Whole food vitamins – What’s the difference?
The difference that whole food vitamins make is this – more bang for your buck.
This is down to two reasons
1) With a whole food vitamin you are getting the entire vitamin, not just a chemically separated fraction of it
2) Your body will probably make use of a natural vitamin more easily than a synthesized one
First, let’s take a look at….
Where your vitamins really come from
I had assumed that the Vitamin C supplements I was taking came from oranges or grapefruits or some other natural source.
I was wrong.
Just about any Vitamin C supplement you can buy these days is made from super-refined corn sugar, which is probably made by a large Swiss pharmaceutical firm called Hoffman Laroche.
Why get the Vitamin C out of corn sugar? Because it’s easier and cheaper to make than the lengthy and more expensive process of making fruits and vegetables into tablets.
So what’s the problem with taking your Vitamin C from corn sugar?
Because it’s not really Vitamin C.
What you are getting is one portion of what occurs in natural Vitamin C – just a compound called ascorbic acid which you have probably seen or heard of at some point.
If you want to learn more about whole food Vitamin C, take a look here
Now there is nothing wrong with ascorbic acid in itself, but it’s not the whole vitamin. There are other naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that go along with it in nature, acting as a nutritional “cake”.
I use the cake analogy primarily because I have a sweet tooth. You’ll see it again!
In nature, the ascorbic acid occurs with Vitamin P (rutin), bioflavinoids and organic copper, among other things.
Some research leads us to believe that the active ingredient wasn’t the ascorbic acid at all, but rather some of the other ingredients that ascorbic acid was protecting against oxidisation. There are other trace minerals and ingredients in the Vitamin C, acting as a nutritional “cake” whose exact role researchers are unsure of exactly what their role is.
One thing is for sure – is that ascorbic acid isn’t the whole cake any more than just eating a mouthful of flour and eggs is!
So why should you look at whole-food vitamins? Because it’s the only way to ensure that you are actually getting the vitamin you need, rather than a fractionated copy.
If you are still curious about where to get some real whole food vitamin C, try our recommendations page, where we have tracked down some Amla Berry-based Vitamin C.
You need to recognise!
There is yet another problem with fractionated vitamins – recognition of the vitamin by the body.
One body of thought is that your body recognises natural, whole food vitamins and absorbs them easier than chemically synthesized ones. The theory goes that our body has adapted over millions of years to digest and use natural vitamins and the fractionated versions just aren’t as good as the natural ones.
It seems like a logical conclusion, however I haven’t been able to find any research on this particular topic yet. If you know of any, please email me at the address on our contact us page.
However, there is some research that shows supplements to be ineffective in some cases, in direct contrast to the vast body of research that shows that a healthy vitamin and mineral intake makes you healthier.
Why the difference?
The difference is this – most of the studies that show high Vitamin X or Enzyme Y reduces your risk of (insert very bad disease here) is based on longitudinal (i.e. over time) studies of dietary intake of these vitamins and minerals while the studies that showed vitamins had no effect were based on fractionated synthetic versions.
In short, the ones that worked were mostly based on food intake and the ones that didn’t used fractionated vitamins.
A coincidence? Maybe.
I would like to see some more research done with whole food vitamins, devoid of fillers and binders to prove the point.
Even though there is conflicting evidence and I haven’t found anything conclusive yet either way I would share it with you and let you make your own decisions.
If you haven’t looked at the facts about individual vitamins yet, take a look here
Also take a look at why you should take vitamins
What your alternatives are