Deep inside — we all harbor the hope that we are eating right. More often than not, that’s easier said than done. The demands of work and family drain our time and our patience. We live fast and eat worse. And try to compensate by taking handfuls of vitamins and other over-the-counter supplements.
But are store-bought vitamins — which are synthetic — the right way to go? At the very least, say many nutritionists — if you’re missing the mark on a healthy diet, then whole food supplements are at least a step in the right direction.
Whole food supplements are made from organic, animal and plant tissues. In other words: fruits and vegetables grown in mineral-rich soils, without chemicals, pesticides, preservatives, or additives of any kind. This non-toxic nutrient-rich produce is made into supplements, which are clinically designed to target nutritional deficiencies that affect various parts of our bodies (www.eHealth.com).
Whole food supplements are what their name suggests: Supplements made from concentrated whole foods. Here’s an example — tomatoes are great source of Vitamin C and E. But in order to get enough vitamin C and E you’d probably need to eat 10-12 good-sized tomatoes. That’s a little more than what I can handle. But if I take 12 tomatoes and dry them out and pulverize them into powder and compress it all into an easy-to-take capsule, then I’m good to go! Whole food supplements, baby! And I still have room for something else!
Because these supplements are made from natural foods, they contain the entire complex of vitamins and minerals as well as all the micro-nutrients and synergistic factors found in nature. Which — in case you didn’t know – are necessary for the vitamin or mineral to complete its action in the body.
The vitamins found within these supplements are not isolated. They are complex structures that combine a variety of enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, activators and many other unknown or undiscovered factors all working together to enable this vitamin complex to do its job in your body.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, the problem with vitamins purchased over-the-counter is that they are man-made and chemically based which — research has shown — are difficult if not impossible for the body to absorb and use properly.
Let me sidetrack just a second. I remember when I was younger and a lot more athletic, I came upon the notion that if — for example — 500 mgs of Vitamin B was good for me, that 1500 mgs would be even better! Not so, said my body, which was being bombarded with not only more than it needed but in an isolated form as well. A double-whammy that made me sick to my stomach.
Supplement makers cater to this kind of thinking and typically try to stuff as much as possible in a capsule, telling us that the more we take; the better it is for us. This is simply not the case. As you now know, the amount of a nutrient you ingest that isn’t the important issue here, it’s the quality and the form and how much is bio-available that counts the most. In fact, remembering that ingesting single nutrients can actually create imbalances in the body, logic would dictate the higher the level of a single nutrient that you take in, the quicker this imbalance will occur.
What all of this means: The potency of a supplement has much more to do with synergy than with actual nutrient levels. It is a combined effect of all the parts of the food, rather than the chemical effect of a single part, that is most important.
According to research conducted by Megafoods.com, many nutritionists are now recommending that you move away from isolated vitaminsand minerals. So forget about those cheap, low-cost bottles of vitamin C, vitamin E or those B vitamins you might find at the wholesale clubs, pharmacies or grocery stores. These are typically not going to do you very much good, because your body doesn’t need just vitamin C; your body needs a whole complement of vitamins from a lot of different sources. For example, if you want vitamin C, go with whole-food concentrates. You’ll get plenty of vitamin C in a full-spectrum package that gives you antioxidants, and cancer-fighting compounds all at the same time; and none of that is actually listed on the label.
The site eHealth.com makes a good point when it states that in the world of holistic nutrition, whole foods from nature and grown organically are the way to go. Or, like I mentioned before, the ingredients are dried, ground up, put them into powders, and then encapsulated to shape them into pills or tablets.
So how do you tell whether or not a supplement you’re looking at is a good choice? For starters, make sure it has the following characteristics:
The supplement is as close as possible to its natural form.
Care has been taken in all phases of its production, from growing its ingredients, to manufacturing, testing for potency and quality control.
It works! Try to select from companies that have a long track record of providing high quality products that produce good clinical results.
In the long run, whole food supplements are better for you and will allow you to assimilate the healthy nutrients much quicker in your body. A good diet will help as well. And some exercise won’t hurt either. Put together, it’s a great combination for a longer and more fulfilling life.