Are vitamin supplements natural?

by on 14/01/2013

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Many of you will be as surprised as I was twenty years ago, to learn that 99% of all vitamin and mineral supplements (VMS) are pure chemicals! They are made in huge vats by chemical companies.

In fact, some of the more popular ones – such as vitamin C – have become ‘commodity’ items; they are sold by the ton, much like sugar.

I had thought that to obtain vitamin C, the manufacturers got loads of oranges, squashed them down, and took out the vitamin C from them. Ha ha! No – there are only a few manufacturers of vitamin C in the world; people like La Roche, the drug giant.

Does it matter if our VMS (Vitamin and Mineral Supplements) are Chemicals? That must depend on how chemical VMS are dealt with by the body…

Food absorption

When food enters the blood stream, the body obviously has to do something with it. With food particles this is quite simple. The chemically active ‘ions’ which food separates into are easily transported, via the body fluids, to where they are needed.

VMS absorption

Chemical VMS, however, are not as easily absorbed. The VMS industry is on a constant quest to make them more ‘bio-available’ – in other words, absorbed as easily as food.

Every now and then the industry comes up with a new ‘more bio-available’ form of a vitamin or mineral. That is why the ‘chelated’ versions of some VMS have been developed, for example. And it is why VMS minerals are never pure, but are always combined with something. For example, iron is often combined into iron gluconate, rather than being taken as pure iron filings or iron powder.

Nature cannot be beaten, however! Which is why a high dose of a VMS is often necessary (compared to food) to yield the required amount of a nutrient. It is even possible to end up taking more than is good for you.

Be careful with VMS

So you do have to be careful with VMS. Don’t just believe something you read in the newspaper or are told by a friend. It is always best to check it out with a qualified nutritional therapist.

And remember that nutritional therapy is a science – and science is always learning. The perceived ‘best solution’ this week may have been superseded next week. So it pays to keep up to date. Another reason to check with a nutritional therapist.

“Food state” VMS

Several companies have addressed the ‘bio-availability’ issue by using VMS made by culturing the raw materials with yeast cells. This method is called “food state”, or just “foodstate”. It allows the yeast to incorporate the supplement into itself – absorbing it into its structure naturally. Then the cell walls of the yeast are digested away – removing all yeast traces – and the remaining supplement is highly bio-available.

It is claimed that only about a quarter of the dosage is needed with ‘food state’ VMS. We have no reason to doubt it.

Do we actually need vitamin and mineral supplements?

VMS practitioners say that today’s food has much lower amounts of vitamins and minerals than it did historically – so VMS supplementation is necessary.

I am sure that foods are less nutritious than they were.

But that does not necessarily mean that everyone need VMS. Certainly, you stand a much better chance of getting by without VMS if your diet includes rich sources of vitamins and minerals – especially if it is supplemented with appropriate, nutrient rich, herbal supplements.

Natural vitamin and mineral sources

This is why I recommend eating large amounts of vegetables and fruit, your main sources of these vital elements – and especially the vegetables, which are lower in damaging sugar than fruit is.

In the West, a deficiency of carbohydrate or protein is very rarely a problem. But we do need the vital vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and UNDISCOVERED nutrients which vegetables and fruit provide.

(YES! Some components of food have yet to be discovered. Nutrients are still being found – and there are more left to be found. This is why some foods have benefits for health which have yet to be fully explained.)

It is also why you will never be able to live satisfactorily on chemicals alone. Food is just better for you than any chemicals. Which is common sense really.

Should we use vitamin and mineral supplements? (VMS)

There are situations where VMS are excellent, and can produce a quick result for people.

A simple example is Lysine which, taken at the rate of 500mg twice a day for 3 or 4 days at the first sign of a ‘tingling lip’ will head off a cold-sore for most people. (Homoeopathic “Hypercal” is also excellent.)

But if you do take VMS for more than a few weeks or so, we recommend that you do so under professional advice. Go and see a nutritional therapist – or whatever ‘prescribers of VMS’ are called where you live – and have a proper consultation.

And when a practitioner recommends a particular supplement be sure to ask them this question:

“How long shall I take this supplement for?”

I have heard many people say that they are taking a supplement because someone, somewhere, some time, told them to…

Or, worse, they saw something in a newspaper article – and have continued to take it for years afterwards.

Be careful – this can be harmful. Check with someone who knows what they are talking about.

Are there any herbal ‘multi-mineral/vitamins’?

There are a number of herbal ‘high-power’ supplements, which give good levels of a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals. The amounts of a particular vitamin and mineral are nothing like as high as in a VMS tablet or capsule – which are much more concentrated; but they are much more bio-available – more easily absorbed – because herbs are food!

Eating a mild herbal supplement is little different from eating a salad – in a capsule!

Three of these herbal supplements are:

Wheat grass

Wheat grass can be very high in vitamins and minerals, especially if it is grown slowly, over a long period of time. Some wheat grass for example, is grown during winter over 200 days, during which time the roots are packing nutrients into the grass.

If your diet is deficient in nutrients, supplementing it with wheat grass daily will benefit you tremendously. On the other hand, if you have a fantastic diet – supplementing it with wheat grass will help you keep up your great work!

It is possible for you to grow your own grass – as did Ann Wigmore (a wheat grass pioneer). This is time consuming, however, and the resulting grass is not as high in nutrients as the kind which is grown over winter. A good powdered or encapsulated type is higher in most nutrients than ‘growing your own’. Though you do gain some enzymes by growing – and pressing – your own wheat grass.


Spirulina is a single-celled ‘alga’, which grows in the sea. It is also widely cultivated in huge man-made ‘ponds’, where it can be grown in a pollution-free environment.

One remarkable property of spirulina, which makes it particularly valuable, is that its cell walls are made of sugars. This means that, rather than having to digest tough cellulose to release the nutrients, the body simply has to digest these sugars – a much easier task. The nutrients within the spirulina are thus quickly available to the body.

This may be especially valuable if your digestion is weak – for example, if you are getting on in years, or you often feel exhausted.


Nettles are well known for thickening the hair and improving the condition of the nails. Herbalists regard them as a valuable nutritive (nourishing) agent, and they can be taken freely by most people. Either pick the nettles when young, and steam as a vegetable (light steaming destroys the sting!); or buy in capsule or fluid form.

Look on the Internet for good quality suppliers of herbs.


  1. Try to keep to food and herbs to get your vital nutrients. Eat lots and lots of fruit and non-starchy vegetables (and only a small amount of starchy ones, like potatoes).
  2. If you want supplements, generally try to stick to ‘herbal supplements’ – such as wheat grass, spirulina and nettles.
  3. If you need treatment for a health condition, VMS can be most valuable. But take them under the advice of a qualified practitioner. Don’t forget to ask them for how long to take the supplements recommended.
  4. Be cautious when taking VMS which you see recommended in a magazine or newspaper, or recommended by a friend. If possible, check out their suitability with a qualified person.

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