Multivitamins and Minerals – Nutrients from Food vs. Supplements


You might think that you eat healthy, so you probably get all the required vitamins from food. But even fresh fruit loses vitamins by the hour. By the time fresh fruit gets to the store, sits on a shelf, is purchased, sits in the refrigerator, is cooked, and finally eaten, only a very small fraction of the nutritional value is left to be absorbed. The vital vitamins and minerals in the food supply today have been extremely diminished making most diets very nutritionally poor.

Many nutritional experts agree that even if one were to eat 100% raw and organic fruits and vegetables, picked and eaten same-day straight from farmland, decades of farming have left large amounts of contracted land depleted, identifying exactly what is missing and how to replenish just that is needed.

Vitamins are organic substances that are present in minute quantities in foodstuffs and are required for metabolism. Most plants can synthesize all vitamins they need, but human bodies cannot make them and must rely on dietary intake. Vitamins yield no energy for the body, but they facilitate energy-yielding chemical reactions and promote body growth and development. Your body uses vitamins to do many things, like help you grow and develop. It needs vitamins to help your blood clot when you get a cut. Some vitamins help us make energy. Vitamins are even involved in making sure you can see in color, the world would look black and white without them! And if you’ve ever wondered what helps make your teeth healthy and strong, then you’ll be sure to smile when you find out it’s, guess what, vitamins!

ephedra-pillsEverybody needs vitamins to work, grow, and develop properly, which makes them extremely important on a daily basis. But it doesn’t stop there. The human body also requires vitamins to do many things, such as ward off disease, boost immune system response, and even improve overall moods! When the skin gets a cut, the human body needs a good number of vitamins to clot. When one gets sick, the body requires a more than average amount of vitamins to help fight the virus (it is good to note here again that the typical diet does not even provide the average amount of vitamins needed on a daily basis). Some vitamins even help produce energy throughout the body.

Since generally we cannot synthesize vitamins or can only do so in amounts insufficient to meet our body needs, they must be obtained from the diet or from some synthetic source, hence vitamins are called essential nutrients. Since the body simply cannot make many of the vitamins it needs, a good liquid multivitamin is crucial. If a vitamin is absent from the diet or is not properly absorbed by an organism, a specific deficiency disease may develop or the individual may feel tired, irritable and may not be as mentally sharp.

Types of Vitamins
There are two groups of essential vitamins, each classified according to the materials in which they will dissolve. Fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K, dissolve in fat before they are absorbed in the blood stream and are stored in the liver. Water-soluble vitamins on the other hand dissolve in water, are not stored and are eliminated regularly in urine. We, therefore, need a continuous supply of these vitamins. The water-soluble vitamins are the B-complex group and vitamin C. Water-soluble vitamins are easily destroyed or washed out during food storage or preparation (heat, light, etc). To reduce vitamin loss, refrigerate fresh produce, keep milk and grains away from strong light, and use the cooking water from vegetables to prepare soups.

Besides vitamins, there is also something similar called provitamins. A provitamin is similar in structure to a specific vitamin and can be converted to it by a few metabolic reactions, for example, beta-carotene can be converted to vitamin A; 7-dehydrocholesterol into vitamin D3. The amino acid tryptophan is called a precursor of the vitamin nicotinic acid because the conversion pathway is less direct than that of a provitamin.

While our sufficient human systems can produce some vitamins, minerals are one thing our bodies can’t manufacture. Some minerals can be inhaled from the air or absorbed through the skin, but the quantities are so minute that they are almost irrelevant. This makes many minerals essential micronutrients and we need to get them in pure form from our diet.

Minerals are part of all body tissues and fluids. Although they make up only a small component, minerals are necessary for most physiological functions the body performs to sustain itself. You need them for proper nerve responses, muscle contractions, to help maintain body’s fluid balance, regulate electrolyte and hormone balance, and keep metabolism of all nutrients in check.

Types of Minerals
There are two types of minerals: trace and major. A trace mineral is one that must be present in the diet, but only in very small amounts. Major minerals are called “major” not because of importance, but because the body requires them in larger amounts. These are found in the human body in amounts larger than 5g.

Major minerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Chloride, Sulfur
Trace minerals: Iodine, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Fluoride, Chromium, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Cobalt, Boron

Forms of Minerals
You may find two general types of mineral compound in supplements, organic and inorganic. Organic mineral compounds, like vitamins, contain a carbon atom and may be better absorbed then inorganic forms. Organic mineral compounds include amino acid chelates, ascorbates, aspartates, carbonates, citrates, fumarates, gluconates, gycinates, lactates, orotates and picolinates. Inorganic forms of minerals include chlorides, hydroxides, oxides, phosphates and sulfates.

Diet Or Supplements?
healthy-smoothie-recipes-2Eating a wide variety of healthy foods from all five groups (grains and legumes, meats, eggs, and fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables) every day is the best way to get your vitamins and minerals. The best way would be consuming nourishing ingredients from organic unprocessed foods harvested and prepared right before meals. But with our increasingly time-deficient culture, most people tend to get their convenient foods from supermarkets and fast-food chains. Additionally, most foods are now grown on soils depleted by years of intensive farming, without proper understanding of organic principles of land use and ecology, and this is worsened by the fact that a lot of foods come canned, stored for long periods, or cooked improperly. No wonder that the balanced diet part of the “health” equation seems hard to achieve.

Considering that stress, alcohol, cigarettes, air pollution and even poor diet itself all place a further burden on the body rapidly depleting the stores of many minerals, our tension-thriving society needs reconsider our mineral supply.

Supplements, as the word clearly states, are meant to supplement a highly varied diet of whole, unprocessed foods. If you eat a relatively healthy well-rounded diet made of organic fresh products, live a stress-free life, get enough rest, drink fresh clean water and breathe unpolluted air, then you probably can match you nutrient requirements closer to the target. For example, you can get the bioflavonoids from citrus fruits but you may not know exactly how much vitamin C you are getting and how much citrus you will need to take per day to get enough of both whereas you will with synthetic vitamins. I suggest, the best way to get all the vitamins you need is in a high-quality liquid multivitamin.

Supplements that are made in laboratories have two advantages: dose consistency and purity. In nature, one orange may contain 50 mg of vitamin C and another may contain only 10 mg. It depends on where it was grown, when it was harvested and under what conditions it was transported and stored. Conversely, nutritional supplement companies must guarantee that their products deliver precisely what is on the label.

Quality in vitamins and nutrients is extremely hard to quantify. The list of ingredients and their amounts listed on the label is important, but what is found in a pill wouldn’t necessarily end up in the body. In other words, a large amount of micronutrients coming from the pill would not be absorbed, but will be excreted in urine and feces. Vitamin supplements are most effective in liquid form because liquids absorb 5 times better than do pills.

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About Author

Elena Voropay is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and Certified Nutritionist. She also holds accreditations for her knowledge in Iridology and Herbal Medicine. Elena has conducted presentations and lectured on various health, fitness and science-related topics. See my profile page for more information!

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