Whole Food vs. Synthetic Supplements
I’ve already discussed the importance of taking natural supplements to support your body and immune system. But which supplements do you take, and how do you know which supplements are the best ones? Americans spend billions of dollars every year on supplements, and it’s very important to understand that not all supplements are created equal. Sometimes, there are vast differences between products.
So let’s talk about the difference between whole food supplements and synthetic supplements – a.k.a. isolated or fractionated supplements.
A great example would be just to simply look at almost any multivitamin. When you scan the nutritional content fact and ingredient label, you’ll see quite an assortment of vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, etc.). Here is a portion of a label for a common multivitamin:
There are a lot more vitamins listed on this label than I had room for, but I think you get the idea. Look at the items listed under “Ingredients.” Those are what we call “Isolated” vitamins and other chemicals. There are no foods or herbal ingredients listed, only partial vitamins and other chemicals.
Nature intended for us to consume food in its WHOLE form because all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes are bound together in one package and work synergistically to deliver the nutrition your body needs.
Synthetic supplements give you isolated or fractionated pieces of the whole. It is simply not the same – you’re not getting the full benefit nature intended. The other problem is, by taking isolated vitamins, sometimes we are getting massive doses of some vitamins, but not enough of others. This imbalance this can cause health problems too. Aren’t we trying to get healthier – rather than cause more problems?
Whole-Food based supplements are different, as those will, typically, list the foods the supplement was made from. What follows is a partial example of what to look for when searching for a Whole-Food based product. Notice that under the supplemental facts, you still see all the vitamins listed, but there’s a huge difference in the ingredients.
What a difference this second product will make in your body vs. the first product! You’ll actually be gaining benefits from the WHOLE food and all of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes that occur naturally in the food or plant.
Another way that might make sense is to look at the source. When “Vitamin C” is listed on a multivitamin label, look for any natural sources, like citrus fruits, papaya or bell peppers. If you see a listing for “Ascorbic Acid,” that means it is an “Isolated” product, so you must keep searching for ones that list whole foods.
In summary, be sure you read your labels! It is important to educate yourself about what you’ll be putting into your body and supplements are no different than anything else.
It’s important to read food labels so you know what you’re eating. But it’s just as important, if not moreso, to be sure you’re reading all of your supplement labels too! You want to be consuming supplements that have actual whole foods, plants or herbs listed on the label. That way you know it is as close to natural as possible!
And lastly, understand that no supplement alone will help you achieve the level of health you desire. You will have to make lifestyle and behavior changes as well as taking supplements to achieve ultimate health.