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Before You Take...

launch May 12, 2006          revised Aug 08

BEFORE YOU TAKE...another Vitamin

QV Summary:  Some preferred vitamin forms:  Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), Total Vitamin E family (d'alpha, d'beta, d'gamma, d'delta tocopherols in meaningful dosages, plus same four tocotrienols), Selenium (selenium yeast, Selenomethionine), Beta Carotene (only as part of natural carotenoid complex, such as found in D. Salina algae. 90% of supplements use synthetic "all trans" beta carotene). NO IRON multiples ONLY.  These 4 nutrient forms eliminate over 98% of supplements unless they are complemented by taking the desired forms separately, or leaving out iron. 

Do you know which vitamins you should take?

Do you know what vitamin forms are most effective? 

Do you know how to find quality supplements?

Do you know appropriate dosages?

Very few vitamin consumers are really aware of the ramifications of what they are putting into their bodies. There is a blind faith effect at work. Is it justified?

The information you are about to read may shine some light on the issue, but just barely. This situation developed since nutritional science continued to apply past faulty assumptions made with limited early science.  While new research has pointed out these past shortcomings, most of the health industry is still holding onto the old systems as there is a powerful resistance to change in the scientific community. 

Over thirty years of searching has failed to find simple and direct answers about how to most efficiently take vitamin supplements. This website attempts to accomplish this task, or at least present a starting point and clearinghouse to organize the facts that are known.  Using an approach that is easy to understand, yet science supported, into a few minutes of reading. Nowhere else will you find this array of facts and insight about vitamin supplements and health issues. 

Your vitamin choices have immediate as well as long-term effects. These choices are far too important not to be based on the most current research available. Hundreds of scientific reports are published each month. Compared to what science is learning today, vitamin industry formulas are still in the dark ages. This material will always be a work in progress since scientific facts can and do change frequently. Look at trans-fat margarine. Fifty years ago it was heralded as a heart savior. Now, it has been discovered that it is more heart disease and cancer promoting than butter.  

The facts stated below are not new and not just known by this author, but have been reported by many researchers and government nutritional agencies. They are the undercurrents of today's scientific studies. The consuming public is usually the last to discover them. Often mass media is the reporting source. Here correctness often takes a back seat to sensationalism.  This website is just a vehicle to present them to you since no one else has yet to step up to the plate. They might seem quite startling at first, but read the support studies and they make quite good sense.

First, some general facts: 

  1. Vitamin supplements cannot replace food. Foods contain other nutrients then are found in vitamin supplements. Vitamins represent only a few of the food nutrients that science has investigated. There are many more valuable nutrients still waiting to be discovered. Current studies are finding important functions and protective applications for some of these "new nutrients", like bioflavonoids from the white part of grapefruit rinds, polyphenols from green tea and grapes, and indole-3 carbinol from broccoli.
  2. Vitamin supplements work with food.  Vitamins function with other food nutrients as part of enzymes to expedite the speed that processes happen in the body. It has been discovered that some enzymes can perform up to 30,000 reactions in a second. A little goes a very long way. Without the other nutrients present in food, vitamins could not perform all of their functions.
  3. Minerals are just as important as vitamins. Minerals not only function with vitamins as part of enzymes, but they also help form part of body structures and tissues with proteins. There are critical balances or ratios that must be maintained between certain minerals; calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus; sodium and potassium, and zinc and copper. Iron should not be taken in multiple vitamins. Only those few who are anemic should separately take iron, ideally by itself to prevent oxidation. 
  4. There are less vitamins and minerals in foods today due to the loss of topsoil nutrients, the new hybrid and genetically modified seeds, harvesting before ripe, shelf life storage, and over-refining during processing. Wheat looses up to 75% of its magnesium content, significant B vitamins that are not all added back by enrichment, almost all fatty acids, and most of its fiber in becoming white flour. Kansas wheat has lost 25% of its protein content.
  5. Animals raised for food are not as healthy today since their diets changed from pasture grass to feedlot grains. Antibiotics have to now be routinely added to feed to prevent diseases in the malnourished, but rapidly growing animals.
  6. Maintaining health today is becoming nearly impossible without using some dietary supplements. This is sometimes a factor of some nutrient or calorie excesses as well as from deficiencies.
  7. The Vitamin Supplement industry is not keeping up with current research and is, in fact, offering outdated and ineffective formulas.
  8. The type of fats consumed has drastically changed over the last 50 years. Omega-6 fats have replaced some of the omega-3 fats. This is a prime factor in today's declining health statistics.
  9. There is ample scientific research to support the above conclusions.


  1. The practice of nutrition is a balance between art and science. Science tells how a nutrient functions. The Art aspect arises from the fact that individuals vary dramatically in their nutrient requirements.
  2. Use only TOTAL NATURAL VITAMIN E with all eight factors. Vitamin E exists naturally as four tocopherols, d'alpha, d'beta d'delta, d'gamma, and four tocotrienols of the same four types. The balance in a multiple supplement should more closely mimic that found in nature, although "best" ratios are yet to be determined. Today, only alpha tocopherol is measured as "vitamin E units" and most supplements use only this form. This fractionated approach misses and interferes with the vital actions of nature's plan for the other parts of natural E.
  3. DO NOT TAKE SYNTHETIC VITAMIN E. Synthetic Vitamin E contains 8 different variations of just dl’alpha tocopherol, only one out of the 8 exist in nature. According to Italian research, synthetic vitamin E is at best only half as effective as natural vitamin E for increasing blood levels as measured in developing fetuses. The seven forms that do not exist in nature are thought to interfere with the one natural form in the body. They do this by blocking absorption and utilization sites, which also further limits the other natural E members present in food.

    SUPPORT for natural Vitamin E: Early research using animals put the synthetic form at about 70% of the activity level of the natural. So, scientists just used 1.36 synthetic units to equal 1 natural unit to balance the activity levels. Current research on humans from Italy revealed the level should really be closer to 2 synthetic to 1 natural, with some utilization differences at even greater levels. The 1.36 measurement is still being used in supplements today. Synthetic vitamin E simply should not be used. Research also shows that synthetic E reaches negative reaction levels at a much lower level than natural E. See pubmed.com copy and paste in just the this number 10385606 or 15580660 in search window to bring up studies.

  4. USE ONLY NATURAL SOURCE BETA CAROTENE. Over 90% of multiple vitamins use synthetic beta carotene. Research shows little benefit and even increased risks in a few studies. It actually increased the cancer rate in Finnish smokers. Natural source carotenes, usually from algaes and vegetables, contain a whole family of interactive nutrients. Isolating out just beta carotene interferes with nature's balance. Natural beta carotene includes two or three structural forms while synthetic has just one. From current studies, a more prudent approach is to only use natural source beta carotene including more of the other carotenoid family members as well, such as lycopene, lutein, alpha carotene,  zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin. Ref 1 Ref 2 Ref 3
  5. Limit vitamin A as retinol palmitate to 4000 IU's until research clears up the possible conflicts at higher dosages. About 2800 IU's showed up as best bone protection amount. 
  6. The recommendations for vitamin D have been increased in light of new research showing increased bone health and possibly anti-cancer actions. It is now vital to review all the different food sources in your diet with added vitamin D before you automatically increase your supplemented amounts. Also an evaluation of the time you spend in the sun for natural D production will influence the amount you should supplement. If you are taking high calcium amounts, vitamin D might be used up faster. This is one possible theory as to why high calcium levels are associated with increased prostate cancer. Some vitamin formulas have already started increasing vitamin D amounts up to 600, even 1000 IU's. This development is so new that all the ramifications are not known yet. More research is needed. Vitamin D3 is preferred over D2. Watch for future updates and dosage requirements in part 2 of the vitamin criteria.
  7. Vitamin K is often overlooked in some multiple formulas since it has been linked to interference of blood thinner actions. In the near future, K's presence will greatly increase as information comes out about its ability to protect arteries and build bone. The amount thought to be produced by our friendly intestinal probiotic bacteria has lately been downgraded. This would jeopardize our health. Americans do not consume as many fermented foods as other cultures. Fermented foods serve as a source to increase friendly probiotic bacteria which antibiotic treatments can decrease. Vitamin K2 from bacteria as MK-7 is showing increased functions over K1 found in green leafy plants. You may need both.
  8. Vitamin B complex includes 11 individual B's. Almost all B vitamins available in the marketplace are synthetic except B12. Yes, that means most if not all of the "food grown" type B vitamins as well. You only get natural B vitamins from brewers type or "unfortified" nutritional yeast and also from rice polishings. These sources are rarely used in supplements anymore. Synthetic B vitamins are fortified in most nutritional yeast products. The major change in B complex over the years has been the rather large increase in dosage amounts. The body simply cannot absorb such high amounts. Therapeutic use of such mega amounts is questionable as the percentage of absorption rapidly decreases as levels increase. 5 mg of B1 taken twice a day delivers about the same as 100 mg taken just once. The vitamin companies view on this is that since B vitamins cost so little and that they are water soluble, any excess is just flushed from the body by the kidneys or colon. Recalling the basic Rightway premise that everything you take influences your body in one of four ways, extra B vitamins would still use up valuable energy and eliminatory pathways in disposal of this excess. This is energy unwisely spent and could interfere with other body processes. SIDEBAR: Vitamin B6 and Folic Acid have toxic influences at higher dosages.The other major change has been in the formula ratios. The word "balanced" was added some time ago to B complex to indicate that all the B's were present at the same amounts. Unfortunately, the body has its own wisdom for "balance" of nutrients AND IT IS NOT ALL THE SAME AMOUNTS. You want a "nutritionally" balanced B complex where the amounts correspond to body needs, not one that simplifies manufacturing procedures. Part 2 will examine desired formulas and dosages.
  9. Vitamin C has been the media's shinning star for reporting. Linus Pauling greatly contributed to the vitamin C knowledge. There are so many background and function aspects to report that this nutrient will need a separate article. The important points for our current focus: vitamin C is extremely necessary for proper body functions and structures, especially collagen production necessary for proper bone maintenance; it makes other nutrients perform better like glucosamine; and it has related family members that increase it's ability to function. These include bioflavonoids, rutin, and hesperidin. The dosage that should be used has come under question from a few studies lately. This will get further attention in part 2.


  • First, minerals and vitamins work together in many important body functions and structures. To build bones you need minerals like calcium, boron, phosphorus, magnesium, and silica as well vitamins D and K. Minerals become part of your structures while vitamins are just workers to perform the work. Without adequate minerals, the processes would not happen at all. In fact, it is so important to maintain proper levels of calcium and magnesium in the blood that if the diet is low, they are pulled out of bones. 

  • Calcium and magnesium dosages have been the focus of an intensive five years of research by this author. The facts simply don't add up for the story currently being told by the Dairy Council. Countries that consume the most dairy, and thus the most calcium, have the highest rates of osteoporosis. This is a disease evidently not just of low calcium intake, but of calcium loss from bones. There are many factors involved. In the Hollow bone saga, an attempt will be made to wrap up all the facts, studies, and propaganda of the powerful dairy industry. Shouldn't there just be one truth?

  • Selenium is getting deserved attention of late for its connection to cancers. An ongoing large study, SELECT, is looking at this connection to prostate cancer. Results are due in 2012. (Update: SELECT study stopped late 2008 due to slight negative results from mid-study analysis. See current Health News)  Other past studies shown reduction of risks for the majority of slow growing cancers but one revealed an increase in the more aggressive form of prostate cancer. The SELECT study was designed to resolve this issue, but failed.

The balances between minerals play a huge part in health status. One often overlooked but critical relationship exists between the trace minerals zinc and copper. These two minerals cooperate in forming one of two vital cellular enzymes necessary to detoxify cellular waste. They also control the activity level of your immune system. You don't want to upset nature's balance here with improper supplementation amounts. A dietary analysis is necessary to first get an idea of how much of each your diet supplies. Supplements of zinc should contain copper at about 10 zinc to 1 copper ratio, but body levels could dictate changes. These are trace minerals which means only small amounts are needed and more is not better.

Iron is not a mineral to take lightly. It readily oxidizes nutrients and can build up to toxic levels in certain individuals. Without warning sometime in the future you could find out you were one of the few with this condition, but at that point it is too late. Food sources are sufficient for the majority. Only those with blood loss should consider supplementing iron and only then after a medical blood test. DO NOT TAKE IRON SUPPLEMENTS unless directed by a Doctor.


        INTERMISSION, Part Two Coming Soon

To read more, go to Vitamin Criteria

Vitamin E references  ref ref 5

Why are most supplement companies a full generation behind in updating their formulas to current research? Most likely it's economics. It costs more to use quality natural ingredients. Only if the consumer gains this knowledge will purchasing choices force companies to change vitamin formulas. Since this new information is still controversial, don't look for quick changes.

You will have to decide what is best for your own health since science remains ambiguous about the impact of supplements on health.

For more information see natural choice


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