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Vitamin & Mineral Myths

by Regina Gibbons, MBA

1). I eat right so I don’t need to take vitamins.

FALSE. We need nutritional support in addition to eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and proteins. It is well known that the quality of our soils has declined over the last fifty years. Trace minerals, which are critical for enzymatic activity, are particularly lacking. The increased availability of organic foods grown on nutrient-rich soils helps to provide these trace minerals and other nutrients. However, the increased challenges to our physiology in the form of food additives, environmental pollutants, prescription and over counter medication, emotional and financial stress over the same 50 year period is unlikely to be mitigated solely through the use of whole, organic foods. For example, scientists at the Linus Pauling Institute suggest taking a supplement of 200 to 400 IU of Vitamin E daily with a meal to help protect adults from chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, and some types of cancer. Vitamin E is only one of over 40 essential nutrients needed to maintain optimal health.

Fresh, gently prepared vegetables would certainly yield higher levels of Vitamin E. Still, large quantities of fresh veggies are needed to meet the optimal levels.

2). I take a multi-vitamin that has everything I need in one pill.

FALSE. Many manufacturers are still using outdated RDA values to formulate their products and some products have not been reformulated in over 20 years. Supplementing at advanced levels for our modern lifestyle requires 4-6 multivitamin tablets throughout the day for adults – every day.

3) I know I’m getting high quality vitamins because I only buy them at "The Health Food Store."

FALSE. FDA regulations regarding the manufacturing and labeling of dietary supplements are the same as Good Manufacturing Practice rules for food. There is no requirement that the final product be tested for contaminants or to verify that the contents of the bottle meet label claim. FDA will periodically test dietary supplements for known contaminants as in the case of its’ August 2008 Survey Data on Lead in Women’s and Children’s Vitamins. Good news is, all of the products sampled were found to be below the FDA’s "Provisional Total Tolerable Intake" levels. However, only 4 products out of 324 were lead-free. See http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/pbvitami.html details.

In other countries, supplements are more highly regulated than in the United States. In Australia, for example, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which regulates dietary supplements, mandates that manufacturers follow a set of GMP identical to pharmaceutical GMP in the United States. There are very few US vitamin manufacturers who voluntarily adhere to pharmaceutical standards but there are some. Third-party certification of purity and potency are a good indication that you have found a high-quality product.

4) Vitamin Products derided from "whole foods" or "natural ingredients" are superior to "synthetic vitamins."

FALSE. Most of these products only adhere to the minimal manufacturing standards discussed above. In addition, there are no government regulations regarding the use of the word "natural" labels. It is impossible to extract pure vitamins from plants without considerable chemical processing. Oil soluble nutrients are generally extracted using organic solvents like hexane and methylene chloride. These solvents are toxic and it is very difficult to remove all traces of them from the end product.

Regina Gibbons MBA, M.Ac., is a seasoned clinician, having maintained a private acupuncture practice in Marblehead, MA since 2000. She is currently credentialed at Massachusetts General Hospital and serves as a clinical acupuncturist at the MGH Community Health Center in Revere, M.A. As a member of Team Northrup, Regina creates personalized plans for individuals to regain and maintain optimal health in all areas of their lives. Regina@Wellspring-Medical.com http://www.wellspring-medical.com

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