When is a multi-vitamin bad for you?

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Dr. Holly

Now that’s a loaded question!

Many companies in natural health, like anywhere else, are more concerned about the profits than the quality of the goods.

Some companies that produce health supplements are actually owned by pharmaceutical companies…and of course, have money to advertise – so basic rule of thumb at this point…if it is advertised, avoid it – or at the very least research it.  For instance, Centrum is owned by Big Pharma Wyeth who is now owned by Pfizer!!

Things to look for in Health Supplements:

Are the products synthetic:

  • Vitamin A (retinyl acetate = synthetic)
  • Vitamin A (retinoic acid = synthetic)
  • Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin = synthetic)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid = synthetic)
  • Vitamin E (Alpha tocopherol = synthetic)
  • A vitamin is “a working process consisting of the nutrient, enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, and trace minerals activators.” – Royal Lee “What Is a Vitamin?” Applied Trophology Aug 1956

Are the products mirror images of the real products:

  • chirality – there are various forms of mirror imaging in chemistry
  • these forms are typically easier to make
  • we do not have the enzymes to work with the mirror images – so they are useless at best; toxic at worst

Is the form of the vitamin, mineral, etc a form that the body absorbs:

magnesium is a good example of this…there are 12 forms of magnesium; only 3 are bioavailable and of the those 3 – there is a broad range of absorption capacity

Do the products have stearates in them:

  • stearates, ie., magnesium stearate is utilized in the processing to protect the machinery
  • research indicates that even though the levels of stearates are less than 3% – they can prevent absorption of up to 80%
  • research also indicates that they can be toxic to the gut
  • and they don’t have to tell you that they are using stearates (about 80% of the health products & 100% of pharmaceuticals use stearates)

What is not on the label:

  • health supplements are not regulated and therefore do not necessarily contain what they say they are going to contain
  • Vitamin D3 often has up to 60% Vitamin D2 in it
  • is any of the sourcing taken from GMO – doesn’t have to tell you

The amounts of the different components:

Having 60 mg of a synthetic Vitamin C versus 1000mg of real vitamin C that also contains:

  • ascorbinogen
  • bioflavonoids
  • rutin
  • tyrosinase
  • Factor J
  • Factor K
  • Factor P
  • Note:  the body will change the real vitamin C into 6 different forms all of which have different functions…this can’t be done with ascorbic acid; most people require in excess of 1000 mg of real Vitamin C

The cheaper the Multi Vitamin, typically the less Vitamin Bs you will have in the product. The cheaper the Multi Vitamin, the more synthetic products you will have in the formulation.

Do they have transport systems attached to them?

  • many vitamins and minerals (and other supplements) cannot be absorbed in the body without the appropriate transport system; if your body is already compromised, the probability that you have that transport mechanism is low and your absorption rate is low
  • Vitamin C – even if you are taking the real Vitamin and not simply the synthetic version; is it linked to a lypo-spheric component that raises the absorption capacity massively
  • Resveratrol – research suggests that without peperine molecules, we don’t absorb resveratrol

Is the product of any use:

  • Glutathione is a good example of this.  You can buy Glutathione as a health supplement – the label will tell you that it is the Master Anti-oxidant and that is true.  What they don’t tell you is that the Glutathione breaks down in three amino acids in the stomach AND even if it were to stay together, there are no transport mechanisms to get it into the cells – utterly useless
  • another aspect of Glutathione – many companies will promote formulations claiming that it supports Glutathione, but are they telling you that glutathione is an 8 complex process in the body – and the formulation is only helping the GSH component
  • another aspect of Glutathione – again the companies also don’t tell you that most of us have the genetic tools turned off by the time we are 30; so that we don’t even have the mechanisms to make glutathione in the body – thanks to toxins and depletion of nutrients

What species is being utilized:

  • a good example of this might be ginseng or Echinacea – how many different species are there, some have over a 1000 – typically only a few of the species have actually been studied
  • of the ones that have been studied there is a wide variation in the nutrient profile
  • for instance, with ginseng – the difference between both the nutrient profile and what it can help with varies greatly between Eleuthrococcus senticosus (Siberian); Panax (Korean: and note there are many different species of Panax); Ashwagandha (Indian); White, Red, etc
  • or Echinacea (the difference between E. purpurea, E. augustifolia, and E. pallida is huge and is reflected in the cost);

What part of the plant is being used:

  • in addition, what part of the plant is being used:  root, stem, leaf, flower, all will have different potencies and is reflected in the cost
  • dandelion (Taraxacum) is a good example of this – whether you use the root or the leaves:  roots are more useful for the liver; whereas the leaves are more useful as a diuretic and to support kidney function

In addition to the above issues, we have also have issues with:

  • where is the plant grown
  • how toxic is the soil
  • how is it grown – a huge nutrient difference is found between plants that are grown in agricultural fields versus plants that are grown in their natural environments (wild crafted)
  • how and when is it harvested – some plants will vary widely before and after the dew; or from morning to afternoon
  • how it is dried can have a huge impact on many nutrients, ie., anti-oxidants are particularly vulnerable to heat

As usual, be responsible for your health; do your homework; find a good health practitioner!

Here’s to your health!

For more information, contact: holly@choicesunlimited.ca

Dr. Holly is a naturopathic doctor that holds a PhD in Psychology and Biochemistry, specializing in balancing mind, body and energy of the system.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and is not a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or other health care practitioner.