Why? Because I know how they're sourced, what exactly is inside them and how effective they are.
These days, it takes a PhD to truly determine whether a multivitamin or supplement is healthy for you.
In this article I'd like to help break down exactly how to you can identify whether your vitamins and supplements are healthy.
How to Pick a High Quality Multivitamin
As many of my patients know, my approach to healthy living is about eating the right foods that originate from the right places.
I say it over and over… the best way to get your vitamins is through food.
In fact, the vitamins and minerals you supplement with are only as good as the food that you put into your mouth.
So the first rule when it comes to picking a high quality multivitamin is to remember, FOOD FIRST!
All that said, I highly recommend a good Whole Food Multivitamin to fill the gap of vitamins and nutrients that you're missing in your diet.
But choosing a multivitamin is tough.
If you go to the vitamin shop or any vitamin aisle, you've probably run into rows upon rows of various supplements.
And aside from price you likely ask yourself… How do I pick? Which one is the best?
The Most Important Thing About Your Multivitamin Is…
The most important thing to consider when choosing a multivitamin is whether or not it's based on whole food ingredients or synthetic ingredients.
When I say synthetic ingredients, I'm talking about ingredients that were made in a lab rather than grown from the ground or the tress above.
To give you an example, let's consider vitamin C.
1. Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid Vs Calcium Ascorbate
Vitamin C is usually delivered as ascorbic acid.
While there are many studies demonstrating the positive clinical effects of taking vitamin C as ascorbic acid, it's 100% synthetic and produced in a lab.
Chemically these two compounds are different only in one atom, as Calcium ascorbate is a calcium salt of ascorbic acid, but how they impact our body is completely different.
Calcium ascorbate, is an alkaline form and will alkalize the blood wheras ascorbic acid is… well an acid and will acidify the blood.
Calcium ascorbate = Good
Ascorbic acid = Not so Good.
It has been shown that popular vitamin C combinations containing calcium ascorbate and small amounts of other forms of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are better absorbed than supplements containing only ascorbic acid.
2. Activated B Vitamins Vs Synthetic B Vitamins
Another example of differentiating a good multivitamin is to look at the type of B vitamins it contains.
The easiest B vitamin to point out is Vitamin B12.
There are two forms of vitamin B12 that you're likely to come across – methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.
Cyanocobalamin is the most commonly supplemented form of vitamin B12 and is chemically synthesized.
Methylcobalamin is found in foods and therefore naturally occurring.
In short, when you ingest cyanocobalamin, your body has to convert it into methylcobalamin to be absorbed.
Cyanocobalamin is certainly far from optimal.
When directly compared to other active ingredients, cyanocobalamin is clearly inferior it terms of absorption and clinical impact.
3. Folic Acid Vs Folate (Methyl-tetra-hydrofolic-acid)
Once again, the difference between folate and folic acid is simple: folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in foods like lemons and spinach, and folic acid is a synthetic form of B9 most common in supplements and fortified foods.
As is the case with synthetic vitamins, several studies have reported the presence of unmetabolized folic acid building up in the blood potentially causing liver toxicity and other complications.
Taking in synthetic B12 (cyanocobalamin) and Folic acid have even been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers!!!!
4. Natural Vs Synthetic Vitamin E
On a supplement label, natural vitamin E is listed as d-alpha tocopherol, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, or d-alpha tocopheryl succinate.
In contrast, synthetic forms of vitamin E are labeled with a dl- prefix.
So if your label says that Vitamin E is in the form of dl-alpha-tocopherol, it's synthetic and could be building up in your tissues rather than truly helping you out.
d-alpha tocopheryl = Good
dl-alpha tocopheryl = Bad
A Simple 4 Step Test in Identifying Bad Vitamins:
Simply turn the bottle around and look at the label and try to identify what form of the vitamin it contains.
Step 1 – Look at Vitamin C. Does it have ascorbic acid?
Step 2 – Look at Vitamin B12. Does it have cyanocobalamin?
Step 3 – Look at the Folic Acid. Does it have Folic acid?
Step 4 – Look for Vitamin E. Is Vitamin E in the dl- form?
If you answered YES to any of the above… you may want to reconsider the vitamin you're taking.
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