When I told Gina that I was concerned she had some vitamin deficiencies and suggested she take a multivitamin supplement, she rolled her eyes. “I saw on the news that vitamins are a waste of money,” she told me.
I’ve often heard this from skeptical clients.
Every now and then, a new study about vitamins dominates the media. Headlines announce that vitamins don’t work, are a waste of money, or even that they don’t contain what you think they do. If I were a typical consumer, I’d be skeptical too. I’m always amazed at how the media can spin things to create such sensational headlines!
After examining thousands of research studies throughout more than three decades in practice, I know something the headlines won’t tell you. The research is only as good as the specifics: how the study was conducted, what researchers were truly looking at, and (most importantly) who funded the research.
A few years ago, a scathing review conducted by Consumer Reports concluded that vitamins were a total waste of money. They looked at individual supplements for vitamins, such as vitamin E among others, in isolation and concluded that they weren’t effective.
As a functional medicine practitioner who treats the body as a whole, recognizing that every system, process and function is interrelated and connected to others, it came as no surprise to me that a vitamin taken in isolation, without all the necessary enzymes and co-factors that support its metabolism, would have little impact.
And of course, to get the benefits of a vitamin, you have to be sure you are really getting what the label says you are.
A couple of years ago, another study concluded that many of the supplements you purchase at stores like Walmart, Target, GNC and Walgreen do not contain what they claim to. And it wasn’t the first time. A similar study on omega 3 fish oils in California revealed wild disparities between the concentration and purity of the products and the stated label claims. Several other studies have revealed similar results.
Given that we are often looking at a vitamin in isolation, or evaluating vitamin products that do not contain the ingredients or doses they claim to, it’s no surprise that some scientists, and especially the media, proclaim that vitamins don’t work, aren’t necessary or are a waste of money: in those cases, it’s likely true!
At marcellepick.com and in my practice, I have seen first-hand the incredible difference that high-quality supplements can make in the health and healing of my patients. That’s because my supplements are formulated to be of the highest quality and purity, designed for optimal absorption and laboratory-tested to ensure efficacy and potency. When using these top shelf supplements, my patients see and feel the difference.
Vitamins can help support your health when deficiencies are present, but only if you are getting the high quality nutritional support that is proven to impact wellness; otherwise, you’re just “wasting your money,” as the headlines claim.
Let’s look at what you need to know about buying and taking vitamins so you can get the benefits that high-quality supplements can provide.
Why isn’t good food enough?
In a perfect world, we’d get all of the essential nutrients we need from the food we eat.
But when I ask my patients about their nutrition, most confess that they eat out more than they should; they choose the convenience of packaged or processed foods a bit too often; and they don’t always get the highest quality ingredients such as organic fruits and vegetables and grass-fed meats because they aren’t readily available or affordable.
And poor eating habits aren’t the only problem. Even the rare conscientious patient who is making great choices almost all of the time can end up with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. That’s because the way food is produced today diminishes its nutritional value.
Today’s farming practices, where foods are picked before they are ripe and before they have developed their full nutritional profile in order to make it to markets, often a long distance away, before spoiling, mean that even organic produce often lacks sufficient nutrients.
Studies have demonstrated the reduced nutrients in modern produce. One showed that to get the same level of vitamin A that you would have received from eating two peaches back in the 1950s, today you would have to eat 53! Even if you adore peaches, that’s asking a bit too much.
All of that means it’s no great surprise that my patients are often experiencing symptoms resulting from the ‘gaps’ that can arise from incomplete nutrition. Once I explain all this to my patients, the majority of them immediately understand that their bodies need more support. They’re more ready to believe that a high-quality multivitamin can help to “bridge the gap.”
Virtually all of my patients benefit from a high-quality multivitamin supplement, whether or not they are experiencing hormonal imbalance or other symptoms. Those who don’t have life-disrupting symptoms still recognize that the chronic lifestyle-related diseases that are today’s greatest causes of death and illness all have roots in diet and nutrition.
And who wouldn’t rather avoid those symptoms if they can? Supplementation is a small price to pay for prevention.
Stress, diet and vitamins
Even if we do our best to eat well and cook from scratch, many of us have not done so religiously over the years.
Let’s face it: we didn’t know or talk as much about food when we were younger. We could eat anything we wanted and generally get away with it! Convenience foods flooded the market in the 60’s and 70’s and we shifted away from home cooked meals every night into convenient fast food and processed options.
Who in our generation can’t remember their first TV dinner and how exciting it was to have that tray and eat in front of the TV? It was fun for a while, but for many of us, those choices caught up to us at some point, often resulting in a diet of one kind or another.
More than half of American women are on a diet at any given time. But dieting is really hard on our bodies, often robbing them of critical nutrients as we cut out entire food groups to try and lose a few pounds.
In addition, stress plays a huge role in our physical health and wellness, our absorption of nutrients, and our weight gains and losses. The more stress we have, the harder it will be to maintain a healthy weight and the more likely we are to make poor food choices, which will then impact our weight. It’s a vicious cycle!
Stress takes a toll on our body, even if it doesn’t directly impact weight. Whether it is environmental stress such as pollution and radiation, the everyday craziness of rush hour traffic, or busy kids’ schedules and work deadlines, stress impacts our bodies’ abilities to absorb and process nutrients, making it even more important that we receive high-quality support to stay balanced.
Because research has shown that taking vitamins in isolation isn’t proven effective, I recommend a high-quality, pharmaceutical grade multivitamin that will provide all the key nutrients we need to cope with stress, as well as their supporting cofactors required to ensure maximum absorption.
I also recommend that every patient take an essential fatty acid (EFA) supplement in order to provide the omega 3 support our bodies require.
Related article: Why You Should Be Taking Nutritional Supplements
How Do You Choose The Right Vitamin?
As I said before, if the vitamins you take cannot be absorbed, they aren’t going to help! Cheap generic vitamins are rarely fully absorbed. Some have even been shown to pass through the stool whole or just partially decomposed.
Even if they are broken down fully and completely in the body, the dose is often too low to make a real difference. Recommended Daily Allowances, or RDAs, are the bare minimum required to prevent diseases such as scurvy and rickets, not the optimal amounts a healthy body needs.
Or, they lack the cofactors required for the nutrients to be processed and utilized effectively. As scientists put it, bioavailability is key: if they aren’t bioavailable, they won’t be effective and you will be wasting your money.
So what should you look for when choosing a nutritional supplement? There are six main points that I find essential in making the best choices:
- Complete is crucial. The latest nutritional science suggests that women need at least 30 vitamins and minerals, along with a rich essential fatty acid formula. Our bodies cannot make EFAs, so we have to ingest them. Today’s diet is heavy in omega 6 vegetable oils that are the foundations of processed foods and restaurant cooking, but our bodies need a ratio of 1:1 omega 3 to omega 6. That’s why EFA support is so important.
- Bioavailability matters. As I said before, if your body can’t use it, why bother? There are six patented chelated formulas that I recommend be included, and the vitamin must meet USP standards for solubility.
- Natural is the only way to go. Supplements must be free from artificial preservatives, dyes, allergens and other contaminants. The fatty acid formula must be certified free of mercury and lead.
- Reliability is essential. While there are no manufacturing standards for nutritional supplements issued by the FDA, there are several internationally recognized organizations that offer general manufacturing practice (GMP) certification. The most well known is NSF International, a non-profit organization committed to creating standards for food safety and sanitation to promote public health. But it’s not the only organization that offers GMP certification; there are other reputable options. What’s important is that the manufacturer of the supplements you choose has GMP certification from one of these recognized sources, indicating that the product meets the quality standards and manufacturing plants are monitored for quality control.
- Laboratory testing to back up claims. Every production batch of a nutritional supplement must be tested to ensure it contains exactly what the label claims.
- You must feel results. You are the best judge. If a supplement doesn’t make you feel better within 30 days, it’s time to try another. Though symptoms may not disappear in that time frame, you should feel a marked difference.
So many of my patients are struggling with hormonal balance, adrenal fatigue and thyroid concerns, weight management issues, and concerns about bone density and aging well. I knew I had to provide an affordable option that my patients could trust to be free of impurities and bioavailable.
I also wanted to ensure that I maintained control over both the quality of the ingredients and the manufacturing process in order to deliver the highest possible quality of supplementation available, one that would yield maximum results for my clients.
My proprietary products, Multi-Essentials and EPA/DHA Support, meet all of the above requirements, and provide the foundation that women (and men!) need.
Me and my team have done our homework, including visiting the manufacturer, talking with their scientists and reviewing processes and controls. I’ve used these products successfully with patients in my clinic (and online) for decades. I also take the products myself!
Gina got over her skepticism long enough to give these two essential supplements a try. And a few weeks later, she was a believer!
At her follow up visit, she told me she felt better than she had in years. Because it’s better to prevent deficiencies than address them after the fact, she said, these supplements would remain a part of her daily routine.
Boost your quality of life with the right supplements
It isn’t enough to live longer – we must also live well. With the help of a high-quality nutritional supplement, I can assure you that living well is possible.
High-quality supplements like the ones I offer in my shop at marcellepick.com are such a small investment in your health.
You’d readily invest in a gym membership to get your body in shape if your health required it; nutritional supplementation is an investment that will pay off in a big way health-wise, both now and as you age. Thankfully, it’s easy and doesn’t take any time out of your busy day!
I believe that everyone has the power to feel great: full of energy and free from limitations. My patients tell me that my products help them to do that: Don’t you deserve that as well?
To learn more about my high-quality supplements, click here.
Reviewed by Dr. Mark Menolascino, MD