August 22, 2013

True or False: You Need A Multivitamin.

Photo: photoguyinmo

Back in 1936, the Department of Agriculture wrote the first report on mineral deficiencies stating that virtually all soils in the US are mineral deficient and that 99% of all Americans are mineral deficient.

Since then it hasn’t gotten any better.

With the start of pesticides and fertilizers in the 1940’s, a 2001 report in the Journal of Complimentary Medicine showed that from 1940 to 1991, trace minerals in fruits and vegetables have declined by up to 76%.

It is hard to argue the need for high quality mineral support in our diet, but does that mean we need vitamin supplements as well?

I have not seen any studies indicating that fruits and vegetables are lacking in vitamins. In fact, experts agree that we can get enough vitamins from a healthy diet.

Vitamin deficiencies are actually quite rare in the United States. Surprisingly, it is false that we need supplemental vitamins. The reality is that we are all struggling to get the minerals we need.



There are 13 essential vitamins which we must get from outside the body. They are vitamins A, D, E, and K—the fat soluble ones, vitamin C and eight B vitamins. They all play vital roles in the body such as:

  • Supporting immunity
  • Keeping cells healthy
  • Converting food into energy
  • Daily maintenance and repair

Interestingly, vitamins need minerals to function optimally which may be why they sell them both in the same pill.

While a balanced and healthy diet will deliver all the vitamins we need, there are a couple of common vitamin deficiencies to be aware of. For example:

  • Living in the northern hemisphere, it is tricky to get enough vitamin D in the winter without a supplement.
  • Vitamin B12 is another common deficiency, which is most commonly due to a digestive weakness in the ability to absorb B12. This can typically be remedied through diet and restoring optimal digestive function.

The other 11 vitamins are quite easy to ingest and absorb with a healthy and balanced diet of whole foods.

One other problem with most multivitamin mineral supplements is that the minerals have extremely poor absorption rates, and in some cases toxic forms of minerals are used. The vitamins are almost always synthetic and not derived from whole foods. The microbes in the body – which make up 90% of each human – will not recognize synthetic vitamins.

Today, there are a handful of vitamin brands that are made from whole foods which are a great resource if your diet is really poor. The down side of the whole food vitamins is that you have to swallow so many pills to meet the recommended daily value.

I recommend my patients eat a balanced diet rich in whole foods and only take vitamin supplements for short periods to reboot vitality.

Perhaps some extra vitamin C if you are not getting enough vegetables and citrus fruits in the winter, or some extra B vitamins if you are under extreme stress is a good idea. But so many vitamins every day in a pill is just overkill.

I do recommend a small dose of a highly absorbable low RDA mineral supplement to support the fact that even organic foods are low in trace and essential minerals.

What does a healthy and balanced diet look like to get these needed vitamins?

  • 1/2-2/3 of each plate: veggies and some fruit
  • 1/6-1/4 of each plate: protein
  • 1/6-1/4 of each plate: starch

Got Minerals?

It was hard to ignore when two time Nobel Prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling stated:

“You can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.”

According to the book, Diet for a New America, 94% of Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to meet minimum mineral RDAs.

Even the trace minerals in organic foods are depleted!

Minerals are responsible for thousands of bio-chemical processes in the body. Many of the minerals work synergistically, so a deficiency in just one mineral can have a devastating impact on the body.

Magnesium, for example, is involved in over 300 chemical processes that activate enzymes. It is also integral in the production of ATP, or energy, in the body. Zinc is a co-factor in over 70 enzymatic processes and is responsible for skin, immunity, growth, musculoskeletal issues and tissue repair.

How To Find The Best Mineral

I have been studying mineral absorption rates for years, always trying to find the best minerals available. Rarely will a company actually publish their absorption rates. I can only assume that this is because they are so low.

Most commercial mineral supplements absorb at a rate of only 10-15% and few reach 25%.

Albion Laboratories, who manufactures our LifeSpa Essential Minerals, has over 100 patents on their mineral amino acid chelates and have an absorption rate of 32%—which is very high. It is a very low RDA because the absorption is so high. I suggest an extremely low dose for baseline mineral and trace mineral support:

Essential Minerals:

        • 2 per day for one month
        • 1 per day thereafter

How They Work

To make the transport of minerals from digestion to bloodstream easier, Albion binds the minerals to a protein amino acid (glycine) to ready the mineral for easy absorption.

In this way the mineral is absorbed just like any other protein in the digestive tract. In fact, this is what happens during the digestive process: protein amino acids attach or chelate to food-based minerals. In this chelated form, they naturally and efficiently absorb into the bloodstream.


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Ed: Catherine Monkman

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