The long-standing debate on the availability of nutritional supplements and herbs is still a hot topic. Whether you believe they should be easily available or prescription only may not be as important as the regulation of quality.
Even though we all have a right to good health we also need to know what we are buying. In this article we dive into the world of synthetic supplements and find out how beneficial they actually are for our health.
Calcium Supplements Prevent Osteoporosis Right?
The body is loaded with calcium, which is mainly found in the bones. Therefore it makes sense that supplementing with calcium will prevent bone loss. But in this case one plus one doesn’t equal two.
The most common form of calcium supplement is sourced from limestone – calcium carbonate. There are many odd foods in the world but limestone is certainly not one of them. But does it help with our bone health?
Calcium supplements have not been found to reduce and may even increase fracture rates in older women according to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Plus calcium supplementation doesn’t provide any benefit for hip or lumbar vertebral density according to a 2012 analysis published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The reason we are told it’s good to supplement with chalk could be the fact that calcium carbonate is extremely cheap to produce.
Calcium and Cardiovascular Risk
Calcium supplements are not benign in their action they have in fact been allocated in some pretty serious health issues. “Calcium buildup in soft tissues can cause medical problems or skew test results,” states Harvard Health. Studies suggest that supplemental calcium may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
In 2010 a large meta analysis was conducted on calcium supplements and cardiovascular disease. The study, published in the British Medical Journal concluded, “Calcium supplements are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction. As calcium supplements are widely used these modest increases in risk of cardiovascular disease might translate into a large burden of disease in the population. A reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the management of osteoporosis is warranted.”
An 11-year study conducted on 24,000 men and women aged 35–64 years and published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2012 found that those who used calcium supplements had a 139% greater risk of heart attack. A meta-analysis of studies involving more than 12,000 participants also published in BMJ found that calcium supplementation increases the risk of heart attack by 31%, stroke by 20% and death from all causes by 9%.
One would think that something as simple as vitamin C is exactly what it seems, but today this is no longer the case. Once science discovered that natural molecules of vitamins and minerals could be copied, they immediately began the faster and cheaper production of synthetic or partially supplements.
Ascorbic Acid/Synthetic Vitamin C is made from corn (mainly GMO) and has recently been found to have the reverse action of natural vitamin C. According to a study on the action of high dose vitamin C on cancer, scientists observed the vitamin C was actually damaging DNA and turning on tumour forming processes. A study comparing natural vitamin C absorption to synthetic ascorbic acid found the body is able to absorb 35% more of the real vitamin C.
Mostly off the shelf vitamins and minerals are made from petrochemical ingredients. To identify synthetics, some sites point to the use of words ending in -acid, -ide, or –ate.
Common Synthetic Vitamins to Avoid:
Look for clues on your vitamin’s label that offer insight into the origin of the vitamin.
- Vitamin A: Retinyl Palmitate
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
- Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
- Vitamin B12: Cyanocobalamin
- PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
- Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid
- Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
- Biotin: d-Biotin
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
- Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol
- Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate
- Magnesium: stearate (or stearic acid)
NOTE: The “dl” form of any vitamin is synthetic.
Whole Food Supplements
Whole food supplements are the key. They contain a matrix of nutrients, which balance each other within the body. For vitamins and minerals to be assimilated into the body they need supporting molecules found in plants, such as phytonutrients.
For instance calcium absorption and regulation also depends on vitamin D and vitamin K2, as well as silica and magnesium. Plus phosphorus, beta-carotene and boron all play a role. Bone starts off as collagen and later solidifies into bone. Collagen formation is mainly driven by vitamin C and the amino acids l’lysine and l’proline.
Therefore eating foods such as sardines, mackerel and other dark fish, broccoli, dark leafy greens, sesame seeds and bone broth provide a bio-available form of calcium packed with supportive nutrients. And they do not promote calcification within the body!
If you need more than just the nutrients available in good quality organic food, there are a few whole food supplement ranges available on the market. Do your research on the vitamins you want to consume well!
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