WAYNE M. FICHTER JR.: Is your vitamin doing you harm?

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Here are some facts that you won’t find advertised on most of the vitamin supplements at your local vitamin store:

• The majority of commercial vitamin supplements are made up of synthetic vitamins

• Synthetic vitamins do not perform the same functions in your body as vitamins found naturally in whole food

• Many synthetic vitamins deplete your body of other nutrients and tax your kidneys before being excreted through your urine

Unfortunately, vitamins can be labeled as natural if they contain as little as 10 percent of the natural form of the vitamin.

This means that your “natural” vitamin could contain 90 percent of synthetically produced chemicals!

Vitamins are made up of several different components — enzymes, coenzymes, and cofactors — that must work together to produce their intended biologic effects.

Vitamins that are found naturally in whole foods come with all of their necessary components. The majority of vitamins that are sold in pharmacies, grocery stores, and vitamin shops are synthetic vitamins, which are only isolated portions of the vitamins that occur naturally in food.

A good example is vitamin C. If you take a look at a variety of vitamin C supplements, you will find that the majority of them contain only ascorbic acid or a compound called ascorbate, which is a less acidic form of ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is NOT vitamin C. It represents the outer ring that serves as a protective shell for the entire vitamin C complex, much like an orange peel that serves as a protective shell for an orange.

When you take only ascorbic acid found in your synthetic vitamin C tablet or powder, your body must gather all of the other components of the full vitamin C complex from your body’s tissues in order to make use of it. In the event that your body does not have adequate reserves of the other components, ascorbic acid itself does not provide any of the health benefits that the full vitamin C complex does. After circulating through your system, the unused ascorbic acid is eliminated through your urine.

Clearly, it is best to get your vitamins from whole foods, like the Standard Process Company, because whole foods provide complete vitamins rather than fractions of them. If you choose to use nutritional supplements, it is in your best interest to use only those products that list actual foods as their ingredients rather than synthetic and isolated vitamins. While some synthetic and isolated vitamins have been shown to provide minimal health benefits, on the whole, most of them cause more harm than good and you are far better off spending your money on whole foods.

• • •

Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene. (208) 966-4425.

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