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Vitamin Supplements vs. Vitamins in Food

Posted by Ana R.

In the past I have supplemented my diet with a few specific vitamins that I have read may be helpful and/or difficult to get enough of in foods (i.e. glucosamine-chondritin). However, I have also read that certain brands or supplements may have potentially harmful or ineffective results. In light of this conflict of research and opinions, I have tried to obtain as many vitamins/minerals/nutrients from the foods that I eat. Can anyone offer advice as to how to select vitamins, and which supplements are most needed?
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Gotta say, I've read some of Dr. Shayne's books, and the other comments here on the right track, i.e. how the vitamins / foods are processed, sourced, the fillers, binders, etc., all that is important.  The fact that the soil is depleted and if the food you're eating is not organic, you're really losing out on vital nutrients.  --  I FINALLY FOUND NutriPlex Formulas.  100% whole food, not from food or food based. They are the real thing.  They are a really small company but totally dedicated to doing it better than anyone else.  I've been constantly reading and searching for about 25 years to keep up to date.  They are still the best out there in my humble opinion.  Check them out for yourself, in the very least, they have a really good newsletter about nutrition.
The food is not enough because it doesn't have the nutrients in it a long time ago. Because of the use of pesticides, mass producing, and soil depletion. We must supplement in order to obtain certain vitamins and minerals. I myself take a liquid vitamin and mineral nutrition program. I have been taking it for 4 years now. The reason I started taking it was because I was tired all the time, and it really helped me with my energy and digestion. Also, I have always eaten my fruits and vegetables, and although I was eaten them I was still tired. I know there are many supplements on the market. You just have to find out which one is right for you.  For me, a concern of mine was that I wanted it to be natural. I didn't want to take supplements loaded down with a bunch of artificial ingredients. That was a big factor for me.  I chose a liquid vitamin and mineral nutrition program too was because I could swallow pills it was something that I did not enjoy doing on a daily basis. Also, pills don't get absorbed and you don't benefit from them.

Another important factor to consider when choosing a supplement is how the food or botanical was preserved. If the preservation was done by heat drying, many of the nutrients found in the food will have been destroyed by the heat. You want to make sure you're using whole food supplements that have been processed using low temperature or freeze drying. With this method, only the water is removed from the food, leaving the nutrient content uncomprimised.

The Naturally Nova Scotia brand makes whole food, certified organic supplements with fruits, veggies, and herbs that have been preserved using low temperature drying/freeze drying methods. They can be found online.

Also, I just finished reading a book last week called 'In Defense of Food' by Michael Pollan. It fits in well with the ideas that are being discussed here. He doesn't talk about supplements, but instead focuses on the idea of food being replaced by nutrients in the supermarket and how we need to make a shift to eating whole foods again. It was a great read; I'd recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about these ideas :o)

Organic vs Non Organic Food: An interesting study by Rutgers University showed that Non-Organic food had virtually no trace minerals compared to Organic. In fact Non-Organic spinich had 2% of the iron found in Organic Spinich... all of a sudden the 20% more you pay for organic makes it the best value for money you can find!
Vitamins are not foods. They are chemicals, even the so-called "natural" varieties. Simply, there's no such thing as a vitamin tree. But there is an orange tree, a beet root, a spinach leaf and an olive leaf. The next best thing to eating foods is taking whole food supplements that do not contain isolated vitamins. The best source is NutriPlex Formulas and the products can be found through your health care provider. There are also some doctors offering them on the web. There is also a book that explains this difference between vitamins and foods in great detail, but easy to understand. It's full of the research making the point and is called Man Cannot Live on Vitamins Alone, by Vic Shayne, PhD

A great resource for learning about various vitamins and minerals -- both in food and supplements is a website called World's Healthiest Foods (

Hi Ana-

 I understand your concern.  The supplement industry is really being challenged these days (some good, some bad) and it is very confusing for consumers.  The studies coming out are contradictory, and unless you know how to read studies and follow the scientific dialog, it looks like much of the information we've relied on relating to vitamins and health are being overturned.  (Wouldn't be pharmaceutical money, would it???)

 As far as vitamin, mineral and fatty acid supplements (like Omega 3's), there is never any counterindication nor side effects unless you are on a medication (like heart medicines that prohibit grapefruit).  If your supplement is natural, balanced and whole, it's not an issue.

Herbs are natural medicines.  Some herbs like St. John's wort, while very good, can interact with medications.  Other herbs like alfalfa don't have any interactions at all.

Here are a couple of guidelines:

1) no synthetic vitamins.  Make sure that the brand you are using is natural. Labelling law in the U.S requires only 10% natural product to get the natural label.  That is deceit, IMHO.  It is worth the time to write the company you are using.

2) make sure  that the company you choose certifies (by a third party) that their supplements are free of lead, herbicides and pesticides.

3) make sure that the company you choose has bioavailability studies done by a third party.  These studies prove absorption.

4) do not buy any multi-vitamin that has herbs in it.  Those are popular b/c people think they are getting more for their buck, but we're talking molecular structure here.  The amount of herbs in those products are miniscule.  It is just a marketing tactic.

5) If you are buying a b-complex product, make sure that ALL 8 B vitamins are there in proper porportion.  It must have 100% biotin.  The B Vitamins work together, and they all like to "be at the party" at the same time.

 Hope that helps.

Karen Miner Hurd


Watch the video Food Matters and you will find out that our food, even the greenest pepper, is not nutricious - our soils don't have near the nutrients needed.  Supplements and whole raw foods are essential. 

Your food is not enough. You should be sure that you are taking the freshest vitamins. Many these days even come refrigerated! Unless you are getting your produce straight off the farm, its vitamin content is not at its peak, or even what the manuals say they are. However, according to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, there are substances in food that we don't know how to make vitamins for yet! So, keep on eating a variety of colors of fresh produce every day. You can read Dr. Perricone's books for ideas on what vitamins MUST be supplemented.
Nature Vs. Nurture. Wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where everything we needed to stay healthy would magically appear on our back porch? How great would that be??? Unfortunately, keeping ourselves healthy is like trying to keep that wilty plant that's on the back porch (that lives there instead) alive and kicking. Getting vitamins from the food you eat is always the most efficient form of vitamin intake. However, that means that you should be eating your vegetables raw, so that no nutritional value is lost. And that's a lot of chewing! In general, if you are "eating healthy", getting your required servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you should be doing fine. But that's in the land of should. In the land of reality, the best way for you to know if you're getting enough vitamins and minerals and what foods and supplements you should add to your diet is to go to a nutritionist. A nutritionist can measure all sorts of scientific, crazy things about your physical make up and give you a better idea of where you're at. And if you're not getting enough of something, he can tell you specifically what to add.
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