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The Top 5 Vitamin Myths

by Natalia Lukina


Myth #1 : "Vitamins and minerals in food-based, whole-food, or RAW multivitamins are derived from fruits and vegetables."

Truth: Food-based multivitamins are made from minute amounts of dry foods plus synthetic vitamins that are sometimes cultured with yeast.

While marketing claims often make one believe that food-based vitamins are derived from real food, the reality is quite different.

Most food-based vitamins on the market can be divided into two groups:

First group consists of formulas made from synthetic vitamins and minerals cultured with a small amount of whole foods and yeast. The supplement facts panel of such multivitamins lists vitamins and minerals without specifying their exact forms. It also lists whole foods blend (often organic). You will see a statement like "Nutrients are created through cultivation". This means that mostly synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals listed on the label were combined with minute amount of whole foods and cultured with yeast. After that the mixture was dried and put into tablets.

Second group consists of formulas made from synthetic vitamins and minerals with addition of the small amount of whole foods. On the label you will see a list of vitamins and minerals with their forms specified, plus whole foods blend labeled as "green food blend", "stress support blend", or similar. Pay attention to the amounts of nutrients in such blends, they are very small and as such are mostly negligible.

Myth #2 : "Whole food concentrates added to multivitamins are very beneficial for your health."

Truth: Amounts of whole foods that can be added to multivitamins are very small. Only highly concentrated standardized extracts can have a meaningful effect.

Amounts of whole food concentrates that can be added to multivitamin formulas are very small. On the labels you will generally see between 100mg to 1000mg food complex, which is less than half a tea spoon. How much benefit can you get from eating such minute amount of dry spinach or raspberry? You would be better off after eating a couple of blueberries or a leaf of spinach. It is best to consume real fruits and vegetables. If supplementation with whole foods is needed, look for multivitamins with highly concentrated standardized extracts or even better high quality greens formula.

Myth #3: "The higher the %DV of vitamins and minerals is in multivitamins, the better they are for you."

Truth: Long term use of high doses of vitamins and minerals has not been sufficiently studied. Choose vitamin supplements with amounts of vitamins and minerals close to RDA (recommended daily amounts).

As with many things, more is not always better. Long term effects of daily supplementation with mega doses of vitamins and minerals have not been sufficiently studied. Fat soluble vitamins and minerals can accumulate in the body and cause extra strain on elimination organs. In case of water soluble vitamins, the body can assimilate only so much, the rest has to be eliminated and can cause unnecessary stress on kidneys. If one desires to take high doses of vitamins and minerals it is best to do so under the guidance of qualified health care practitioner.

Myth #4: "It does not matter if I take all my vitamin supplements at the same time or not."

Truth: Some vitamins and minerals should not be taken together. One should always pay attention to the interactions.

Studies show that some vitamins and minerals can greatly inhibit absorption of one another. Examples include calcium and iron, magnesium and manganese, copper and zinc taken together. To maximize absorption, these vitamins should be taken at least 3-4 hours apart from each other. What good is it to take multivitamins if they won’t be properly absorbed?

Myth #5: "Multivitamin supplements can be taken any time of day and with any food."

Truth: Some vitamins have an energizing effect on the body, while others have a relaxing effect. Certain foods can inhibit or enhance absorption of specific vitamins and minerals.

Food and beverages can inhibit or enhance absorption of vitamins and minerals. For example, iron taken with coffee, tea or milk will be poorly absorbed (less than 20% absorption rate). Fat-soluble vitamins, coenzyme Q10 and carotenoids taken with a light fat-free snack will also be poorly absorbed. On the other hand, vitamin C greatly enhances iron absorption and fat greatly enhances absorption of all fat-soluble nutrients. Most multivitamins on the market are best taken with breakfast (if one eats breakfast) or lunch. Taking standard multivitamins in the evening might have an energizing effect and is generally not recommended.

In Summary

In essence all vitamins on the market are synthetic. However, there is a big difference between various synthetic vitamins. Some are identical to the ones our body makes and can be called "natural", others are not. It is important to choose multivitamins based on the forms of the vitamins and minerals that they include. Easy ones to spot are vitamin D, which must be in D3 form (calciferol) and not D2. Vitamin E in a natural form is labeled with letter "d", while synthetic form is labeled with "dl". All minerals should be chelated. Do not buy vitamins that include oxides or sulfates of minerals since they are very poorly absorbed. The formulas that do not list the forms of vitamins and minerals that they include are a black box; you don’t know what you are getting.

Don’t fall victim to marketing myths, there is no need to pay a fortune for food-based vitamins.

Natalia Lukina holds an MS degree in Biology from Caltech and Drug Discovery and Development professional certification from UCSD. Natalia is the founder of Vital Formulas, a company that has developed patent-pending Balanced Trio multivitamins. Balanced Trio consists of three formulas - Morning, Mid-day and Evening and was formulated based on the latest research on vitamin interactions and dosage. Visit www.vital-formulas.com  for more information.


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