To Your Health
January, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 01)
Let's start with the different types of vitamins on the market. Just look at the myriad of choices at your local grocery store, pharmacy, vitamin or health food store. How do you sort through all the marketing and packaging to be sure you are putting the right products in your system? Four basic kinds of vitamins are sold today: natural, synthetic, organic and carbon-bond organic.
Synthetic Vitamins: Scientists have developed synthetic vitamins that are cheap to manufacture. They appear the same in their atomic structure when compared to vitamins derived from plants and other sources. However, they can be distinguished in the laboratory. Similar to looking at your hand in a mirror, you see what looks like your hand, but in reality, it's not your hand. In fact, it's the exact opposite! Millions of Americans are taking vitamins that are synthetically manufactured. As a result, they unknowingly might be auto-intoxicating themselves because the body does not process synthetics well, if at all. These synthetic elements end up in extracellular spaces, interstitial fluids and fatty tissue, where they reside, potentially causing toxicity and chronic disease.
Synthetic vitamins are known to be less bioavailable (therefore, less effective) than naturally occurring vitamins. It is significantly easier for the body to utilize natural vitamins. For example, natural vitamin E (i.e., d-alpha-tocopherol) is retained by a 2:1 ratio over the synthetic form (i.e., dl-alpha-tocopherol). Natural vitamin E might cost two to three times more, but it's twice as effective.
Since synthetic vitamins and chemical nutrients are designed for cost purposes, they are created from plentiful and inexpensive sources, not from whole foods or plant matter. They are the cheapest supplements to be found. Therefore, you should avoid the lowest-cost supplements on the shelf.
Natural Vitamins: When comparing two supplements, it's often difficult to determine the difference between synthetic and natural vitamins. However, some define a "natural" vitamin as a concentrated nutrient derived from a quality natural source, with maximum retention of the natural material; no artificial colors, sweeteners or preservatives should be used.
A vitamin derived from a natural source often contains co-factors that come with the nutrient in nature. For instance, co-factors often associated with vitamin C are bio-flavonoids. These are important to health, as they are present in the vitamin C you derive from eating an orange. Supplements should mimic good nutrition from natural whole foods. That's why it's important to read labels and determine the sources of the vitamins.
Natural supplements cost more than synthetic, but they're worth it.
Organic Vitamins: There are two types of organic supplements found in the market. The "grocery store" definition of organic is whole-food-derived nutrients minus the insecticides, pesticides and herbicides; manufactured from ingredients that are certified organic. These supplements, if in tablet form, also might suffer less-than-optimal absorption due to the technology used to press them into tablets. The "scientific" definition of "organic" is related or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a living carbon basis. A carbon-based organic supplement has living carbon wrapped around its nutrients. These supplements must be cold-processed to preserve the living matter in the product. These nutritional supplements take the longest to manufacture and may derive the maximum nutritional benefit, with no known risks or side effects.