You’ve probably heard it since you were a kid.
“Make sure you take your vitamins!”
I remember the Flintstone kind. Those were my favorites. 🙂
Then I grew up and started doing a lot of research on nutrition and natural health and realized that vitamins aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As a parent, I will not be shoving them down my child’s throat, and I’m now refusing to take them myself.
Most vitamins that you can buy off the shelf these days are synthetic. If you’re here because a new vitamin or nutritional supplement has crossed your path, and you’re having trouble deciding whether you should try it or not, look at the label. Figure out what’s in your vitamins, and if they are made of chemicals, then I suggest you get rid of them and opt for a better alternative.
What are synthetic vitamins?
Synthetic vitamins are chemically processed, isolated, fractionated forms of the real vitamins that come from whole foods. They are processed in a laboratory at high temperatures, which destroy the nutrient content, and contain petroleum-derived chemical solvents such as ethyl cellulose, coal tar, hydrochloric acid, acetonitrole with ammonia, methanol, benzene, formaldehyde, cobalamins reacted with cyanide… the list goes on.
Unlike synthetic vitamins, which are isolated and chemically processed, real whole-food vitamins are found in nature and contain a host of components and factors that are vital to their performance. Isolating a part from its whole renders it virtually useless. Think of a car, for instance. It needs all of its parts to function properly. You can’t give someone a radiator and expect it to function like a car. The same principle applies to nutrients. You can’t take a chemically processed form of a vitamin that is isolated from the food that contained it, and expect it to function in the same way as the real thing.
Isolated, or synthetic, nutrients are not found in nature. Studies show that the body treats them like foreign substances, and the high doses found in many supplements today behave more like drugs than natural substances. Your body should never be expected to break down mega-doses of something not found in nature.
Are synthetic vitamins harmful?
Maybe. Maybe not. Many people take synthetic vitamins on a daily basis and think nothing of it. If you take Centrum, One-a-Day or even a basic prenatal, you’re taking isolated, chemically processed nutrients that could more likely be a burden for your body to excrete than an aid for your body to heal. But even if they do no harm, it’s likely they aren’t doing much good either if your body is not absorbing them. In that case, you’re just wasting money.
People have been taking vitamins for years and been fine, so whether or not they are truly harmful is yet to be concluded. Personally, I tend to think they aren’t really necessary for overall health and could potentially be toxic when taken at high levels over a long period of time.
(Note: I did not take prenatal vitamins throughout my pregnancy, and I gave birth to a healthy baby girl, naturally, in the comfort of my own home.)
You may be asking, “if most vitamins contain unnatural and potentially toxic ingredients, why do doctors advocate taking them and why do we sometimes feel so great after taking them?”
I’ve asked the same question, and I have two theories, which I’ll share below. Please note that these are theories and should not be regarded as fact without you doing your own research.
Theory #1: Synthetic vitamins may cause deficiencies when taken over a prolonged period. Isolated from the cofactors they need to function properly, they will begin to pull those co-factors from your body’s tissues if they aren’t found in the foods you eat. The result is that you’ll probably feel good for a while, but when the co-factors run out, you’ll start to feel worse. Over a long period, the synthetics imitate the actions of drugs, overstimulating and draining the body, rather than feeding it the nutrients it needs. The high doses found in many multivitamins make that action very pronounced when you first begin using them, but after a while, those effects can wear off.
Theory #2: There’s a lot of money in the vitamin industry. If everyone stopped taking their prescription drugs, the pharmaceutical companies would take a big hit. Same thing with vitamins. If we all stopped taking them, these mega-corporations that produce them would lose a lot of money. If you ever wonder why things like flu shots and legal drugs get pushed on the population every year, follow the dollar…
And that’s all I’ll say about that.
How do you know if a supplement contains synthetic nutrients or is truly whole-food based?
A lot of supplements claim to be “whole-food based” but that doesn’t mean they come from whole foods. My prenatal vitamin made that claim, but once I looked at the label, I realized it was false. Some companies combine a small amount of whole foods with synthetic vitamins and then claim it’s natural, whole food. If you’re looking at a list of ingredients, and you see a vitamin without a natural whole-food source listed next to it, then it’s most likely synthetic. If you see a vitamin with a chemical source listed next to it, then it’s definitely synthetic. Here are some examples:
Synthetic Vitamin A is also called Vitamin A Palmitate, Retinyl Acetate or Vitamin A Acetate. It’s processed using methanol, benzene and petroleum esters. If you see “Vitamin A (Retinyl Acetate)” listed as an ingredient in a supplement, you’ll know it’s a chemical form of the vitamin. On the other hand, if you see food sources such as fish oil, carrots, lemongrass, D. Salina Algae or spinach listed next to the vitamin, you can be confident it came from whole food.
Synthetic Vitamin B 12 is also called cobalamin or cyanocobalamin. It’s processed using activated charcoal reacted with cyanide. If you see “Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)” in a list of ingredients on a label, then you’ll know it’s synthetic. On the other hand, if you see food sources such as rice bran, brewers yeast, liver or molasses listed next to the vitamin, you can be confident it came from whole food.
Synthetic Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid. It’s made from fermented corn, using hydrochloric acid and acetone. If you see “Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)” in an ingredients list, then you’ll know it’s synthetic. On the other hand, if you see food sources such as acerola, rose hips, citrus fruits and blackberries listed next to the vitamin, you can be confident it came from whole food. Most over-the-counter vitamin C tablets are nothing more than ascorbic acid.
Synthetic Vitamin D is also called cholecalciferol. It’s made from irradiated sheep’s wool, or lanolin. If you see “Vitamin D (cholecalciferol)” in an ingredients list, you’ll know it’s synthetic. On the other hand, if you see food sources such as fish oil, omega-3’s and mushrooms, you can be confident it came from whole food.
Synthetic Vitamin E is also called d-alpha tocopherol acetate, tocopheryl acetate or alphatocopherol. It’s made with phenols (plastics) from petroleum waste, which are treated with acetone (nail polish remover). If you see “Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol acetate)” on an ingredients list, you’ll know it’s synthetic. On the other hand, if you see food sources such as rice bran oils, spinach and nuts, you can be confident it came from whole food.
For a complete list of synthetic vitamin forms, I recommend you consult my good friend Google. He was a big help to me in gathering all of this research. I am not listing specific sources — as there were a lot of them, and this information was gathered over a period of a few weeks — but I’m confident that with a little digging, you can find all of this out for yourself pretty easily.
And that, my friends, is the basis for my personal decision to stop taking vitamins — at least the ones that don’t come from whole food. But that doesn’t mean I think we should all stop supplementing our diets. All of the toxic chemicals in our environment, combined with inorganic farming and GMO crops have led to nutritionally depleted food sources. The foods we eat today are not nearly as nutritionally sound as they were 50 years ago, because U.S. soils have been tainted. For that reason, we should all be taking whole food supplements in order to get the nutrients our body needs on a daily basis. You simply can’t get everything from today’s food that you once could. For that reason, in addition to eating a healthy, organic, GMO-free diet, my family uses whole-food supplements and we take care to detoxify our bodies’ cells on a regular basis.
If you are looking for a high-quality whole-food supplement and long-term cellular detoxification regimen, I highly recommend Touchstone Essentials. The pure body detox cleanses your body at the cellular level but does not require you to stop eating or be on the toilet nonstop. I was able to use it safely throughout my pregnancy. You simply spray it into your mouth 3 times a day, and you’re done! Easy-peasy…
I also recommend Maximized Living supplements. We use the Perfect Protein in our smoothies, and it tastes great. We are also taking the Vitamin D3 Complex, which is 100% whole-food based. Considering that most Americans have a severe Vitamin D3 deficiency, this is probably the most important Vitamin to include in your diet. Vitamin D3 helps boost your immune system, which is a key factor in preventing sickness. And whole-food forms are much better than synthetic forms.
Please feel free to contact me with any further questions. Thanks for reading!