Are You Taking The Right Multi-Vitamin?

Healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating only whole organic foods and of course getting regular exercise, are the foundations of sustaining a disease-free life. However, there are ways to support these habits, such as taking a high-quality multivitamin. In my opinion, with the depleted soil and current poor food quality, I believe it to be nearly impossible to receive all the needed nutrients from food alone.

If you wisely choose to take a multivitamin, remember to only use it in addition to a proper diet and exercise, and not in place of them. It is also extremely important to make sure the product is completely free of synthetic additives, as we now know they can actually raise your risk of certain health problems. The supplement industry is growing larger and larger by the second, so due diligence is paramount to make sure you’re not swallowing cheap junk that may cause more harm in the long run! Here’s a look at some common multivitamin additives that you should avoid (this is your cue to grab your supplement bottles and start reading the fine print!).

1. Synthetic Nutrients

Whole food nutrients have a complex structure that contains a variety of enzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, activators, and other cofactors that work with one another. When you take a whole food supplement, your body absorbs more of it.  On the other hand, synthetic nutrients or isolates are incomplete. They take what they require from your body’s stores in order to make themselves complete. Once your body’s own nutrient supply is depleted, isolates may stop working effectively or not work at all. This may (and typically does) lead to a nutrient deficiency. According to research, your body treats most of these artificial nutrients as xenobiotics or foreign substances. When you take any of these synthetic nutrients, your urine will oftentimes turn into a “glow-in-the-dark” shade of yellow, indicating that certain synthetic compounds have been flushed out of your body. This does not happen when you take food-based supplements.

2. Magnesium Stearate

In the United States, supplement manufacturers add flow agents to their supplements to prevent ingredients from sticking to the equipment during the production process. While it is possible not to use these agents, manufacturers use them to make production smoother and quicker. These additives also help lower production costs and the final price of their product.

One of the most commonly used flow agents is magnesium stearate. It is formed by adding magnesium to stearic acid, which produces a compound that possesses lubricating properties. Some amount of magnesium is present, but it is not a source of magnesium your body can use. Rather, magnesium stearate is more like chalk filler. A recent study linked stearic acid to the suppression of T cells, your body’s natural killer cells. The research further states that stearic acid can lead to the destruction of cell function by causing the breakdown of cell membrane integrity. Magnesium stearate can also induce the formation of a biofilm in your gut, a barrier that can inhibit absorption of numerous nutrients.

3. Inorganic Selenium

Selenium has been linked to numerous health benefits and 25 percent of Americans over age 40 takes a selenium supplement or a multivitamin that contains it.  However, not all multivitamins contain safe forms of selenium. A number of products may have two potentially dangerous forms of inorganic selenium – sodium selenite and selenate.  These two harmful ingredients are classified as highly toxic by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) database for pesticide chemicals.  Other studies have found that long exposure to these inorganic chemicals, including selenium selenite and selenium dioxide, can also damage your liver and spleen.

Long story short, inorganic forms of selenium cannot replace the natural and more beneficial form of selenium obtained from whole foods or quality whole food supplements.

What can you do to ensure you’re adding quality to your body and not causing more harm than good? Always make sure that your supplements are derived from their natural or whole food form. It is also helpful if the product has been tested by independent third-party laboratories that check raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage, and follows industry standards for quality assurance. There are many companies now offering quality whole food and herbal supplements. Now that you have the info, its your job to make sure you are giving your body the right stuff!

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