Whole food vitamins are increasing in popularity as people are recognizing that vitamins derived from whole foods are often completely different from the synthetic (chemical) vitamins prepared in factories. If you are one of those people taking over-the-counter synthetic vitamins, you may not be getting the quantity or quality of vitamins you thought you were getting. In fact, most easily available multivitamins are manufactured by one or more of the dozen or so pharmaceutical companies that make these chemicals.
The preparation of synthetic vitamins involves making a molecule that is one component of a large whole food molecule. The whole food vitamin is complete with the cofactors and other components needed to help the vitamin do its job. This means that the Vitamins C, D, A, E, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, many minerals and other nutrients are inexpensively derived and designed to last a long time. Because they are not complete, they may not work as vitamins or can deplete the body of the trace minerals necessary for them to work properly.
To make matters worse, foods in today’s time have far less nutrients in them than they did 25-50 years a go. For example oranges contain one-tenth the amount of vitamin C in them than they did three decades ago. Spinach has dropped its precious iron intake is only 1.5% of what it was only 60 years ago. This is because our soils have become depleted and contain few trace minerals and other vitamins. This explains why the taking of whole food vitamins is now becoming necessary.
There is no such thing as a single molecule that makes up most vitamins. Whole food vitamins are actually groups of chemically-related compounds that cluster in the foods we eat. There are other, extremely important molecules associated with the major vitamins. These are the cofactors, trace minerals, co-enzymes and anti-oxidants necessary for the whole food vitamin to work. If you choose a vitamin that is a whole food vitamin, you’ll get those extra factors along with the main clusters of vitamin molecules, increasing the ability of the vitamin to function. The whole food vitamins are easily absorbed, including the precious micronutrients that go with them. In addition, they are completely in the form the body needs them in. Your body knows exactly how much vitamin it needs and allows the rest to pass through the system. This is a process known as “selective absorption”. It optimizes your health through providing it with the proper nutrition.
Synthetic vitamins are missing these vital micronutrients. The body needs to find a way to match the synthetic vitamin with whatever micronutrients it can find. It also must deal with these chemical vitamins much the same way that it handles toxins and other unwanted chemicals, especially since they have no function without the support of the micronutrients you’ll find in whole food vitamins. The metabolism of these unwanted synthetic vitamins can lead to vitamin overdoses and imbalances in body chemistry. In addition, manufacturers cannot disassemble whole food complexes and turn them back into assembled complexes. This is because, once a whole food vitamin complex has been disassembled into its component parts, it is considered “dead” and nonfunctional.
As an example, let’s look at the whole food complex that makes up Vitamin E. It contains four different related tocopherols, plus xanthine, lipositols and the mineral, selenium. If this were a synthetic vitamin, only one portion of the complex, most commonly alpha-tocopherol, is removed from the whole food complex and then synthesized through mass production to be placed in a vitamin container and called “vitamin E”. In fact, it’s only a portion of real vitamin E and has only about 1% of the molecular activity of whole food vitamin E. If selenium isn’t included, the vitamin E fragment is poorly absorbed and not used by the body. The body then becomes relatively diminished in its selenium content as the body uses it up in an attempt to absorb the alpha-tocopherol.
Again, the problem can have a wide-ranging influence throughout the body. For example, selenium is necessary to convert T4 into T3 inside the liver. Without enough selenium, you can develop problems with your thyroid function because the active form of thyroid hormone, T3, is not being converted easily.
Another example is Vitamin C:
As you can see, Vitamin C has several components, including ascorbic acid, tyrosinase, Vitamin P, Vitamin K and Vitamin J factors, and also ascorbigen and bioflavinoid complexes. A lot of Vitamin C on the market today usually is in the form of 500 mg—even 1000 mg. As you can see, what they did was just tease out the ascorbic acid component of the functional architectural Vitamin C complex. Basically, they are giving you the eggshell, and not giving you the actual whole component of the egg, including the egg white and egg yolk. It has been proven that humans with scurvy, when fed ascorbic acid did not improve very much, if at all. In humans fed natural Vitamin C complex in its whole food form, scurvy was eliminated. This is another example why ISOLATED SYNTHETIC FRACTIONATED, CHEMICAL COMPOUNDS DO NOT WORK.
Beta-carotene provides another example. This molecule is just one of a family of molecules called carotenoids. In nature (and whole food vitamins), it is never found as an isolated compound. In fact there are more than 100 carotenoids in nature. In foods like carrots or tomatoes, you’ll find numerous carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, omega-carotene and cantozanthene, just to name a few. In the manufacture of synthetic compounds, you’ll often find beta-carotene alone—without the many other components of the vitamin along with it. Beta-carotene alone is inexpensive to make and the manufacturers can make huge profits by selling them to people who don’t know they’re not really getting what they need.
The B vitamins are another good example. In 1925, there was only one known B vitamin. By 1975, approximately ten other B-family members had been discovered. In fact, B4 is one of the few vitamins that they can’t synthetically mass-produce. Therefore, you will never see B4 on a synthetic vitamin label. Most doctors do not know it even exists. I had a patient who asked her family doctor about B vitamins and B4. He told the patient that there was no such thing as Vitamin B4 and that I did not know what I was talking about. He is dead wrong. So if you had taken an isolated synthetic B1 compound in 1925, you would have missed all the rest of the B-family factors. It should be noted that B vitamins should be taken together as a family and no individual B vitamin should be taken by itself. You have to realize that all the amino acids, Vitamin E, trace minerals and Vitamin C all come in families so the body can utilize and absorb them properly. What occurs with synthetic vitamins is that the body treats them as toxins, leading to expensive yellow urine from excessive vitamin intake because the body is trying to rid itself of such foreign chemicals.
It’s important to understand that, in my opinion, the vitamin industry is much too loosely regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What this means is that companies who make vitamins need to put the name of the vitamin on the back and which component of the vitamin is included. For example, Vitamin A could say “Vitamin A (as retinol palmitate)” or it could say “Vitamin A (as beta-carotene)”. They don’t have to spell it out any further. If you are looking for a vitamin and see words like as…, palmitate or acetate, you aren’t getting a whole food supplement but are getting the synthetic version instead. Please refer to Natural vs. Synthetic Table to help you see the difference between whole food complexes and synthetic vitamins. I recommend that you go to your vitamin bottle and look at the back of the label to see if the vitamins you are taking are synthetic. Chances are good that they will be synthetic. If so, you may be depleting your body of vital nutrients, co-factors and trace minerals.
As you may imagine, taking part of a vitamin is not as effective as taking the entire thing. Vitamin E looses up to 99% of its potency when separated from its natural whole food family. When you just take the tocopherols, you are throwing out the real vitamin E. The tocopherols are nature’s way of protecting and preserving Vitamin E, like the skin on a fruit. There are many documented studies that prove how animals and humans respond to synthetic vitamins versus natural whole food complexes. It becomes obvious to those who study the topic that nature created a perfectly balanced natural whole food complex to work with human physiology and to correct a vast number of disorders. Whole food vitamins along with a healthy diet and exercise will be the most effective in helping your body recover some of the nutrition it has lost over time. Natural food complexes and whole food complexes do not cause adverse effects, while toxicity from synthetic vitamins and anti-oxidants are known to occur.
Foods contain an intricate, interconnected network of components – known and unknown – which work together for the effectiveness or function in the body. Chemically-pure, isolated and synthetic vitamins are devoid of all the synergists – factors which cooperatively work together to enable biochemical operation and action. Whether defining carbohydrates or vitamins or any other food element, each must be considered as a complex, “made up in our diet of almost endless forms, and that the best philosophy is to get as many forms as possible….”
Years ago, a group of doctors in Cuba published their findings in the use of fish liver oil vitamin A for treating high blood pressure (hypertension) with excellent results. Clinics in the U.S. tried to duplicate the study but all the reports were negative; vitamin A completely failed to reduce blood pressure. Later it was discovered that the vitamin A concentrates used in the U.S. were refined and had eliminated the essential ingredients that affected blood pressure balance. It is only the undisturbed whole food complexes which “work”. A vitamin is “a complex assembly of food catalysts which must not be altered in structure of proportion of components if it is to retain its function.”
Molecules generally come in one of two ways. They can be “left-handed” meaning that they bend light to the left or “right-handed”, meaning that they bend light to the right. A source of polarized light is used by scientists to see which way the molecule bends light. Whole food vitamins will always bend light to the right. When molecules do this, they carry the prefix “D” meaning “dextro” or “right”. Molecules that bend light to the left carry the prefix “L” for “Levo” or “left”. Synthetic vitamins made through a manufacturing process will bend light both ways and will be labeled “DL”. Generally only the D-form is active so that the other half of the vitamin you ingest will not only be useless but will be poorly absorbed and, in some cases, will need to be detoxified by the liver.
Remember, the foods you eat have been stripped of most of their nutrients due to poor soil and from the process that refines and manufactures these foods. Many foods you eat are filled with fats, sugars and salts and have very little in the way of essential nutrients and vitamins. Foods today often contain pesticides, fungicides, sulfites and other preservatives. It can take many weeks from the time the food leaves the farm until it reaches your table. During that time, more than half of the nutritional value may be lost. Even if you think you’re eating healthy, consider a recent USDA study of over 20,000 people that determined not a single person was eating 100% of the US RDA in the foods they consumed.
Lifestyle changes are probably the best place to start. Eat only freshly picked organic foods that have been grown in soil that has had the minerals replaced. In addition, when you over-cook food, it breaks down the enzymes that help in the digestion and utilization of our food at a cellular level. Choose whole grain bread, pasta and other grains, preferable made with freshly ground flour. If this sounds difficult for you, you need to know that, in most cases, it is. Few of us can find these kinds of foods on a regular basis.
Yes. You can supplement your diet using whole food complexes or whole food supplements. I don’t expect everyone to run out and start buying organic foods and preparing their meals, but if you are eating 21 meals a week and you ate 10 organic meals, you could increase your health by almost 50%. Once you start feeling better and have more energy, you can make the necessary lifestyle changes and will likely enjoy the process.
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