“That’s a bedpan pill.”
The other day we were speaking to a dietitian colleague of ours when she pointed out a pivotal moment in her thinking about multivitamins. “The nurse was very clear- ‘Centrum is a bedpan pill.’” She told us that a nurse friend told her that Centrum, the most common multivitamin she saw used by elderly patients during her clinical rotations was doing little more than passing through the gut undisturbed – a common “present” for attending nurses in the patients bedpans. And while we hate to hear about this, because these elderly patients need the essential micronutrients they think they are getting by taking their one-a-day multivitamin, we were not terribly surprised!
Absorption matters. The bottom line is, if you can’t break down and absorb the contents of your multivitamin, how much good could it possibly be to you? Our friend had, for the first time, seen through the veil to a key problem with many supplements – multivitamins included: absorption. The “A” in our ABC’s of Optimal Supplementation.
But simply absorbing what is in your supplements is not enough to ensure you are getting the quality you expect and deserve. As you can learn more about in our free, 3-part video series The ABCs of Optimal Supplementation Guildelines, you can support micronutrient sufficiency by choosing B-eneficial forms (choosing the forms of vitamin and minerals that offer optimal benefits) while limiting micronutreint C-ompetitions and seeking S-ynergies (so you don’t lose out by choosing vitamins and minerals that compete for absorption).
In todays blog we are going to warn you about 5 potential problems with most multivitamins
Today, we’d like to lay out five potential problems with most multivitamins that may be causing you to flush the micronutrients you need down the toilet. Pay particular attention to how many challenges with absorption and competition most multivitamin manufacturers have flat-out refused to address, meaning you suffer as a consumer simply from a lack of information! Our goal is to help you become a smarter supplement shopper, and don’t forget to take our free quiz to see how your current multivitamin stacks up to the ABCs!
- Most multivitamin are formulated to be taken once per day causing numerous competitions that inhibit absorption and utilization to occur.
Taking a multivitamin once a day is convenient, but alas, don’t be expecting too much from a once daily multivitamin. For starters, these pills are often packed so densely that they may become bedpan pills- barely digesting at all during the tortuous trek through your intestines. Second, even if they do digest, there are still several potential problems. From a B vitamin perspective, large doses of all the B vitamins mixed together invites competition. For instance, high intake of vitamin B1 can push out extra vitamin B2 in your urine and vitamin B5 and B7 share a common carrier mediated uptake system and therefore compete for absorption. Moreover, most B vitamins are presented in forms that are not beneficial. For instance, vitamin B2 can oxidize vitamin B1 when B1 is in the form of thiamin hydrochloride. In Nutreince, we separate B1 and B2 to eliminate this issue, and provide the biologically active form of B1, thiamine pyrophosphate to give you the quality you deserve. When vitamin B3 is around as nicotinamide, this oxidative competition problem worsens. As you may have guessed, we put niacinamide and niacin forms of vitamin B3 in our proprietary formulation so you don’t have to worry about this issue with nutreince.
Another problem with beneficial forms is quality. Some forms of B vitamins are simply more biologically active than others, such as vitamin B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate compared to the common pyridoxine. 5-MTHF, a methylated form of folate ready and able to do work, is superior to the commonly added folic acid. The cheaper the multivitamin, the cheaper the ingredients tend to be.
Minerals fare no better when it comes to competition and absorption challenges, as their similar chemical charges encourage your body to absorb them in similar ways. If minerals like calcium and magnesium need to use the same exit ramps to get off a busy digestion highway, they are more likely to compete with each other to get where they are going. Zinc and copper also share an exit ramp. In general, avoid iron or copper in an everyday multivitamin. Also, consider the form. Minerals in many supplements are still in forms common to rock, such as oxides, instead of the forms beneficial to humans, which are commonly but not always amino acid chelates like zinc glycinate.
- Your multivitamin’s directions say to take it twice per day, but the same nutrients are in both servings.
The key question with twice-per day multivitamins is- are the doses the same or different? If they are the same, the problems with competition and absorption mentioned above can still be a problem. Let’s further examine the fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin D and Vitamin K can compete for absorption in the same dose. An excessive amount of Vitamin A interferes with absorption of the other fat-soluble vitamins D, E, and K. Taking a multivitamin twice per day is an opportunity to avoid significant vitamin and mineral competition and many manufacturers completely miss it!
Dividing your daily multivitamin into unique morning and evening doses is a big part of what makes nutreince so dynamic in reducing micronutrient competition. For instance, the fat-soluble vitamins D and K can interfere with each other’s absorption, but if one is taken in the morning and one at night, this problem disappears. The same logic applies to calcium and magnesium- take separately! For many competitive nutrient pairs, this approach makes chemical common sense.
If both doses are identical, you may absorb more of your multivitamin, sure- but without reducing competition, are you absorbing what you think you are?
- Your multivitamin is in a liquid form but does not take into account competitions
Many choose a liquid multivitamin in the hopes of increasing absorption, but don’t be fooled into thinking this solution will reduce challenges with getting the nutrients you paid for. In fact, being in a liquid solution allows many B vitamins to chemically compete more directly, reducing what is available for you to absorb! For instance, in a liquid solution, thiamine degrades folic acid (note that nutreince contains folate, not folic acid). Cobalt ions in vitamin B12 molecules can contribute to the destruction of thiamine (vitamin B1) in liquid formulations, a process worsened by the nicotinamide form of niacin (a form that is not included in our multivitamin). Depending on how the multivitamin is made and contained, its contents could be more susceptible to oxidation and degradation than solid counterparts.
- Your multivitamin is sourced from whole foods
While whole foods are great to eat for dinner and this approach sounds appealing on its face, the sad truth is that there are so many problems with whole food supplements that we made it a point to expose them in a recent blog. Many of these problems revolve around what we don’t know. In short, choose whole foods for the mystery of nature’s complexity. But for supplements, know precisely what you are putting in your body. The accuracy of the quantities of nutrients listed by many labels is up for debate. Moreover, claims of whole-food ingredients sourced exclusively and directly from nature is often misleading. For instance, many whole-food-vitamin manufacturers simply take synthetic vitamins and put them in a whole food base.
There are other problems with reducing food to powder and concentrates. Concentrating whole plant foods can concentrate anti-nutrients, such as phytates and oxalates found in the fibrous parts of plant foods. And those are the parts of foods we claim to want– in non-organic preparations, it is a bit scary to think of the potential effect of concentrating pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables into an easy-to-take capsule.
Oh, by the way, have you noticed these types of multivitamins are typically more expensive?
- Your Multivitamin is Packaged Poorly
While there are challenges to be overcome with every way of delivering a multivitamin, we believe that taking more than one dose per day is a great first step. Another consideration is how your multivitamin is packaged. We formulated nutreince as a liquid-ready powder to give you the convenience of a liquid with more shelf-stability. Notice in our current packaging that we spared no expense to reduce interference from air, heat, and light- even individually-wrapped packages! We think that a liquid multivitamin can be done well- and that we have done it, despite the challenges noted above. We value science and your health.
We also believe encapsulated multivitamins can be done well with that same awareness of oxidative risk from light, heat, and air. A vegetarian capsule that will disintegrate easily can be an effective delivery system. In sharp contrast, many pressed pills have issues. Compressed pills contain binders and fillers that may not only be hard to digest, but that also may cause digestive distress. Examples include cellulose, disodium hydrogen phosphate, hydrogenated oils, talc, polyethylene glycol, corn starch, and gellan gum. Worse still, many people are sensitive to unnecessary sugar commonly seen as high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, sucrose, or maltodextrin. Many are more sensitive still to artificial colors such as blue no. 1, blue no. 2, yellow no. 5, yellow no. 6, or red no. 40! Capsules are a great solution to get around most of these unwanted non-nutritive ingredients!
Packaging what you preach isn’t just the right thing to do for nutreince– we are also sticklers for quality in every product we offer you. For instance, we spend the money- and it is absolutely worth it- to offer you SKINNYFat in glass bottles. Plastic containers leach toxic compounds known as obesogens into the fat you will build and power your body with, and that is simply unacceptable.
Absorb the Knowledge You Need (For Free)
We’ve written more about this topic in our books. Sadly, people are still buying supplements that aren’t helping them achieve micronutrient sufficiency- that are delivering substandard forms in poor configurations with shoddy results. You deserve better. We all do. This is why we created the ABCs of Supplementation– because you shouldn’t have to be a nutrition science sleuth to know when your multivitamin of choice is serving your highest good. To make the best choices you can and to know when food just isn’t enough, let us show you what you need to know to support yourself- with smart science- from the inside out!