Americans are spending more than $27 billion each year on vitamins and nutritional supplements.
According to a December 2015 report by Euromonitor International, that number should see a growth of about four percent this year despite the debate in the medical community about the health benefits of vitamins and supplements.
In fact, there is little evidence that extra vitamins in supplements do any good. Research studies indicate that the best way to achieve a sufficient supply of vitamins is by eating a balanced, nourishing diet. For instance, a 2013 review of studies involving nearly 300,000 people found no evidence that vitamin supplements prevent cardiovascular disease. Notable exceptions to these studies include pregnant women benefitting from an extra supply of folic acid (also known as vitamin B9) and people who live in countries where malnutrition is a serious problem.
All nutritional supplements are not created equal. I encourage my patients to obtain their vitamins, minerals and enzymes by eating a nutrient-dense diet and, when necessary, supplementing with organic, whole food based supplements instead of synthetic versions.
First, let’s look at the difference between nutrients derived from whole foods and those derived from synthetic supplements. We obtain the most nutrition from foods when we eat them in the most natural state possible. Even cooking can diminish the nutritional value of food. When foods are refined or modified, the nutritional value is further decreased and sometimes even eliminated.
Synthetic vitamins are like refined foods. They cannot provide you with the dense nutrition found by consuming a food in its natural state. Furthermore, since the isolated nutrients or synthetic nutrients found in many vitamin supplements are not natural, the body treats them as foreign substances or xenobiotics.
When nutrition is gained through foods, the amounts of individual nutrients are balanced. Ingesting single nutrients in encapsulated form can create an imbalance in the body, causing more harm than good.
But what if your diet is lacking in certain nutrients, or you want to boost your intake of certain vitamins for health reasons? Whole food supplements can be an answer.
Just as their name suggests, whole food supplements are made from a concentrated form of whole foods. As a result, the vitamins in these supplements are complex structures that combine enzymes, antioxidants, activators and other elements to nourish your body. Since whole food supplements are natural, your body does not treat them as foreign substances.
How can you tell if a supplement is a healthy choice? Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
- The nutrient should be in as close to its natural state as possible
- It should contain natural, organic ingredients
- It should come from a company with a track record of providing high quality products
- It should work!
While I believe the best choice is to consume a whole foods plant-based diet, I realize many of my patients need the benefits of nutritional supplements to improve their health and wellness. Therefore, I would like to share with you some of the products I believe meet the above criteria.
Multivitamin for adults. I recommend New Chapter’s Only One Multivitamin. This convenient multivitamin is a whole food based vitamin with a multi-mineral formula. Made with 24 organic fruits and vegetables, it is herb-free and spice-free.
It is cultured with live probiotics and therefore, unlike most multivitamins, it is easy to digest and can be taken on an empty stomach. In addition, it is non-GMO, gluten-free and free of artificial colors and flavors.
For vegans and vegetarians. Vegans and vegetarians have specific nutritional needs. If you want to take the guesswork out of the process, I recommend you try Garden Of Life’s mykind Organics B-Complex tablets. This whole food vitamin is made from about 30 nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables and herbs. What’s more, it is organic and Non-GMO Verified.
This supplement contains all eight essential B vitamins to support your metabolism and stress response and to help increase your energy. It also contains 300mcg of biotin, which promotes healthy hair and nails and 400mcg of folate.
For children. Are you looking for a healthy chewable tablet for your kids? Nix the candy-like brands that you have seen advertised over the years and consider instead Vitamin Code Kids chewable whole foods multi-vitamin.
Despite our best efforts, kids may not get all the nutrients their growing bodies need from their diets. Here is a whole food vitamin that is made to meet the specific needs of children.
Containing 22 organic fruits and vegetables, Vitamin Code Kids vitamins are ideal for kids age four and up. They support a healthy immune system and provide digestive support with natural probiotics. Kids like the great cherry taste.
For vitamin D3. Vitamin D3, which has a hormone-like activity, plays a clear role in our overall health. Yet many of us are deficient in this important nutrient.
I recommend Vitamin Code Raw D3 supplements. They are formulated with raw food-created nutrients that are cultivated with antioxidants, enzymes, live probiotics, and nutrient-specific peptides. This raw D3 formula provides essential nutrients for bone, joint and digestive health. It also supports the immune system and cellular renewal. A convenient spray version is available here.
Magnesium supplement. Using this convenient magnesium oil topically can help you restore healthy levels of magnesium in your body. Although it is called an oil, this product is actually a solution of water and magnesium chloride flakes. With a soothing lavender fragrance, the oil is readily absorbed through the skin in just the right amounts your body needs.
It contains no artificial ingredients, is gluten-free, is non-irradiated and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.