Why 90% of Store-Bought Vitamins are Trash
Do we really even need vitamins? I used to think “not.” But the fact that many of us don’t eat the kinds of food our ancestors ate (organ meats, fermented foods, saturated fats), the soil is depleted of nutrients, and the level of processing our food goes through, I think now that vitamins are indispensable.
Not all vitamins are created equal. Most vitamins you find as places like Walgreens, Costco, and even Whole Foods are … crap. Here is a quick and easy guide to knowing what to look for – keywords – to assess your vitamin stock.
Ideally vitamins are from “whole food” sources. That is, if you read the label, you see what it is made out of. You want to see things like vegetables, fruits, animal organs, and other naturally occurring compounds.
Most vitamin A on the market is just “beta carotene.” But – real vitamin A also includes
- fatty acids,
- vitamin C,
- vitamin E,
- vitamin B,
- vitamin D,
- enzymes and
This A-complex is fully used and absorbable and will not cause vitamin A toxicity. Synthetic vitamin A can cause cancer whereas real vitamin A is one of the best antioxidants around.
What is happening in the vitamin world is that companies, including pharmaceutical companies, are chemically extracting a partial “vitamin” from the whole compound.
This extraction can not be rightly called a vitamin. Your body will fail to recognize it, or will draw from other reserves in your body to make up the difference.
It’s like pumping the gas pedal in your car, but the engine is off.
Or it’s like whipping a tired horse.
The thing is, we don’t really understand how our body uses nutrients. Not fully. Real food absorption is complex, with many nutrients playing in harmony with other ones.
I don't think you can separate out one molecule and say, “Oh, this is the one thing you need.”
Food-based vitamins work because…it’s food. We’ve been eating food for millions of years and – hey – it’s gotten us this far!
Unfortunately, whole food vitamins are rare because
- there's big business and money in laboratory-made supplements
- whole food vitamins are expensive to make. They're made by taking a vitamin-rich plant, removing the water and the fiber in a cold vacuum process, free of chemicals, and then packaging for stability.
- we (the public) have been tricked into thinking that it’s the RDA% written on the label that tells us the amount of the vitamin’s efficacy. It’s unsure whether or not our bodies know what to do with a chemical extraction of a vitamin compound. Our bodies were made to eat real food, not chemical extracts. With the state of health most people are in, I think it’s safe to say that the food and the vitamin industries have been “feeding” us lies.
- TRASH IT: “Ascorbic Acid”
- Why? There’s one company in the US who makes about 90% of the ascorbic acid. It’s made from corn starch and acid. Ascorbic acid is only the covering of the vitamin C compound in a plant. You cannot treat a vitamin C deficiency with just ascorbic acid; people with scurvy do not recover when just given ascorbic acid.
- TRASH IT: “beta carotene,” “retinal palmitate,” “retinol,” or “retinoid acid”
- Why? Synthetic beta carotene can’t transform into usable vitamin A in your body because…it’s made from hydrogenated oils. The Swiss drug manufacturer Hoffman-LaRoche makes most of the world’s beta carotene. At best it’s worthless, at worst, it’s toxic.
VITAMIN B (1, 2, 6, 12, choline, folic acid, biotin)
- TRASH IT: “thiamine hydrochloride / mononitrate,” “cobalamin,” “d-Biotin,” “choline chloride / bitartrate,” “riboflavin,” “pyridoxine hydrochloride,” “pteroylglutamic acid,” “d-biotin”
- Why? Thiamine is made from coal tar and was found to cause infertility in pigs (in 100% of the sample!). Cobalamin is made from sewage sludge. The point is, most synthetic B vitamins are highly processed and not bioavailable. Ever start a B-vitamin and your pee turns orange? That’s what we call “expensive urine.”
- MTHFR - if you've been diagnosed as having this, optimizing your diet for B-vitamins, or taking an organ-based supplement will help. MTHFR is a genetic tendency to not be able to process synthetic B-vitamins. Most people have it. The best solution are food-based Folic Acid, B6, and B12 (B-Complex).
- TRASH IT: “irradiated ergosterol,” “calciferol”
- Why? Synthetic vitamin D is made from sheep's wool (lanolin), applying UV light to a by-product of yeast, or extracting it from lichens. It's not a terrible way to get Vitamin D, but not as effective as a good quality fish oil, or just going into the sun for 20 minutes a day without sunscreen. In all, D2 is not as absorbable as D3.
- TRASH IT: “dl-alpha tocopherol,” “dl-alpha tocopherol acetate” or “succinate”
- Why? See above diagram. The tocopherols are only a part of the whole complex. Absorbability of natural E (whole grains, seeds, nuts, oils, vegetables) is significantly higher.
- TRASH IT: “Calcium Carbonate”
- Why? It’s made from limestone or eggshells. This is the type of calcium that may cause kidney stones. If you have signs of over-alkalinity (cramping muscles, nerve pains), you may not be aborbing calcium. Instead, opt for “calcium citrate” or even better “calcium lactate.” Calcium lactate is the form of calcium closest to the form of calcium your bones need. Your body has to go through only a few metabolic steps to absorb it.
- AVOID: “ferrous gluconate / sulfate / fumarate,” “ferric iron”
- Why? Synthetic iron has less absorbability, and the most stomach pain and nausea side effects, compared to food-based, or "heme-based" iron. I heard about a class where they ran a box of Total cereal under a magnet. Total claims to be high in iron. The magnet filled up with iron fillings.
So what vitamin supplements are good to take? The best source of vitamins are through a healthy diet.
Most people have misconceptions of what a “healthy diet” means. Let's go beyond "salad," when we think of healthy eating to also include -
- organic fruits and veggies: from a highly mineralized and healthy soil: for vitamins A and C
- raw dairy: for calcium, enzymes, and probiotics
- fermented foods: for probiotics and enzymes
- seaweed: for minerals, including iodine for your thyroid
- raw or low-cooked seafood: for Omega 3 oils and vitamin A
- grass fed beef and butter: for Omega 3 oils and iron
- healthy vegetable oils: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil: for vitamin E
- organ meats: heart, liver, brain, offal, tripe, etc.: for B vitamins and minerals
- bone broth: for minerals
TAKE IT OR EAT IT
If you don't eat it regularly, you should take it in (whole-food) supplement form.
The companies I know of who do whole food vitamins include:
- Standard Process. You may already know they’re my favorite! We carry a large portion of their line in my office, or you can look at their website http://www.standardprocess.com to find a practitioner near you who carries them.
- Innate Response
- Garden of Life
- New Chapter
- Pure Synergy
Don't miss a beat!
New moves, motivation, and classes delivered to your inbox.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.