Many people simply assume that any and all vitamins, multivitamins and supplements are good for you, or are at best, harmless. But vitamins and food supplements are not all the same and some can be dangerous. Understanding the difference between synthetic and natural vitamins and supplements is critically important particularly, because 98% of the market’s multivitamins and supplements are synthetic.
There are several reasons why almost everyone should enhance their health, well-being and immunity by adding natural food-based multivitamins to their diet. Modern diets include heavily processed foods that have had the vitamins and minerals pretty much cooked, blended, and processed right out of them. And even for those who meticulously follow a near-perfect diet, the foods themselves are not what they used to be. The nutrient-rich soil that produced the “apple a day” that kept the doctor away back in 1950 is now grown in soil that has been depleted by high-intensity, agro-corporate farming techniques. Today’s picture-perfect apple nutritionally pales in comparison to that dietary powerhouse of myth and legend. Finally, our fast-paced, highly stressful yet relatively sedentary lifestyle results in a greater than ever need for the very vitamins and minerals our diet now lacks.
In short, poor diet and processed foods, corporate-farming soil depletion and our contemporary lifestyle have created a nutritional nightmare trifecta. As a result, we all need to supplement our diet. Whether you are considering a men’s multivitamin, a woman’s multivitamin or a children’s multivitamin, it is important to understand that the products most typically used and readily available are often not only useless, they can be harmful and, in some cases, dangerous.
Widely available supermarket and drugstore multivitamin supplements (and many others) are usually synthetic, which means they are created in a laboratory using chemicals that have the same name as chemicals that appear in nature. These lab-created synthetics do not actually come from real food and natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, seaweeds, etc. On the other hand, natural, non-synthetic vitamins and supplements start with the real whole foods from which they came and are extracted from them.
The natural process is harder, more complex and takes longer which makes them more costly. But the vitamin C created from scratch in a laboratory is not the same as the vitamin C you get from eating an orange or eating a product that has extracted the vitamin C directly from the orange. On paper, that conclusion is not obvious because the chemical difference between vitamins that come from food and those created in a laboratory are slight.
But chemical-based supplements fail for two reasons. First, synthetic multivitamins are missing important nutrients that natural multivitamins deliver. Vitamins that have been extracted directly from food and other natural sources retain other important nutrients from their original source including anti-oxidants, enzymes and phytochemicals which enable the body to effectively process and fully absorb the vitamins and minerals. Second, synthetic vitamins very often contain unwanted ingredients such as preservatives and artificial coloring and stabilizers, some of which can be harmful.
What kind of harmful ingredients might you find in synthetic vitamins? The list is downright alarming and includes known carcinogens, poisons, pigments, petroleum- based chemicals, and emulsifiers that actually prevent the absorption of minerals. And these ingredients are often undisclosed. It is therefore not surprising that synthetic vitamins, multivitamins and supplements can be dangerous.
Many studies have documented this frightening fact. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, synthetic Vitamin A given to pregnant women increased the risk of birth defects including cleft lip, palate, heart malformations and nervous system damage by as much as 400%. As long ago as 1940, a Scandinavian Veterinarian Journal described the effects of both natural and synthetic Vitamin B on Silver Foxes. The foxes that took the natural vitamins thrived. The foxes given synthetics developed growth issues, experienced loss of fur and died prematurely. Vitamin D has been linked to complications in pregnancy and has been shown to cause sterility in pigs. Research done by Dr. Agnes Faye Morgan of the University of California found that animals on a synthetic vitamin-enriched diet died long before the animals on an unprocessed diet.
This brief synopsis of just a few of the many studies relating to the dangers of synthetic vitamins and supplements would make anyone think twice before taking one. It is no wonder that Robert S Hardt, Nutri/epigenetic Biochemical Analyst, reached this chilling conclusion: “97.5% of the so-called ‘nutritional’ supplements, including vitamins, are labeled with incorrect information and filled with toxic ingredients!”
Yet, synthetic vitamins and multivitamins dominate the marketplace and remain largely unregulated. So how can we avoid synthetic multivitamins and identify those that come from natural food and environmental sources? The words “natural” and “organic” alone won’t be much help because they are used indiscriminately, often to promote dangerous synthetic products. But there are many giveaways if you spend just a little time checking out the label or product description of any supplement you might be considering. Here are a few ways Dr. Hardt advises to distinguish between natural and synthetic supplements.
- If the label says “pharmaceutical grade” or “USP” it is a synthetic product
- If the label says “time release” it is a synthetic product
- If a vitamin B-complex supplement has the words “no yeast” it is a synthetic product
- This may sound obvious, but to be clear, if you see the phrase “contains synthetic components” avoid the product.
- A multi-vitamin that lists Vitamin C and “rose hips” or “Acerola” most likely is synthetic.
- If you see the word “acetate” on the label of a fat-soluble vitamin, (A, D, E and K) the product is synthetic.
Knowing how to identify which multivitamin is not natural is important, but it is equally important to know how to identify multivitamins that are natural. Natural men’s, women’s and children’s multivitamins come from real whole foods and organic substances that are condensed, compressed and dehydrated at very low temperatures to preserve their inherent enzymes and cofactors. So when you read the label of a natural product, you’ll see the names of fruits, roots, seeds, barks, leaves, herbs, stems and other natural sources created in nature and not in a laboratory. This is an easy way to be certain that you are not only getting the vitamins you need, but you are also getting the cofactors and enzymes that enable your body to properly digest and assimilate them. And, of course, you are also avoiding that long list of unsafe and often undisclosed additives.
With multivitamins and food supplements as with everything else, knowledge is power. Once you understand why natural vitamins, minerals and supplements are really the ONLY safe and effective choice, you’ll be on your way to creating the healthiest possible version of yourself.