Common Nutrition & Supplement Myths… busted!
Supplement Myths #1: All Vitamins and Supplements Are Of The Same Quality
Whether it’s GNC, Walgreens, Amazon, or a high-quality supplement company, many people think that any supplement—Vitamin C, D, B12, or a multivitamin—is of the same quality, no matter the source, the store, or the bottle. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth! Just because a label has the words “Vitamin B12” on it, does NOT mean it is of good quality or even beneficial for your body.
There are many factors involved with the quality of a nutritional supplement including synthetic vs non-synthetic, methylation, bioavailability, and purity of the source. Many people end up wasting money by buying the cheaper stuff because the ingredients don’t actually work, don’t get absorbed, or they are of extremely low or questionable quality. Let’s talk about two words that sound big but are vital to nutrition.
Methylation & Bioavailability
These two words relate to how we can use ingredients effectively and if they are in a form that our body can use. Methylation is the process that our body uses to create energy in our cells (and happens 200,000,000 per minute in your body). It’s the process of taking the nutrition of the supplement and breaking it down into what our body needs.
Bioavailability is the ability of the actual broken-down vitamins to be absorbed in your body. For good nutrition, you want the supplements/vitamins to be bioavailable so they can be easily used in the body. Unfortunately, most cheaper/low-quality supplements do NOT provide bioavailable ingredients. That means they can’t even be used (or methylated) in the body! Let’s learn more about that in regards to the supplement being synthetic or certified natural.
Synthetic vs Natural
A big issue in the supplement world is whether the ingredient is synthetic or not synthetic (certified natural). If it is processed and not natural, our bodies actually need to work harder to consume it. Through this process, you can lose more energy. Or you can store some of the excess as toxins in your body. This also relates to the extra fillers and preservatives that are found in lower quality supplements. It turns out 90% of supplements out there are synthetic. This means when you see studies or articles that show that people take supplements and there is no difference or health improvement, there is a 90% chance they are taking synthetics. The cheaper ones can even be harmful…
For example, with B12, if it is a synthetic version (which most are) and the methylation process is not done well, you could end up with some toxins in your system. 25-40% of the population actually has difficulty methylating. If a person methylates appropriately, they may be okay. But with that 25-40%, if you get a synthetic product, they likely will not be about to methylate correctly and that can create excess toxins (which can be harmful to the body).
When B12 is in the methylation process it breaks down into a few different things that can be used differently in the body (we’ll talk more about this in another blog). Cyanocobalamin is an element of the most common B12 that breaks down into cobalamin and cyanide. After that happens, you now have cyanide in your body. If you don’t finish the methylation process well, the cyanide sits there. And some people can get ill from this. On the other hand, if you have natural/quality ingredients, it can be broken down properly and the cyanide won’t be deposited. You’re better off not taking anything than taking cheap B12!
GMOs are another popular, confusing, and seemingly controversial topic. Many of the lower quality supplements have GMO ingredients. The discussion of GMOs is a large and complex subject but in regards to nutritional products, we ideally don’t want GMOs. This is because, although they are designed to create massive amounts of growth, they do not function the same as natural sources. Once you’ve modified something (even slightly), it can affect your health system and how your body breaks down and absorbs its nutrients. GMOs can throw off your microbiome and your gut. And of course, each vitamin and supplement has a different scale on the effect of its GMOs so it is difficult to measure and quantify. Ideally, you want non-GMO supplements for optimal health.
As we mentioned, 25-40% of people have an issue with methylation and if you use synthetic supplements or GMO-derived supplements, you can have a buildup of toxic elements. Some people take vitamins and actually get sick. Ideally, you want quality-sourced, USA-made, pure ingredients for your optimal health. You want ingredients that are bioavailable, in their proper form and ready for the body to use. This means your body has to work less in order to use it.
Supplements should give you more energy than they take to process! You really need to know what’s going into your body. You need to know the ingredients, the sources, and the standards of quality. Because it’s true—ingredients matter.
Supplement Myths #2: I Can Get All Vitamins/Nutrients From My Diet (Even If I Eat Healthy, Organic, Vegan, Paleo, Keto, etc…)
Have you ever heard a grandparent or relative say that they used to just eat steak, potatoes, and spinach back in the day… and they were healthy? No gluten problems. No immunity issues. No gut problems. No excessive doctor visits. Then they ask… “Why do you have to take all those supplements nowadays? Just eat your veggies!” Well, there is actually some truth to what Grandma Nellie was saying. Turns out, the veggies she was eating back in the day were much healthier and full of more nutrients and nutritional value.
USDA nutritional values for fruits and vegetables today compared to 1975…
Apples – Vitamin A is down 41%
Sweet Peppers – Vitamin C is down 31%
Watercress – Iron is down 41%
Broccoli – Calcium and Vitamin A down 50%
Collard Greens – Vitamin A is down 45%
Potassium down 60%
Magnesium down 85%
Cauliflower – Vitamin C is down 45%
Vitamin B1 down 48%
Vitamin B2 down 47%
The USDA releases studies on food and nutrient profiles each year. For more specific information about the USDA studies and nutritional values of foods, or the most recent edition of the USDA’s studies on nutrient profiles, visit https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/download-datasets.html
As the official studies show, most of our normal vegetables and fruit have drastically decreased in nutritional values since the 1970s. Over the past century, because of extractive farming practices, GMOs, and the change in seed type and quality, there has been steady depletion of micronutrients in the soil and in the actual vegetables and food itself. This may all be in the spirit of trying to produce more economical food for the masses, but it’s resulted in massive stripping of nutrients and quality. This was not done with mal intent but it’s just a natural side effect of the massive farming technologies due to population growth.
And if you wonder, “But what if I eat all healthy, local, and organic? Aren’t I getting all the best nutrients?” Organic and local farms do have better quality nutritional value, but they have still also decreased a LOT in nutritional value, especially because of soil and nutrient depletion. Without a doubt, you’ve heard the complaints about excessive pesticide and fertilizer use. The heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides results in nutrient-poor crops and foods. In fact, the organic market thrives on these complaints, but going organic won’t solve the problem of nutrient-poor crops. Both conventional and organic farmers use excessive pesticides. The only difference being the type (and quantity) of pesticides they are allowed to use. Organic farms use pesticides, it’s just a matter of degree and how much they use compared to non-organic farms.
Another issue is cross-pollination. There can be one field that is “organic” but there can still be wind or bees that pollinate the GMO crop and come over to the organic field nearby. AIl pesticides used on crops seep into the soil damaging or outright killing beneficial microorganisms. These microorganisms are responsible for ensuring new plants receive minerals from the soil by breaking down dead plant material to produce other key elements to great nutrition… Humic and Fulvic acids. What are Humic and Fulvic acids?? Humic and Fulvic acids carry minerals in the soil into new plants through their roots. Plants use up to 72 trace minerals along with sunlight to make the amazing vitamins and other nutrients we need to be healthy and thrive.
Humic and Fulvic acids are essential for health because they…
- Promote Cellular Energy
- Aggressively neutralize free radicals
- Are nature’s most powerful electrolyte
- Transport vitamins, amino acids & phytonutrients
- Bind heavy metals & toxins to safely eliminate from the body
Without these functions working well in the body, it’s easy to see how disease and bodily dysfunction can occur. Of course, there are always small outliers. If you have a very small, permaculture farm which replenishes nutrients in the soil, then you can have high-quality vegetables and fruits. But, this is not true for the majority of the population and the food they are eating. And it’s not what can create great quality food at scale.
Why is all of this important? Even if you eat an incredibly balanced Keto, Organic, Mediterranean, Vegan, or Vegetarian diet…(whichever you prefer) it’s just an unfortunate fact that the quality of nutrients in all the vegetables and food we eat has gone down steadily and drastically over the past decades. Even if you’re eating well, you just are not getting the correct amounts (and nutrient-rich quality) of Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and more.
So Grandma Nellie was right. The same vegetables Grandma ate 60 years ago WERE in fact healthier and more nutritious. This means we must supplement our diets in order to achieve the most optimal health, nutrition, and absorption of nutrients and vitamins.
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