Orthomolecular medicine is a form of complementary and alternative medicine aimed at maintaining health through nutritional supplementation and based on the assertion that there is an optimum nutritional environment in the body and that diseases reflect deficiencies in this environment. Treatment for disease, according to this view, calls for the "correcting of imbalances or deficiencies based on individual biochemistry" by use of substances natural to the body, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements and fatty acids. Few medical or scientific experts support this approach; even the accuracy of calling the orthomolecular approach a form of medicine has been questioned since the 1970s.
The approach is sometimes referred to as megavitamin therapy because its practice evolved out of, and in some cases still uses, doses of vitamins and minerals many times higher than the recommended dietary intake. Orthomolecular practitioners may also incorporate a variety of other styles of treatment into their approaches, including dietary restriction, megadoses of non-vitamin nutrients and mainstream pharmaceutical drugs. Proponents argue that non-optimal levels of certain substances can cause health issues beyond simple vitamin deficiency and see balancing these substances as an integral part of health.
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, or simply ascorbate (the anion of ascorbic acid), is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. Vitamin C refers to a number of vitamers that have vitamin C activity in animals, including ascorbic acid and its salts, and some oxidized forms of the molecule like dehydroascorbic acid. Ascorbate and ascorbic acid are both naturally present in the body when either of these is introduced into cells, since the forms interconvert according to pH.
B vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism. The B vitamins were once thought to be a single vitamin, referred to as vitamin B (much as people refer to vitamin C). Later research showed that they are chemically distinct vitamins that often coexist in the same foods. In general, supplements containing all eight are referred to as a vitamin B complex. Individual B vitamin supplements are referred to by the specific name of each vitamin (e.g., B1, B2, B3 etc.).
Vitamin Angels is a non-profit, non-governmental organization focused on bringing essential nutrition to children around the world through vitamin supplementation.