You want to boost your immunity. Great! But with almost 80,000 supplements on the market today, which one to choose? Well, before you spend your hard-earned dollar, you should know the truth about vitamin supplements.
But first, what kind of vitamins are you taking? What form are they?
Do you know, for example, that taking vitamins in pills might reduce their absorption? As a result, it is often a waste of effort and money.
Also, are there any additives, artificial color, flavors, pesticides, corn or caffeine in your vitamins? How about fillers and coating? Further, are ingredients of high quality? Synthetic or natural and organic?
In short, I hope you are asking all those questions. But if you are not, today we will answer them for you.
So, do you want to know the truth about vitamin supplements?
Let’s start with the basics.
1. Why Do We Need Vitamins and Minerals?
Well, we all heard a million times that vitamins and minerals are critically important. Right?
But why? And what is the source of essential nutrients?
First, you should know that vitamins are organic substances. They play a significant biochemical role and help your body to perform numerous functions. For example, one of their major roles is to boost the immune system. They also can help with the following:
- increase memory
- help with focus and concentration
- reduce stress and balance your mood
- increase energy
- improve stamina
Overall, vitamins and minerals help tissues, organs, and nervous system to perform at the optimal level. Therefore, if you have a deficiency in specific vitamins, some of your body functions might be compromised.
For instance, vitamin deficiency can cause depression, weakness, anemia, or other adverse conditions. Unfortunately, I experienced it myself.
It is critical to emphasize that vitamin deficiency can affect a person of all ages. Furthermore, it can go hand-in-hand with mineral deficiency.
Another significant point is that vitamin absorption and processing depends on certain types of enzymes or proteins. Overall, all vitamins, minerals, and essential elements work in concert with each other. So, if you lack one vitamin, it might affect the metabolism of others. As a result, it can start a tsunami of issues. What to prevent it?
TAKEAWAY: Vitamins and minerals help the body to perform vital functions. They can bolster the immune system and directly affect your optimal health.
2. Types of Vitamins
Next critical point: there are two groups of vitamins – water-soluble and fat-soluble. By the way, can you name a few water-soluble vitamins? I am sure you know this.
Well, if you think about vitamin B and C, you are correct. There are plenty of them in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But there is one tricky thing about those vitamins.
Since they are soluble in the water, vitamins are flushed out of the body easily. As a result, to maintain vitamins B and C balance, the body needs an extra supply received daily. And this is one truth about vitamin supplements.
The second group is fat-soluble vitamins. And by definition, they are found predominately in naturally fatty food – beef, fish oil, some dairy. Among well known fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. Of course, there are also fruits and vegetables as a source of those vitamins.
It is crucial to understand that the body often doesn’t make enough vitamins. Well, it gets them from the food. Therefore, it is vital to have a balanced and nutritional diet.
But even here we might face an issue of malnutrition because of the poor quality of the soil. Why? It is due to modern agricultural practices. As a result, you eat fruits and vegetables, but can still be deficient in different vitamins and nutrients. In turn, it might negatively affect your wellness and overall health.
So, you should take supplements. What are the best and why? Click here for more details.
TAKEAWAY: The source of vitamins B and C as water-soluble compounds is plants. In contrast, vitamins A, D, K, and E are fat-soluble and predominately come from natural fatty food.
3. Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals
As can be seen, vitamins are one type of compounds that the body needs for proper functioning.
Among others are minerals, fats, enzymes, and proteins. The proper amount of some minerals, for example, are crucial for the body’s chemical balance and mere survival. (1)
In contrast to vitamins, the body doesn’t make minerals. They are found primarily in water and soil. Therefore, you are getting them from your food.
Well, to have enough minerals, you should have a balanced diet, including various vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and unsaturated fats.
Role of Minerals
Well, you should remember from the chemistry class that one type of minerals are metals. Some of them play the leading role in your body daily activities.
How does it work?
In a few words, essential metals are needed to activate enzymes. In turn, they help to metabolize vitamins.
So, do you see how all compounds in the body are interconnected? Obviously, without the balance between all of them, your body might be at a disadvantage. Result?
A compromised immune system! And this is another truth about vitamins and minerals supplements and how to choose them.
Groups of Minerals
There are two groups of minerals:
- Major minerals (or macronutrients)—potassium, chloride, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. You need over 100 mg of those minerals each day.
- Trace minerals (or micronutrients)—chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, manganese, zinc. Your body needs less than 100 mg of trace minerals daily.
List of Essential Minerals
Are you curious about what do those minerals do?
See below the list of some essential minerals and their functions in the body (2):
Calcium – necessary for teeth and bones, helps muscle contractions, nerves to send messages, and for blood to clot.
Iron – play a significant role in making hemoglobin—the critical chemical in carrying oxygen. Additionally, iron is a must-have for producing collagen and hormones.
Magnesium – like calcium, it is essential for teeth and bones. Also, it is needed for muscle contractions, nerves to send messages, and enzymes to work correctly.
Potassium – is a crucial mineral for balancing fluids. It also helps muscles to contract and for the heart to have a steady heartbeat.
Sodium – like potassium, helps to balance body fluids and for muscle contractions.
TAKEAWAY: Minerals are essential for numerous vital body activities like activation of enzymes, transporting oxygen, and muscles to contract. There are major and trace minerals. In contrast to vitamins, the body doesn’t make minerals.
4. Common Nutrition Deficiencies
Well, do you know anyone with vitamins or minerals deficiency? And how about you?
My Nutrients Deficiency
Unfortunately, I experienced full-pledged vitamins and minerals deficiency and well familiar with the consequences.
For example, anemia. Periodically I was lightheaded, sometimes weak, and had low energy. Also, the intense symptoms in my case were leg cramps and muscle stiffness.
For me, the cause of anemia, as it turned out, was a deficiency in vitamin B12—the typical situation.
Those symptoms interfered with my lifestyle, activities of daily living, and, of course, my swimming practice. Never mind that cramping can all of a sudden happen at night when I was constantly waking up from the pain.
Another reason why I had constant Charley horse was a deficiency in potassium and magnesium since they are essential for muscles to contract.
Well, I’ve learned it the hard way.
Vitamins Deficiencies Statistic
It is critical to point out that vitamins and minerals deficiencies are common. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), most people in the USA had a deficiency in vitamin B6 following by iron and vitamin D. See the graph below.
Besides, The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans specified deficiencies in the following nutrients (3):
- vitamins A, C, D, and E
So, are you nutrient deficient? And if yes, is your body trying to tell you something?
TAKEAWAY: Vitamin and mineral deficiency is common among all ages in the United States. It is imperative to know what nutrients you are deficient in.
5. What Are Vitamin Supplements?
So, if some nutrients are lacking in your diet, would it be smart to supplement them?
“Of course,” you say.
But it is essential to realize that not all vitamins are created equal. And that is the reason you should know how to supplement missing vitamins and minerals the right way.
Vitamin Supplements Issues
With this in mind, let’s discover the truth about vitamin supplements one by one. Below are the issues you should be aware of before you spend your money:
- Where do nutrient supplements come from?
- Natural or synthetic supplements?
- Are your vitamins adequately absorbed?
- Multivitamins or targeted vitamins?
- Intake: too much or too low?
- It’s pricey – compared with what?
Let’s tackle all of those concerns one at the time.
Source of Vitamin Supplements
Of course, the most natural source of vitamins is food. Therefore, the ideal source of your vitamin supplements is the same—MOTHER NATURE.
Well, I assume you want the best and most effective vitamins matching your body chemistry. Right?
In this case, you should choose completely natural vitamin and mineral supplements. But that’s not enough, and like in food, ideally, if they are also organic.
So, here we have it—your perfect vitamin and minerals supplements should be completely natural and organic. Is it too much to ask?
Well, probably so because the real world, unfortunately, is quite different.
By the way, what about YOUR vitamin supplements? How well do you know them?
TAKEAWAY: If you need vitamins and minerals supplements, you should know their source and choose those with natural and organic ingredients.
6. Natural versus Synthetic Vitamins
So, if not all vitamins are created equal, what does it mean?
Well, do you know that most vitamins on the market today are synthetic? In fact, the number of synthetic supplements on the market today is around 95%.
Are you surprised?
And this is one sad truth about vitamin supplements. The Organic Consumers Association called it “a gigantic hoax being foisted on the public.” (4)
For me, I don’t want to touch vitamins that might be synthetic. So, lets briefly compare plant-based or organic vitamins with the synthetic ones.
First, you should know that most vitamins are made from petroleum derivatives or hydrogenated sugars. (5)
Second, even though when those vitamins are called “natural,” they are “isolated.” Vitamins from food are never isolated.
Also, don’t be confused by the term “organic.” In fact, all petroleum derivatives can be called “organic.” But they are not from the naturopathic standpoint. Moreover, they cannot be viewed as “organic” even from the U.S. Governments’s perspective. (6)
TAKEAWAY: Synthetic vitamins are the predominant source of vitamin supplements. And if some are called “natural,” it can be as low as only 10% from a natural source.
7. Are Synthetic Vitamins Bad?
Obviously, I am not a chemist and cannot correctly argue about are synthetic vitamins bad for you. However, just a mere fact that they don’t come from “nature” bothers me. And the reason being is that my body will recognize the “natural” elements and know what to do with them. As a result, it will work in concert with all other vitamins, as well as enzymes and minerals.
But as for synthetic vitamins, it is not so.
Because by default, they were created to “mimic” what vitamins do. Further, as stated prior, they were isolated. So, how can they be synergetic with natural vitamins and enzymes?
Additionally, if vitamins are manufactured artificially, there are probably some chemicals used.
Besides, synthetic vitamins might be less bioavailable to the body than, for example, vitamin C extracted from berries. Especially it can be said about synthetic vitamin E. In fact, in the eyes of the holistic professionals, it “is a poor substitute for the real thing and does little to boost your health.” (7) And this is the truth about vitamin supplements that most people don’t know.
Also, remember that vitamin E, as well as A, D, and K, are all fat-soluble. But their synthetic cousins can build up in your fat tissue and be toxic. And that’s why these “vitamins” can potentially harm you!
So, did I spark your curiosity?
TAKEAWAY: Synthetic vitamin supplements are isolated, cannot have synergy with natural compounds, have low absorption, and possibly have harmful chemicals.
8. How Can I Identify Synthetic Vitamins?
Well, if your vitamins are synthetic, would you like to know about it?
It is imperative to remember that vitamin can be called “natural” if only 10% of it is from the natural source.
So, do yourself a favor and use this tip next time you buy vitamins. The label should state “100%” natural.
Composition of Food and Non-Food Vitamins
See below the composition table of food and non-food vitamins. (8) It will help you to know better what might be in the bottle.
Composition of Food and Non-Food Vitamins:
Next, what about the label?
Label: How to Recognize Synthetic Vitamins
Well, you should know what to look for. Therefore, be smart and watch for clues. For example, words that end in “ide” or “ate” indicated that vitamins have salt forms. They are synthetics. Also, the “dl” form of any vitamin is synthetic.
Below is the list of Common Synthetic Vitamins to Avoid (9):
- Vitamin A: Acetate and Palmitate
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
- Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
- Vitamin B12: Cobalamin
- PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
- Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid
- Biotin: d-Biotin
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
- Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosterol, Calciferol
- Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate
TAKEAWAY: If your vitamin supplements are called “natural,” check if it’s 100% natural. Also, check their composition and pay attention to the label to spot clues.
9. Bioavailability of Vitamin Supplements
What if there are undigested vitamin pills in your morning poop? Will you continue taking them?
I bet you won’t!
So, it brings us to another critical issue concerning the truth about vitamin supplements—bioavailability or absorption.
In simple terms, bioavailability is the amount of the ingredient that your body absorbs as intended.
According to The Physician Desk Reference (page 1542), if you are taking pills, the body absorbs only 10-20% of minerals and vitamins. So, if you spend, for example, $200 on supplements, only $20-$40 goes for proper use. You have an 80% loss!
Therefore, if your supplements have low bioavailability, you are not getting all the benefits of the product.
Why Low Bioavailability
The reason for the low bioavailability of most supplements is the large size of supplements particles. And this is mainly in connection with synthetic vitamins. They contain fillers that have molecules of considerable size.
Besides, the body absorbs some vitamins better if they are in pairs with other nutrients. For example, vitamin D is better absorbed if magnesium is present. In general, vitamins have a strong synergetic relationship. And it is another disadvantage of synthetic supplements.
Why Liquid Form?
But how can you be sure that your supplements have high absorption?
Luckily, there is a simple solution—using supplements in liquid form. It has the highest absorption level.
Also, you should know that the production of tablets, pills, and capsules require high temperature. They also might contain additives, herbicides, nuts, wheat, and dairy.
Another key benefit of using liquid supplements is the speed of absorption.
TAKEAWAY: If you want to get the highest benefits from your vitamins, take liquid supplements that have the highest absorption.
I hope this post helped you to get smarter about your supplements.
In summary, let’s review what you know:
- what are vitamins and minerals
- role of nutrients in the body
- types of vitamins and minerals
- nutrients deficiency and its consequences
- source of supplements
- natural vs synthetic vitamins
- vitamins absorption
Please remember that the supplements market is unregulated, and it’s all on you. So, if you are currently taking vitamin and mineral supplements, or considering taking them, shop smart and choose wisely!
There are no excuses since you know the truth about vitamin supplements!
In short, your ideal supplements should be 100% natural, have organic ingredients and be in liquid form to assure high absorption.
Well, with almost 80,000 supplements on the market, which one to choose? Click here to find out.
I invite you to enlighten us with your thoughts. Leave them below.
Founder of Detox Generation
Disclosure: The views and opinions expressed on this site are solely those of the author. All content, including text, images, and other formats, is for information purposes only. The author is not a medical professional, dietitian or integrative treatment specialist. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health specialists with any questions you may have.