Do You Know What's in Your Supplements?

(Originally posted January 8, 2013 at

Vitamin and mineral supplements can be found almost everywhere these days—grocery and convenience stores, big box discount stores, and drugstores commonly carry a plethora of supplements, and online retailers offer thousands of choices of every supplement imaginable. The supplement industry is enormous—it’s estimated that one of every three American adults uses nutritional supplements on a regular basis.

On the one hand, I’m pleased to see the exponential growth of the supplement industry—it’s an indicator that people are increasingly interested in natural approaches to health. On the other hand, I’m concerned about the quality of the supplements that are flooding the market. I’ve spent decades working with supplements—my education is in clinical nutrition and medical herbalism, and in the early 80’s I owned a health food store, where I gained a great deal of knowledge about the supplement industry. For the past 25 years, I’ve practiced as a clinician, creating healing protocols for people with serious illnesses. I believe in the use of supplements—they provide concentrated nutrition and dosages of healing nutrients that are unobtainable by diet alone. Nutritional supplements are an essential part of my practice, and I personally take a variety of supplements.

However—and this is a big however—nutritional supplements are only as good as the raw ingredients from which they are made. Unfortunately, the majority of nutritional supplements are made in a laboratory from synthetic ingredients. These man-made chemicals are called isolated chemical nutrients, or USP (United States Pharmacopeia) vitamins and minerals. Many of these nutrients are made using toxic substances, such as petroleum esters, formaldehyde, and acetylene. An additional problem is that the body does not recognize USP isolates in the same way as nutrients from real food.

USP isolates are analogous to refined foods; for example, while organic unrefined brown rice is a nutritious dietary choice, refined white rice has been stripped of nutrients and does not support health. Another example is the misguided notion of using only egg whites to make omelets or scrambled eggs; while whole organic eggs from free-range chickens are an excellent source of phospholipids, carotenoids, B-vitamins, iron, and sulfur, egg whites merely contain protein. For the most part, foods that have been refined are not the best choices for long-term health, and the same is true for dietary supplements.

For this reason, in creating Natura’s formulas I have chosen as much as possible to use Re-Natured® vitamins and minerals (from Grow Company, Inc.), which offers nutrients in a form similar to those found in food. Grow-Nutrients® utilizes a single-celled yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that is grown in enriched molasses under carefully controlled conditions. The culture is then fed specific concentrations of vitamins and minerals. S. Cerevisiae takes up the micronutrients during growth and metabolization, and thus the vitamins and minerals become bioavailable through the yeast. Another Grow nutrient source is their Biogrow® vitamin and mineral technology, in which natural products derived from a pure culture of Lactobacillus bulgaricus are grown in enriched media under carefully controlled conditions. These forms of nutrients are similar to how they would be found in plants grown in nutrient dense soils. Not only are these nutrients natural and non-toxic, they are also much more bioavailable, because the body readily recognizes them as nutrients.

The Natura formulas that contain Re-Natured® nutrients are Cell GuardianUp-LiftIG Sensitizer.

Re-Natured® vitamins and minerals are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates (beta-1, 3-glucans and mannan), dietary fiber, SOD (superoxide dismutase), and glutathione (an antioxidant found in yeast that plays a major role in cellular defense mechanisms). These products are not derived from dairy (such as whey yeast), nor do they contain added sugars, colorants, or preservatives.

Studies have proven that Re-Natured® nutrients are better absorbed, retained and utilized than any USP or chelated nutrient. There have been over 50 studies performed on Re-Natured® nutrients, many of which have been peer reviewed and published in reputable journals. Following is a summary of the findings:

USP nutrients vs. Re-Natured® nutrients
Vitamin A 1.54 times more absorbed into blood
Vitamin B-1, Thiamin 1.38 times more absorbed into blood
Vitamin B-2, Riboflavin 1.92 times more retained in the liver
Vitamin B-3, Niacinamide 3.94 times more absorbed into blood
Vitamin B-6 2.54 times more absorbed into blood
Vitamin B-9, Folate 2.13 times more retained in the liver
Vitamin B-12 2.56 times more absorbed into blood
Vitamin C 1.74 times more absorbed into red blood cells
Up to 15.6 times the antioxidant effect
Vitamin E 2.60 times more absorbed into blood
Up to 7.02 times more retained by the body
Calcium 8.79 times more absorbed into blood
Chromium 3.56 times more effective reducing fasting
glucose Up to 25 times more bioavailable
Copper 1.85 times more retained in the liver
Iron 1.77 times more absorbed into blood
Magnesium 2.20 times more absorbed into the blood
Manganese 1.63 times more retained in the liver
Molybdenum 16.49 times more absorbed into blood
Selenium 17.60 times greater antioxidant effect
Zinc 6.46 times more absorbed into blood
Vitamin ‘H’ Biotin Over 100 times the biotin activity

Of course, I’m always interested in clinical studies, which provide further information as to the efficacy of nutrients in actual patient trials. In a study on the clinical effects of Re-Natured® nutrients and colon polyps, Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland conducted a one month trial using Re-Natured® nutrients vitamin C and beta-carotene (Cahill, et al., 1992). The study was conducted on participants with abnormal cells in their colon polyps, and thus at high risk of colon cancer.

The control group with a higher initial level of abnormal cells in their colon polyps who took no supplements saw no change, but for those taking Re-Natured® supplements, the effects were dramatic. (Participants took 9mg of Re-Natured® Beta-Carotene daily in one group, and another group took 750 mg daily of Re-Natured® Vitamin C.)

While the control group taking no supplements showed no signs of improvement, the Re-Natured® Beta-Carotene group experienced a significant drop in abnormal cells in colon polyps, and the group that took Re-Natured®Vitamin C actually experienced a drop of abnormal cells in their colon polyps that was even lower than in the normal groups. The results were so astonishing that the study was continued for a full year.

Finally, it’s important to me that Re-Natured® nutrients have been proven to be much safer than USP isolates. For example, a study on selenium (Vinson, 1981) found that selenium as sodium selenite (the USP form) has a 2.94 higher lethal dose than Re-Natured® selenium.  This is because sodium selenite, as with all other isolated nutrients, is not found in nature’s food complexes.They are simply isolated chemicals. If you analyze yeast, which has a natural affinity towards selenium, you will never find the isolated nutrient sodium selenite. When yeast is fed the important isolated nutrient during its growth stage, the yeast metabolizes the isolated nutrient, and is now organically bound in its natural food complex, without the remainders of toxic isolated chemical components. Grown By Nature’s Re-Natured® Selenium & Amino Acid Complex is not toxic because it is found in a food complex, not as an isolated chemical.