Whole Food Supplements (Bio-available) vs OTC (Synthetic) Vitamins
Almost all the vitamin and mineral supplements you get at drug stores, vitamin shops, grocery stores – even at Whole Foods – are synthetic. They are manufactured by a few of the largest pharmaceutical companies under different brand names and in different packages for targeted marketing purposes. “Man cannot duplicate what nature creates, even when the chemical analysis is identical. Most vitamin supplements are isolated chemical USP (United States Pharmacopeia) vitamins and minerals pressed together in a pill. The vitamins are produced synthetically from petroleum in chemical plants, while the minerals come from mining companies. “Synthetic minerals are derived from rocks such as limestone, coral, oyster shell, sand, and chalk. Yum. Although these materials have mineral profiles, our bodies do not absorb them properly.” (Myers, 2012) Some even claim that synthetic vitamins suppress our immune systems, that our bodies react to synthetic supplements as foreign invaders and launch an immune response against them. (Myers, 2012)
Dr. Fred Ulan, DC, CC, is a chiropractor in Florida who, when he realized that a steady diet of nutritionally empty, toxic foods was literally killing him, developed a system of diagnostic testing and treating with whole foods supplements he calls Nutritional Response Testing. He wrote this about the difference between synthetic, over-the-counter vitamin supplements and whole food supplements: Over the counter vitamins are pharmaceutically engineered chemical fractions of vitamin structures reproduced in a laboratory. They are not ‘whole food’ and the body does not actually recognize these anything even vaguely beneficial (to put it mildly). Because they are not made from whole foods ‘over the counter’ vitamins lack the essential synergistic elements normally present in WHOLE foods. An example of a whole food could be carrots. Carrots are high in Vitamin A Complex. A “complex” is something made up of many different parts that work together. Synthetic vitamin A does not contain the whole vitamin A complex found in nature. So, if we were looking for a food high in vitamin A, carrots might be one of our choices. If one actually were deficient in any of the components of vitamin A complex, one would be wise to seek out a supplement that was made from whole foods that were rich in this complex – not from chemicals re-engineered in a laboratory to look like one little part of the vitamin A complex that has been mislabeled as vitamin A. Vitamins that are being used all over today generally only need to have a small percentage of their actual content derived from natural sources to be labeled “natural”. If they are not derived from the whole foods, they often can make you more deficient and nutritionally out of balance. They can create other health problems because they do not contain all the co-factors found in nature that make the vitamins work. So-called “scientific research” done with these shoddy substitutes, repeatedly “proves” that vitamins don’t do much good for anyone! Can you imagine who pays for these “researches”?
AN EXAMPLE: NATURAL VITAMIN D3 VS SYNTHETIC D2 The vast majority of us are quite deficient in vitamin D – with serious consequences: increasing our risks for many chronic/autoimmune diseases and conditions – including heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, MS, cancers, TB, seasonal flu, Alzheimer’s, depression, diabetes and hair loss. A 2000 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that 77% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. (Hardin, 2014) Exposure to sunlight stimulates our bodies to manufacture vitamin D – easier to achieve in the sunny but almost impossible in the darker months. Without 10-15 minutes of daily direct exposure to sunlight on at least 40% of your skin (wearing no sunscreen), we easily become “D-ficient”. Supplementing with D is the solution – but make sure you take a D3 supplement made with cholecalciferol, an active form that is much more bio-available than a synthetic vitamin D2. (Beljanski, 2013)
Adequate vitamin D levels are so important that a top British breast surgeon, Dr Kefah Mokbel, is handing out D supplements to his patients. He has also urged the National Health Service to provide D supplements to ALL British women 20 and older to prevent and fight breast cancer.
This is an example of what vitamin D3 gel cap supplements look like:
More information on the dangers of vitamin D deficiency:
REFERENCES Beljanski, S. (2013). Do not underestimate the benefits of vitamin D! See: http://thebeljanskiblog.com/underestimate-benefits-vitamin-d/ Hardin, J.R. (2014). Alzheimer’s, Gut Bacteria and Music. See: https://www.allergiesandyourgut.com/post/alzheimer-s-gut-bacteria-and-music Myers, W. (2012). 90% Of Vitamins Are Synthetic. See: http://liveto110.com/90-of-vitamins-are-synthetic/ Ulan, F. (2015). Dr Ulan & NRT. Natural Health and Healing Center. See: http://naturalhealthgr.com/services/nutritional-response-testing/dr-ulan-nrt © Copyright 2015 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Obviously, it is best to get your vitamins from the foods you eat, in the most bioavailable form (eating some food raw or cooking them first to get their nutrients more available–different foods carry different kinds of vitamins even within the same family of vitamins.
Carol Hornig, a gifted nutritionist and healer, always recommended getting the best chunk of your minerals and vitamins from the best foods you can get: diversity of foods, minimally processed, in season and in healthy combinations (e.g. Foods with Oil soluble vitamins are best eaten with healthy oils in the meal to help with absorbing and so on). She also recommended good quality vitamins, which made sense along the same sensible lines: you want to put good stuff in your body while at that same time not becoming a slave to you intake or getting too rigid about it so that it becomes a source of stress instead of nurishment and pleasure.
I loved her way of seeing things and though she is no longer on this earth with us, her teachings are.
So… Yes, I think that it is good to be aware of the quality of what we put in our bodies, from foods to vitamins to thought and beliefs… And to do what we can in the most sensible and reasonable way, and most importantly, without alarm or judgment. Some will get sick even if they do “everything right” and some might die of cancer even if they took the best amounts so vitamin D of the best source.
We can do what we can to take the best care of our bodies that is reasonably possible within the circumstances and realities of our lives, and limit foods and substances that are either processed beyond comprehension or never were food to begin with. We can get supplements for our specific needs the way we would get food we need to support this
or that system.
There is a lot in our world today that is synthetic. Much of it may be neutral health-wise (e.g. A plastic container to store your winter clothes or a fleece jacket) and some of it is not great (e.g. Heating plastics in the microwave…), and the key is to find a place somewhere in
between overuse and phobia, and make the most of the possibilities one has for best health.
My point? … That some people can get the specialty bio available vitamins from food, and some need supplementation and may not be able to get specialized ones. Does this mean they are better off taking noting because the ones at whole foods are not the best in naturality? I don’t know. I believe some vitamins are probably more crucial than others in
natural forms and some may be bioavailable even if they do come from rocks and coral… Calcium and carbon, magnesium and nickel, sodium and more… Come from rocks…
In reply to Na'ama
Thanks, Na’ama. A nicely balanced and sane comment. Carol Hornig’s deep wisdom and generous advice is indeed sorely missed.
Dr David Miller, who heads the Wellness Department at LifeThyme (a well-known
health food store in New York City) and is highly informed about vitamins, supplements and other remedies, offered this response to my post: So called ‘whole-food supplements’ are easily destroyed in the acidic environment of the stomach because they are improperly chelated. Many of us prefer to use Albion chelates/TRAACS that mimic the exact metabolic process in the intestines, allowing for much better absorption and bio-availability. Whole-foods products do not even come close!