How To Buy the Most Effective Supplements Part Two
Being a health consumer is harder than ever. One day you might read an article in the magazine section of the Sunday paper that says how effective vitamin A is for preventing cancer. The next day, you hear on the late night news that taking vitamin A is toxic and can even cause cancer! Totally confused, you wonder who to believe. And that’s how you start your collection.
We all have them. I did and most of my clients do, too. I am talking about all of those vitamin pill bottles that you have in the kitchen cupboard—stuff you’ve bought over the years, but probably stopped taking. People have a hard time throwing them away because they spent money on them. Who knows? Perhaps they could use them in an art project or something! (That was me—but more about that in my forthcoming book, Why Can’t I Throw Things Away?LOL)
Buying vitamins has become incredibly crazy. It’s not like in the good old days, when there was only one type of multiple, vitamin or mineral. Today, there are fifteen different kinds of each. Once you figure out what you want and need, after reading every label for the past three hours, (where are the sales people when you need them?) then you find a supplement that combines several of them, but not all of them. Now you have to start all over, wondering “What’s the difference between all these supplements anyway?” No wonder people are confused!
Three Types of Supplements
There are only three types of supplements on the market today. The best and most natural are made from whole foods.
1. Whole-Food Supplements
Whole-food supplements are whole foods with only the water and fiber removed; in other words, they are dried food. They are processed below 112° F. so the enzymes are alive, and they have a limited shelf life. They contain all of the nutrients required by our body to meet the needs of our cells. A great example is Standard Process, which I have used 17 years.
2. Synthetic Vitamins
Synthetic vitamins don’t come from food. For example, ascorbic acid comes from corn sugar to make vitamin C. Thiamine comes from petroleum or coal tar products to make vitamin B. Eastman Kodak Company supplies almost all supplement companies with synthetic alpha-tocopherol made from distilled cottonseed oil to make vitamin E.
Most drugstore vitamins are synthetic. While they are the exact molecular formula of the organic nutrient, they contain none of the co-factors required for your body to use this vitamin! This process causes it to become a “mirror image” of the natural counterpart. Chemically, it has the opposite configuration (left-hand spin instead of right hand spin), so the vitamin can’t be used. According to Dr. Lee, not only are these vitamins not usable by the body, but also the required co-factors are taken from your own body’s reserves, so you become nutritionally deficient.
3. Crystalline Vitamins
The third type is crystalline vitamins or fractionated vitamins, which are made by treating natural foods with high-powered chemicals, solvents, and heat. This process destroys almost all of the co-factors (enzymes, antioxidants, trace elements and other unknown factors) that are needed for your body to use the vitamin. This can cause vitamin deficiencies.
While this process keeps the right-hand spin, it contains only part of the real thing like comparing refined white flour (crystalline vitamin) to wheat flour (whole-food supplement). You miss the major ingredients. The motivation for producing crystalline vitamins is to increase the milligram levels for marketing purposes only, not for our good health.
Problems With Synthetics
There are many problems with synthetic vitamins.
1. Synthetic vitamins create nutritional deficiencies.
2. Synthetic vitamins don’t just pass through the body; the body has to process them. Since they are processed by the body, they can be harmful and produce yellow urine.
3. Rather than work as a true nutrient, they work as a stimulant. That’s why you often experience a “rush” when taking synthetic vitamins.
4. The FDA does not require expiration dates on vitamins, so many companies don’t include them. Calcium supplements can sit on the shelf for years before you purchase them. If they don’t have an expiration date, they are packed with preservatives. Whole-food supplements have a dated shelf life.
You’ll see the word, “natural,” written on everything these days. Did you know that most vitamins on the market claiming to be natural only have to be 10% natural to make this claim?
Some firms mix 10% natural vitamin E with 90% synthetic vitamin E and call their product “natural” vitamin E without declaring the synthetic portion. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to stop this misleading labeling.
Many vitamins that are “natural” never break down. They often contain additives, food allergens, sugar, artificial food coloring, flavoring, shellac, chlorine, and other potentially hazardous chemicals.
The word “organic” is also used commonly; implying something organically grown. Unfortunately the word “organic” means anything that contains a carbon atom, which could mean a synthetic substance, not just organically-grown produce.
The word “pure” is legal because the product is the pure essence of the chemical molecule. The phrase “vitamin complex” is allowable because products could be from food sources, and contain minute quantities of the co-factors once in the food. The term “from natural sources” can refer to natural substances such as corn sugar.
How Can You Tell?
A natural, soluble vitamin will completely break down within 10-20 minutes in a glass of water. However, many drug store vitamins simply sit at the bottom of the glass, releasing colorings, dyes, or shellac. Synthetic vitamins, especially the B complex, make your urine yellow.
I’ll continue my discussion of whole food supplements next week. Look for part three,
What whole food supplements do we really need?
Adapted from the book, Why Do I Need Whole Food Supplements? By Lorrie Medford Copyright 2011 All rights reserved.
To order Lorrie’s book, Why Do I Need Whole Food Supplements?, click here.