When I meet with a new client, the first thing I typically have them do is throw out their multivitamin. That might sound crazy but it’s because 9 out of 10 times, they’ve purchased one that is actually doing them more harm than good.
I want to share with you today how to know the difference.
We all know we need vitamins and minerals for optimal health, right?
In fact, it’s the reason we eat food. We don’t eat for calories as much as we eat for nutrients to fuel our cells and power our bodies. If you don’t get enough nutrients in your meal, you won’t be satisfied and you’ll eat more. So, focus on nutrient density and ignore calories.
But, how we get vitamins into our body matters. They’re not just names – vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium, etc. They are very complex structures with many different components that need to be together for you to be able to absorb and utilize them – it’s called “food synergy”. Mother nature knows best.
Food vs. Lab-Made Vitamins
Let’s look at vitamin C.
It’s usually listed on vitamin labels as “ascorbic acid”. In the picture below, ascorbic acid is just the black circle.
Think of ascorbic acid as the egg shell and the inside the egg is all the other things you see in the picture. Eggs are super healthy and chock full of dense nutrition. What if you went to the store to buy eggs and you got home only to find that you were sold empty shells?
That’s the case with ascorbic acid – it’s an empty shell.
If you’re currently taking Centrum or another store bought multivitamin, go ahead and look at the word next to Vitamin C. Does it just say “ascorbic acid”? That means that all you’re getting is the black line, an empty shell. You’re not actually getting real vitamin C. The reason for that is that a laboratory can only recreate the black line, it can’t do what mother nature does and give you the whole thing. You’re not getting any of the parts of the whole vitamin C complex that are essential to good health.
This is the case across the board for other nutrients as well – multivitamins that are made in a lab only give you isolated components, not the full vitamin.
Synthetic, Lab-made Vitamins Are Harmful
These types of multivitamins are a waste of money and can be harmful to your health. Isolated nutrients made in a lab is are not very absorbable, that’s why you’ll see really high dosages on the label of lab-made vitamins and lower dosages on vitamins that are food-based. You don’t need high doses if it’s food-based because your body can easily absorb and utilize them.
Lab-made vitamins cause unnecessary stress on the body because your body wants to be able to use the fake stuff to help keep you healthy, so it will try. Your body will always default to doing its job of repairing problems and building you up, so if you give it ascorbic acid, it’s going to ask, how can we use this ascorbic acid and get it where it needs to go? Well, it’s not very usable on its own, so let’s see if we can find the missing parts and recreate the whole vitamin C complex so we can actually use it.
What that often means is that the missing components of the vitamin (the inside of the egg) will be taken from your own reserve bank to try to make it usable, which just depletes you and can make you deficient in the very thing you’re trying to take.
In fact, while natural vitamin C helps muscle recovery in athletes, synthetic ascorbic acid actually hinders muscle performance and recovery. (1) There are many other studies showing problems with synthetic vitamins. (2)
Lab-made vitamins do not work! At best, you piss them out and at worse they actually make you more and more nutrient deficient. When a client asks me if they can just finish their multi before getting a healthier one, I say absolutely not! Every pill you take is helping you dig a deeper hole. It’s just not worth it.
Focus on Healthy Food and Supplement Correctly
Nothing beats a nutrient dense diet, one full of plant-based foods, healthy fats and properly raised meat.
I do, however, recommend people take a multivitamin, especially if you:
- Consume a diet low in organic fruits and vegetables
- Take any prescriptions or over the counter drugs, even antacids or pain relievers
- Experience poor digestion
- Live a stressful lifestyle
- Get sick often or are recovering from illness
- Have a health condition
- Exercise excessively
- Take laxatives
- Experience PMS
- Have low energy or feel depressed
- Have food allergies
- Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
- Drink alcohol
- Eat processed foods
- Consume lots of caffeine
- Take oral contraceptives
All of these situations deplete you of nutrients and leave you prone to deficiencies. Just food alone is often not enough.
How do you know you’re getting a potent, effective multivitamin? Not by how many milligrams are listed on the bottle. You know you’re getting something worth your money if it’s made from food. This is a huge mindset shift – it’s not the amount, it’s the quality. Lower (natural) amounts of nutrients from food are way more potent than large amounts of synthetic vitamins.
There are lots of companies out there that make multivitamins that actually contain food. So, you may see things like carrot powder (where you get vitamin A) and rose hips or acerola cherry powder (where you get vitamin C) and wheat germ oil (vitamin E) in the ingredient list. These are all great indicators of a whole food supplement. They concentrate all of it into capsules or tablets, so that you get more nutrients in one dose of the supplement than a typical meal or even a typical day. Health food stores are where you’ll want to go to find these things. If you’re working with a health practitioner who is recommending supplements to you, ask to make sure they’re using or recommending supplements made from real food. Those will give you the best bang for your buck and will actually help your body repair and heal itself so that you look and feel better. That’s the point, isn’t it?
If you’re taking separate vitamins like vitamin B or D or vitamins to strengthen your skin and nails, whatever it may be, this same rule applies. It needs to come from a supplement that contains food.
So, throw out your multivitamin if it doesn’t actually list food on the label and doesn’t say “whole food supplement” somewhere on the front. Vitamins are a billion-dollar industry and they count on the fact that consumers are not savvy enough to understand the difference between fake vitamins and the real thing.
Now you have the information you need to start putting the right types of supplements in your body. Share this with your friends and if your children are on vitamins, the same goes for them – whole food nutrients are what their bodies need and crave.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below and always feel free to send me a private message. I love hearing from you!
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