Wednesday, September 17, 2008
There are many liquid vitamin products on the market. But finding good ones at reasonable prices can be a bit of a challenge. You may already be familiar with some of them because there are many product promoters that use email gathering techniques and spam people. They sell products that use Noni berries, or mangosteen fruit, or acai berries. They use "as shown on TV" style promotions. I have gone to some of these sites to view their products. They have the usual testimonials and research that demonstrates the "power" of their products. The sites are very convincing...until you stumble upon their pricing. Then it gets a little complicated.
Their pricing is almost always about fifty dollars a bottle for 32 ounces, supposedly, a months supply. And depending on your level of income, that might seem like very little money or a lot of money. If you are only buying for yourself, well then its no so bad. But still, it comes to 600 dollars a year. Additionally, you find that in order to buy the product you must be a "member". And then, you are encouraged to "sell" the product to your friends. After all, you would be doing them a favor to let them in on this great product you have found. In addition, you will get a "kick back" on their purchases. Usually 10 percent or so. And of course, your friends are then encouraged to complete the cycle again and sign up someone they know. And more and more "kick backs" will go to them, and to you. Often they have pyramid charts showing how you can earn "residual income" for showing and selling the product to just a few of your friends. You went to the site to buy a good product and now you have become a part time sales person.
You have stumbled upon an MLM scheme. Multi Level Marketing has taken to the supplement industry in a major way. Some companies actually hire vitamin manufacturing labs to generate a "recipe" for their products, and then they become the distribution portal at the top of the pyramid. Some of these vitamins are reasonable in price. Generally they will come in a tablet or pill form. But for some reason, when it comes to liquid vitamins, the pricing is always high and difficult to justify.
Take, for example, a family of four. A fifty dollar mangosteen juice product requires you to buy 4 bottles every month, one for each member of the family. Suddenly you are talking about spending $200.00 a month for a vitamin supplement. That's when you close the page and go on with other things. And who could blame you. Buying supplements cannot be a major part of one's monthly budget planning, a larger expense than your cable and internet connection combined. If you can afford that, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.
But there are good products at less than half the price of these MLM products. And purchasing them can be like any other purchase. You find the product you like, you order it, it comes to you and no one insists you have any further dealings or get a monthly shipment, or that you convert your friends into customers. I have found some companies on the web that will do just that. Sell you what you want to buy for a price that is closer to $20.00 or less. That will cost you around $200.00 dollars a year should you want to use the product daily. I will post links to these some of these webstores here to give you a starting point. They will offer high quality products and not bother you to become an agent. Additionally, returning customers often can receive discounts, making you yearly vitamin budget that much sweeter.
One such webstore is Vitapal, pronounced vita pal. Take a look at this site, they have pages of organic liquid vitamin and mineral products from reputable producers. Once at the site, just key in "liquid vitamins" in their search box and have at it. There are products for kids as well as adults, and most require 2 tablespoons a day. Its a good idea to take a dosage in the morning in a glass of apple or orange juice or your favorite cold tea. Just takes a minute, and you can be on your way.
VitaPal.com - Discount Vitamin Warehouse. Free Shipping on orders over $100.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Once you have made a choice, in my case, to look for organic vitamins derived from natural foods, you are still faced with the question of the type of vitamin. And here, the case for liquid vitamins is strong. The ease of absorption offers many advantages. All forms are valuable, pills, gels, powdered greens, but organic liquids vitamins are available faster than other forms. There are times when faster is better...when you are sick...after heavy physical exertion.
Particularly if you do not have a regimen of daily supplementation, but use supplements only occasionally, based on how you are feeling, whether or not you have a cold and so forth. Liquid vitamins can be marshaled into the small intestines that much quicker, and into your bloodstream in a very short period of time..
When you are sick, your body is already spending a large amount of energy to fight off a cold, the flu, or the virus of the day. The food you eat will take 3 to 4 hours to have nutrients available. Liquid vitamins can be absorbed, and pass into the bloodstream in less than half an hour. For that reason alone, its worth it to have them in the home. Even if you are only using them on an emergency basis. Lots of people have supplements in the home and they only think about them when they are sick. Then its tons of vitamin C for the duration of the cold and then back to "normal". Since the point is to make it easier on the body, go the extra step and get the vitamins in liquid form, let your body spend its energy breaking down real food instead of pills.
There are many products that are also easy on the tongue. There are a variety of fruit based drinks that are much the same as beverages. There are concentrates that only require a couple tablespoons to get the nutrition you need, and they can be added to other foods or drinks. Add them to yogurt, smoothies, top off an ice cream sundae.
Others, like amino acid concentrates have a flavor similar to soy sauce. They add flavor to rice, or a salad. The first time I encountered liquid amino acids I was visiting friends of mine who are very knowledgeable about organic foods and their preparation. I looked forward to visiting them because I knew there would always be something very tasty on the menu. On their dinner table you find the regulars like salt and pepper. But also there was a bottle filled with something that looked like soy sauce. They would use it in a similar fashion. Add a bit to rice, potatoes, carrots, sprinkle it on salad. I had never seen it before so I asked what it was.
They told me that it contained amino acids and that it had a nice taste. I personally like the taste of salt on vegetables and rice and in my salads. I don't usually use soy sauce because it has a blend of flavors that don't "hit the spot" for me. But this product they were using was absolutely perfect. It became my salt substitute of choice. I didn't skip a beat, and didn't miss the salt at all. Many of these products are much like seasonings that you are already comfortable with. If no one told you, you probably wouldn't even know they were in your food.
To be honest I don't think that liquid organic vitamins are the only way to go. I think the most important thing is to try to find and use products that are derived from real foods, mostly plants. And having a caplet, or pill form, which dissolves more slowly is much the same as eating, it will be bio-available in a "time released" fashion.
However, in some products,there are materials which are primarily incorporated in pills that are there only to make the production of the pill "easier" on the manufacturing equipment. This seems to be the role of things like silica, magnesium stearate (which is also a natural component in fat) and some powdered sand. I don't know that these are detrimental they are in all the synthetically produced vitamin pills, and many companies that use food derived vitamins also include them. Its difficult to find products without them. But there is some controversy about their usage. They are less likely to be found in liquid supplements.
One of the issues with these additives is that a person who is taking many pills on a daily basis will end up compounding the concentration of them. You aren't just talking about one pill a day. Many seniors, for example, take five or ten pills a day. Some of these things are prescription medications as well as supplements. But you could end up with a significant amount of silica when you are taking higher numbers of pills than the average person does. To me its a battle that doesn't have to be fought, organic liquid vitamins just simplify the issue.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
When reading the labels on vitamins, there are a lot of unfamiliar sounding terms you will come across. But before we get to the charts themselves, it is helpful to break down the types of categories those substances will belong to. There are three, Natural, Co-natural, and Synthetic.
The majority of vitamins that are on the market are not natural. The reason for this is cost. It requires the extraction of vitamins from foods. This is a much more expensive process than simply synthesizing vitamins chemically. These vitamins come directly from fruits, and vegetables. A smaller number are derived from animals, primarily the livers of animals. If you are a vegan, you may want to pay close attention to the sources of Biotin, as liver may be a source. Some products also use fish oils for Vitamin A, and fatty acids like omega 3, 6, and 9.
These are derived from vegetable and animal sources. The process involves using a solvent, distillation, hydrolysis, and-or crystalization. But the vitamin itself does not undergo a chemical alteration or conversion during the process of extraction.
The sources for these vitamins may be natural or chemical, but in this case, they do go through a conversion or chemical alteration. They are about 50 percent as effective as natural vitamins, and parts of them may be regarded as toxins by the body. They are often derived from "dead", never alive materials like Coal Tar, petroleum products, ground up rocks and stones, shells like clamshells, and metals. Corn syrup (vitamin c) , wood, animal byproducts, waste and fecal matter are also used.
So, when reading charts and finding the active ingredients you will have a better understanding of the derivation process and source materials. I can only say that the more I learn the smarter and safer it seems to be to look for products that are vegetable based, not overlooking the value of sea plants as well. Kelp, for instance, offers a lot of different vitamins. So does Blue-green algae. More familiar vegetable based sources with lots of value are Flax, Rice bran, Wheat grass and germ, alfalfa, and other cereal grasses.
Also, keep in mind that the term "organic" may be defined in different ways. While we are thinking that the term refers to plant and animal sources, the use of the term in chemistry simply means that there are carbon atoms in the structure. This can lead to some misleading claims that are still "accurate". All vitamins will have some carbon in them, whether synthetic or natural in their origin.
Want to have some fun? Take your bottle of vitamins and a magnifying glass and look up the active ingredients on the web with a search engine with the term "natural or synthetic".
Here is an excerpt from http://www.lorganic.sg/dpf/supplements.pdf
What You Actually Get In The Store
What commercial-grade vitamin and mineral concentrates are synthesized by the large pharmaceutical and chemical companies from the same starting material that they make their drugs from ( coal tar, wood, pulp, petroleum products, animal byproducts, waste and fecal matter, ground rocks, stones, shells and metal. )
- Most Vitamin B-12 (cobalamine) is made from activated sewage sludge-and
then stabilized with cyanide (thus becoming, cyanocobalamine)
- Most vitamin D is made from irradiated oil
- The bulk of all vitamin E is produced in the labs at Kodak
- Niacinamide is made by boiling sulfur in the presence of asbestos.
- Supplemental calcium, for the most part, is either mined from the earth,
ground from old bones, or made by grinding up oyster shells
There are many sites on the web to check if you want to see for yourself. I don't know anyone who is aware of the "processes" involved in "Big Pharma" vitamin production. These decisions are primarily cost based and profit driven. So be aware you may spend a little bit more money for products that are natural extracts, but knowing about the process for manufacture, you will likely be willing to spend a few extra dollars for products you feel more comfortable with.
Monday, August 25, 2008
SYNTHETIC OR NATURAL?
There are many types of supplements available. For now, lets focus on multi-vitamin and mineral supplements. The first question may be whether or not there is a substantial difference between so called "synthetic" and "natural" vitamins. The structure of a vitamin can be reproduced synthetically. In this case the natural form and the synthetic form would be identical. When this is the case there can be said to be no difference between the two. They will act the same way in the body.
Some argue that they are the same. Others beg to differ. They say that the forms being synthesized are not the same because natural vitamins do not come as a distinct molecules, but have "companions", and these essential elements may not be added to synthetic formulations.
A much used example is Vitamin C. Its synthetic form is well known as Ascorbic Acid.
Here is information from http://www.hpakids.org/...
However, vitamin C is not simply ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is the outer skin of vitamin C, much like the skin of an orange. Vitamin C also contains bioflavonoid complexes, tyrosinase, and several other factors. What do you get if you purchase a synthesized bottle of vitamin C? You are buying ascorbic acid, a small part of vitamin C, manufactured from super-refined corn sugar. Ascorbic acid does have strong effects on the body but is more of a drug than a nutrient. Because your body needs all parts of a vitamin to function, it will leech the other necessary cofactors from itself in order to use the ascorbic acid. This puts a lot of extra stress on your body, according to Dennis Nelson, in his book, Maximizing Nutrition.
From the same article, in reference to vitamin B...
Another example of whole food versus synthetic is vitamin B complex. Coal tar is the source of many synthetic B vitamins. Coal tar is not alive, and research confirms that it does not work as well in our bodies as natural sources of B vitamins, such as wheat germ.
This article is the work of Dr. Laura Mason-Scarborough. The article was published in 2004. Since then vitamin C is now offered as "Ester-C", which does contain an additional element, another synthetic, ascorbyl palmitate.
For me, as a consumer, I can see the value of "natural food" derived vitamins. They have the benefit of starting with the whole vitamin complex and delivering all its components. And they deliver them in forms the body has been working with for ages, guaranteeing the body will recognize the components and act upon them.
Every step along the way the body "knows" what it should find, and what it needs to do to create the building blocks it requires to function. Supplements are designed to be in line with the process. That is, to provide you with vitamins and minerals in the forms the body is looking for.
Another example is vitamin E...from http://www.beta-glucan-info.com/...
Studies have shown that natural Vitamin E absorbs much better then synthetic versions. Protein chaperones produced in the liver select the natural d-alpha form of Vitamin E and largely ignore the rest.
One study in particular showed that after 23 days of supplementation, natural Vitamin E levels rose higher then synthetic levels. This study also showed that the blood and tissue levels of natural Vitamin E rose twice as high as the synthetic.
Also, note that the synthetic Vitamin E has a d-alpha form in it, but additionally has an "l" form. In the synthetic, generally half the E vitamin is in the d-form, which the body uses, and half is the l-form which is ignored. So you have half the amount listed on the bottle in an available form. It is expressed this way at http://www.vitamins-nutrition.org/...
Vitamin E, for example, the d- form of vitamin E derived from vegetable oils and other natural sources is different from the dl- form (which is often called the synthetic form). The dl- tocopherols are actually a mixture: the d-form and the l-form (usually a 1:1 mixture).
The human body uses only the d- form. The l- form, when present, does not confer any known health benefit and is normally excreted by the body. So, in essence, when consuming the dl- form of vitamin E, you obtain an effective dose of about half the vitamin E dosage reported on the label.
So given the choice, "food derived" natural vitamins appear to have fewer possible issues and would be preferable. There isn't anything wrong with the synthetic versions, it just appears they may be incomplete in some ways, since new connections are being discovered and will continue to be added to our knowledge base. The synthetics are likely to be less expensive. They can also be "measured" in units more effectively. 200 I.U.s are exactly 200 I.U.s.
So one filter to use when buying is whether or not natural food derived vitamins are present or not. If they are synthetic, it is important to have all the co-factors present, so the body doesn't have to provide them from its own reserves. This may require more research than the average person has the time the or desire to do.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The ultimate purpose of digestion is to break down food to gain access to the vitamins, minerals, and proteins that the body needs to function. In other words, what it needs to power the heart, lungs, muscles, brain, the nervous system...everything.
The body uses a number of molecules to nourish itself. It can create a few , for some others it requires "raw material" which it can modify to its own needs, and others it needs in their natural form. The source of these is the food we eat. Digestion is the process of breaking down food into forms (molecules) the body can use.
Breaking down begins in the mouth, with chewing and the presence of fluids the mouth produces. Optimally, this is a "bathing" process, the secretions in the mouth "bathe" the food, attach to it, begin to break it down. There are enzymes that are released in the mouth to begin the job. The better the bath, the less work that has to be done by the rest of the system.
In the stomach the breaking down process continues in earnest. The stomach secretes enzymes and HCL, hydrochloric acid, which act upon the food. It may spend up to two hours in the stomach before it is completely processed and "massaged" into the small intestine. Here is where the nutritional payoff begins.
It is the small intestine that does most of the work of absorbing the nutrients that are now in forms the body can use. The small intestines gets an "assist" from the pancreas, the liver, and gall bladder. They secret fluids directly into the small intestine that help the absorption process. Food that has not yet been broken down continues on the the large intestines, where water is extracted and what is left is the solid waste that will pass out of the body.
An excellent 2 minute video can be found at the link that follows. They also provide a free social networking service families can use in the invent of an illness. It is a great resource reference for finding straight forward videos on many medical topics. Also , you can just go to the sidebar and click on the DIGESTION video to get an overview of the digestive system presented visually.
BACTERIA AND HCL...an aside
Another extremely important function of the HCL is to kill undesirable bacteria that enters the stomach through the mouth or the nose. Harmful bacteria should not survive the journey through the stomach.
It should be noted that the ability of the stomach to produce HCL is critical for the health of the body in general and the stomach in particular. If the quantity of HCL is NOT sufficient, firstly digestion will be hampered, more of the food eaten will not be utilized in the intestine. Valuable nutrition will not be absorbed and will simply be lost to the body. Secondly, the HCL is critical in keeping the stomach "bacteria free". The lack of HCL creates an opening for harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. Because they are not eliminated, they may take up residence...which creates an opening for a variety of illnesses. As we age, we produce less HCL.
Friday, August 22, 2008
A PERFECT WORLD
In a perfect world you don't need supplements. All the things your body needs will be there, in your food. Plenty of vegetables, plenty of fruit, and likely plenty of meat and dairy products. Eating these things will provide you with everything you need for you body to nourish itself fully. But getting all the nutrition you need, that's a bit less than certain. So the reasonable thing to do is supplement what you're getting from food with something that can provide you with the things you aren't getting...and in a way your body can use them...in quantities high enough to help.
Simple problem, simple solution. There are multi-vitamin pills, you buy them, and you go on. But that may not be all there is to it. Just buying vitamins appears to have a "life or death" component to it. It would appear a vitamin may not actually "be" a vitamin in some cases. And a vitamin, by itself, may be only half of what you need...to use the vitamin.
I'm like most people, I was pretty confident that what I have bought at the local drug store was all that I needed. Just buy something and go. I saw the various other things on the shelf, the protein powders and other "body builder" items. The shelves have become even more populated with all sorts of formulations with a sharp focus on one quality or another...for men, for women, kids. There is a lot to choose from.
And then there is the Internet. Shopping there with a search engine can bring back a vast ocean of products. All sorts of claims are made about the revolutionary new formula each company has. There is near disdain for the products of their competitors. Then there is the MLM (multi level marketing) aspect to toss in. There is a thriving forest of competitors. And all you want to do is get a decent vitamin supplement at a reasonable price.
The average person may have to spend a few good hours just sorting them all out. If you didn't major in chemistry, biology, or medicine and nutrition, there may be some gaps in your knowledge that make it difficult to sort through it all. Its important to try, every time you pick up a bit more useful information, and eventually you can become comfortable with your personal plan of action.
I took the time to begin that process. Not as a doctor, but as a consumer. I can't tell you how many times I "thought" I had found the next miracle product that would solve all but political problems. That journey is not over, but I have a few facts that I didn't have before. If you already know these things you are better prepared than I was. And you have probably solved this puzzle to your satisfaction. It won't take long for you to gauge the situation.
But there are a few very important things to know when deciding what type of supplements you want to put into your body. Most of us don't know very much about the specifics of digestion, or the steps that are involved. The digestive process dictates whether or not the vitamins and minerals you are taking are actually getting absorbed. So the first step to knowing the value of vitamins and what you can get from them is knowing what nutrients your body needs and what it will do with them. A simple synopsis of eating and digesting is where we need to start.