First, I would like to start with how my views have changed over the course of my practice, which is now over 28 years. In the beginning I held the belief that we should get all of our nutrients from food, meaning there was no need to supplement if one had a healthy diet (a diet rich in whole foods–not processed foods). Later, upon realizing that it is almost impossible to get all of our nutritional requirements from foods, I began encouraging the use of vitamins and minerals as “supplements”. Although I still believe this to be true, I am personally no longer recommending artificial vitamins and minerals.
When I started studying whole food nutrition and supplementation, I learned that almost all vitamins and minerals in use today are not complete, they are isolated, synthetic substances manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. This even includes the more expensive multilevel products & better health food store brands.
When scientists first discovered vitamins they found them in whole food sources. When these vitamins were analyzed, they were found to contain many individual parts and are truly “vitamin complexes”. When scientists, pharmaceutical companies, etc. continued researching these vitamin complexes they began looking for what they termed the “active ingredients”. Does this sound familiar? For example, when scientists were researching white willow bark (used in American Indian medicine) they found “salicylic acid” to be the active ingredient and aspirin was born. Although aspirin has an important place in western medicine, it does have side effects unlike its natural counterpart. This is due to the fact that it has been concentrated and separated from the other constituent parts which balanced its action and function.
The same thing happened when researching vitamins. For example, the “active ingredient” in Vitamin C was named Ascorbic Acid and for all intensive purposes they are looked upon as being the same. However vitamins in their real form are groups of chemically related compounds a.k.a. “complexes”. So in the case of Vitamin C, there is a single part identified as the organic nutrient (i.e., ascorbic acid, but in addition there are enzymes, co-enzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, activators, and other factors that enable the vitamin to be utilized in the body). So taking a Vitamin C pill (nothing but the Ascorbic acid piece) does not function in the body the same way that Vitamin C in a food source does. The same is true for Vitamin A which came to be known as Beta Carotene; Vitamin E as d-Alpha Tocopherol; Vitamin B’s as Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, etc.
I feel it is my responsibility to let you know that the supplements we have been taking to help offset the lack in our diet may not be supporting us in the way we had planned. I personally used artificial vitamins and minerals for many years. However, once I was aware of the difference, I have been using whole food supplements instead. I have chosen products made by Standard Process. Standard Process is the oldest manufacturer of supplements in the United States (since 1929). They have their own 1,000 acre organic farm where they grow many of the foods which are used in their products.
Read the other two articles in this series: