also a marked decalcification of the radius and ulna. The small amount of one part in two hundred of the butter activators added in the ration of rat number 2 made a marked difference in the capacity of the animal to utilize the minerals. There was a progressive increase in calcification with the increase in the quantity of butter activators up to rat number 6. Number 7 received only the cod liver oil and had good calcification but of a different type. Rat number 8 which received both the cod liver oil and butter activator in moderate quantity showed by far the best calcification. It is very clear that these activating substances have added to the animal’s capacity to utilize the minerals. No appreciable amount of minerals were provided in the activators.
Three groups of chickens of twenty-five each were placed on the same deficiency diet (McCollum’s 3134) in identical cages and provided with all the butter they would eat of three different grades, namely, Group 1, butter of high A and D vitamin content; Group 2, butter of high A and low D vitamin content; and Group 3, butter of low A and D vitamin content. The percentage of deaths in one week was as follows: There were no deaths in Group 1; in Group 2 there were 16% that died; and in Group 3, 28% died. In 19 days the percentage of deaths were for Group 1, 24%, Group 2, 53% and Group 3, 73%.
It is very evident that there are important nutritional factors in butter and that they may be present in varying amounts. This immediately raises the question of our ability to select instinctively or by other means food factors that are particularly efficient. A great deal that we do as suggested previously has grown out of the experience of the past. We can readily understand how this quality of ability to select may have come to humans through example and parental instruction, but it is not so easy, however, to explain the capacity of infant chicks to select butter high in vitamins rather than the butter low in vitamins. When a group of 40 chicks on the same deficiency diet (McCollum’s 3134) were placed in a cage in which three kinds of butter in similar dishes were made available at the same time though placed in different positions in the cage each day, they had eaten in 56 days twice as much of the highest vitamin butter as of the lowest vitamin product. This clearly is evidence of an effort at self preservation through the selection of higher vitamins.
From the problems presented in the case of the rats, turkeys and chickens, the evidence indicates that something indispensable to life was made available through the high-vitamin butter product. Very little information is conveyed in the nomenclature whether we speak of vitamins or activators, the latter seems to suggest reinforcement and is now general.
It will be helpful in studying the importance of these substances in the matter of life itself to examine more critically the changes that take place in humans since fundamentally our problem concerns that species. We will start with the case of a child three years of age with an un-united fracture of the femur of two months’ standing, extremely weak and very nervous. This child had a history of having convulsions for about six months prior to breaking his leg. He would often fall to the floor from a chair or when walking when he had one of these attacks. It was while walking across the room that his leg was broken. In the light of our newer knowledge, convulsions of childhood, except epilepsy, are due chiefly to a low level of calcium in the blood. His nervousness was directly related to his disturbed calcium level. With no other treatment than the addition to his diet of some high-vitamin butter and a larger quantity of milk, his convulsions immediately ceased. In a month’s time, the something inimitable to life and repair had been provided by the special butter which had been selected on the basis of its vitamin content. Radiograms of the femur thirty days apart revealed the remarkable change produced in the healing of the fracture. Blood chemical studies were not made in this case.
Blood studies when made, splendidly throw an important light on this case. In another instance an un-united fracture of six months’ standing made a marked improvement in 35 days. The product of serum calcium and serum inorganic phosphorus should be about 40 for normal individuals and normally tends to go above that point at the time the body is making an effort to repair a broken bone. In this case, the blood studies showed the product to be 26.1, the calcium of serum being at 7.9 and the inorganic phosphorus at 3.3. The magnesium of serum was at 1.7. Under treatment in 35 days the magnesium advanced to 1.9, the inorganic phosphorus to 4.3, the calcium to 13.8 and the product of serum calcium and serum inorganic phosphorus to 60.1. This was accomplished by the administration of the activators as concentrated from a high-vitamin butter mixed with a little high-vitamin cod liver oil and given in small doses. It is of interest that the patient had been receiving both cod liver oil and activated ergosterol as viasterol previous to our treatment [but not the high-vitamin butter.]
When treatment began, there was little evidence of bridging of the bone or callus formation between the splinters, even six months after the fracture. After treatment, there was a strong bridge of bone built between the splinter and the shaft. At this time the limb was being used with a sense of splendid solidity. It is important to note that this man was conscious within a week after starting treatment of an added strength in the bone with marked reduction in tenderness and pain. In the condition when the treatment was started with the calcium and phosphorus low, he not only was not able to heal the fracture, but was in a physical state in which he was borrowing the minerals from the skeleton to maintain organ and tissue function and to provide the minerals for the blood. The change in diet was slight, it simply emphasized the desirability of using [whole] milk liberally. The change in the basic foods eaten does not explain what happened. The marked change in the mineral content of the blood was apparently the fundamental basis for the great improvement. In this case a rubbing oil consisting of a high-vitamin cod liver oil that had been exposed to the sunshine for ten minutes was rubbed upon the affected limb. The effect would have been nearly the same as I have previously shown had the oil been rubbed on other parts of the body. The activating substances are taken up through the skin, thus raising the mineral content of the lymph and the blood. A considerable group of fracture cases could be presented in all of which the blood shows a marked increase in mineral content under treatment. The clinical conditions markedly improved with rapid bone formation and splendid healing in all cases where bones were in good apposition.
In many of my research reports I have presented data indicating that dental caries is very greatly reduced under a program which includes the addition of the activating substances which are provided primarily in high-vitamin butter and also in high-vitamin cod liver oil and particularly well in combinations of these two. The minerals must also be in suitable form and adequate quantity. [To be continued.]
Weston A. Price Graphs
Comparing Levels of Vitamins in Butterfat
and Rates of Pneumonia and Heart Disease
in 16 US Locations
These 16 graphs show the relation by months of possible hours of sunshine to the levels of vitamin A and activator X; also, the mortality rates for heart disease and pneumonia. This chart covers these areas of the United States and Canada in their geographic relationship. Note how mortality is in opposite phase to the vitamin A and activator X levels. The parabolic curves show hours of sunlight; dotted lines indicate levels of vitamin A and activator X in local butter samples; solid lines indicate mortality from heart disease and pneumonia in local hospitals.
- Price, Weston A.: Calcium and Phosphorus Utilization in Health and Disease. 1. The Role of the Activators for Calcium and Phosphorus Metabolism. 2. The Nature and Source of Calcium and Phosphorus Activators.—Cert. Milk, Oct., Nov., Dec., 1929 and Dom. Dent. J., Oct., Nov., 1929. (Bulletin 102.)
- Price, Weston A.: Seasonal Variations in Butter-fat Vitamins and their Relation to Seasonal Morbidity, Including Dental Caries and Disturbed Calcifications; J. A. D. A., Vol. XVII, May, 1930. (Bulletin 103.)
- Price, Weston A.: Some Contributing Factors to the Degenerative Diseases, with Special Consideration of the Role of Dental Focal Infections and Seasonal Tides in Defensive Vitamins; Oct., Nov., Dental Cosmos, 1930. (Bulletin 107.)
- Price, Weston A.: New Light on the Control of Dental Caries and the Degenerative Diseases; J. A. D. A., Vol. XVIII, July, 1931. (Bulletin 108.)
- Price, Weston A.: Some Means for Improving Life by Increasing the Vitamin Content of Milk and Its Products; The Assn. Bulletin, No. 10, Jan. 29, 1931. (Bulletin 110.)
- Price, Weston A.: A New View of Health and Disease Based on the Rise and Fall in the Levels of Life with Cycles in Vitamin Tides; A. J. of Pub. Health, June, 1931. (Bulletin 111.)
- Price, Weston A.: New Light on the Cause and Prevention of Dental Caries and Some Other Degenerative Diseases; Proceedings of Congress, August, 1931, Paris, France. (Bulletin 117.)
- Price, Weston A.: Control of Dental Caries and Some Associated Degenerative Processes Through Reinforcement of the Diet with Special Activators; J. A. D. A., Vol. XIX, Aug., 1932. (Bulletin 118.)
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2000.