There’s no denying that multivitamins can have a positive effect on the human body (just make sure they actually contain the vitamin, food, or herb advertised). But the problem is that most multivitamins are a collection of isolated nutrients selected and combined by the company making the product. Many natural health authorities have pointed out that when nature does the selecting and combining, the end product is a whole food with a much better nutritional profile.
Why Whole Food Supplements are Better
Across the spectrum of the natural health world, one thing is agreed on by virtually everyone – eating whole foods is better for health than eating processed foods. Could it be any different with supplements? Most multivitamins are the supplement equivalent of processed foods, being comprised of isolated, refined, processed, and often synthetic nutrients combined in a capsule.
Like processed foods, processed vitamins have been stripped of their wholeness and integrity, which includes synergistic and balancing nutrients, enzymes, and co-factors. In their refined state, they can act more like drugs in the body. Processed minerals can act like crushed rock, and often very little is digested and assimilated.
Small amounts of nutrients in whole food form are several times more effective than larger doses of isolated nutrients. Food forms are slowly digested and absorbed, and their nutrients become available over a several hour time span. Much of a large dose of isolated nutrients is lost because the body can use only a small amount at one time.
Dr. Joseph Mercola puts the difference between isolated nutrients and nutrients from whole foods this way:
“The perfect example of this difference can be seen in an automobile. An automobile is a wonderfully designed complex machine that needs all of its parts to be present and in place to function properly. Wheels are certainly an important part of the whole, but you could never isolate them from the rest of the car, call them a car or expect them to function like a car. They need the engine, body and everything else.”
Going Beyond Multivitamins
Here are 3 fairly inexpensive whole food supplements that can provide the depth of nutrition most health-conscious people are seeking. If you have a closet full of isolated nutrients that have cost a fortune, one of these three may be able to replace them all and provide a better outcome.
1. Bee Pollen
This is the food bees make to feed to their young, and it is considered one of nature’s most perfect foods. Bee pollen has been used around the world to improve vitality and endurance for many generations.
Bee pollen contains more than 96 nutrients needed for life, including an abundance of antioxidant carotenoids such as beta carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin, the complete B and E complexes, along with vitamins C, D, as well as protein. It’s one of only a few foods containing vitamin D, and it has a wealth of trace minerals that include iodine, magnesium, and selenium. Linoleic acid is the only fatty acid essential for human nutrition that cannot be made in the body.
Bee pollen contains a noticeable amount of linoleic acid, it has an impressive amino acid profile, and is 25% pure protein and 15% non-GMO lecithin. What’s more, since this food was made for baby bees, there is nothing for the body to break down – everything is immediately available to be used, as the glucoside content helps transport nutrients into the blood stream.
The nutrients in bee pollen have a significant positive impact on the health of the immune system. They can help build resistance to allergies by lowering the body’s sensitivity to pollen. Because bee pollen is collected from flowers, it contains small amounts of the substances aggravating seasonal allergies. Consuming these small amounts can have a profound effect on building resistance.
There is a growing body of research showing that bee pollen may be effective for preventing and treating various cancers as well.
These tiny blue-green single cell algae thrive in an alkaline environment and have synthesized a wealth of minerals into their structure, including selenium and magnesium – the minerals deficient in many Americans. Spirulina contains the full B and E complexes, and a high level of xanthophylls, (that yellow/orange pigment that is a precursor for vitamin A).
Other antioxidant pigments include phycocyanin, the purple pigment of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (what make blueberries special and play a part in healthy liver function), and anthocyanin, the red pigment of astaxanthin, the carotenoid that is nature’s sunscreen. Spirulina has a high level of chlorophyll, the green pigment that functions in plants as hemoglobin does in humans.
Spirulina is also rich in polysaccharides, the name for essential sugars sometimes referred to as glyconutrients. Research has shown less body inflammation, improved metabolism, and balanced alkaline/acid in those using chlorophyll.
This green superfood is also rich in complete protein, which provides all eight essential amino acids in a form much easier to digest that the protein found in animal products. It is rich in enzymes and fatty acids, the primary ones being palmitic, gamma linolenic (GLA), and essential linolenic. These fatty acids help stimulate skin and hair rejuvenation, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism amd maintain the reproductory system.
Alfalfa is unique because it grows 15 feet into the ground, allowing it to reach resources other food-plants can’t reach. As a result, it is one of the most mineral-rich foods, with optimal levels of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and trace minerals such as selenium, copper, sulfur, and zinc. What’s more, its minerals are in a balanced form that promotes proper absorption.
Alfalfa is known for detoxifying the urinary tract, purifying the blood , creating alkalinity in the body, aiding constipation and digestive problems, reducing atherosclerotic plaque, and supporting the pituitary gland.
Amazingly, alfalfa produces 4740 IUs of vitamin D per pound, and a decent amount of vitamin U (S-Methylmethionine), that has shown promise for healing ulcers. Like bee pollen and spirulina, alfalfa is an excellent source of high grade vegetable protein.
Since much alfalfa is now genetically modified, buy only organic alfalfa.
Although the price of bee pollen has risen quite a bit since the death of so many bees, each of these supplements can be bought for the same or less than multivitamins comprised of isolated compounds. That’s a bargain!