“...more than three billion people around the world suffer from malnourishment and yet, ironically, efforts to increase food production have actually produced food that is less nourishing.” - Eating Your Veggies: Not As Good For You? - TIME
Supplementing your diet with added nutrients has become mandatory to not only reach optimum health, but to simply maintain health.
The average vegetable found in today’s supermarket has anywhere from 5% to 40% less minerals than those harvested 50 years ago.
The growing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, today’s crops are being harvested faster than ever before. Quick, early harvests mean the produce has less time to absorb nutrients either from synthesis or the soil, and minerals like potassium (the "K" in N-P-K fertilizers) often interfere with a plant's ability to take up nutrients. Monoculture farming practice have also led to soil-mineral depletion, which, in turn, affects the nutrient content of crops. - TIME Health & Family Website
Add to that, artificial food ripening, which can lead to potential health hazards and may decrease nutrient content.
“Ethylene is the major ripening agent produced naturally within the fruits which initiates the process of ripening . There are multifarious uses of many ripening agents to release ethylene in order to speed up the ripening process. Chemicals like ethanol, methanol, ethylene glycol, Ethephon, calcium carbide are used to ripen fruits and vegetables artificially [13, 15, 23]. The use of calcium carbide is much widespread in many regions of south Asia including India, Bangladesh, Nepal and so forth for its cheaper market price despite its ban due to its harmful feats [4, 9, 20, 21, 24].” – A Critical Analysis of Artificial Fruit Ripening
For many of us, commercial multivitamin supplements is the answer to the lack of nutrients in our daily diets. For a very long time, I believed this route to be the best way to health and looked for quality multivitamin supplements. You’ll even find endorsements of multivitamin supplements I preferred and used, on this site. Recently, I’ve become enlightened and renewed by transforming information and research in regards to commercialized multivitamins. I no longer support, encourage or promote multivitamin products that are:
- Synthetic – Sourced from toxins, inorganic material and genetically modified organisms.
- Isolated – Compounds existing alone without co-enzymes, and factors needed to for completeness and effectiveness.
- “Sourced from” – Natural vitamins/minerals “sourced from” organic, natural-occurring vegetation (taken out of it’s native environment) and “plant-based” in an non-native environment
- Tableted multivitamins with excipients.
The Dance of Minerals, Vitamins and Co-Enzymes
You’ve heard the debates. Studies for and against multivitamins. Many have taken a position on either side. As I mentioned earlier, I was solely pro-multivitamins, after all, there is an obvious, serious lack in nutrients in our overall diets. With so many of us overweight, yet malnourished, the answer seems obvious…supplement with multivitamins and avoid artificial foods.
I did not understand important concepts that would soon change my entire outlook on the multivitamin industry. One…how vitamins and minerals behaved. Two…how and where they are sourced from, and three…high quality nutrition will never come from lab, but from by the provision of nature herself.
Understanding how vitamins and minerals exist naturally was the core of my dramatic 180 degree stance on multivitamins.
Vitamins do not exist as a single component or molecule that act on their own.
Allow me to repeat, there is no such thing as a single component or molecule that makes up most vitamins. True food vitamins exist in groups or clusters that are chemically related. These vitamins are made up of trace minerals, enzymes, co-enzymes, factors, co-factors and anti-oxidants that work together to produce an intended biological function.
Let’s take a popular vitamin found in many commercial multivitamin supplements as an example…the very lovely and essential vitamin C. Often, you will see “vitamin C” listed on your multivitamin label as Ascorbic Acid or Ascorbate. Ascorbic Acid is in fact, not the Vitamin C complex as a whole, but rather the hull that contains the group of chemically related components that make up the entire vitamin c complex. In other words, Ascorbic Acid is much like the egg shell that holds the yolk and whites.
It is NOT vitamin C. Unfortunately, the words ascorbic acid and vitamin C are terms used interchangeably as if the same. You’ll even find the two terms referenced as one in Wikipedia. In comparison, they are not structurally similar, nor is ascorbic acid found isolated in nature. The vitamin C complex, as shown in the graphic above, has P,J & K factors along with Bioflavonoids, Tyrosinase and of course ascorbic acid as an antioxidant…but that is ascorbic acid in natural existence as a part of the team.
Commercial ascorbic acid is produced synthetically in a laboratory in a process that involves refined corn and a fermentation process. The corn used to produced synthetic ascorbic acid is potentially genetically modified, if manufactured in the USA. Over 80 percent of US corn crops are genetically modified. It is a good idea to avoid synthetic ascorbic acid. Why? Ascorbic acid cannot produce vitamin activity outside of it teammates. Our bodies are truly intelligent. They do not recognize synthetic ascorbic acid and may treat it like a toxin. Alternately, they may see that this “egg shell” is missing parts of itself and seek to deplete trace minerals from tissue to complete the package, despite the fact that our bodies cannot manufacture vitamin C complex on it’s own…how intelligent is that?!? That aside, it is a taxing process. If other components cannot be found to complete the package, the “vitamin” goes out the wash and so does the $15.99 you spent on that bottle of chewable vitamin C. Further more, caution needs to be considered if you have allergies associated with corn.
TheDoctorWithin website sums up Ascorbic Acid/Vitamin C marketing deception very nicely with this paragraph:
“The ascorbic acid you buy at the grocery store every few weeks, thinking you are buying Vitamin C, is just a chemical copy of naturally occurring ascorbic acid, which itself is still only a fraction of the actual Vitamin C. Real vitamin C is part of something living, and as such, can impart life. Your synthetic, fractionated chemical ascorbic acid never grew in the ground, never saw the light of day, never was alive or part of anything alive. It’s a chemical, a cornstarch derivative, a sulfuric acid by-product. In your body it’s just another drug.”
Generally speaking, multivitamins often list synthetic (fractionated) vitamins on the label. However, many of us tend to trust the “explanation” in the brackets, which leads me to a vital label-reading tip…beware of bracketed information on ingredient labels. Here’s an example…
Riboflavin (vitamin B-2)………………………………5mg………………………….294% (Children’s multivitamin)
Riboflavin is synthetic and considered a week base. Other synthetic vitamins are listed as follows…
Thiamine (Marketed as Vitamin B1)
Niacin (Marketed as Vitamin B3)
Pantothenic Acid (Marketed as Vitamin B5)
Pyridoxine (Marketed as Vitamin B6)
Biotin (Marketed as Vitamin B7)
Folate (Marketed as Vitamin B9)
Cobalamin or Cyanocobalamin (Marketed as Vitamin B12)
Plant-based & Naturally Derived Vitamins Are Not Much Better Than Synthetic Counterparts
Plant-based vitamins are not much better than their chemically-based counterparts. If any of the synthetic vitamins listed above are on a plant-based label, you’re basically taking synthetic vitamins in a more natural base...and even then, “natural” bases should be closely scrutinized for authenticity. They MAY provide some bio-availability, but just like their counterparts they are isolated, fractionated, born-in-a-lab and more importantly, not a true vitamin complex.
It is vital to comprehend that vitamin complexes are just that…complex. Manufacturers cannot disassemble whole food complexes and reassemble them to their previous state. Once it has been disassembled, it is considered nonfunctional. Additionally, natural, wholesome vitamins and minerals work together for the greater good, in other words they are synergistic. Just as vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium, copper is essential for TRUE vitamin C activity. Manufacturers simply cannot mimic the native environment in which vitamins, minerals, enzymes, co-enzymes etc. thrive in and produce a fully functional product that would have the same nutritional benefit as an apple. Understanding this, plant sourced, or naturally sourced vitamins make little sense to me. I’m better off buying an apple from the supermarket for true synergistic nutrition. Naturally, that brings us back to the original issue of depleted nutrition in our vegetation. More on that later.
Tips & Clues Your Multivitamin Supplement is Synthetic
- Overdose warning. – Your body engages in selective absorption of synergistic, whole food nutrition. Your intelligent body knows what it needs. It selects the missing nutrients from the whole food and allows the rest to pass. The metabolism of chemical vitamins can lead to the imbalance of the body’s chemistry because the body doesn’t recognize synthetic vitamins. Therefore, the amounts of synthetic “vitamins” need to be monitored, like iron, to avoid toxic overdoses.
- RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowance) & DVs (Daily Value) – As mentioned, our bodies practice selective absorption of whole food nutrition. There is no way to “measure” or “count” vitamins in food. Synthetic vitamins are manmade, therefore easily measured to meet RDA and DV government-established requirements. Furthermore, whole food nutrition provides a broader spectrum of nutrients than that manufactured in a lab. RDAs are educated, and I use the term loosely, guesses that comprises of a one-size-fits-all scenario. It is important to understand that science has not documented every single vitamin & mineral in existence. I truly believe it is impossible for science to do so! As a matter of fact in 1925, there was only one known B vitamin. By 1975, there were ten. Vitamin B4,as an example, cannot be synthetically produced, so many doctors are unaware of its existence! This is very telling. Does marketing have an impact on “education”??? Something for us to think about.