Can you imagine a 94-year-old guy working away in his office searching out newer and better ways for us to age? This amazing man had spent virtually all his adult life doing this valuable research.
The man in question was Dr Denham Harman (nominated 6 times for the Nobel Prize) whose ground-breaking discovery of the Free Radical Theory of ageing back in the 1950’s took the scientific world by storm.
Simply explained, the theory is that one of the by-products of oxygen (free radicals) can attack and damage the cells in our body and from this activate the conditions of aging and eventually death. We need some free radicals in our body but the problem starts to occur when they start to overflow and get out of control.
You could liken them to bugs that attack and damage our cells and help kick-start the process of ageing and age-related illnesses. Everything from asthma, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, right down to heart disease and even cancers have been linked to free radical damage.
Dr Harman helped discover this but he also helped pioneer work on the body’s natural answer to this degenerative process. He researched on how the body naturally defends itself from this damage and in the process discovered the body’s natural defence system is largely fuelled by nutrients called antioxidants.
These wonder nutrients help curb the activity of the free radicals in the body, thus steering it more towards health and away from the ravages of ageing. He was particularly interested in the antioxidants Vitamin E, Beta Carotene and Vitamin C.
A great advocate of practicing what he preached, Dr Harman followed a diet high in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. He also took large doses of Vitamins E and C and other antioxidants.
Another must for him was jogging two miles a day until his mid-80s.
Eventually this ageing icon passed away in 2014 at the age of 98, but the legacy of knowledge and youthful ageing he pioneered lives on after him.
The 2 Time Nobel Prize Winner
To win the Nobel Prize once is an amazing feat, but to win it twice is something truly extraordinary. Renowned molecular biologist Linus Pauling Ph.D. had the distinction of doing just this.
To classify him as one of the great geniuses of the 20th century would not be an understatement.
He won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1954 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. An avid peace activist he campaigned against the USA’s participation in the Vietnam War. He also took a strong anti-nuclear weapons stance in the face of almost constant opposition from peers and political groups. A man who was not afraid to speak his truth he championed many worthwhile causes.
The Role of Nutrition in Health
One cause particularly dear to his heart was the role nutrition played in helping people operate at their best.
He was especially interested in the role nutrients and in particular Vitamin C played in human health and disease.
His best-selling book ‘Vitamin C and the Common Cold’ published in 1970 outlined the benefits of this amazing nutrient.
A person who liked to practice what he preached, he is said to have personally taken 12,000 mg of Vitamin C per day.
This is a far cry from the Recommended Daily Allowance of 40 to 60 mg a day.
He also championed its use in combating flu, cancer, heart disease and other health ailments.
One of his big passions was the pioneering of orthomolecular medicine, (the practice of maintaining human health through the use of nutritional supplements).
Sometimes called Megavitamin Therapy, this approach involves attempting to redress imbalances or nutritional deficiencies based on individual bio-chemistry.
His own words best sum up his approach here:
“Nearly all disease can be traced to a nutritional deficiency”
(Quote from his ground-breaking book “How to Live Longer and Feel Better”)
Pauling’s recommendations included: Avoid the 3 S’s: smoking, stress and sugar.
To help keep yourself free of serious illness and have a longer life he recommended taking vitamin and mineral supplements. These he used to ensure optimal health and to help protect against disease.
So interested was he in in the nutritional role in health that he devoted much of the last 30 years of his life to its study.
There must have been something in what he learned as he lived to the ripe old age of 93.
The legacy of what this amazing man left behind him is astounding.
2 time Nobel Prize winner, biochemist, humanitarian, peace activist, nutritional trail-blazer, author and educator. This was a man who made such an impact on our world for the better.
The great Albert Einstein summed up Linus Pauling perfectly when he said:
“Ah that man is a real genius”
A Genius Idea from an Atom Bomb Physicist
Theodore “Ted” P. Jorgensen might not be a name that many people would know but this physics professor was an important player in the Manhattan Project during World War 2.
His Manhattan Project work involved the development of the first atom bomb, where his duties involved working on a method to measure the explosions of the bomb.
After the war, he returned to his former university NU, where part of his work was his supervision of the construction of an atomic accelerator.
He became Chair of Physics and Astronomy from 1949 to 1953 and retired in 1975.
What many people don’t know about this brilliant physicist is that from a young age he also had a keen interest in nutrition. This stemmed from observing that his mother could only get fertile eggs from her turkeys when she fed them cod liver oil.
Later in life he started to develop high cholesterol which ran at over 200 units for over several years. On consulting his doctor, he was told that he could try a drug that would lower it.
However, the doctor himself was a bit apprehensive of the side effects that might be had taking this drug. This did not instil any confidence in Jorgensen. He then decided to try a more natural approach.
Upon hearing of an experiment reporting of how cholesterol levels depended on the amount of white sugar ingested, he immediately eliminated sugar from his diet as much as he could while at the same time including 5gms of Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C) a day.
Much to his doctor’s surprise his cholesterol dropped from 240 units down to 180 units. Another benefit of this was that he got no colds from the time he took this higher amount of Vitamin C.
In later years Jorgensen went on to write the “The Physics of Golf” where he combined two of his passions Physics and Golf, into a best-selling book.
Yet he remained deeply interested in the benefits of Vitamin C.
A Great Idea from a Great Mind
So much so that at the ripe old age of 99 he wrote a very passionate letter encouraging the general use of higher dosages of this wonder vitamin.
He quoted a study that suggested a 154 lb man in good health should be taking between 2.3 grams to 10 grams of Vitamin C a day. Which is significantly greater than the Recommended Daily Allowances!
His recommendation was for the US government to sponsor a free Vitamin C program to its citizens which he felt would lower health care in a major way.
He obviously knew something special as he lived to 100 years of age.
The Superspy of Science
Hunted by the enemy in the Second World War, this Nobel Prize winning Hungarian physiologist, made one of the most important health discoveries of the 20th century. This genius was the first person to discover Vitamin C.
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi was a man who during World War 1, served in the Hungarian army, on both the Italian and Russian fronts and won the Silver Medal for Valour.
Eventually he became so sickened at the carnage he was witnessing, he shot himself in the arm and got sent back home with the wounded. This allowed him the time to resume his scientific studies.
In the next 16 years, he furthered his research in places like Prague, Hamburg, Berlin, Leiden, Groningen, Cambridge and in the Mayo Clinic in USA.
All this research was leading to one of the most important discoveries of the 20th Century – the discovery of Vitamin C.
This ground-breaking discovery happened in 1933 and was recognised by the award of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1937. This brought him into prominence.
A staunch believer in human rights, he donated his prize money to the Finnish resistance to the Russian invasion of their country in 1939.
At this stage, he had moved back to Hungary.
World War 2 Resistance Fighter
In WW2 when Hungary allied itself with Germany, Szent-Gyorgyi became a resistance fighter.
He used his own personal finances to help Jewish families flee the clutches of their foreign oppressors.
The country’s covertly nationalist prime minister used him secretly in an attempt to broker an alliance with the Allied powers. However, word of this got to the enemy and he was arrested but miraculously escaped. He spent the remainder of the war in hiding from them.
When the war ended, Szent-Gyorgyi became a well-known public figure whose popularity made him a potential candidate for Presidency of Hungary, but with the Soviets in control this was not going to happen.
Instead he became head of the biochemistry department at the University of Budapest.
Ever the activist he was also elected a Member of Parliament in an effort to champion the rights of his people.
However, with Communist rule so entrenched he could make little impact.
Disillusioned by this he immigrated to the United States in 1947.
This proved a good move as it allowed him to renew his research in a more open environment.
As the 1950’s drew to a close his research direction turned towards cancer. He made many interesting findings in his cancer research. These included the damaging effect of free radicals on the cells and the protection antioxidant vitamins C and E could give.
His freedom fighting and humanitarian side, surfaced again in 1967 when he signed a petition declaring his refusal to pay taxes in protest against the US war in Vietnam. He also encouraged other people to follow suit.
This amazing man lived on until 1986 when at the age of 93, time eventually called on him, but the impact he left on the world for the better, long lives after him.
In particular, his work on Vitamin C has revolutionised how the world sees the benefits of antioxidants and the effectiveness of supplementing them in our lives. He was truly a trail blazer whose star burned ever so brightly when he lived.
Wisdom for the Ages
Dr Denham Harman, Linus Pauling, Theodore P. Jorgensen, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi were all nutritional ground breakers of the last century.
These scientific icons all had one thing in common.
They stumbled upon the vital health-giving qualities of vitamins.
This knowledge seemed to help them live long productive lives.
Yet the beneficial effect of their research in this area has influenced and affected millions of people for the better.
But the trail doesn’t stop here, as newer health research pioneers have taken up the mantle and are continually bringing to light new exciting findings on vitamins, minerals and in particular antioxidants.
These research findings have uncovered a whole family of antioxidant nutrients and herbal extracts that are probably the next dimension in healthy ageing.
It would appear that they could be the ideal support to help keep us at our youthful best.
A couple of good tips in choosing a good antioxidant supplement are:
1. Always try and get an antioxidant formula that is strong enough to activate your system in the best possible way.
2. Another important point is to get an antioxidant formula that contains not just the standard antioxidant Vitamins A, C and E, but also has added herbal extracts like Milk Thistle, Bilberry Extract, Resveratrol, Pomegranate Extract, or Green Tea Extract, to name but a few.
3. Other notable antioxidants would include Co Q10, Bromelain, Broccoli Sprout Extract and Citrus Bioflavonoids.
These all contribute to the body’s natural defence system that help protect us from the harmful ageing effects of free radical damage.
Maybe it’s now time for you to experience the health-giving properties that antioxidants can have for you.
These great minds obviously saw the merit of them.
Don’t you think it’s time your great mind reaped the benefits of these too.
Legends of Nutrition by Hugh Chambers – Holistic Nutritionist. ©
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