Do you know the real reason you eat?
It’s not because you’re hungry or because you’re having a craving for a burger or chocolate. We eat for two main reasons: nutrients and energy. However, many of the foods we eat don’t provide us with either. We have become so inclined to buy the cheapest foods that last the longest. The problem lies in the fact that foods that are cooked or processed normally contain little to no nutrient value. This is the reason that the supplement aisle at your local pharmacy and grocery store exists.
The bad news?
Not all supplements are created equal. Approximately 90% of the supplements sold on the shelves of health food stores are literally ground up rocks and minerals. Just like it’s important to consider ingredient lists on foods, you should do the same when buying vitamins. The accepted view is that synthetic nutrients are almost chemically identical to those found in food. The problem is that it is still unclear how your body actually absorbs these nutrients.
When you eat whole foods you aren’t consuming only a single nutrient, you’re consuming the nutrient plus a range of vitamins, minerals, co-factors, and enzymes that allow for optimal use within the body. What you don’t realize is that while scientists are trying to “re-create” vitamins in a lab, Mother Nature has already figured out the perfect balance of nutrients in foods.
Nutrients need each other to be properly absorbed, so isolating one vitamin isn’t going to get you very far. For example, there are over 200 nutrients in a carrot. The food is perfectly balanced so that we receive the full benefit of the vitamins found within. When you think of an orange you probably think of Vitamin C. However, all of the “little guys” found in an orange are just as necessary in order to absorb and utilize the Vitamin C. Also, in nature, the nutrients are never found in mega-doses like “10,000mg of Vitamin C.”
Vitamin C is a perfect example of a supplement that is almost always in the synthetic form of ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is a man-made chemical that is not found anywhere in nature. It is created by applying high heat, pressure, and chemicals to sugar extracted from cornstarch, which turns the sugar into ascorbic acid. Before you assume a vitamin is natural ask yourself, “Is there an ascorbic acid plant, animal, or pond where I could find Vitamin C?” If the answer is no, the supplement is synthetic.
“The same minerals that cause scum to build up in your shower is what you may be consuming in your supplements today.” – Dr. Josh Axe
Another example is calcium. There are many different forms of calcium including calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium chelate, etc. These are all synthetic forms of calcium that could damage your long-term health. Most calcium supplements do very little to protect bones and can actually increase risk for heart disease. The reason is that the calcium in most calcium supplements comes from calcium carbonate (finely ground limestone rock) and your body is only able to absorb a small percentage of that. The rest is either excreted or can bind to plaque on your arteries causing “calcification” of the arteries, which can eventually lead to stroke or heart attack.
So how do vitamin companies get away with claiming these vitamins are “natural” or “pharmaceutical grade?”
Many “natural” supplements are composed of mostly man-made ingredients and then the manufacturer adds one organic ingredient like soy or alfalfa, which allows them to use the word “natural” or “whole food based.”
Many companies boast that their supplements are pharmaceutical grade, which literally means that they are highly processed and not natural. The definition of the word pharmaceutical is “a compound manufactured for use as a medicinal drug.”
One of the main problems is that we are hard-wired to believe that more is better. That’s not always the case when it comes to your nutrition. For example, many people take thiamine (Vitamin B1) for energy. But too much of it can actually lead to fatigue. Causing you to take even more of the vitamin. This is how the vicious cycle starts. Take supplements to treat the effects of supplements.
Unfortunately, we have to keep in mind that the supplement industry is just like any other industry. The main goal is to make as much money as possible, while spending the least money possible. These companies spend very little on the product itself and millions on marketing them.
We hate to break this to you, but if you are taking synthetic supplements, you basically just have expensive urine.
This means that your body physically cannot absorb those ingredients so you are just flushing them out. This is why it is EXTREMELY important for you to learn the different between a truly all natural supplement and a synthetic supplement.
How to determine if your supplements are food-based or synthetic:
Read the ingredients
- Typically ingredients that end in “ic,” “ate,” or “acid” are synthetic
- Examples: ascorbic acid, potassium gluconate, calcium citrate
Quality over quantity:
- More isn’t always better. Keep in mind, Mother Nature has already figured out the perfect balance of nutrients in foods.
- Small amounts of Vitamin C from oranges or cherry extract is better than large amounts of Vitamin C as ascorbic acid.
- As with anything, you typically get what you pay for; it’s pretty inexpensive to pulverize rock and put it into pill form.
- All natural vitamins, from whole food sources will generally be pricier, but you will be able to utilize and absorb the nutrients found in the vitamin.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
— At the Aspen Clinic, we chose to take the most natural, holistic approach when formulating our supplements rather than selling supplements that are made up of chemicals. In every supplement we formulate we follow this rule: “Who knows better than Mother Nature?” —
So it’s time to start prioritizing your health. Don’t always buy the cheapest options available when it comes to your nutrition. Before you put anything into your body you should ask yourself, “will this give me nutrients or energy?” If the answer is no, DO NOT put it into your body. It’s that simple.
At the end of the day, if you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?