Not all types of supplements are created equal. Are you getting enough vitamins and minerals through your foods? Are you taking extra supplements? If so, are they providing your body with what it needs?
Here is a description of what is available in the market, where they are usually labeled neutraceuticals.
A NEUTRACEUTICAL is name given to a food, part of a food or natural substance, herbal product, specific diet or processed food such as cereals, soups and beverages that contain, or are supplemented with, ingredients purported to have health benefits. The name comes from nutri(tion) and (pharma)ceutical and has been used as a marketing tool in this country. A neutraceutical is created by formula to include set amounts of selected vitamins and minerals that have been manufactured - either from synthetic chemicals or from natural sources. Each pill contains exactly what is on the label.
This type of vitamin, made from sources other than food, becomes a mirror image of the natural vitamin. This causes it to spin in the opposite direction from the its natural counterpart so it no longer fits a condition (like a glove) and no longer works as intended.
Some Examples of Synthetic Vitamins:
- Ascorbic acid is derived from corn syrup to make Vitamin C
- Thiamine is extracted from coal tar or petroleum to make Vitamin B
- Synthetic alpha tocopherol is made from distilled cottonseed oil to make Vitamin E.
A problem with synthetic supplements is that they have an exact formula but no co-factors that would be found in nature.
- Eg.: Synthetic Vitamin C only contains ascorbic acid. In nature, Vitamin C contains bioflavonoid complex, tyrosinase, and P, K and J factors along with ascorbic acid.
- Eg.: Vitamin E and wheat germ oil. In the 1930’s, wheat germ oil was called Vitamin E. Then scientists found an active ingredient in the oil that they called alpha tocopherol. By 1935, alpha tocopherol was being called vitamin E, while the remainder of the naturally occurring substances found in wheat germ oil were ignored. Now current scientific thought is that a substance called alpha tocotrinol is the active ingredient found in wheat germ oil that is the most helpful substance.
Foods are treated with chemicals, solvents or heat in order to release the desired part. However in the process, co-factors like enzymes, antioxidants, trace elements and other unknown factors are missing or destroyed. This process does keep the right-handed spin (so it matches what it is designed to treat) but is missing ingredients. Other problems with crystalline vitamins are that they can create mineral deficiencies, the body has to process them, they work as stimulants, and they do not have expiration dates.
These are plants and plant extracts that help to support health. Herbs have a stronger effect than whole food supplements so can be added to the whole food mix or taken separately.
One problem I have seen with herbal usage is that a person will walk into a health food store and buy two or more single herbs that have the same desired action. However, taken together, these herbs may give too much action and the end result is overdosing, which the liver now has to clear.
A better way to take herbs is in a complete formula. In Chinese medicine, an herbal formula is built with
- 1-2 herbs that have the major effect desired
- minor herbs that support that effect
- herbs that counteract any harmful side effects of the major herbs
- a ‘carrier’ herb which moves the formula to the correct part of the body.
**WHOLE FOOD SUPPLEMENTS**
These supplements are made from whole foods with the water and fiber removed, then carefully processed so enzymes are still active and all nutrients and co-factors required by the body to meet a wide range of cellular needs are present.
A whole food supplement contains minimally processed whole foods, whole food extracts, some animal tissue extracts, botanicals (herbs), and whole food isolates. Each pill or powder contains the desired active ingredients along with the many other ingredients that are part of the original food.
I recommend and utilize Standard Process whole food supplements in my practice. These organic vegetables are grown on their own farm in Wisconsin and immediately after harvest are processed into tablet or pill form. Many of their supplements also use small amounts of animal glands and organ extracts. These are used because they differ from muscle tissue, having more DNA per gram than skeletal muscle, different protein profiles, and different starting concentrations of vitamins and minerals.
In the old days, our ancestors routinely ate organ meats such as kidney pie, tripe, liver, etc. so they routinely got the special factors found in organ meats and glands that are needed for health. In these times, few of us eat this way so some vital elements are typically missing from our diet.
Standard Process also uses whole food isolates if there is not enough of a specific ingredient in foods to effect a health issue. Standard Process creates a whole food isolate, like glucosamine, which is then combined with other ingredients that will maximize how well they work.
Test Your Supplements
- Drop them into a glass of water and watch what happens. Natural vitamins should break down in 10-20 minutes. Synthetics will not.
- Check your urine. Synthetic B complex will turn it bright yellow. Whole food vitamins will not.
USE THE CORRECT FORM
Your supplements must in the correct form to be useful to your body. Using the example of calcium, which has around 13 different forms: should you use carbonate, lactate, or citrate form?
Many calcium supplements use ground up rocks or shells (calcium carbonate). This is both cheap and plentiful AND indigestible! It takes up to 13 chemical processes in the body to be able to utilize this form of calcium. (This is the type of calcium found in Tums.)
The form of calcium used by Standard Process is calcium lactate, easily utilitzed in one step - that of exposure to stomach acid during digestion. But even that isn’t a guarantee. In my own case, I was using Standard Process’ calcium lactate but was still getting leg cramps at night. Testing showed that I needed a digestive aide to make the calcium usable to the muscles. So even one single step can get messed up! What happens when the process take 13 steps?
“If a little is good, a lot must be better.” BUT, minute amounts in whole food form is more effective.
The higher the dosage, the faster the deficiency will be met. BUT, if you put incomplete nutrients into your body, it has to draw what is needed to complete its action from your body which can cause new imbalances. Also excess nutrients can become toxic.
Dosage is often determined by how high the mg% is. BUT with some supplements like Vitamin D, an overdose reverses the desired effect.