Nutritional supplement companies have done a brisk business over the years because of the general concern that modern food processing and lifestyle preferences may be having a detrimental impact on our nutritional intake. We may readily consume foods that have almost no nutritional value (think Pop Tarts and soda). Our soil is also depleted continuously by bad farming practices and thus the “healthy” food grown on many farms is also lacking.
The message consumers are receiving from supplement companies is that there’s no need to worry if you’re not eating enough fruit, fiber and protein as supplements can help to make up for the vitamin deficiencies in your diet. The key point that consumers need to be aware of is that not all supplements are created equal. For some reason it never “clicked” in my mind that MOST of these vitamins and supplements, even the ones for children, are synthetic. The vitamin C is not real Vitamin C from a source like oranges. Instead it is created in a lab from heaven knows what. Researchers are now finding that most vitamins do zip or worse because they’re synthetic.
Synthetic vitamins offer you much less than you think are receiving. Some studies have shown that certain synthetic vitamins give only 50% or less of the biological activity as compared to whole vitamins (vitamins that come directly from vegetables). Why do companies choose to use synthetic vitamins if they are not as effective as whole vitamins? Many argue they do so because synthetic vitamins cost far less to manufacture. I would have to agree. The vitamin business is a racket and not one designed to bring you any measure of health.
One synthetic vitamin causing much controversy is synthetic vitamin C. Some argue that this form of vitamin C can contribute to the thickening of the arterial walls of the heart by as much as 2.5 times. This is potentially very harmful. In another study, 22,000 pregnant women were given synthetic Vitamin A. The study was halted because birth defects increased 400% according to the New England Journal of Medicine, 1995.
In stores, ascorbic acid is often sold as vitamin C but it is actually only a chemically derived fraction of the whole food vitamin. In food, vitamin C is a complete complex made up of ascorbic acid plus rutin, bioflavonoids, K factor and J factors along with other substances.
The body is able to absorb and use this vitamin only when all parts of the complex is present. So when the chemically derived “fraction” of vitamin C is taken the body must first supply the other parts of the whole food complex. If the pill is taken on its own it will then be necessary for the body to complete the complex by taking the missing elements its own tissues. This is the same reason why I am such a proponent of raw foods… raw foods have the required enzymes to digest and process the food, it is a package deal. When we cook the food the enzymes are killed and our bodies must scrape together what it can to get the job done. It stresses our bodies to have to do all this extra work to digest foods that should have come packaged with their own handy dandy enzymes. Vitamins too should come with all they need for absorption or we are stressing our bodies out just by taking them. It is no wonder we age so fast. This whole process of robbing stores within the body to complete the complex can cause even greater deficiencies in the body.
Whole food vitamins do not cause deficiencies in areas of the body but instead supply the individual cells with the nutrients they need for vitality.
How can you tell a synthetic vitamin from a whole food vitamin? Look at the label. Instead of seeing a long list of chemicals you should find the names of foods listed as the vitamin source. A vitamin or mineral is synthetic if only its chemical and/or popular name appears, with no plant source. For instance if a label reads like this: Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Zinc Oxide… then you know it is synthetic. These vitamins and supplements also commonly have added sugars, preservatives, and dyes. If it is a natural, whole food vitamin it will list the foods, herbs, or spices used like strawberries, carrot, alfalfa, etc.
So if you are ready to stop wasting money on synthetic vitamins that will provide minimal nutrition and maybe even a harmful side effect or two there are a couple whole foods supplements I like for children.
They are easy to digest, gluten free, vegetarian, and contain no artificial colors or flavors. Some of the food “sources” include strawberries, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries…all organic of course. My kids give them a big thumbs up.
Nutri Stars Multivitamin and Multimineral Children’s Chewable from Rainbow Light. Besides all the regular vitamins and minerals you would expect to find in a chewable vitamin it has some bonuses like veggie concentrates from carrots, spinach, grean beans, broccoli, and beets. It also has organic spirulina and wheat sprouts. It is 100% natural with no artifical colors, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, or other additives that are often found in other vitamin products. And here is the most important thing….kids like them.
Nature’s Plus – Animal Parade – Ingredients such as broccoli, spinach, mango fruit, carrot, West Indian cherry, glabra fruit, papaya fruit, and spirulina. No artificial colors and preservatives, yeast, wheat, corn, soy and milk. These are also chewable tablets, not gummies.
Kid’s One Daily Multi – 100% whole food multi-vitamin made with a variety of fresh raw foods including organic brown rice, cabbage, broccoli, cranberries, carrots, whole oranges and nutritional yeast. Provides a balanced spectrum of 24 essential nutrients and immune-boosting antioxidants.
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Kids – All the nutrients come from food, as they should. It’s a yummy, cherry-berry chewable multivitamin specifically designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of kids, providing the essential vitamins and minerals kids need for extraordinary health and vitality. The same company also makes a DHA kids chewable with pure cod liver oil that kids will actually eat and they have raw prenatal vitamins.
Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears – This is a good whole food vitamin inside tasty gummy bears, so of course it won’t be hard to get kids to eat these. My kids always ask for these when we go to Whole Foods. Does not contain yeast, wheat, milk, egg, soy, glutens, salt, artificial colors, artificial flavors, salicylates or preservatives. Kids can have up to three bears per day.
Another option is a powdered supplement made with fruits and veggies like this chocolate one from Amazing Grass. My family adores this brand and all their products and have used them for many years.
To your health!
Wednesday, June 25th, 2008