Many people take multivitamins that are widely advertised and are well known. Many of my patients believe that these products are good and will make them healthy. But they are wrong. At best, they are completely useless. At worst, they may even be harmful.
To begin with, most popular multivitamins are made by drug companies that are mostly interested in making money, not in providing you with the best nutrition. After all, they want you to eventually become the user of their other products.
The “vitamins” in these products are not real. They do not come from food. Instead, they are made in a factory from coal tar, petroleum, or genetically modified corn syrup. A dictionary defines a vitamin as “any of various organic substances that are essential in minute quantities for human nutrition and development as coenzymes that regulate metabolic processes.” The key word here is “organic” which means alive or coming from live source, like plants (fruits and vegetables) or animal source (meat, fish, etc.)
We cannot make vitamins (or minerals), so we have to get them from food. And this is a very important point – only food contains vitamins. The vitamins in food are very different from those in a vitamin supplement – they are real, not synthetic. A real vitamin is a combination of dozens, sometimes hundreds of components that are all present in small amounts.
A vitamin is like a watch, which contains dozens of different parts plus 2 hands. The hands show time, but not by themselves. They are able to do it because they work together with all the other parts. A vitamin, like a watch, has many ingredients, which can only be found in real food.
For example, most people think that vitamin C is ascorbic acid. But that is wrong. Actually, ascorbic acid is only a small part of vitamin C. There are many other parts, such as ascorbigen, an enzyme called tyrosinase, copper, many other trace minerals, bioflavonoids of which there are literally hundreds, J factor, and many other components. When you eat an apple or an orange or strawberries, you get all of these substances. If you take an ascorbic acid supplement, you only get ascorbic acid and nothing else. It is very easy to make ascorbic acid in a laboratory. But it is impossible to make real vitamin C.
There are a few companies that make nutritional supplements from food. If you look at their ingredients, you will find things like carrots, wheat germ, nutritional yeast, peas, etc., which are real foods. If you look at the ingredients of most popular multivitamin products (a typical list of ingredients is at the bottom of this article), you will notice that they contain synthetic ascorbic acid. Similarly, all the other “vitamins” are not real, but synthetic. And when it comes to minerals, it is even worse.
The first ingredient in most products is Calcium Carbonate. It is also known by another name – limestone. That’s right, it is made from a rock, which was powdered and added to this “multivitamin.” Do you think you are going to benefit from eating rocks? Not very likely. Your body needs organic (alive) calcium from plants or animal sources, not dead rocks. Magnesium oxide is another example of a rock. It is dirt cheap, which is why pharmaceutical companies use it. But don’t count on it making you healthy.
That is why these supplements useless. They cannot and will not make you healthier. But can they be harmful? The answer is a definite YES! If you study the list of ingredients, you will find: BHT (linked to cancer), Crospovidone (linked to lung arterial damage), FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake (a dye), Gelatin, Hypromellose, Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Sucrose, Talc, and Sodium Aluminosilicate (Aluminum). Are these vitamins? No. Are you going to become healthier from taking BHT or FD&C Yellow No. 6? Of course not, these things just pollute your body. But there is one ingredient that is outright dangerous – aluminum.
Aluminum is a toxic metal that has no role in normal human physiology. It is like lead, mercury, and arsenic, all which are toxic for humans. It accumulates in various tissues and organs, including muscles, heart, spleen, liver, bone and especially the brain. Aluminum suppresses the production of red cells, which can produce anemia. It also interferes with normal bone metabolism, producing weak bones. It can lead to growth retardation and bone deformity in children. Aluminum increases the production of free radicals, which are harmful substances that increase the risk of inflammation, accelerated ageing, and even cancer. But the worst effect of aluminum is on your brain. It has a direct neurotoxic effect. This means that it directly damages brains cells, which leads to decreased memory, reduced ability to concentrate and even impaired intellect. Other symptoms may include nervousness, emotional instability and headache.
There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that aluminum in your brain increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The higher the aluminum exposure, the greater the risk. Studies show that Alzheimer’s patients have higher levels in their brains.
So if you want to save your brain, stay away from all aluminum sources. Other potential sources are buffered aspirins, antacids, medications for diarrhea and hemorrhoids, some toothpastes, antiperspirants, aluminum pots, aluminum foil, aluminum cans, cake and pancake mixes, self-rising flours, processed cheese foods (processed American cheese), and many other products, so check the label before using or eating.
Ingredients (from a bestselling multivitamin’s website accessed July 9, 2009):
Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Dibasic Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferrous Fumarate, Pregelatinized Corn Starch, dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vit. E). Contains 3), Chromium Picolinate, Citric Acid, Corn Starch, Crospovidone, Cupric Sulfate, Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12), FD&C Yellow No. 6 Aluminum Lake, Folic Acid, Gelatin, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Hypromellose, Manganese Sulfate, Medium-Chain Triglycerides, Modified Food Starch, Niacinamide, Nickelous Sulfate, Phytonadione (Vit. K), Polyethylene Glycol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Silicon Dioxide, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Metavanadate, Sodium Molybdate, Sodium Selenate, Sorbic Acid, Stannous Chloride, Sucrose, Talc, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Titanium Dioxide, Tocopherols, Tribasic Calcium Phosphate, Vitamin A Acetate (Vit. A), Zinc Oxide. May also contain