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Dangerous Artificial Vitamins

Vitamin preparations and dietary supplements have recently been portrayed in a bad light by the media. They are apparently not only completely unnecessary but even dangerous.

Vitamins and dietary supplements

Time has become a scarce commodity these days. Many people can no longer reconcile a healthy diet and their stressful daily routine. Therefore, more and more people are turning to vitamin and mineral supplements to compensate for their unhealthy lifestyles. But can our body use these powders and pills at all?

Artificial vitamin pills

Conventional dietary supplements mostly consist of synthetically produced vitamins and isolated minerals and trace elements. However, over millions of years, humans have adapted to digesting natural food and adjusting their metabolism to natural vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.

Our body can therefore distinguish between natural and artificial substances, which has even been scientifically proven for some substances (for example vitamin E, further down in the text). That’s why natural remedies have almost no side effects, whereas artificial vitamin preparations can make you ill. But how does our body know whether it is an artificial substance or a natural one?

The uniqueness of natural fabrics

Many people believe that man-made substances have the same chemical structure as natural ones. However, that is not entirely correct. Sometimes additional elements are added to the natural structure of fabric or elements are exchanged.

It may also be that the basic building blocks of the natural substances are linked in a slightly different order from the synthetic ones. But even if the natural building blocks are connected in the right order, these building blocks can have a different spatial orientation.

The best way to explain this is to look at your own hands. At first glance, most people’s right-hand looks like the left: first comes the wrist, then the palm, then the fingers, and finally the fingernails. All components are arranged in the same order on the right and left – just mirrored.

If we make a plaster cast with the left hand, the right hand will never fit in there properly, even though it is actually constructed in the same way. And so it is with natural and synthetic fabrics. Our enzymes and receptors in the body are like a plaster cast, so to speak, into which only the left hand – in a figurative sense, the natural substance – fits perfectly.

The body distinguishes the artificial from the natural

In the case of synthetic vitamin E, for example, only a tiny part differs from the natural structure. The side arms of the synthetic vitamin point in different directions than those of the natural one. But our body notices even such small differences.

Various studies have shown that people are able to distinguish artificial vitamin E from natural vitamin E. Therefore, headlines like these should be viewed very critically:

“Study stopped: Vitamin E and selenium with potential risks in the prevention of prostate carcinoma […] Once again, a study on vitamins (or trace elements) did not produce the hoped-for result. […] With the administration of vitamin E, the risk of prostate carcinoma even tends to increase […] Instead of protecting against further tumors, beta-carotene increased the risk of lung cancer by 18 percent, vitamin E had no effect. […] Selenium and vitamin E are by no means the harmless food supplements that they are perceived to be by large parts of the population.”

Scientific studies such as those addressed in this article are almost always conducted using synthetic vitamins or isolated trace minerals. It is actually logical that these artificial substances cannot achieve the desired results. On the one hand, the body registers that it is not a natural vitamin and, on the other hand, the vitamins and minerals lack their natural counterparts or helpers.

Vitamin E, for example, works hand in hand with vitamin C – if this teammate is missing, vitamin E cannot work as it should. It is the same with minerals and trace elements, which must be present in a certain ratio to each other. Logically, an imbalance is always bad for your health.

Natural vitamins and dietary supplements

It is important to ensure that all dietary supplements and vitamins are taken in their natural form. A vitamin complex, which consists of fruit juice powder, for example, contains vitamins, minerals, and trace elements in a natural form and in a natural ratio. Natural dietary supplements can therefore be ideally used by the body without causing any negative side effects.

Chemicals in vitamin preparations

Another negative point of conventional vitamin supplements, which are now available not only in pharmacies but also in supermarkets and drugstores, are the harmful additives and chemicals that can hide in the pills or powders. You just have to take a look at the ingredients. But most of the time you don’t even understand what is really hidden behind the chemical names and E numbers.

The following paragraphs list some of these substances that are unfortunately found in common vitamin pills and dietary supplements on the market. A detailed list of all E numbers can be viewed as a PDF in the source information.

Dangerous dyes in artificial vitamins

Up until a few years ago, many well-known food supplements and vitamin preparations contained dangerous synthetic azo dyes. For example, yellow-orange S (E 110) or quinoline yellow (E 104). For example, sunset yellow S can cause allergic reactions, asthma, or behavioral problems, and is also known to be carcinogenic in animals.

In the meantime, the permitted amounts of azo dyes in food have been reduced by the European Food Safety Authority, but it has not yet been enough for an EU-wide ban, although they are already banned in some countries. According to Regulation (EC) No. 1333/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 16, 2008, on food additives, azo dyes in food must be accompanied by the phrase “May impair activity and attention in children.” be marked.

Many (but not all!) manufacturers have subsequently replaced the dyes. In some vitamin preparations – especially from manufacturers who do not come from the EU – the toxic substances are still contained.

Artificial sweeteners in vitamins

At least the use of toxic azo dyes has been restricted – it’s different from synthetic sweeteners. Vitamin preparations often contain artificial sweeteners such as cyclamate (E 952) or aspartame (E 951), which have long been known for their harmful side effects but are still permitted.

Aluminum in vitamins

Aluminum salts such as sodium aluminum silicate (E 554) are often used as release agents in vitamins and food supplements. However, these can lead to aluminum pollution. Aluminum is suspected of causing Alzheimer’s, so care should be taken to avoid such aluminum additives in both food and cosmetic products.

Thickening agent in vitamins

Thickening agents such as modified starch are also used in dietary supplements. Modified starch can be produced from corn, wheat, or potato starch by chemical or enzymatic processing and is actually considered harmless. However, starch is increasingly being obtained from genetically modified plants, which do not have to be labeled.

Synthetic antioxidants in artificial vitamins

The E number 321 hides another synthetic substance called butylhydroxytoluene, which is not only used in food supplements. E 321 is mostly used as an antioxidant to protect the product from chemical changes caused by oxygen. However, butylated hydroxytoluene can cause allergic reactions and has been shown to alter the immune system, thyroid, and liver in animals. The substance has even been classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Parabens in vitamins

Parabens (E 214 to E 219) are often used as preservatives in vitamin pills and medicines because they have an antimicrobial effect. These substances are also synthetically produced and can cause allergic reactions, are suspected to be linked to breast cancer and appear to affect hormone balance.

In a statement, the Federal Institute for Risk Research (BfR) has nevertheless classified the use of some parabens in small quantities as harmless. However, everyone should decide for themselves whether they want to consume such substances.

The list of questionable ingredients in vitamins could certainly be continued for a very long time. But the above examples alone show what is sometimes hidden behind the alleged “health pills”.

What should you pay attention to when buying vitamins?

When buying vitamins and dietary supplements, it is therefore important to take a look at the package insert and pay attention to a few basic things:

Only buy natural vitamins

If a vitamin preparation is based on plant powder, fruit extract, or fruit juice concentrate, for example, it is definitely a natural product that does not contain any synthetic vitamins. In natural dietary supplements, the plants contained are often given their Latin names. These can be recognized by the fact that they are always made up of two words – such as Rosmarinus officinalis for rosemary.

Not only with vitamins, but also with mineral supplements, you should make sure that they only contain natural minerals in a balanced ratio. The powder of the Sango sea coral, for example, is suitable for covering the magnesium and calcium requirements, since calcium and magnesium are present here in an ideal ratio of 2:1. In addition, the coral powder provides other important trace elements that can also be optimally absorbed and used by the body because it is a natural product.

As few additives as possible

In principle, manufacturers of natural vitamin or mineral supplements make sure to use as few additives as possible. Therefore, the fewer colorings, preservatives, flavors, fillers, or release agents, the better.

But since even natural vitamin preparations sometimes cannot do without additives, you should take a closer look here, because there are also natural and harmless additives. The release agent magnesium stearate, cellulose as a vegetarian capsule material, or curcumin (E 100) as a natural yellow coloring are harmless in contrast to the substances mentioned above.

Ask if anything is unclear

If you are unsure about an ingredient, the best solution is to ask the manufacturer or seller directly what the substance is about. On the one hand, you can find out why this substance is necessary and on the other hand whether it is a natural or synthetic substance that could possibly cause side effects.

Why dietary supplements at all?

Perhaps some of you are now wondering, after reading all the negative points about vitamins and nutritional supplements, why should you use such products at all. Because a balanced and healthy diet, which is based on lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and oilseeds, and healthy fats and oils, should generally be sufficient to provide the body with enough vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. What are the many different vitamin and mineral supplements for?

The benefit of dietary supplements

Dietary supplements or vitamin preparations are not necessarily bad. Unfortunately, the media often forget to say in their reporting that it is important not to swallow any artificial vitamins and that dietary supplements cannot replace a healthy lifestyle, but only support it.

Natural dietary supplements can bring enormous benefits to our health. Because most illnesses or ailments are based on a lack of certain substances. Natural dietary supplements can eliminate deficiency symptoms or prevent diseases in the quickest way.

Our life consists of ups and downs and is made up of different – sometimes extreme – situations and phases of life. Dietary supplements can help us to take in enough nutrients and vital substances in every situation – even in times of heavy physical or mental stress.

In extremely stressful times, for example, it can be very useful to increase the number of antioxidants in the body. Vitamin C from fruit powder or astaxanthin from algae could have a supporting effect here. However, the body quickly becomes acidic as a result of stress, which is why an additional supply of bases with natural food supplements is also highly recommended. This is just one of many situations or life phases that can be better mastered with the help of NATURAL vitamin or mineral supplements IN COMBINATION with a balanced diet.

These points show once again that it can be very helpful if, on the one hand, you develop a critical view of the things that are reported to us every day and, on the other hand, you trust more in nature more. Nature has considered every little interaction of the various substances in our body and this cannot be imitated even with the latest scientific technology.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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