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Guide to Using Whole Food Vitamins and Minerals to Support Your Health
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Mar 01, 2008
What you don't know about vitamins and minerals may destroy your health. I don't make this statement lightly, as I have worked with enough people who have hurt their health with synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements to know that experiencing vitamin and mineral toxicity is far more common than you might think.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that these vitamins can be stored in your fat tissues. Even if you are super lean, your body has significant fat stores in and around all of your organs, as well as in the layer of fascia that lies between your muscles and skin. When consumed in excess, fat-soluble vitamins can cause a number of symptoms related to toxicity since they are easily stored in your body.
Water-soluble vitamins like the entire spectrum of B vitamins and vitamin C are not stored in your fat tissues. Although your body is capable of excreting excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins from your body (mainly through your urine), water-soluble vitamins can still be toxic to your system and cause significant damage to your tissues if consumed in excess.
Take, for example, vitamin B6. Some published studies indicate that taking large quantities of vitamin B6 (up to 75 mg per day) may alleviate symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. The generally recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6 is 1.3 to 1.7 mg per day. While your body will work to eliminate extraneous amounts of vitamin B6, if you regularly consume extremely large amounts of vitamin B6, you will almost certainly arrive at a day when your body will not be able to eliminate enough of the extraneous B6 to prevent B6-related toxicity and tissue damage. The same is true for other water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins; if regularly consumed in excess, vitamins and minerals can physically damage your cells.
Fortunately, there's a simple way to avoid vitamin and mineral toxicity: it's to avoid synthetic nutritional supplements, and to focus on eating fresh, minimally processed foods. Whole foods that are found in nature contain only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. This is why vitamins and minerals are called micronutrients - they exist in micro amounts in natural foods, and they are needed by your body in micro amounts.
The trace amounts of vitamins and minerals that are found in minimally processed, natural foods are packaged together with large quantities of macronutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Vitamins and minerals in whole plant foods are also bundled together with fiber. When you obtain your vitamins and minerals from whole foods, the carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber in whole foods fill you up and tell you to take a break from eating before you consume dangerous levels of vitamins and minerals.
Whole foods contain much larger amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat than vitamins and minerals because carbohydrates, protein, and fat are the primary sources of fuel that you use to generate energy for all of your activities.
Vitamins and minerals serve as enzymes and co-enzymes that allow your cells to metabolize the sugars, amino acids, and fatty acids found in carbohydrates, protein, and fat. If you've studied biochemistry, take some time to review the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex and why it is needed for your cells to synthesize energy (ATP) - this will allow you to clearly see the important roles that vitamins and minerals play on a microscopic level in your second-to-second metabolism.
The bottom line is this: the best and safest way to nourish your body with vitamins and minerals is to get them from whole, natural foods. While you can obtain significant quantities of the vitamins and minerals that you need from raw foods, to ensure optimal nourishment with vitamins and minerals, it doesn't hurt to include some cooked foods, broths, and soups in your diet, as cooking vegetables can make some vitamins and minerals more easily accessible.
The best way to become deficient in vitamins and minerals is to eat foods that are highly processed. Highly processed foods that typically include large quantities of sugar, white flour, and cheap vegetable oils fill you up and give you the illusion that you have eaten enough to satisfy your nutrient needs, even though they are sparse in nutrients.
This is where the principle of nutrient-density comes in; a simple key to promoting nutritional excellence is to regularly eat foods that are nutrient-rich. This is another way of saying that you should mainly eat minimally processed whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and if in line with your beliefs, clean animal foods like organic eggs, wild fish, and organically raised flesh meats.
If your intake of fresh, whole foods is lacking at times, or if you find that the quality of produce that is available to you isn't as good as it can be, you can safely ensure optimal intake of vitamins and minerals by consuming nutritional supplements that are made with whole foods.
Here are two key guidelines for choosing the best possible whole food supplements to ensure nutritional excellence:
Look for supplements that are made with 100% whole foods; if the ingredients label doesn't clearly list only whole foods, and if you see fractionated chemicals like "ascorbic acid" or "Vitamin C" without an accompanying listing of a whole food source, then you are likely looking at a supplement that contains synthetic nutrients.
Look for supplements that come in dark glass jars. Dark glass jars (like amber-colored glass jars) are the best storage containers for preserving nutrient integrity because they are inert (chemically inactive), and they protect the essential fatty acids in whole foods. Plastic containers may allow oxygen to seep in over time, which can cause significant degradation of nutrient value.
Most nutritional supplements are packaged in plastic bottles because plastic is cheap and doesn't break.
In case you're curious, my current nutritional supplementation program is as follows:
On a Daily Basis:
1-2 tablespoons of super green food formula
2-3 teaspoons of acerola cherry powder
1 tablespoon of cod liver oil
Sometimes, I mix all three with 8 to 12 ounces of water in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously before drinking.
At other times, I blend all three ingredients into a smoothie, using any fresh fruits that we have on hand. My usual smoothie consists of 1 banana, 2 tablespoons of blueberries, 1 tablespoon of soaked goji berries, and 1-2 cups of a non-dairy milk, such as almond milk.
For a look at other smoothie recipes that I sometimes blend our greens, cherry powder, and cod liver oil into, please feel free to view the following page:
On days when my schedule is extra busy and I don't have time to take the whole food supplements mentioned above, I take six tablets of our 100% whole food vitamin and mineral formula. I like to split the six tablets into two portions; three in the morning, and three in the evening.
I also take a course (one box) of our professional grade probiotic about once every three months to help ensure that I have plenty of friendly bacteria in my intestines. I have found that most people do well taking one course of our professional grade probiotic less often than I do; I like to err on the side of overdoing it a bit with the probiotic, as I was never breastfed as a baby and experienced significant health challenges with my digestive tract when I was in my early 20's.
If you're looking for specific recommendations on what to take, here are two programs that I generally recommend:
Whole Food Nutritional Supplementation Program One
1 teaspoon of super green food formula per 50 pounds of body weight per day
1 teaspoon of acerola cherry powder per 50 pounds of body weight per day
Whole Food Nutritional Supplementation Program Two
6 tablets of 100% whole food vitamin and mineral formula, three in the morning, and three in the evening (if you have no known health challenges and eat plenty of fresh, natural foods, you may even consider taking less than this, say 1-2 tablets in the morning and 1-2 tablets in the evening)
1-2 capsules of our professional grade probiotic in the morning, and 1-2 capsules in the evening, as often as your digestive tract feels uncomfortable (whenever you have any symptoms of indigestion like gas and bloating for more than a few hours to a day at a time)
1 teaspoon of fish oil per 50 pounds of body weight per day
The two programs outlined above are excellent adjuncts to a minimally processed, whole food diet, and can help to ensure that you safely ingest optimal amounts of the vitamins and minerals that you need to be at your best.
What if the amount of vitamins and minerals in the programs above don't match the number of milligrams you are looking for of certain vitamins and minerals? Please remember that most recommended values are based on synthetic nutrients, and don't take into account all of the dietary and lifestyle factors that influence how efficiently you break down and utilize the nutrients in your foods and supplements.
For example, just 1.5 teaspoons of our acerola cherry will provide you with much higher quality and usable vitamin C than several times more synthetic vitamin C.
Another example: 300 to 400 milligrams of calcium in our greens or 100% whole food vitamin and mineral formula can help to ensure strong teeth and bones to a far greater degree than 1400 milligrams of a synthetic source of calcium that does not come with the many other minerals and vitamins that you need to properly assimilate calcium into your body. And yes, our greens and 100% whole food vitamin and mineral formula both come with the other nutrients that you need to create healthy teeth and bones using the calcium you ingest. For more information on this specific issue, please feel free to view:
I hope that this article has provided you with the knowledge that you need to optimally support your health with natural vitamins and minerals. You don't need to have half a dozen or a dozen bottles of synthetic nutrients in your kitchen; taking so many synthetic nutrients can and will hurt your health in the long run. To ensure optimal nourishment with natural vitamins and minerals, focus on eating whole foods that are naturally abundant in vitamins and minerals. Then, if your circumstances allow, consider following a simple nutritional supplementation program that utilizes 100% whole food supplements.
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