Time and time again studies have shown vitamin C or Echinacea can help prevent or reduce the length and severity of a viral infection such as the common cold. And yet, other studies will show vitamin C or Echinacea are of little to no help in fighting viruses. Some studies conclude a particular supplement prevents or cures an illness. A second study says maybe it does, but more research is needed. A third denies any health benefits at all, while a fourth declares the same supplement to be dangerous. There are as many conflicting reports published as there are supplements!
The truth is, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements can be very beneficial in preventing disease or in restoring the body to health. But choosing the right supplement is not as easy as going to your local vitamin store or grocery store and picking up a multivitamin that claims to have 100% of every USDA daily requirement.
Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements come in many different forms: synthetic pills that our bodies can’t digest, much less assimilate, “natural” vitamins that are anything but natural, and whole food vitamins and supplements.
Binders, fillers, and lubricants used to speed up production are commonly found in almost all supplements. Typical synthetic vitamins are usually coated with shellac (listed in the ingredients as “natural glaze”) or vegetable coating (derived from corn).These additives have a number of effects, including decreased absorption and allergenic reaction. Even small amounts of additives may cause reactions in sensitive individuals. Of course, manufactures and distributors deny that the presence of these substances is detrimental. But obviously, the most desirable products would not contain non-nutrient substances added solely to expedite the manufacturing process.
Whole food vitamins, minerals, and supplements are usually best, but beware. Not all of the products referred to as “food vitamins” are created equal.
One common practice is to take standard vitamins and put them in tablets or capsules with dried foods or herbs along with fillers, preservatives, and other additives, then label them as food vitamins. These vitamins are nothing more than a more expensive version of standard synthetic vitamins.
Another common type of “food vitamin” is made by adding standard synthetic vitamins to a liquid broth containing yeast. As the yeast grows, the vitamins and minerals are incorporated into the cell structure of the yeast. The yeast is then killed in a drying process and the residue is pressed into tablets with herbs, binders, and manufacturing additives. Though absorption is superior to the previous method, vitamins made this way are low in potency and high in cost.
A third kind of “food vitamin” supplement is made from concentrated dried foods either pressed into tablets with the aid of manufacturing additives or sold as tinctures. Potency and effectiveness depend on the quality of the raw herb used, the care taken in manufacturing, and the purity of the final product.
When you look for a natural health care practitioner, we recommend that you check to see if they carry Thorne Research, Systemic Formulas, and/or Standard Process supplements. Though many of the products of these three companies can be purchased over the Internet, many of these products are restricted to distribution through health care practitioners. A health care practitioner who uses any of these brands for acute care is likely to know at least a little more about health than their counterparts.
For tinctures, you can’t go wrong with Medi-herb. As far as purchasing over the internet, the highest quality supplements you can get can be found at Beyond Health. They are pricy, but in this case you get what you pay for. For general nutrition and herbal remedies be sure to check out Organic Solutions.
Do we really need vitamins, minerals, and supplements? Not if we eat fresh raw nutrient dense organic vegetables and fruits straight from a garden with soil rich in minerals and nutrients, and fresh (just killed), raw, all natural, healthy meat. We must also remember to eat our grains, nuts, and seeds sprouted. But even if we were willing and able to eat such a Paleolithic diet in this modern day and age, it’s not readily available.
When choosing a multi vitamin and/or minerals know that knowledgeable manufacturers will exclude iron, copper, and iodine from their multivitamin formula as they react with and destroy other nutrients in most cases. Choose vitamins, minerals, and supplements void of synthetic ingredients. Even small amounts of the synthetic forms may be toxic. Yeast based vitamins can cause sensitivities over time for anyone who has problems with Candida and most of the supplements have hidden ingredients the manufacturers aren’t required to list on their labels, which can affect people with allergies. We believe it’s the toxic effect of synthetic vitamins; reactions to fillers, binders, and lubricants; the huge difference in purity from one brand to another; and the resultant lack of absorption or the absorption rate that are the root causes of widely varying outcomes in scientific studies.
The hardest part about writing an article to teach one how to shop for vitamins and minerals is that none of the rules are applicable every time. In addition, none of the supplement manufacturers listed above are perfect. We believe the highest quality multivitamin/minerals come from Beyond Health but they are far and away the most expensive. The other companies have various strengths and weaknesses but make good products that are effective, especially for acute care. For the best results, choose additive-free supplements.