Lifestyle & Supplements

Multivitamins: Quality Counts

Written by Dr. Andrew Neville

A multivitamin is as it is named: a vitamin that contains all of the major vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that the body needs to run its machinery. All of us need to use a multivitamin periodically, because we live in a toxic, stressful world (which uses up nutrients), and because our food supply is substandard due to the farming of nutrient-depleted soils. We’re not efficiently replenishing these nutrients through our diet.

Stress metabolism also creates tremendous “oxidative stress” through the creation of free radicals. These free radicals travel to every nook and cranny in the body and cause damage. This damage has to be repaired, and that repair requires nutrients. Supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc.) are a key part of healing; supplements alone, however, will not fix this condition.

Taking supplements alone is a major failure in the majority of other treatment efforts, plans, and strategies for this condition. If supplements have failed to fix you, it’s not your fault; it may even be that those very supplements might be helpful, but only if used in combination with a comprehensive, foundational approach.

Multivitamins for Adrenal Fatigue patients

Those of us that have developed Adrenal Fatigue because of chronic perpetual stress (of any kind) have even higher nutrient demands. The metabolism of stress depletes your body of all of the B vitamins, the main minerals, multiple cofactors, as well as all of our antioxidants.

One of the essential needs in the treatment of Adrenal Fatigue is to replace these depleted nutrients, restore antioxidant status, and provide cofactors to optimize hormone production. As part of a complete, individualized treatment plan, multivitamins help us heal at the cellular level, reduce inflammation in the brain, repair the limbic system, and more.

A word about quality

Currently, the quality control standards in the supplement industry are substandard, and this is why I use only a handful of companies that I have “vetted,” whose integrity and products I trust. Most drugstore vitamins—especially “one-a-day” types—are not a good choice.

The best way to find guidance with supplements is to trust an expert who has vetted their vendors and manufacturers for years. The clinician should have experience in using certain products in thousands of actual patients.

When deciding if a supplement is going to be helpful to a patient at all, I look at two things: 1) the type and quality of vitamins/minerals put into the product; and 2) what other chemicals have been added to the product as “filler” or preservatives, such as powders, dyes, emulsifiers, etc.

The quality of the individual vitamins used in multivitamins varies tremendously. Often, it’s important to get the highest quality possible, although there are some vitamins where the generic is just fine.

The three musts of quality control before I recommend a supplement.

1. They actually contain what they claim.
2. They are safe and free of contaminants.
3. They do their job.

Manufacturers can write almost anything on a label or make just about any claim of systemic support or efficacy, and there is no recourse. To ensure you are spending money on a quality supplement, you have to educate yourself a bit. Even a company using inferior ingredients can put “all natural” or “finest quality” on their label. It can be very hard to decipher high from low quality but there are some clues.

Warning signs of inferior products

1) “You get what you pay for”—This old decree does have some credence here, because quality-control practices, third-party testing, organic ingredients, high concentrations of constituents, etc., all cost money. Part of this cost must be passed on to the consumer.

2) Watch out for clever marketing—You know the ones I mean: multi-level marketing companies (network marketing) who sell supplements and the like. The profit-sharing structure of these companies is such that the cost of the product must be inflated (even more!) to pay the pyramid of representatives involved in the sale. This also means they usually start with inferior ingredients, so a larger profit margin is ensured.

3) The supplement company’s mission statement—Different companies have different philosophies. Check their “About” page. While all companies need to make a profit, some companies are out to make a profit first.

The more reputable, ethical manufacturers and vendors are out to fill a need by providing high-quality supplements that help heal people. High-quality raw materials should be free of contamination of heavy metals and pesticides, should contain only the substance they put on the label and should contain it in the strength and concentration they claim.

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