Nutritional Supplements There is a Difference
By Richard Drucker
So, why do so many people simply buy whatever vitamin is on the shelf at the grocery or drug store, without determining which is the best? If your health is the top priority, why would you settle for whatever is cheapest, easiest or fastest? You wouldn't consider using inferior oil in your car. Then why buy a multivitamin with unknown effectiveness?
Eating "right" isn't enough anymore.
You try to eat pretty healthy. You exercise. You take a daily vitamin purchased from the grocery store. All your bases are covered, right?
Eating healthy falls short of "covering your bases" when it comes to nutrition. Minerals are responsible for more than 300 biochemical, life-sustaining reactions in the human body. However, minerals are not found in the same abundance today as they used to be, due to the agricultural procedures practiced over the past several decades. Thus, just eating a well-balanced diet no longer adequately supplies life-sustaining minerals. Your health and wellness are at risk unless you replace the minerals that have been diminished in our foods.
According to two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, "Every ailment, every sickness and every disease can be traced to an organic mineral deficiency." You must ingest the appropriate amount and quality of minerals or you will be vulnerable to illness and disease. People are not getting the proper organically complexed (carbon bound) trace minerals and nutrients to provide homeostasis (body balance) as nature intended. According to the latest research, the body is imbalanced when it is deficient in organically bound trace minerals. This causes disease, which can then manifest in the body with disastrous results.
Dr. Donald Davis, biochemist at the University of Texas at Austin, discovered that of the 13 major nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, six have declined substantially over the years. He used 2006 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine there are dramatically lower (as much as 38 percent lower) levels of protein, calcium, vitamin C, phosphorus, iron and riboflavin in current produce as compared with produce from past decades.
The reason became apparent to Dr. Davis when he discovered that farmers had to drive up profits by using the latest techniques to increase crop production. Faster-grown produce does not have as much time to develop vital nutrients.
Farmers are paid by the weight of a crop, not by the amount of nutrients. Dr. Davis calls this the "dilution effect" - as fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. become larger and more plentiful, they provide fewer essential vitamins and life-giving minerals. It's a simple inverse relationship: The higher the yield, the lower the nutrients. Slower-growing crops have more time to absorb nutrients from the sun and the soil. When carbon-bound, organically complexed nutrients, including minerals and trace minerals, in our plants are lacking, everyone's health suffers.
Jeff Cronin, at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, concluded that scientists and the USDA often overlook farming practices: "Breeding plants to improve crop yield at the expense of all other things seems to be the problem, as well as depleting the soil and not rotating crops properly." Researchers have discovered that since the mid-1930s, our soils have become progressively depleted of critical organic complexes, polysaccharides and muco-polysaccharides, and other naturally occurring microbes and soil-based organisms. Moreover, the steady addition of toxic chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, etc., has triggered long-term soil imbalances, leading to an inability to neutralize the toxic chemicals and re-create new organic complexes and other critical minerals and nutrients. Thus, our foods have become interlaced with inorganic, toxic chemicals in place of naturally occurring, organically complexed minerals and nutrients. Again, who suffers? We all do.
For example, research clearly shows that the larger the yield of wheat, the lower the nutrients. According to Cronin, "Even though amounts of nutrients have declined, fruits and vegetables are still the richest source of protective nutrients, much better than eating highly refined foods such as white flour, sugars, and fatty foods."
So, we need to supplement. What's wrong with an off-the-shelf vitamin?
We have been eating junk foods and highly processed produce that is grossly deficient in organically complexed nutrients, especially organic minerals. It's no wonder we are a nation of overweight, sick people with the highest health costs on the planet. While we spend more than any nation on earth on health care, we are among the least healthy people among modern nations. Why? It's not for lack of spending money on our health care.
In her book Tired or Toxic?, Sherry A. Rogers, MD, states: "So food processing has a seriously silent and epidemic effect on our lives. For example, vitamin E has been removed from most grocery store oils and flours. Exposures to various pesticides and chemicals can cause brain symptoms, which actually mimic Alzheimer's. The brain is more vulnerable to attack by these when vitamin E is not standing guard at the cell membrane. Vitamin E is necessary to prevent Alzheimer's."
Dr. Rogers goes on to say, "To compound our problem of declining nutrient status in this century, nutritional depletion is not readily recognized because of many reasons: (1) there is not interest in it because it is a non-prescription item, so the physician has no power over its use; and (2) pharmaceutical companies cannot patent the products to make a profit. Therefore, there is little interest in nutritional therapies, nor is there money for research. In reality, a single deficiency (because it's important in a variety of enzymes) can manifest as a variety of symptoms."
According to Dr. Rogers, if the body is deficient in some nutrient or substance in an area of the body, it will "rob Peter to pay Paul." In other words, it will steal whatever it needs from one place to put it somewhere else. She calls this "auto-cannibalism." And the results are disastrous.
Our soils are depleted and depleted soils do not produce healthy, nutrient-rich plants. It's also a fact that crops produced in depleted soils are more prone to the invasion of insects, viruses, fungi, etc. It's important to recognize that insects and infectious organisms were designed to get rid of unhealthy vegetation, and they typically do not attack truly healthy plants. Our industrialized (high-tech) methods of farming have not only depleted our soils, but also have created a vicious cycle, which requires pesticides to protect the unhealthy crops grown in depleted soils. And who suffers? We all do!
Since we are not consistently receiving life-giving, life-sustaining, organically bound carbon in either our food sources or in our nutritional supplements, what are we to do?
Go organic as much as possible.
First, as much as possible, we must be diligent in purchasing foods that are certified organically grown. However, that is not always feasible for the consumer and, in fact, is not enough.
Second, we must eliminate from our diet the processed and synthetic foods that are so prevalent. Even then, there always is a lack of nutritional completeness - hence the need for proper supplementation.
We must be certain that the ingredients in the nutritional supplement we choose are of the highest quality and are ultra-hypoallergenic (non-allergenic). They must not contain synthetics, inorganic and inert (dead/synthetic/toxic) substances, as well as the following: colloids, fat, cholesterol, wheat (gluten), corn, yeast, soy, dairy, eggs, nuts, caffeine, shellfish, animal products, artificial colors, flavors or additives, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, antibiotics, chemicals, binders, fillers, coatings, excipients, flow agents, starches, or salicylates.
So, what kind of a multivitamin should it be? And how much should you expect to spend to get a good-quality supplement?
Let's start with the different types of vitamins on the market. Just look at the myriad of choices at your local grocery store, pharmacy, vitamin or health food store. How do you sort through all the marketing and packaging to be sure you are putting the right products in your system? Four basic kinds of vitamins are sold today: natural, synthetic, organic and carbon-bond organic.
Synthetic Vitamins: Scientists have developed synthetic vitamins that are cheap to manufacture. They appear the same in their atomic structure when compared to vitamins derived from plants and other sources. However, they can be distinguished in the laboratory. Similar to looking at your hand in a mirror, you see what looks like your hand, but in reality, it's not your hand. In fact, it's the exact opposite! Millions of Americans are taking vitamins that are synthetically manufactured. As a result, they unknowingly might be auto-intoxicating themselves because the body does not process synthetics well, if at all. These synthetic elements end up in extracellular spaces, interstitial fluids and fatty tissue, where they reside, potentially causing toxicity and chronic disease.
Synthetic vitamins are known to be less bioavailable (therefore, less effective) than naturally occurring vitamins. It is significantly easier for the body to utilize natural vitamins. For example, natural vitamin E (i.e., d-alpha-tocopherol) is retained by a 2:1 ratio over the synthetic form (i.e., dl-alpha-tocopherol). Natural vitamin E might cost two to three times more, but it's twice as effective.
Since synthetic vitamins and chemical nutrients are designed for cost purposes, they are created from plentiful and inexpensive sources, not from whole foods or plant matter. They are the cheapest supplements to be found. Therefore, you should avoid the lowest-cost supplements on the shelf.
Natural Vitamins: When comparing two supplements, it's often difficult to determine the difference between synthetic and natural vitamins. However, some define a "natural" vitamin as a concentrated nutrient derived from a quality natural source, with maximum retention of the natural material; no artificial colors, sweeteners or preservatives should be used.
A vitamin derived from a natural source often contains co-factors that come with the nutrient in nature. For instance, co-factors often associated with vitamin C are bio-flavonoids. These are important to health, as they are present in the vitamin C you derive from eating an orange. Supplements should mimic good nutrition from natural whole foods. That's why it's important to read labels and determine the sources of the vitamins.
Natural supplements cost more than synthetic, but they're worth it.
Organic Vitamins: There are two types of organic supplements found in the market. The "grocery store" definition of organic is whole-food-derived nutrients minus the insecticides, pesticides and herbicides; manufactured from ingredients that are certified organic. These supplements, if in tablet form, also might suffer less-than-optimal absorption due to the technology used to press them into tablets. The "scientific" definition of "organic" is related or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a living carbon basis. A carbon-based organic supplement has living carbon wrapped around its nutrients. These supplements must be cold-processed to preserve the living matter in the product. These nutritional supplements take the longest to manufacture and may derive the maximum nutritional benefit, with no known risks or side effects.
Both types of organic supplements carry significantly higher prices due to higher costs of production and source ingredients. However, according to Randy Miles, CN, co-owner of three health food stores in Texas, it's worth the cost. "Organically bound supplements with living carbon often cost 50% more, but customers who are knowledgeable about nutrition and health are definitely willing to pay."
You can find the best source of minerals and supplements. Ask your health care professional. Look for organically complexed (carbon bound) supplements derived from whole foods, minimally processed and made from the highest quality ingredients. Avoid preservatives, synthetics and binders, as they are potentially harmful to the body. It's better to take no supplement at all than to take a poor one.
Good health ultimately is worth the price. There is no more important investment you can make.
Questions To Ask Your Supplement Supplier
So, how do you sort through all the noise to select the best products? Here's a simple list of questions you can ask:
Richard Drucker, ND, is a licensed naturopath who has been performing concentrated research and work in the natural health and nutraceutical fields for more than 20 years. He is the CEO of Drucker Labs (www.druckerlabs.com).