Nine reasons why I tell my patients to throw away their over-the-counter pharmacy store multivitamin

Male and female hand holding pill in pharmacy

  1. B-Vitamins: B-vitamins are supposed to give you energy, right? And they do – the real ones. All vitamins are actually vitamin complexes, meaning, a vitamin is paired with specific enzymes, to form a complex that fuels all kinds of essential metabolic responses in the body. Synthetic vitamins are fractionated vitamins stripped of their enzyme complexes. They don’t work as well. It’s similar to fitting your left hand into a right-handed glove. It might keep your hand warm, but you’re not going to be able to use your hand properly. Synthetic B-vitmains do not restore a B-vitamin deficiency. Often they are produced in a Chinese laboratory from by-products of coal tar. Last I checked, coal tar was not on the food pyramid, not that we should pay attention to the food pyramid anyway.   Almost all multivitamins have high doses of synthetic B-vitamins in them that don’t actually do much more than turn your urine cool neon colors. Why is this the case?  Natural B-vitamins are expensive. The bottle I sell costs $80 for 8 fluid ounces, but, my patients notice a big improvement in their energy levels, nerve pain, and mood because it’s actually correcting a nutrient deficiency. More than one patient has referred to it as their “happy juice”.
  2. Vitamin C: True “vitamin C”, the nutrient that prevents scurvy, is a complex that includes copper and bioflavanoids as well as ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid alone is a synthetic chemical added to multivitamins that doesn’t provide the benefits of taking a true whole food vitamin-C complex.
  3. Vitamin E: It’s the same story, many vitamins will say “d-alpha-tocopherol” or even worse, “dl-alpha-tocopherol” (the synthetic form of d-alpha-tocopherol). Vitamin E, like B-vitamins is a whole-food complex of four mixed tocopherols, four mixed tocotrienols, enzymes and minerals. This Vitamin E complex is a powerful antioxidant that is vital for heart health. However, people taking d-alpha-tocopherol are getting none of the benefits of Vitamin E. It takes a lot of ingredients to make a delicious chocolate cake, but if someone just hands you flour, and tells your it’s going to taste just as good as chocolate cake, you immediately know they are lying. When someone hands you a multi-vitamin with d-alpha-tocopherol and claims it’s going to protect your heart, it’s the same lie.
  4. Calcium: Calcium Carbonate and Calcium Citrate are not easily absorbable forms of calcium, and based on the source, may even contain toxic heavy metals. Calcium carbonate is sourced from limestone, other rocks, and shellfish. At what point in human history did we ever eat rocks and shells as part of a healthy diet?
  5. Calcium Chews: Please no! Here are the ingredients of one popular chewable calcium: calcium carbonate, corn syrup, hydrogenated coconut oil, corn syrup solids, sweetened condensed milk (more sugar!), artificial flavors, salt. Honestly, you may be better off eating a bowl of ice cream. I guarantee it will taste better.

    At least the gelatin will make your nails strong…

  6. Magnesium: Magnesium carbonate or Magnesium Citrate are not as easily absorbed as magnesium lactate or magnesium glycinate.
  7. Fish oils: The quality of fish oils varies widely. Poor quality fish oils are often used in multi-vitamins to keep costs down, and the amount added is nominal. Companies just want to be able to say their vitamin contains fish oils, or Omega 3’s for marketability. Taking a poor quality fish oil means the oil could be rancid. Rancid fish oils cross the blood brain barrier, and do more harm (ie oxidative stress) than good. Who wants rancid oils in their brain? If you ever see artificial flavorings such as “vanillin” in your fish oil, it’s added to cover up the rancid smell. A person should be able to drink high quality fish oil and have it taste like a smooth, flavor neutral oil, not like you just put dead rotting fish in your mouth.
  8. Artificial Flavors and Colors: Many people have allergies or sensitivities to artificial favors and colors.
  9. Gummy Vitamins: Synthetic chemicals covered in sugar, gelatin, and food coloring. You are better off eating half a cup of beets once a week, I promise.

So, what’s the alternative? First off, each human is unique in their diet, their genetics, their lifestyle, and their current state of health. None of us need a one-size-fits-all approach. This is why I specialize in individualized nutrition and supplement programs. Supplements, if taken, should come from a company with integrity, that sources their raw materials from the highest quality ingredients.  They should be used only when needed, and only for as long as needed, based on current health care needs of the individual. Most vitamins, minerals, and nutrients should be obtained through eating healthy whole foods, and avoiding processed foods and fast food. Yes, the soil is depleted, and yes, our fruits and vegetables are less rich in vitamins and minerals compared to 100 years ago – even the organic ones. I do believe in supplementation with nutrient-dense green-food powders and drinks. I also feel people need individual guidance on what specific additional nutrients they need for optimum health. Not everyone needs a daily dose of 10,000mg of beta-carotine covered in red gelatin and shaped like a gummy bear. Supplements should not be chemicals in a bottle. That’s called the Pharmaceutical Industry.