Most people think they’re doing well when they add multivitamins to their nutritional plan. In fact, Americans and Canadians are the greatest consumers of multivitamins in the world. We’re far from the healthiest, though.
Personally, I’ve always felt that getting my nutrients and micronutrients from whole foods is best. So I’ve never really investigated multivitamins enough to be able to say whether they’re good or bad for you. But a friend of mine, Yuri Elkaim, gave me a great education on multivitamins in a report he just wrote.
His report, The Truth about Multivitamins, goes into a lot more detail than I can share here, but I do want to pass on some key points I learned, that I’m sure will surprise you. Most of this information deals with what’s wrong with the multivitamins most people buy. The rest is about how multivitamins stand up in a comparison with whole foods.
Do You Know What You’re Taking?
If you’re like most people, you probably think that the vitamins contained in multivitamins come from foods. Sorry to disappoint you, but they’re not! Most are synthetic, and you may not like hearing what they’re made from.
Here’s a few synthetic vitamin examples that may open your eyes:
- Vitamin D – synthetic vitamin D is made from cattle brains that have been irradiated. Yes, irradiated… as in zapped with radiation.
- Vitamin C – made from hydrogenated sugar, processed with acetone. Does acetone sound familiar? It should, if you’ve ever seen a bottle of nail polish remover.
- Vitamin A – also called beta-carotene, comes from petroleum esters, refined oils and methanol. Mmmmm… tasty!
- Vitamin B – most of the B vitamins are derived from coal tar and hydrochloric acid. Lovely!
Just to make things a little more “interesting”, many of the leading multivitamins contain just under the maximum “acceptable limit” of lead, according to a 2008 FDA study.
That might be enough to make you want to drop all your multivitamins in the trash. After all, you’re busting your butt to be healthy, and then pumping your system full of those poisons? The poisons in those multivitamins are bad enough, but what’s NOT in them is nearly as bad.
When you read “natural” on the label, you probably think it means “food”. Well, petroleum is “natural”. I suppose an argument could even be made that radiation is, too.
Don’t think that the back label is totally honest, either. Consumer Lab recently ran tests on the 38 leading multivitamin brands. Only 25 passed their tests. The rest were found to either contain less of the nutrients than the label claimed or they broke down so slowly that they would be passed through to the intestinal tract before they could be absorbed.
There Are Some Good Vitamins If You’re Careful
Yuri’s report explains how you need to be very careful when shopping for multivitamins. Look for “100% from food” or “made only from whole foods”, or a similar statement on the label. He goes into more detail on specific ingredients to tell you whether the vitamins are derived from whole foods, but the label will normally tell you proudly, if they are.
If you want vitamins from cherries or grapefruit, rather than nail polish remover and petroleum, that’s the only way to be sure.
Understand, too, that getting all those natural nutrients into those capsules is a challenge. That’s why truly natural vitamins will normally tell you to take between 4 and 8 per day, rather than the 1 or 2 of the synthetic version.
The Ideal Solution
The best approach is to get as many of your vitamins as possible from whole foods. It’s safer and a lot more effective. As an example, your liver has a specific transport designed to process vitamin E. Unfortunately, it can’t transport synthetic vitamin E… taking it is a waste of money, because your body can’t use it.
Another comparison, between vitamin C from foods and the ascorbic acid you’ll get in most multivitamins, is striking. Not only is ascorbic acid only one part of complete vitamin C – the “natural” vitamin C from fruit is more effective and provides nineteen times the antioxidants as a supplement!
Vitamin A (beta-carotene) is plentiful in carrots, and almonds are loaded with vitamin E. Kiwi has loads of vitamin C and leafy greens and other foods can easily satisfy your daily needs of the B vitamins.
For some people, it may be difficult to get enough of all their vitamin and mineral requirements from their diet alone. But it’s still best to have a diet that consists of plenty of vitamin-rich foods and just make up the difference with a supplement made strictly from whole foods.
If you’d like to learn more, I suggest you find a copy of Yuri’s report, The Truth About Multivitamins. In the meantime, stop filling your system with synthetic poisons, pick your supplements carefully and get all your vitamins that you can from whole foods. I have spent years talking about muscle building supplements, and can not stress enough just how important it is that you know “exactly” what is it you are putting in to your body.
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