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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I am a Rock. I am a Multivitamin.

I got a lot of e-mail from folks asking me why I said taking a multivitamin was like licking a rock, so I figured I better clear the air—which is what my site aims to do anyway.

I advocate natural health solutions, and I don’t change my tune with multivitamins. The most useful dietary supplements are made from more natural ‘body-friendly’ ingredients—those designed by nature to be eaten, unlike most of the lower quality ingredients that go into cheap multivitamin and mineral formulas.

For example, most dietary supplement companies use minerals from rocks, shells, or bones as the preferred source of minerals. While there may be a few exceptions to the rule, I think it is accurate to say that human beings were not designed to eat rocks, shells, and bones for their minerals.

One way to tell if a vitamin/mineral is body-friendly and organic: Natural ‘designed-to-be-eaten’ minerals are bigger molecules than their ‘not-for-food’ counterparts. In other words, calcium bound to citric acid (a.k.a. citrate) is a much larger molecule than calcium bound to another mineral (ion), like carbon or sulfur (a.k.a. calcium carbonate and sulfate respectively), which are loosely referred to as inorganic minerals.

For the body to use inorganic minerals, it must first separate the minerals (ionize) by breaking the bonds. With minerals that make up rocks, this process requires more acid and digestive work, which is why antacids contain minerals like calcium carbonate.

In general, minerals bound to proteins, organic acids, or various sugars are far easier for the body to ionize and use. Ever wonder how a vitamin half the size of a dime magically contains all the nutrients you need for the day? Well, stop wondering, because it doesn’t, because not all of the ingredients are usable.

Picture the following. You’re ready for dinner. On your plate sits a thick juicy steak; next to it, a stone from your garden. Both items contain 1000 milligrams of calcium. Should you save time and go with the rock?

No; of course not. In this case, good things DON’T come in small packages. Go with the steak. Its molecules are bigger, which are easier for your body to break apart, and separate the steak’s minerals from binding agents (in this case, amino acids).

Conversely, your body will find it much more difficult to disintegrate, dissolve, and extract minerals from the rock’s smaller more compact, tightly bound ions (ionic bonds) that produce the characteristic ‘hard-as-a-rock’ material.

The same thinking applies to multivitamins. When you’re investigating a brand, check out the pill size. If it’s large, read the label to see if it contains ingredients like botanicals, proteins, amino acids, or food concentrates. If it does, buy it, and you’ll be wisely spending on your health, instead of, well, licking a rock.


  • ~ Anonymous Anonymous said …

    This is an interesting tip for picking out vitamins. I wonder if there are other ways for folks suffering from GI disorders to choose vitamins that will give them the least trouble...

  • ~ Anonymous Anonymous said …

    Good to know--now I know what to look for when I go shopping. Thanks Bill :)


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