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Dr. Mercola on Natural Vs. Synthetic Multivitamins

If you're like most people...
If you have a hectic lifestyle and rely at all on processed or fast foods, chances are you don't get all the healthy nutrients you need from your diet.

Ideally, it would be best for you to receive all your nutrition from high quality unprocessed foods. Unfortunately, I realize it may not be practical or possible for you to do that 100% the time.

So, if you currently supplement your diet by taking a multivitamin every day, good for you. You're obviously a forward-thinking person who knows that you need the protection and fortification that a good multivitamin provides.

And if you make sure your spouse takes one every day, then you deserve extra kudos for showing how much you care about your loved one.

Multivitamins help promote your optimal health and strong immune system, providing support for defense against a growing number of health concerns.

Taking pro-active steps, including taking a multivitamin to help maintain and boost good health and wellness, is about the best thing you can do for yourself - and your health.

However, there are important issues for you to consider...

Is Your Vitamin Natural or Synthetic?

How do you know if your synthetic multi is as good as its advertising says it is?

Are you gambling with your health by taking "their" word for it? If you are taking a multivitamin, this is something you definitely want to find out.

Please don't make the mistake of shopping for supplements at discount stores or large chains like Wal-Mart or Walgreen's. In my opinion, these are classic examples of companies that primarily use cheap synthetic supplements.

Synthetic alternatives to whole foods are known as "isolates". Your body will only absorb a small percentage of an isolate form of vitamins and minerals - and utilize even less (Your body absorbs much more of the whole food form.) On top of that, there may be side effects, depending on the quality of the isolate.

Don't sell yourself short! Many retail outlets and online sellers are primarily interested in your money, not your health. Supplements are not their specialty.

You wouldn't go to your local burger joint for a nice filet mignon, would you? The same attitude should apply to your health products.

Consider these items when choosing a supplement:

* If the ingredients were all natural, it would say so - very prominently - on their label.
* If the product went through vigorous quality control, you can bet that it would be mentioned - many times. 
* If there were no additives or major potential allergens in the product, they would definitely tell you all about it.

Additionally, the ingredients many companies use are not only synthetic, but there is a likelihood they may not have been thoroughly tested for purity and potency confirmation - and may have come from overseas.

The manufacturers will often base their claims solely on the word of their suppliers.

The suppliers' word may be good enough for them, but is it good enough for you and your family?...

Is Your Supplement Made by a Company That's ISO and NSF Certified? You'd Better Find Out!

Do you know just how many things can actually go wrong when a supplement is being made? Any one of them can produce an inferior product.

And it doesn't take much - an oversight here, a little corner-cutting there, and before you know it, the quality of your supplement is headed downhill.

To prove to you that a product is made using the highest standards available, a manufacturer will voluntarily submit to exhaustive - and costly - auditing of their processes to achieve important certification.

So call, write, visit the website, or whatever it takes to find out whether or not your multivitamin is made at an ISO or NSF certified facility.

Why?

Because you may be wasting your money (or worse) by believing in a product that doesn't meet the highest standards in the industry.

Don't take anything for granted when it comes to your health. Every detail is worth your attention

What If the Raw Materials Used by Your Vitamin Supplier Weren't Fully Inspected and Certified?

Believe me, you don't want to get this one wrong.

It is the RARE company that actually has an aggressive quality control process. One that will confirm and INDEPENDENTLY validate that their raw material is identical to what the certificate of analysis from the supplier of the raw materials used to make the supplement claims it to be.

In fact, there may even have been pesticides used on the raw materials that could have slipped by a less-than-thorough check. The supplier's word may have been good enough, as opposed to a thorough examination being done....

What If Your Vitamin Supplier's Testing Equipment Isn't Up-To-Date?

Another way for manufacturers to "cut corners" is by not bothering to keep important testing equipment up-to-date, or taking the time to calibrate it properly.

Obsolete, inaccurate equipment can really skew the results.

That's because it results in downtime, affecting the bottom line. What you could end up with is a product that differs from its advertising. Is it worth the gamble to you and your loved ones?

And many manufacturers don't have consistent, written procedures for each ingredient. That happens to be important criteria for meeting ISO certification.

You may not realize that certain testing methods can be valid for one ingredient, but worthless for another. ISO certification ensures that all methods are valid, and I urge you to find out whether your current multi meets that standard or not.

What If Your Vitamin Supplier's Quality Control Procedures Are Lower Than Industry Standards?

Let me reiterate: If every manufacturer of supplements met high quality control standards, they'd all be bragging about their ISO certification. Somehow, they remain strangely silent

ISO and NSF certifications mean superior quality control.

It means you can rest easy, knowing that the ingredients are checked many times throughout the process for contamination that could occur at any point during the manufacturing process.

It means that environmental conditions such as heat and humidity were appropriate throughout the process, which could also radically decrease the quality of the supplement you will eventually swallow.

It also means that your supplement wasn't manufactured on the same equipment as banned substances or allergen-containing foods, and that the personnel involved in the process are highly aware of those substances

Do you see the pattern here?

Would you eat in a restaurant that wasn't clean and thoroughly inspected?

Of course not. So why settle for a supplement that might have been created under less-than-ideal conditions?

ISO and NSF standards ensure that the quality of your product is top notch. Does your multi boast ISO or NSF certifications?...

What If the Personnel Involved In the Manufacturing of Your Vitamin aren't Fully Trained?

The truth is, the personnel involved in the manufacturing process may not be fully trained for the particular testing or manufacturing equipment that they are working on.

But they would be if the facility was ISO and NSF certified. They would also be supervised throughout the entire manufacturing process...

So find out if your multivitamin company is ISO or NSF certified. The few minutes it takes will be well worth it, for your security and peace of mind.

...But what - exactly - do ISO and NSF certifications mean?

The term "ISO 9001" refers to a detailed set of quality management standards that the company must adhere to in order to meet the requirements of certification.

The more rigorous ISO 17025 provides a third-party accreditation of the onsite laboratories.

The supplement is tested onsite by hard-working PhD's to guarantee the final quality of the supplement you eventually purchase -throughout the entire manufacturing process.

...But what may be the "ace" of all of them is this - being approved for NSF Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certification.

NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit organization. This body of audit and inspection is one of the most comprehensive and quality driven initiatives in the nutrition industry.

They are committed to making the world a safer place for consumers.

...The FDA wants all manufacturers to someday adhere to Good Manufacturing Processes for dietary supplements. In fact, the FDA has recently ruled that, depending on company size, manufacturers have until up to 2010 to achieve GMP adherence.

However, the manufacturer I chose for Whole Food Multivitamin is YEARS ahead of the curve, as it has already been certified! And it did so voluntarily

But this is the technical side of choosing a quality multivitamin. There is also the matter of ingredients.

...The importance of whole or raw foods cannot be overstated. In fact, I would encourage you to get at least 50% of your diet from raw foods.

Just as it implies, raw foods are foods that have not been cooked or heated in any way. Look at some of the things heat does to once-healthy foods:

 * Essential nutrients are depleted, altered or destroyed altogether  * Toxic substances can be created and may burden the immune system  * Enzymes, which are important to digestion, are destroyed  * Your body metabolizes cooked food much differently
...Help to Reduce Free Radical Damage

Free radicals are unstable, destructive molecules that lack electrons. They form naturally from normal metabolic processes such as breathing, but their production can rise beyond optimal levels for many reasons:

* Stress 
* Cigarette smoke 
* Environmental toxins 
* Strenuous exercise 
* Food additives 
* Poor diet

Your body's natural defense system creates its own supply of antioxidants that "mop up" these scavenger molecules before they get the chance to do any harm.

Unfortunately, when your body lacks adequate antioxidants to fend them off, free radicals start attacking normal tissues and molecules in the body.

Protecting against free radicals can help to:

* Help boost your energy and stamina
* Promote your immune system health 
* Fight the signs of normal aging
...
And with increased exposure to health-impacting free radicals these days from food additives, environmental toxins and stress, your body needs extra sources of antioxidants to combat them.

Many experts consider free radicals the root cause of aging, contributing to all kinds of health-related issues.

...Not taking a multivitamin right now? You're taking an even bigger gamble with your peak health, especially if you eat processed and fast foods. They just don't give you all the nutrients your body needs to support your optimal health.

Excerpted from: http://products.mercola.com/whole-foods-multivitamin/
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