There’s a big difference between nutrients from whole foods and the nutrient ingredients used in the vast majority of supplements.
Real whole food products use exclusively food powders, processed properly, as their active ingredients.
Vitamin supplements can fill-in the gaps where your diet may be lacking. When picking vitamins for your family or yourself, it can get confusing, though.
In our culture, we’re used to the idea that “more is better.” If beta-carotene is good for the eyes, then a whole bunch of beta-carotene must be really good for the eyes.
This type of thinking is not how Mother Nature works when it comes to nutrition.
Foods are balanced. Foods are loaded with lots of nutrients but never in megadose quantities. You’d be hard-pressed to find a food with 1,000 mg of ascorbic acid, let alone the 5,000 mg–10,000mg doses often sold at stores or from health care professionals. In the case of nutrition, “more” definitely isn’t better.
Most supplements contain mega-dose vitamin isolates without their little guy partners, also known as vitamin fractions. Others are simply chemical compounds made in factories, also known as pure, crystalline vitamins.
Mother Nature knows best. Nutrients need each other to work effectively in our bodies. The big guys need the little guys just as much as the little guys need the big guys.
What is phytochemicals?
Phytochemicals are compounds in plants. (Phyto means “plant” in Greek.) These substances are found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. They give plants their color, flavor and aroma. It’s thought that there are thousands of different phytochemicals, and scientists are just starting to discover the different roles these substances may play. However, we’re learning that in addition to the roles they play in plants, they also have health benefits for us.
Things to consider when taking Synthetic Vitamins
Almost all multivitamins are from synthetics. The same goes for fortified foods. There’s a good reason for this. Synthetic vitamins are cheaper to make and usually more stable.
This means they can last on shelves for months or years, be added to foods in high doses, and create small dense tablets packed with insane amounts of every type of vitamin. These vitamins are allowed to call themselves “natural” even when they are synthetic because scientists say the synthetics are virtually identical to the ones found in food.
Synthetic vitamins are isolated or simulated nutrients that do not take into account all the countless phytonutrients that come along with them.
Synthetic Minerals Can’t Be Excreted Right Away
The body excretes excess natural vitamins, while synthetic vitamins get stored in the liver as substances that can be toxic to the body.
The body utilizes only what it needs from organic vitamins. Excess vitamins are processed and discarded, but that’s not the case with synthetic supplements.
Synthetic vitamins contain a high concentration of the chemical that mimic natural vitamins. You basically get a higher dosage of these vitamins than those obtained from fruits and vegetables as well as organic food sources.
They get stored in the body until they can be processed with the right nutrients. This can be dangerous to the body because a buildup of chemicals the body can’t excrete can eventually cause diseases.
Synthetic Vitamins Don’t Contain Trace Minerals
Natural vitamins come with various enzymes, minerals, lipids, protein, and other nutrients to help the body digest and utilize them. Synthetic vitamins are isolated forms of those they are mimicking.
Unlike organic vitamins obtained from food which contain trace minerals and other nutrients, clinically-made vitamins do not contain any other nutrients.
If you’re not taking other supplements like magnesium, iron, or folic acid, taking only pill-form vitamins may result in some serious nutrient deficiency problems.
How to determine if your supplements are food based or synthetic?
Read the ingredients.
The ingredients tell it all. If a nutrient is listed as a food like liver, a glandular, an herb, fish oil, pea vine, or alfalfa, you’re good to go. If there are chemical names like niacin, thiamine, or tocopherols, you’ve got a synthetic on your hand.
Look at the DV percentage.
The percentage of Daily Value is based on chemically pure vitamin fractions. If the nutrient on the label is listed at 100% or more, you’ve likely got a synthetic product on your hands. Remember, nature is low dose but highly potent.
Beware of singular vitamins.
Mother Nature works in tandem. Her nutrients are never found alone. If you’re taking a supplement all by itself, such as vitamin E or D, it’s guaranteed to be synthetic.