by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© October 2017, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Excellent Food-Based Products
An important debate in the holistic healing community has to do with whether one should use food-based nutritional supplements. With about 40 years of experience with nutritional balancing, the answer is that food-based or whole food products do not work as well as isolated nutrients, although there are exceptions such as kelp, fish oil, vitamin E and selenium.
The reasons why they don’t work as well are:
1. Some food-based products, such as those from Standard Process company, contain a toxin that interferes with their value. This toxin does not show up on hair mineral tests, but it is present, and is unfortunate. It is cumulative and persistent and will slow or stop development.
2. Food-based products are often mixed with other nutrients that interfere with the absorption and utilization of the nutrient we want.
We want to decide what foods should be eaten with supplementary nutrients, and not a supplement company.
3. The metabolic formulas are not available from the food-based supplement companies. This means one has to mix and match many food-based products to create the metabolic formulas we need. This is more costly, requires more pills, and not practical.
4. In some cases, the products are very low-dose. This forces us to use more tablets, which adds cost and inconvenience.
Food-based supplement companies sometimes claim that their products require lower doses than other products. This is not true, in our experience in setting up nutritional balancing programs.
II. SUPPLEMENTS THAT ARE BEST WHEN IN A FOOD-BASED FORM
We are observing much better effectiveness in the food-based Selenium product from Endomet Labs than we are with other selenium products. Even yeast-based selenium is not working as well for our purposes.
In this case, beans or some other fast-growing sprout is grown on selenium-enriched soil. This causes the selenium to be incorporated into the growing plant. The plant is then harvested and powdered, perhaps freeze-dried, to make a capsule.
We find kelp to be the best source of iodine and many other minerals. Other iodine preparations such as Lugol’s solution, Iodoral, Prolamine Iodine and others are not as good, and often build up in the liver.
This is an extract from the liver of some fish. It is a superior product, in our experience. There are no synthetic omega-3 products.
Natural vitamin E from soybean or wheat germ oil, is the best form of vitamin E. They synthetic vitamin E, also called DL-vitamin E, is not as well utilized.
D and L rotation. In nature, most vitamins and foods are only D or dextro-rotary. This gives them a certain spin. When they are synthesized, however, this is very difficult to accomplish. As a result, the resulting product usually contains both d and l forms of the substance. You can usually tell this because synthetic vitamin E is labeled DL-alpha tocopherol.
HERBAL PROGRAMS HAVE MANY OF THE SAME DIFFICULTIES AS FOOD-BASED PRODUCTS
We would love to use herbs more. However, we only use a few herbs. The main problem with using most herbs for nutritional balancing is toxicity:
1. Many herbs are somewhat toxic by nature. The toxicity may not be a problem if they are used short-term only. However, it is a problem when they are used long-term.
For example, we find that large herbal programs from Sunrider or Nature’s Sunshine if they want good results with nutritional balancing.
2. Chinese and Indian herbs, in particular. These often contain toxic metals - even the good brands.
For these reasons, we don’t recommend many herbs. For details, read Herbs.
FOOD-BASED PRODUCTS MAY ALSO BE ISOLATED NUTRIENT PRODUCTS
While some food-based supplements are pure foods, many are not. For example, a food-based chromium made from yeast is still an extract. Even a food-based vitamin C is extracted or isolated from a plant such as the acerola cherry.
In some cases, the entire food is used, but usually not. So be careful with the word “isolated”, since it could apply to both food-based and synthesized or non food-based products.
SYNTHESIZED PRODUCTS ARE NOT JUST STIMULANTS
This is the most common lie told by the food-based product companies. As an example, synthesized vitamin C works excellently as an anti-oxidant. It also helps rebuild tissue, chelate heavy metals and can perform hundreds of other functions in the body.
The same is true of synthesized B-complex, isolated natural vitamin E, chelated minerals and others. Please do not buy into this lie.
Some people make a big fuss about the superior absorbabilty of food-based nutrients. While truein some cases, we do not find any problems in absorbing synthesized or isolated nutrient such as vitamin B or vitamin C.
We always recommend people take their specific recommended supplements with a meal and with a digestive aid as well. Therefore, we feel that the absorption question is blown far out of any reasonable proportion.
ISOLATED NUTRIENTS ARE USUALLY NO MORE TOXIC THAN FOOD-BASED PRODUCTS
All food supplements are toxic to some degree. All are yin, for example. However, all foods contain some toxins, as well. In fact, isolated nutrients are less toxic than many food products, a fact that the food-based advocates often overlook.
For example, a prominent food-based vitamin company that sells to many chiropractors claims their products are quite superior to all others. However, they put oat flour in most of the tablets.
The problem is that many people are sensitive to all gluten-containing foods and products. As a result, these “pure”, food-based products are causing severe reactions, while the so-called isolated, synthesized nutrient products often work better for the sensitive people.
I have found that people vary in their tolerance to all supplements, as well as to foods. To say that one is better than another is always a generalization that is untrue.
SYNERGETIC FACTORS ARE OFTEN NOT IMPORTANT IN SUPPLEMENTS
The food-based vitamin companies also widely advertise that their products are superior because they contain synergetic factors. This is also a specious argument in most cases.
In most cases, it is simply not true. In other words, if we desire to give zinc, we don’t need a copper supplement with it or a manganese supplement or some vitamins with it. In fact, this often makes the product less effective and perhaps inappropriate.
Vitamin C is another common example. We do not need or even want bioflavinoids with it. That just happens to be how nature packages vitamin C in some, but not all foods.
FOOD-BASED PRODUCTS MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN BINDERS AND FILLERS
In fact, additives must be placed in most any tablet, in order to make it stick together. It does not matter whether it is a food-based or synthesized product.
The food-based companies claim that their binder is “natural”. However, as mentioned in the section above, this is not always best for everyone.
Capsules are superior this way, though they must contain gelatin or a vegetable-based capsule material. The best would be powders and liquids as they should not require extra ingredients.
Liquids, however, can spoil due to the moisture. So whatever delivery method is used, one will need certain additives, perhaps, or have certain technological hurdles to overcome. To say that one company’s products are superior because no chemical additives are used is nice, but not necessarily accurate or beneficial.
Having said this, we deplore vitamin companies that add artificial coloring and other useless ingredients to their tablets. This is reminiscent of the drug companies that add toxic metals and all sorts of useless additives to their products for looks, taste or even “feel”.
CHELATED MINERALS WORK WELL AS PLACEHOLDERS
Chelated minerals, which are used in both the synthesized and food-based products we have seen, are also often attacked as being less than ideal. This is not true, in our experience. The form of a mineral found in a food is not necessarily correct. It, too, can act as a placeholder, but is often not the ideal form the body needs.
Chelated minerals are those that are cooked to join them with an amino acid or some other type of mineral transporter. They are quite yang because they are cooked. This is a great benefit of them. (See below regarding selenium.)
I will define a drug as something that is foreign to the human body. If a vitamin, whether from a food or synthesized, is the same form as that used in the body, then it is not a drug. It is a nutrient.
For example, minerals are all natural products, so none can be called drugs. The form the mineral is in will vary, but the mineral itself can never be called a drug.
A mineral chelate is actually the form of the mineral that is absorbed in the stomach. The only problem with chemically-formed chelates is they are not naturally-occurring forms, but they are not drugs, either. Even many food-based minerals use mineral chelates. This is listed on the label.
Most synthesized vitamins are also not drugs, strictly speaking. If a vitamin is not the same as the food form of the vitamin, it must be labeled as a drug.
Certain pharmaceuticals, for example, such as Retin-A, are drugs because their form is altered. These are usually patented substances. If a vitamin, mineral or other product is not patented, it is likely to be the natural form, as these cannot be patented.
DOSAGE OR USAGE MAY DETERMINE A NUTRIENT OR A DRUG EFFECT
Some “natural” products are used in dosages that are so high that one can argue they are used like a drug. An example is the use of high-dose vitamin C, regardless of whether it is a food extract or made from corn or some other substance.
This distinction applies to any natural substance, which could even include water, that is used in a non-traditional manner, one could say. This subject is discussed a little in an article that mentions the concept of orthomolecular vitamin therapy, also sometimes called megavitamin therapy.
As a general principle, I do not like using doses of anything that is not natural and I do not like using very high amounts of anything that is not designed to be used this way.
However, there are definitely exceptions when I do use high doses of natural substances, either food-derived or synthesized.
BIO-IDENTICAL HORMONE THERAPY
This is definitely a drug therapy in our view, even if the products are “natural source” and “bio-identical”. A simple way to understand this is to realize that one is supposed to make one’s hormones, not take them in pills or shots.
Few would argue, for example, that insulin therapy or estrogen therapy are “natural” by any stretch of the imagination. However, this does not stop many holistic physicians and consultants from offering bio-identical hormones as a “natural therapy”. For a much larger article on this topic see the article, Hormone Replacement Therapy on this website.
Women at menopause, for example, do not need ovarian hormones. The adrenals and other sites should provide enough of them, so menopause does not justify replacing hormones. We rarely need to recommend hormones if a person will go to the trouble of following a nutritional balancing program.
GIVING DOSES HIGHER THAN THE MDR IS NOT A DRUG USE OF NUTRIENTS
Often, we give much more of a nutrient than the MDR or RDA because scientists know several things:
1. The body needs more, at times, because its digestion and absorption of nutrients are horrible. This is the case with most people.
It may be due to a candida albicans infection in the intestines, parasitic or other infections in the gut, fatigue, poor eating habits, improper food, leaky gut syndrome and other conditions.
2. The body needs more of a nutrient for a while due to a deficiency state.
3. The body needs more to balance the body chemistry in some way.
4. The body needs more because today’s food is so deficient that even a proper diet and good eating habits do not provide enough of certain nutrients.
5. The body needs more because stress or other lifestyle factors deplete nutrients faster than they can be replaced. The stressor can be an infection, a serious injury, or perhaps some other acute or even chronic illness.