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Is There Really Any Difference In Multivitamins?

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:37pm
I've received over 50 messages asking what is a whole food multivitamin. The emails and multivitamins have poured in since I first wrote about the National Synthetic Multivitamin TradeAway Program. Many people are starting to understand how certain ingredients can cause harm so they want to know what a whole food-based multivitamin really is.

First to show there are differences in multi vitamins let's start with reports about vitamins causing harm or shortening your life.

From the newspaper article: "Vitamins taken by around a third of the population do not extend life and may even cause premature death, according to a respected group of international scientists." After reviewing 67 studies involving more than 230,000 men and women, the experts say there is no convincing evidence that taking supplements of the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E can make you healthier." More here.

We were as stunned as anyone else at the timing and impact of this huge report.

As you might know from the "Are Your Vitamins Safe?" report, this is only the most recent in a growing number of studies finding that synthetic vitamins (either from a lab beaker or isolated from a plant or animal) are worthless or even risky for a significant number of people. How can this be?

Here's a big reason:

These isolated synthetic vitamins are not absorbed and utilized properly by the body.
That's because - the 'main vitamin' ingredient, (e.g. A, E, C, etc.) which is extracted by synthetic vitamin makers, does not include the chemical cousins and other ingredients that main vitamin comes with in its natural form. Apparently, the body needs these " cofactors" to absorb the main vitamin.

It's cheaper to extract just the main vitamin. Only it appears now that the resulting synthetic vitamins are useless or worse. Source

What is a whole food multivitamin?

A Whole Food Multivitamin is a supplement whose ingredients are real foods minus the water and fiber. That means primarily vegetables, fruits, herbs or spices, not isolated vitamins or minerals.

A whole-food supplement is made by taking a nutrient-rich plant like broccoli, removing the water and fiber, making it a powder, then encapsulating it or pressing it into tablets. All the nutrients in the plant remain intact, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and other nutrients, many of which are still unknown to research.

Whole food multis do not list amounts of vitamins or minerals because the value of the ingredients is not in amounts. It's in the synergy or interaction among the hundreds of nutrients contained in the ingredients, all working together.

Functional medicine research is showing that very small amounts of a wide array of natural nutrients is usually more beneficial than large amounts of isolated nutrients. The body uses them more easily. Further, there is a cooperation between certain vitamins and minerals, promoting absorption. Correcting a deficiency in one vitamin/mineral requires the addition of others, not simply replacement of the deficient one.

Some nutrients are often included in a whole food multi to amp up the effectiveness of the whole food blend. These can be absorbed because they are packed in with the whole foods. For example, alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that amps up the effect of the hundreds of antioxidants found in the veggies and fruits in whole food multis.
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