Monday, April 16, 2012

Are vitamin pills a waste of money?

First of all - a big thank you to all who came to our first FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE nutrition lecture series!  We had a lot more than we expected and had a great time!  Everyone had great questions - and so many that you've all made notes of the questions we didn't get to.  I'll be getting to one a day ... that's my goal.

While we're talking about lectures ... let me first announce the topic of our NEXT lecture (date to be announced... but soon!).  It will be on:  DETOXIFICATION.  Which is a PRE-CURSOR to the MUCH anticipated seminar on WEIGHT LOSS!  How to lose weight the CORRECT way.  Because not all ways are correct.  Just because it came off ... doesn't mean it was the right way, or the right stuff.  Come and learn the number one effective tool for losing weight (after this seminar, you'll be a pro!)

Now on to your unanswered questions from the lecture.

The question is ....  What is a good balance of pill form vitamins to take daily?  And are pill form vitamins effective?  Is it a waste of money?

And my answer is:  There are a couple of things that have to be considered when taking a vitamin.  They are: DISSOLUBILITY and ABSORBABILITY.  When a vitamin is ingested it takes a road trip from your mouth to your esophagus and down into your stomach, where the stretch of your stomach, from ingestion of food, can cause the acidity of your stomach to slowly increase.  The acid in your stomach helps break down the vitamin.  If the vitamin has a shiny coating, or is put together with too much pressure, it can fail to completely break down in the stomach and small intestines.  Therefore, you are paying for very expensive, highly nutritious poop! :)

Vitamins should have some type of fast release component to them so they can completely break down in the stomach and small intestines.  That might mean that you have to take 2, 3, sometimes even 4 multi vitamins per DAY because if you try to SMUSH all of the recommended vitamins together into ONE ingestible pill, it is too hard for the body to break down.  Sorry Centrum®. :)

The next important component is absorbability.  Most vitamins and minerals are combined with some type of amino acid carrier to transport them while they are in your GI tract and into the blood stream.  For example, let's take calcium.  There are many forms of calcium.  Calcium carbonate.  Calcium citrate. Calcium glycinate.  And many others.  All have different absorbability rates.  Walmart® and most big box stores sell vitamins to make money.  THEREFORE, they choose the most inexpensive vitamins that often are the biggest waste of your money.  You do get a big bottle for CHEAP, but it's typically the cheapest form of vitamin that doesn't dissolve, or absorb into your body.   So it's recommended that you talk with a nutritionist that can identify the good from the bad.  

If anyone would like me to do a "vitamin check" - feel free to bring me all of the vitamins you are taking and I can tell you which ones are keepers - and which ones cause nutritious poop.

There are many vitamin companies out there, but few who are GMP and NSF certified.  These certifications would be similar to an FDA approval.  Even though the FDA does not have jurisdiction over vitamins yet (and we hope they never do), these certifications make sure that the vitamins are safe, effective and what is ON the label is actually IN the vitamin.  

So - to go back to your question - are vitamin pills a waste of money?  YES.  And NO.  Depends on what type you get.  Please - ask for help if you don't understand what you are taking.  I will GLADLY take the time to discuss which ones of your vitamins are good, and what ratios and amounts you should be taking.  Be careful not to overlap on some.  

Hope that answers your question - it was great!

Look for tomorrow's questions/answer.

Dr. Nate

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