Are vitamin supplements good or bad? The question doesn’t have a quick answer. Vitamins can provide valuable assistance in achieving fitness goals, such as by increasing metabolism, especially as we find it more and more difficult in modern society to get all our nutrients from food. Did you know that you would have to consume 65 cups of today’s spinach to equal the amount of iron 1 cup of spinach had in 1945? Or that an orange today contains one tenth of the vitamin C it had in 1950?
Ideally, it is best to get in our nutrition from the food we eat, but today we are producing food that is much less nutritious than 50 years ago.
Reasons for this include the excessive use of pesticides and herbicides, the over-processing of our food, and depletion of minerals in America’s topsoil.
The topsoil is the basic foundation. It is not just dirt; it is a living substance that contains a population of organisms that help make nutrients available to the plant. It can take centuries for 1 inch of topsoil to form, and the soil in the U.S. is eroding 17 times faster than which it forms.1 With less care being given to our soil, we get plants that are not as healthy and lacking the nutrients they had years ago. Furthermore, this can lead to us not receiving the nutrition we need from food alone.
Even if we eat whole foods, are we getting in the nutrition we need? Are vitamins necessary for everyone? Are vitamin supplements good or bad? These are a few questions that we will be answering today!
Supplements cannot simply be put into a “good” or “bad” category. It really depends.
One thing we first need to discuss is the difference between synthetic vitamins and whole food vitamins.
There is a big difference between the two. Synthetic vitamins are made in a laboratory and are chemically reconstructed. This means they are not coming from an actual food source. On the other hand, whole food supplements are those that come from the natural food source with the vitamin in its whole food form.
Let’s take vitamin C for example. Ascorbic acid is an example of a synthetic version of vitamin C that is just a fraction of the whole vitamin C complex. It is missing the other parts of the complex including the enzymes, antioxidants, and other factors that allow the whole vitamin C complex to be recognised by the body. WatchFit’s Kale Diet is an excellent means of obtaining Vitamin C through food.
With the complex in its whole food form, the body can use what it needs and excrete what it does not need. It does not work the same when you give the body an isolated, synthetic vitamin.
We cannot just take apart vitamins and expect them to work as well. A minute amount of a whole food vitamin is more effective than a large amount of a synthetic one. Vitamin E has been shown to lose 99% of its potency when it was separated from its natural components.1 Whole food supplements can be very helpful to support the body and allow it to heal, and can be also helpful with achieving your fitness goals. Vitamin D can aid weight loss and trimming abdominal fat when paired with calcium, but there are also natural ways to get Vitamin D. It is best to work with a nutritionist or healthcare professional to determine what supplements could benefit you
Everyone’s needs are different. Someone with irritable bowel syndrome may need digestive enzymes and something healing for the intestinal tract, whereas someone who has had their gall bladder removed could benefit from bile salts. The vegan diet can cause nutritional deficiencies which are greatly aided by vegan vitamin supplements. Others may need a good whole food multi-vitamin and multi-mineral to cover nutritional gaps.
They are not simply “good” or “bad.” It is important to look into the type of supplement you are taking and understanding the value of taking it. Is it actually going to help you?
In summary, always question vitamin supplements. Be sure to work with someone who can determine what whole food supplements would benefit you most. Vitamins can help achieve weight loss goals, but an understanding of the difference between natural and synthetic vitamins is essential. Lastly, don’t forget that supplementation is only one piece of the puzzle. Having an unprocessed, whole-foods diet is extremely important. Aim for at least 80% of your diet being based on natural, whole foods!
1. Frost M. Back to the Basics of Human Health. Expansive Health Awareness: United States;2007.