On a daily basis in my practice I am reading the labels of vitamins and supplements (herein referred to as supplements) that people are consuming. I’m astonished at what some companies put in their products! Coatings, preservatives, fillers, excipients, coloring agents, artificial flavorings, and on and on. Most people don’t have a clue how good or bad their vitamins really are for them. They believe that just because the marketing tells them it’s good, the title of the vitamin sounds like it’s good, the label is attractive, or because a well-meaning friend, coworker, neighbor or family member recommends it, that it must be good. Others choose their supplements based on price. That could be a big mistake!
There are some really good supplements, but more bad ones than good on the market today. The wise consumer learns to read the ingredients and find out for themselves whether it is health-promoting, or deleterious.
The purpose of supplements is to add some more nutrition to a less than adequate diet. It is typically suggested when your diet is not rich in nutrient-dense foods, especially vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. It is also typically recommended when your body has been depleted for so long that therapeutic dosages are recommended to restore health. Because our health is degrading at an alarming rate, the vitamin industry has hopped on the opportunity to “help out”. Because our health is so degraded, we are desperate to find anything that could make a difference in it. So we run blindly to the marketing that promises to “cure all”. Companies, in an effort to provide “more” than their competitors and “more” of what the public seems to want, have gone to chemicals to provide 100’s and 1000’s of percentages of the recommended daily amounts of each vitamin. These synthetic vitamins are counterfeits – promising much and providing little.
If our goal is to provide extra nutrients missing from our diets, then our supplements should also be food – not synthetic counterfeits. What’s the difference? When a vitamin component is isolated from its natural form, or made in a chemical lab, the normal synergistic co-factors, mineral transporters and building components are lost. Therefore, it may stimulate cellular metabolism, but it does nothing for repairing, upgrading function or rebuilding new cells. If those factors are missing, the body will initially locate the missing components from its own tissues, but when those have been exhausted, the synthetic vitamin is then treated like a toxin – something that needs to be removed.
The list of marketing terminology to be suspicious of, and ingredients to be aware of when looking for healthy vitamins is too long to publish here – in fact, is quite overwhelming. The barest advice I can give is wherever you see a vitamin listed, by its side should be a food (ie: Vitamin A (carrot powder), Vitamin E (wheat germ oil), Vitamin C (acerola cherries).
©2015 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.