These days, you can walk into your average Boots or Superdrug and find a wide variety of vitamins and minerals lining the shelves. Health food stores such as Holland and Barrett offer an even wider range of supplements designed to provide energy and vitality throughout the day. But what effect do these easily-accessible vitamins even have on the body? Are vitamins a waste of money?
Or, are these vitamin needs a result of a poorly balanced diet? If so, isn’t it just better to obtain nutrients via the foods we eat?
A look at synthetic vitamins
An industrial, manufactured process produces synthetic nutrients on a mass scale. However, the suitability of them to the human body is questionable. The fact that they are cost-effective and easily obtained shouldn’t be a substitute for good health. Can our bodies even absorb these artificially produced products?
Not all that well it would appear. Wendy Myers from Myers Detox states that “synthetic minerals are derived from rocks such as limestone, coral, oyster shell, sand and chalk”. How can our bodies really use such inorganic substances? She believes that we should get all our minerals from plants. The reason? Natural minerals in the soil are absorbed by plants and made into a bioavailable form. Meaning, they can have an active effect when introduced into our bodies.
Often we see shelves lined with vitamins claiming to have all the ingredients you need. But in their chemically made, isolated form, they are difficult for the body to utilise. Cheap binders can ensure that the products pass right through you, with no positive effect whatsoever. Not the best way to nourish yourself then?
Keep it whole
Vitamins and minerals in their natural form is what our bodies are crying out for. With that being said, if we are to take vitamins, they should be of the more natural, whole food kind. So, what makes a well-formed nutritional supplement? According to nutrition giant Cytoplan, it is one that provides all the nutrients a person needs to make up the shortfalls, at the correct levels, and importantly in a bio-effective form.
So what does that mean for us? Natural vitamins offer far more than their synthetic counterparts because they don’t just contain the isolate vitamin. As a result they are naturally a tad pricier, but natural vitamins also have other cofactors (proteins, fats, other minerals) which help with absorption by the body. So go natural! However beware; a vitamin supplement only has to contain 10% of naturally plant-derived minerals to be labelled ‘natural’. So be wise, and check ingredients – and do your own research!
Eat natural foods
To thrive, our bodies need a variety of vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. While we can supplement to prevent a gap in our nutrition, our daily needs are all around us. Food!
If we keep our eyes focused on a healthy diet consisting of whole foods – mainly organic fruits and vegetables – we can eliminate the reliance on supplements. We can obtain great amounts of fibre, vitamins and minerals by choosing more natural foods from the earth. Add these into your diet on a daily basis, and feel the true benefits of complete nutrition!
So, are vitamins a waste of money? There are cases for, and against. That £4.99 multivitamin at your local beauty store? Steer clear of that. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, and paying for isolated vitamins produced chemically aren’t the best way to go. Natural vitamins? They are a bit costlier, but if taking a supplement is the direction you want to head in, fork out for the more natural kind that the body will recognise best and utilise properly.
You can avoid getting ripped off that way! But remember – you can’t go wrong with a whole foods diet, which will give you all the nutrients you need!