If you’re like most busy people, you don’t always have time to eat regular, nutritious meals. As a result, You're probably supplementing your diet with a multivitamin. Multivitamin formulas contain a variety of different vitamins and mineral combinations. But do you know what vitamins and minerals actually are? Or how much of which ones you're currently taking?
Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for life. Almost all vitamins are phytonutrients, meaning they were originally sourced from plants.
The common textbook definition of a vitamin is “an organic substance that cannot be manufactured by the body but is regularly needed in small amounts to prevent a combination of symptoms (disease) that can develop over a relatively short term (months to few years)." For example, if your diet is deficient in vitamin C, you will develop a set of symptoms known as scurvy. A lack of vitamin D will present in a set of symptoms called rickets, and too little vitamin B1 causes beri-beri.
Vitamins are also called micronutrients because the amounts that are required for normal functioning are very small, but very necessary. Vitamins can be hormones, antioxidants or even the co-enzymes required for many metabolic functions. Among other things, vitamins help us digest our food, fight infection and manufacture new cells. Vitamins help our bodies operate fully and efficiently.
Unfortunately, almost all vitamins found in a typical multivitamin formula are isolates. Isolated vitamins are an incomplete, albeit inexpensive, alternative to a whole food extract or concentrate. Isolated vitamins are missing the essential, naturally-occurring, food-based co-factors that allow the nutrient to be used most effectively by the body at a cellular level. Nature always packages vitamins in groups; they were designed to work together to provide nourishment to the cells. Vitamin isolates, on the other hand, do not provide the same synergistic benefits. In fact, the body often responds to an isolated vitamin like it responds to a toxin—it rejects it as a foreign invader.
Minerals are naturally-occurring chemical elements found throughout the human body in the bones, muscles, teeth, blood and nerve cells. Minerals support the health of virtually every human system; they influence everything from immunity to the beating of our hearts. Minerals cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained from foods or supplements.
Unfortunately, most multivitamins don't contain real minerals; they contain mineral salts. Even though mineral salts are often labeled as “natural,” they are fabricated from chemical substitutes. While mineral salts are natural food for plants, they are not a natural food for humans. As a result they are very poorly absorbed and ineffectively utilized by the body.
Now let’s return to our original question—what's in YOUR multivitamin?
Although there are thousands of healthful phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables, most multivitamin brands contain only 12 to 25 ingredients, the majority of which are isolated and derived from a synthetic source:
The vitamins are classes or groups of related compounds that perform some function in the body. There are fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, D, E and K and there are water-soluble vitamins including vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and the B vitamins, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenate), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalomin), and B15 (folate).
There are six major minerals your body needs to function. These include calcium, phosphorus, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. These minerals support many critical processes in human body, especially fluid balance, the growth and maintenance of strong bones and teeth, muscular and nervous system function.
Most multivitamins don’t contain enough of the major minerals, which our bodies need in relatively large amounts when compared to other nutrients—approximately one gram a day for most healthy adults. And the minerals that are present are man-made (discussed previously), which are counter-productive because they interfere with the absorption of other nutrients.
Next are the trace minerals. These minerals are all essential for good health, but needed in tiny amounts. Trace minerals are important for immune system function, energy, metabolism, and antioxidant protection. Trace minerals include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium. You may also see products that contain iodine, boron, nickel, silicon and vanadium.
It is also important to identify what ELSE is in your multivitamin. Most conventional brands feature not only a low-quality, poorly-absorbed mix of synthetic chemicals, but a range of preservatives, additives, colors, fillers, processed oils and genetically-modified ingredients. Not vitamins, not minerals and not what I believe can even be safely classified as “edible.”
Here is the list of the OTHER ingredients found in the world's best-selling multivitamin:
Microcrystalline Cellulose, Pregelatinized Corn Starch. FD&C Red No. 40 Aluminum Lake, FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake, , Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hypromellose, Soy Lecithin, Magnesium Stearate, Modified Food Starch, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Aluminosilicate, Tribasic Calcium Phosphate.
When you consider the purchase of ANY nutritional supplement, remember what’s most important!
Should you choose a soup of man-made isolated chemicals that has no measurable effect on your health and well-being or a whole food formula crafted exclusively from fruit and vegetable concentrates and organic botanicals? The answer is easy! Getting the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals isn’t complicated or difficult when you use the right product—a pure, high-quality, food-based multivitamin that can be quickly and easily absorbed by your body.
Want to learn more about whole-food based multivitamin formulas?
Then check out Daily Dose and Fruit n Veggie Might, our “honest to goodness” multivitamin formulas made exclusively from raw, organic, fruit and vegetable concentrates, that provide all the foundational nutrients your body needs for optimum health, energy and performance.