When you embark on a real food journey, part of that trip means making sure your family is getting enough the right vitamins and minerals. To ensure that we are, most of us take a multivitamin, but beware: not all supplements are created equal. In fact, some toxic vitamins even contain ingredients that you have probably been trying to avoid.
What should you look out for in supplements? Here is a guide to buying supplements that are not only good for you and your family but are also free from toxic ingredients.
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Toxic Vitamins: The Ingredients in Your Supplements
You can find some of the following culprits hiding in popular vitamin supplement brands:
- Artificial Food Coloring:
While this is certainly no surprise for children’s vitamins like Flintstones Vitamins, I was a bit more surprised to find Blue 2 Lake, FD&C Yellow No. 5 Lake, FD&C and Yellow No. 6 Lake in One-a-Day, Nature’s Bounty, and Centrum’s adult multivitamins. They are listed as “less than 2%,” but personally, I don’t want any of these toxins in my food, since they associated with a host of disturbing effects on the brain, central nervous system, and health of cells.
- Titanium Dioxide:
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has listed this ingredient as a possible carcinogen. Found in many toxic vitamins, including One-a-Day, Centrum, Nature Made, Solgar and Nature’s Bounty.
- Soy Lecithin and other hexane-extracted additives:
In addition to being made from GMO soy, this additive often contains solvents. According to Chris Kresser, the processing usually involves hexane. The processing done to remove the hexane can leave trace amounts. That residue is unregulated by the FDA even though it is listed by that organization as a potential carcinogen and neurotoxin — meaning there can still be hexane in your vitamins. Flintstones Complete contains soy lecithin.
- Mono- and Diglycerides:
As discussed in our peanut butter article, these additives can contain trans fats. Found in Flintstones Complete.
This suspected carcinogen is in some supplements, such as Centrum Silver.
- Maltodextrin and ascorbic acid.
These common ingredients are made from GMO corn. Found in Emergen-C, Centrum, Nature Made, One-a-Day and Flintstones.
Organic/Non-GMO vs. Non-Organic
As you can see, GMOs can commonly be hidden in toxic vitamins and supplements, particularly Vitamin B12, B2, C and E. Key ingredients that signify GMO products in the vitamins include maltodextrin (from corn), ascorbic acid, as well as soy and rice proteins. While supplement ingredients are disclosed in the U.S., according to GMO Compass, additives do not necessarily have to be declared if they are “purified and contain no microorganisms.” These additives can be necessary for forming the supplement into a capsule or gelcap, or they can be unnecessary additives like colorants. If you are trying to avoid GMOs, then, you’ll need to find vitamins and supplements that are USDA organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.
Whole Food Supplements are Better than Synthetic
Humans were designed to get nutrients from real, whole foods. Unfortunately, most supplements are synthetic and, as such, do not necessarily break down in a beneficial way. According to Mercola.com, nutrients exist in nature in combination with other nutrients — that means your body can treat these substances as something foreign rather than as the nutrient they properly receive from whole food. The best way to get your vitamins and minerals is from whole, real food and the best way to supplement is with whole-food based vitamins. Fortunately, there are options readily available for consumers.
The brands that we’ve found meet these standards are:
Best Non-GMO/Organic Supplements for Kids:
- Nordic Naturals offers many cod liver oils and Omegas, as well as a children’s DHA that is Project Non-GMO Verified.
- Chrystal Star offers a line of Non-GMO herbal products that include ADDvantage for Kids and Candida Detox.
- Vitamin Code Kids® by Garden of Life is the first Project Non-GMO verified children’s multivitamin. It’s made from whole foods as well as being gluten- and dairy-free, and contains probiotic.
Best Bets for Organic Multi- and Specific Vitamins (like B12):
- Garden of Life’s entire Kind Organics line is all-organic. Garden of Life also carries a number of Non-GMO Verified supplements and powders in their Raw line, such as Raw B12, Raw Women and Raw Family.
- New Chapter: All their supplements are Non-GMO Project verified and ICS Certified Organic. They offer a number of multi-vitamins for men and women as well as specialized support vitamins, like Perfect Immune Multvitamins.
- Real Food is the all-organic line from Country Life. This new line features multi-vitamins and was the top recommendation by my health food store owner for a high-quality organic vitamin.
- MegaFood has a number of Non-GMO Project verified powders and oral supplements that cover every member of the family. They also feature a vegan collection.
These are the best options to safely and cleanly supplement your family’s nutrition with high-quality vitamins. They do cost more but you’ll be avoiding a confusing mix of chemicals while continuing to provide real, organic food — even in their supplements. That is well worth the price.
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Disclosure: Nordic Naturals and Thrive Market is a Mamavation client. Thrive Market is an affiliate link.