In his patent of 1965, Masquelier clearly listed a wide variety of vascular disorders that could result from a deficiency in OPCs, which he referred to as “vitamin P factor.” In this context, he described vitamin P’s position in nutrition as follows: “OPCs are found in nature, in the natural state, in fruits and vegetables in particular. A normal diet should therefore provide an adequate amount of P factors to avoid any deficiency. However, these constituents [Masquelier meant OPCs] are usually located in the bark, teguments, cuticles, and woody parts of plants, so that they are eliminated when we eat fruits and vegetables. It is therefore hardly surprising that there are individuals who suffer from problems indicative of factor P deficiency, in spite of having a healthy, balanced diet. In addition, numerous bioflavonoids are very poorly soluble or even insoluble in water; we assume they will have little activity when absorbed with our food.”
So, when, in 1965, Masquelier launched the idea of taking OPCs as a vitamin, as a dietary supplement, he was light-years ahead of the pack. Yet, it was entirely consistent with Masquelier’s thinking that OPCs are being sold as the active ingredient in medicines as well as dietary supplements. The same feelings of satisfaction that he experienced when the French OPCs medicines rose to fame filled his mind as he saw dietary supplements containing his OPCs being taken by millions of consumers around the world. Many of these consumers do not suffer from the health problems researched in the framework of the French vascular medicines. Yet they do supplement their diets with OPCs because they see it as a way of staying healthy and fit.
OPCs are essential nutrients, and OPCs products belong in the group of vitamin supplements that are freely sold without medical indications. Masquelier saw the simultaneous marketing of his OPCs products, as a medicine and as a dietary supplement, as a rewarding acknowledgement of the many facets of his work and research.
Unfortunately, it still is true today that insufficient nutrition keeps many people in a state of sub-scurvy or sub-health. The early stage of vitamin C deficiency is still much more common than generally assumed. Cardiovascular and other degenerative diseases are the result of a deficiency in vitamin C, OPCs, and other essential nutrients. The cardiovascular and cancer mortality rates are proof that in all their affluence, the Western societies still suffer from a suboptimal supply of vitamin C and OPCs. To put it in no uncertain terms, many of us still suffer from scurvy, be it that this form of scurvy manifests itself, for instance, in the form of vascular diseases. The abundance of food products and our bulging refrigerators give the false impression that food cannot be the cause of disease because there’s plenty of it. In turn, this idea leads to the rather mediaeval thinking that disease is a curse that can be cured only by physicians who wear white coats and scribble prescriptions that may be deciphered only by pharmacists who then deliver us drugs with fancy names and side effects to which we must subject ourselves to drive out the curse. At best, physicians advise us to stop eating eggs and to quit smoking
Insufficient intake of OPCs through fruit is caused by industrial processing, which deprives fruit of its vital ingredients. A well-known example is canned food, but even fresh fruit that is served in our households may contain few OPCs because the fruit has not completely matured. OPCs are found primarily in completely ripe fruit, with only a minor amount present in unripe fruit. Today’s produce, especially the fruit that goes into mass distribution, is frequently picked before it is ripe. The long chains of distribution to bring the fruit to the consumer take time. To prevent the fruit from rotting before reaching the consumer, growers pick it prematurely and allow it “to ripen” during transport.
The safest method to supply the body with adequate amounts of OPCs is in their regular, daily intake in the form of a dietary supplement. The safest way to make sure that you’re getting the researched and qualified OPCs is to take a dietary supplement containing Masquelier’s OPCs. These dietary supplements are supplied in many countries around the world by the Dutch company International Nutrition Company (INC), which distinguishes the active ingredients as MASQUELIER’s Original OPCs (the OPCs compound from Vitis vinifera seeds) and MASQUELIER’s French Maritime Pine Bark Extract (OPCs from Pinus maritima bark). Apart from the fact that OPCs provide the full range of vitamin P effects, they are also tremendously strong and safe antioxidants, an aspect discussed in greater detail in chapter 28: OPCs, the Mightiest Scavengers of Free Radicals. Their superior antioxidative power makes the compounds developed by Masquelier extremely fit for daily use as a dietary antioxidant. As antioxidants, OPCs are recommended, for instance, in the event of regular intake of vegetable oils, which are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Certain enzymes that the body produces — such as peroxidase, catalase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) — provide natural, innate protection against free radicals and oxidative accidents in our body. But the older we grow, the less effective these free radical scavenging enzymes become. This means that when we need the enzymatic protection most, during the second half of our lives, we become exposed to exponentially growing health risks. To defuse the situation, we should take dietary antioxidants to put the brakes on the oxidants that speed up the aging process. Some additional conditions may also overload and overwhelm the body with free radicals. These conditions concern:
- People who are exposed to increased radiation of the sun or live at high altitudes.
- People who regularly take medication on the basis of synthetic, polycyclic substances.
- People who smoke. In heavy smokers, nicotine destroys vitamin C and thus deprives the body of an important natural antioxidant. OPCs balance this deficiency and, thanks to their protective effect, succeed in reinforcing the vitamin C.
- People who regularly consume “royal” quantities of alcohol. This habit requires an antioxidant counterbalance. The example of alcohol consumption convincingly illustrates the significance of such prevention; after all, liver degeneration is caused by an excess of free radicals. Those who regularly consume considerable quantities of alcohol should be taking OPCs. The relationship between alcohol and OPCs is discussed further in chapter 32: Red Wine Drinkers Live Happier and Longer and following chapters.