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Chemicals That Give Life and Chemicals That Kill

Written by Wellness Club on July 2, 2008 – 6:50 pm -

The human organism is a wild and wonderful place – we are a veritable chemical soup of minerals, acids, electrolytes, proteins, and fats. (well, proteins and fats are acids…) This does lead to a whole lot of confusion though, and sometimes outright deception by those who would have us believe that such-and-such spooky-sounding chemical must be bad for us…

Here is a case in point: Dave knows, correctly, that formaldehyde, which is a breakdown product of Aspartame the artificial sweetener is not very good for us – after all, it is used to preserve cadavers, right? (see our recent HealthBeat Article Is Nutrasweet (Aspartame) Safe?)

Dave writes:

I have a nephew who is a chemical engineer and he tells me Aspartame, when warmed up equals formaldehyde. Ill bet that’s as safe as all the other garbage the AMA says we need. I’m still wondering what good nicotinic acid does for me. That’s what niacin is isn’t it?

Well Dave, Aspartame is a spooky chemical, and your nephew is right. Formaldehyde, while it occurs naturally in very minute amounts in the human body, is not something we want to ingest.

This is much the same situation as the sodium benzoate and citric acid or ascorbic acid combo that is present in so many soft drinks – and breaks down into benzene, a known and potent carcinogen. Yet another well-meant chemical offering with unintended and poisonous consequences.

But that leaves us with the $64,000 question: which "chemicals" are good for us, and which are not?

Here is a "Pop Quiz":

Which of the following chemicals are unsafe for humans?

  • Strontium
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid
  • Boron
  • Muriatic acid
  • Selenium
  • Cyanocobalamin
  • Ascorbic acid

How did you do? Let’s look at each of these ominous-sounding chemicals:

  • Strontium – Safe or Not? Answer: Safe
    No, not the radioactive fallout stuff, this trace mineral is essential to strong, healthy bones. Read more about why we need strontium here.
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid – Safe or Not? Answer: Safe
    In fact, this rather ominous sounding chemical is essential for life as we know it – it is the fancy name for what we all know as DNA – it contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms, including us.
  • Boron – Safe or Not? Answer: Safe
    Another trace element vital to good bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis. Boron is an important part of Dr. Myatt’s Cal-Mag Amino – find out more here.
  • Muriatic Acid – Safe or Not? Answer: Safe
    "Now wait just a minute" you’re saying, "That stuff is nasty – it will burn you!" Yep, you’re right – it is nasty stuff – but it is also essential to your ability to digest food. Also known as hydrochloric acid, it is produced naturally by a healthy stomach, and a deficiency of this important chemical can lead to all sorts of problems. Learn More about gastric acid and digestive health here.
  • Selenium – Safe or Not? Answer: Safe
    Another trace element that we need in just the right amount – too much and it can be toxic, too little and we become deficient and unhealthy. AKA l-selenomethionine which sounds even scarier! Learn why selenium is so important here.
  • Cyanocobalamin – Safe or Not? Answer: Safe
    Despite the ominous sounding name containing the cyano (cyanide) root, this is a chemical name for vitamin B12 – even the FDA says we must have adequate intakes of this important vitamin to keep healthy. Read up about B12 the essential energy vitamin here.
  • Ascorbic acid – Safe or Not? Answer: Safe
    That one was easy, right? Just another name for vitamin C, and a name that we all recognize. Did you know that it is also used as a food additive to prevent oxidation, and it is also used in the making of plastics? Vitamin C is essential for health – find out why here.

Like many things, these and a lot of other nasty sounding chemicals have some very important uses and functions within our bodies. As with most things, they need to be in the right place at the right time and in the right amount in order to be beneficial rather than harmful.

So, pyridine-3-carboxylic acid, AKA nicotinic acid, AKA Niacin, AKA vitamin B3 is the only substance (dare we say "drug"?) that has been proven to reduce mortality from elevated cholesterol levels. It also improves microcirculation. Read about how the Coronary Drug Project found that niacin was the only “drug” that actually reduced mortality.

Not bad for a spooky-sounding chemical, right?

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