The subject of vitamin and mineral supplements is a vast topic and it is rife with controversy and differing viewpoints.  It is a topic to which I will be devoting multiple articles, as that is the degree of analysis that this topic deserves.  I will begin the vitamin series with eight basic considerations to be aware of when making better vitamin selections.

From Whole Foods Whenever Possible

Clear vitamin capsule with whole fruits and vegetables visible inside

Vitamins from whole fruits and vegetables whenever possible

Whenever possible seek out vitamin supplements, which specify that they come from whole foods.    Research indicates that these vitamins will be recognized by your body and more effectively absorbed and utilized.  Be aware that the term ‘food based’ does not mean the same thing as, from whole foods.

Find the ‘food source’ on the product label.  For example, vitamin C from strawberries, kale and mustard greens.  Identify the whole food on the ingredient list, not just a particular isolated substance such as ascorbic acid.

Ascorbic acid is a highly processed, synthesized substance.  It is sourced from corn syrup, (which is from GMO corn unless stated otherwise) and then it is processed with heat and other substances such as the chemicals, acetone and hydrochloric acid.  It has none of the complex bioflavonoids, and other beneficial micronutrients that accompany vitamin C as found in fresh fruit and vegetables.

The only reason that the majority of people believe that Ascorbic Acid is Vitamin C, is because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has permitted Ascorbic Acid to be called Vitamin C in labelling.  That’s it.

The reality is that Ascorbic acid is only a fraction of what makes up Vitamin C.  In addition to ascorbic acid, vitamin C must include rutin, bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, Tyrosinase, Ascorbinogen.  Moreover, we have evolved for thousands of years eating whole foods, so guess what; our bodies can tell the difference, and to maintain optimum health, we require whole food nutrients.

Avoid Synthetically Manufactured Whenever Possible

Supplements, which are laboratory synthesized, isolated, concentrated, refined, crystallized and otherwise altered with heat, pressure and chemicals such as formaldehyde and hydrochloric acid cannot be expected to do the same job in the body, as a vitamin which is whole and complete with all of its enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, trace elements and co-factors.  Isolating and concentrating a so-called active ingredient nullifies the synergistic activity that it is possible to receive from whole vitamins.

There is evidence that in some cases these simulated substances are not recognized by the body as nutrients and their safety and efficacy is being questioned.  For example, the media has reported that vitamin E can have negative health effects.  These media reports are based on the results of studies that have been conducted using the synthetic form of Vitamin E, dl-alpha-tocopherol.  If the results of these studies show anything, they show that the studies should not have been conducted with synthetically manufactured Vitamin E!  Incidentally, Vitamin E is more properly a complex, which is made of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols.

Free of Genetically Modified Organisms and Free of Genetically Engineered Foods

Choose supplements, which are 100% free of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).  It is not enough that a product is labelled as organic; it must also specify that it is free of all GMO’s and genetically engineered (GE) foods.

100% Natural

Look for the words ‘100 percent natural’ on the product’s label.  Be aware, some product labels may contain the words ‘natural’, but legally, manufacturers in the U.S. can claim ‘natural’ on their nutritional products if at least 10 percent of the product comes from natural food sources.  This is one of many examples of labeling laws, which favour manufacturers and place consumers at a disadvantage.

Regarding the acronym USP; it stands for United States Pharmacopeia and is the official pharmaceutical compendium in the U.S.  It includes chemical descriptions, identifying tests, and purity tests, primarily for active (meaning isolated) ingredients.  If a bottle of supplements is certified USP than it is in all likelihood a synthetic product.

Vegetarian, meaning from plants?  Not necessarily

For vegetarian and vegan readers, please be aware that sometimes products, are labelled as vegetarian and this does not necessarily mean that it is made from vegetables; only that it is not made from animals.  If it is not made from plants or animals then there is a chance that it is being sourced from petroleum derivatives.  An example of this is synthetic B1.  Often the starting material for the synthesizing process of synthetic B1 is crystalline yellow coal tar, from the petrochemical industry.

Have the raw materials been tested, to insure that they are free from toxic contaminants, such as heavy metals?

We must become mindful of where our supplements are coming from and where the raw materials are being sourced.  If products and raw materials are coming from countries who have few enforced pollution control standards, and those substances are not being tested by the importers, then consumers may be exposed to high levels of contaminants such as heavy metals.  However, companies who pay for third party certification will indicate that fact on their label.

These independent third party verification companies provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, that it contains the ingredients listed on the label and that it does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.  One example of an independent third party certification company is NSF.  Bear in mind that some reputable vitamin providers have their own testing and quality control measures in place and so they do not seek third party certification.

Avoid artificial colours

Avoid MSG

These are just a few of the factors to consider when making the better selections for vitamin supplements.  I will examine these factors in detail in future posts.

Those of you who are frequent guests to Natural Pure Body Care will be familiar with the following recommendation that I make whenever I am writing about vitamins, minerals, essential oils, herbs or on any subject relating directly to health maintenance.  If you have specific and/or serious health concerns, please consider accessing care from a qualified health care professional.  There is a time when it may be appropriate to ‘supplement’ your diet with vitamin nutrients to maintain optimum health and there may be times when you would be well advised to seek the qualified care of an M.D., or a Naturopathic Doctor, Certified Herbalist, Clinical Acupuncturist or other accredited natural health care provider.

The information provided within this site is for informational purposes only;
and is not intended as a substitute for advice from a physician or other healthcare professional