Vs. Natural Vitamins
Dr. Ben Kim
are some facts that you won’t find advertised on most of the vitamin supplements
at your local vitamin store:
you want a comprehensive understanding of what vitamins are and what they do in
your body, it would be best to take a full course in biochemistry. Do you remember
all of those molecular formulas and chemical reactions that you studied in your
high school chemistry class? Biochemistry is really just an extension of chemistry,
with an emphasis on the thousands of chemical reactions that occur in your body
on a moment-to-moment basis.
majority of commercial vitamin supplements are made up of synthetic vitamins
vitamins do not perform the same functions in your body as vitamins found naturally
in whole food
synthetic vitamins deplete your body of other nutrients and tax your kidneys before
being excreted through your urine
Anyone who studies biochemistry learns
that vitamins do not exist as single components that act on their own. Vitamins
are made up of several different components – enzymes, co-enzymes, and co-factors–
that must work together to produce their intended biologic effects.
Vitamins that are found naturally in whole foods come with all of their necessary
The majority of vitamins that are sold in pharmacies, grocery
stores, and vitamin shops are synthetic vitamins, which are only isolated portions
of the vitamins that occur naturally in food.
A good example is vitamin
If you take a look at a variety of vitamin C supplements, you will
find that the majority of them contain only ascorbic acid or a compound called
ascorbate, which is a less acidic form of acorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is NOT vitamin
C. It represents the outer ring that serves as a protective shell for the entire
vitamin C complex, much like an orange peel that serves as a protective shell
for an orange.
Real vitamin C found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables
contain the following components:
you take only ascorbic acid found in your synthetic vitamin C tablet or powder,
your body must gather all of the other components of the full vitamin C complex
from your body’s tissues in order to make use of it. In the event that your body
does not have adequate reserves of the other components, ascorbic acid itself
does not provide any of the health benefits that the full vitamin C complex does.
After circulating through your system, the unused ascorbic acid is eliminated
through your urine.
like vitamin C, almost all other vitamins that we know of offer their full health
benefits when they are in the presence of a number of enzymes, co-enzymes, co-factors,
and even minerals. For example, Vitamin D may have as many as twelve different
active components, while vitamin P has at least five different components. The
mineral copper is needed for full vitamin C activity, while vitamin E works closely
with the mineral selenium to provide its health promoting, anti-oxidative effect.
Clearly, it is best to get your vitamins from whole foods because whole
foods provide complete vitamins rather than fractions of them. In many cases,
whole foods also provide the minerals that are necessary for optimal vitamin activity.
For example, sunflower seeds are an excellent whole food source of vitamin E and
the mineral selenium, both of which need each other to offer their full health
How do you know if the vitamins on your kitchen counter
are from whole foods or if they are synthetic?
If the list of ingredients
includes an actual vitamin like “Vitamin C” rather than an actual food
that contains natural vitamin C like “acerola cherry powder”, you can bet
that it is a synthetic vitamin.
If you choose to use nutritional supplements,
it is in your best interest to use only those products that list actual foods
as their ingredients rather than synthetic and isolated vitamins. While some
synthetic and isolated vitamins have been shown to provide minimal health benefits,
on the whole, most of them cause more harm than good and you are far better off
spending your money on whole foods.
It is important to note that the
principles in this article are just as relevant and applicable to minerals
and mineral supplements.
Please Note: In the coming weeks
and months, I will be writing a series
of profiles on all of the major and trace nutrients that your body needs for
optimal wellness. The main purpose of this upcoming series will be to provide
you with a reliable resource that indicates the best whole food sources of all
of the major and minor nutrients that we know impact human health. Please feel
free to visit our site on a regular basis to check for the latest
in this series.
The only whole food supplement that my family
and I use on a regular basis is Dr.
Ben Kim's Greens.
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