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What The Vitamin Industry Does Not Want You To Know

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My naturopath suggested I get my kids on a vitamin supplement…what do you use for your kids, or do you have a recommendation? Thanks!

~ Kirsten

Thanks for the question, Kirsten! Believe it or not, I actually don’t give my kids vitamins. Seems contrary to the “organic mama way,” doesn’t it? But actually, it isn’t! Here’s why:

Reason #1: Multi-Vitamins Are Not The Insurance Policy We Think They Are

Do you pick up your child’s dinner plate – sigh over the untouched veggies – and then think “oh well, at least he/she takes vitamins!”? Well then, I have good news and bad news. First – and you are going to LOVE me for this – it’s okay if your child doesn’t eat tons of veggies.

[B]ecause children have a relative paucity [small amount] of the enzyme that converts B-carotene into vitamin A, children younger than five years generally do not do well with vegetables. I tell all my parents not to worry about their children not liking vegetables, as this is normal in this stage of life. In fact, because they are slow in this enzymatic conversion, perhaps it is best left to the cow to do this conversion and for the child to eat butter and cream [which is full of vitamins and minerals]. This is actually probably more as nature intended it anyway.

Dr. Thomas Cowan, Feeding Our Children

In other words, we should be focused on getting our kids to eat BUTTER with a side of broccoli instead of the other way around!* Not only will this increase vitamin/mineral absorption from the veggies they actually do eat, it will provide the kind of fat soluble vitamins that help develop beautiful straight teeth, strong bodies and good dispositions.

The bad news is those vitamins may give your kids nothing more than very expensive pee. According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, “many supplements on the market have a very low absorption rate, some only 9%, so the [child’s] body would actually get way below what it says on the bottle.” (Gut & Psychology Syndrome p. 295)

An absorption rate of only 9%? How is that possible? It’s easy, actually. Just take whatever amazing rainforest-extracted antioxidant miracle you want, coat each particle in a gummy hydrogenated oil and then . . . eat it. Yep, for the convenience of their operations that is essentially what vitamin makers are asking us to do.

Stearates found in supplements are hydrogenated fats such as magnesium stearate, stearic acid and calcium stearate. They are made by hydrogenating cottonseed or palm oil and are used throughout the supplements industry as lubricants; they are added to the raw materials so that machinery will run at maximum speeds.

Stearates coat every particle of the nutrients, so the particles will flow rapidly. This ensures that production schedules will meet profit targets. These substances decrease the absorption of nutrients; in a published study, the percent dissolution for capsules after 20 minutes in solution went from 90% without stearates to 25% with stearates. Individuals with impaired digestion [or children with immature digestive capacity!] may have particular difficulty absorbing nutrients coated with stearates.

According to Udo Erasmus, in his book Fats and Oils, cottonseed oil has the highest content of pesticide residues of all commercial oils. In the hydrogenation process, the oil is subjected to high heat and pressure in the presence of a metal catalyst for several hours. According to Erasmus the resultant stearates contain altered molecules derived from fatty acids. The metal catalyst may also contaminate the stearates produced.

Magnesium Stearate in Supplements

Hydrogenated oils and potential metal contamination? Blech!

Reason #2: Our Bodies Don’t Know What To Do With Them

About 98% of vitamins sold in the United States are made with synthetic materials, which are basically useless.¹

But wait!” you say. “I’m not buying my vitamins at the local drug store. No way, missy! I buy mine from the health food store and it says ‘natural’ right on the label. They’re legit.

Maybe. I hope so. But the odds are not in your favor. Here’s why:

[M]ost fruit and vegetable concentrates used in dietary supplements are dried with very high heat, destroying various nutrients. They don’t supply much nutrient [value] but are used in the supplement to make it appear natural, while all the nutrients listed on the label come from synthetic or other unnatural additions. These so-called “whole food” supplements containing fruit or vegetable concentrates have to be “spiked” with synthetic vitamins and other unnatural nutrients in order to list any appreciable amounts of nutrients.

Serious Dangers of Synthetic Vitamins

So, ummm, how are companies getting away with this? Turns out it’s all just clever wording.

Almost all of the vitamin C in supplements is made in a laboratory, despite labeling that implies otherwise. For example, the label might say, “ascorbic acid from sago palm.” Dextrose, a form of sugar that contains no vitamin C at all, is extracted from sago palm and used as the base molecular material for a complex laboratory process that synthesizes vitamin C. Or the label might say “vitamin C derived from the finest natural sources.” True, but the vitamin C was synthesized. It might also say “with rose hips and acerola,” which are then used as the base material for the tablet or capsule. But a tablet of rose hips or acerola can contain only about forty milligrams of truly natural vitamin C; the rest is synthesized.

Labels often proclaim “natural” B vitamins, derived from yeast. But companies manufacturing yeast add laboratory-synthesized B vitamins to the food fed to the yeast during its growth, and then fortify the yeast further with additional B vitamins once it has grown. This allows the production of yeast of any B-vitamin potency desired, which is then used to formulate vitamin pills labeled “B vitamins derived from yeast.” I generally recommend taking B vitamins as part of the multi vitamin-mineral-antioxidant that I use. For therapeutic doses of specific B vitamins, I recommend Thorne Research products.

Ron Schmid, ND ~ Dietary Supplements: What The Industry Does Not Want You To Know

For tips on how to spot real B vitamins in supplements, check out this article from Dr. Philip Maffetone (Quick tip: If it says folic acid it’s most likely not true b9!).

So hardworking families are being duped into buying knockoffs. That’s selfish and wrong but not actually harmful, right?

Wrong. According to Dr. Campbell McBride, the body “has been designed to use natural forms of these nutrients and often does not recognize the synthetic forms and does not know what to do with them. There is a growing suspicion that a lot of cases of kidney stones, for example, are caused by supplementing synthetic forms of vitamin C, which would represent most vitamin C supplements available in the shops.” (Gut & Psychology Syndrome p. 296).

Dr. Maffetone agrees, saying that “A new study on vitamin C (Am J Clin Nutr; Jan 2008) showed adults taking the synthetic version had serious side effects. Doses of 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day impaired their energy systems (significantly hampering their endurance capacity), specifically by weakening the mitochondria of the cell (which burns fat and sugar). It also had significant adverse effects on the antioxidant system (a key immune regulator). Those who take vitamin C often take this amount or more, and it’s almost always synthetic. Children may be even more vulnerable.”

Reason #3: Too Much Can Actually Cause Deficiencies!!!

Ironic, but true. Say you’ve got a multi made with whole foods instead of the synthetic junk and it has a decent absorption rate. Problem solved, right? Not exactly.

Unless your child has been tested extensively for nutritional deficiencies (one or two broad tests do not represent a true picture), you’re effectively supplementing in the dark. Throwing random doses of things into the mix is not a good idea, because if you give your child too much of something they don’t need their body will use precious stores of other vitamins/minerals to metabolise and get rid of it.

“To complicate the whole matter even further,” says Dr. Campbell-McBride, “many nutrients compete for absorption sites in the gut. So, if we supplement too much calcium, for example, it may impair absorption of other nutrients: magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, some amino acids and others, creating deficiencies in those nutrients.” (p. 296)

Our foods contain a natural wisdom – they are complete packages with everything we need to “unpack” their nutrients – we should use them whenever possible. But what about soil degradation and industrial farming practices? Don’t we NEED to supplement?

In most cases, yes. That’s why I specifically target my children’s nutritional needs with REAL, whole food-based supplements.

What are these supplements I speak of? Eek! I am totally out of time. Seriously, I didn’t plan to make this a two-parter! But oh, in the next couple days you will get the goods, pinky swear and everything! (Updated: You can read part 2 here and part 3 here)

Are “natural” supplements everything you thought they were? Are you going to change anything after reading this post? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Next in this series: Essential Supplements For Children (And Their Parents)


*Note: If your child reacts to milk, try ghee! It’s butter with the milk solids removed and it’s super easy to make at home :) And avoid conventional dairy when possible because it contains very little of the fat-soluble vitamins I mentioned. Grassfed is best, even if it is pasteurized.


Questions about baby nutrition? Check out my new e-book, Nourished Baby!

Photo credit: The first photo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License

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123 Responses to What The Vitamin Industry Does Not Want You To Know

  1. no vitamins here. just good ‘ol whole foods. does coconut oil count? ;)

  2. I do give liquid vitamins to my son, but they are super high quality, chock full of minerals and nutrients, and gluten/sugar/soy/corn free. I use the super kids vitamins from I also give him probiotics and cod liver oil every day. :-)

    • Andria says:

      Did you know your Super Lids vitamins contains lead? If you scroll down below the description. It says that it contains lead.

      • Greg says:

        Anything that is grown has a good chance of having lead or other heavy metals (minerals) in it. This is because the soil has them in it. Did you know that apple juice has arsenic? Chocolate bars tend to have more lead than most supplements (more that is regulated by Prop 65) but the industry tends to ignore that because it is food not a supplement. There is also a big difference between organic and inorganic minerals. Organic arsenic is not as toxic as inorganic arsenic.

    • Bill S says:

      Superkids Liquid Multivitamins contains B-12 as Cyanocobalamin. I have read multiple articles that state many multivitamin manufacturers use this synthetic form of B-12 because it is cheaper to make and has a longer shelf-life (as compared to Cobamamide, Methylcobalamin or Adenosylcobalamin). This form of B-12 cannot be readily absorbed and contains trace amounts of cyanide, making it slightly toxic if taken over an extended period of time.

  3. Rachel Tebrake-Bokma via FB says:

    stopped taking vitamins 4 years ago after only taking them for a year or two anyway. Just didn’t feel right, poppin’ pills for nutrition.

  4. I also only use coconut, olive and flax oils as well as real butter. :-)

  5. Stephanie Clayton Breznau -Good for you! I will be talking about liquid vitamins and probiotics/clo in my follow-up post!

  6. Thank you, I learned a lot! So what do you think about Vit D3 supplements during cold/flu season? And PS I have been telling everyone I know about the dangers of cottonseed oils for years, can you believe they can put that in food?!

  7. we give my son a multivitamin called ploy-Vi-sol, hes been on it for like 3 months now he is about to turn one. the dr told me to give it to him cause he wasnt drinking formula anymore

    • Rachel J. says:

      You may want to check the ingredients of the Poly-Vi-Sol. I think you’ll find they’re exactly what she’s talking about here.

  8. Nicole Stidham – Good question! I’m make sure to include that in my follow up post :)

  9. Brie Berndt via FB says:

    great post! Thanks!

  10. The only “vitamin” my kids take is cod live oil! I have a question, though, and I’ve been trying to find info on this and failing miserably. How are the chewable cod liver oil vitamins like this one:

    I know fermented is the best, but we just can’t afford that right now. Are those chewable ones completely not great? That’s what I’ve been giving my son for a couple months now, and I’m wondering if we need to go back to liquid.

  11. Samantha – My Dr recommends that too, but I just nod my head and ignore their advice.

  12. Jessica Bennett Espinoza via FB says:

    I stopped taking most vitamins about a year ago. There are a couple supplements that I still take, but it’s only 2, compared to an entire medicine cabinet. :) I try to do it through food. Not sure if I’m accomplishing that or not, but it’s saving me money! :)

  13. Kristine Winniford via FB says:

    Interesting post. We supplement in the winter when our diet is not as great. For the kids we do whole foods based liquid vitamins from Animal Parade and CLO and a 500IU vitamin D3 (they consider these treats and look forward to getting to take them each morning after breakfast). My husband and I take a capsule whole foods based Alive vitamins and Vit C when we’re feeling like we need them (he does it a couple times a month, being pregnant I do it more like 1 a week). Plus D3 and fish oil. My mom was always REALLY into vitamins and supplements and has always encouraged me to take them. Its never really felt right though, I know that for my body to absorb vitamins sufficiently they need to come from real food. On the other hand I know that quality fresh vegetables in the winter are hard to come by where we live (plenty of veggies but they are from so far away that I know the nutrition has been compromised greatly). D3 I am a huge fan of, since I began taking these 3 years ago I went from regularly getting sick (full on sick that would take a week or more to recover from) at least once per winter to maybe getting a sniffle or a cough for 2-3 days every other winter. Probiotics are something that we need to add more of to our diet, we do beet kvass, some lacto fermented foods and yogurt (except my son who is dairy intolerant). He needs the probiotics the most since his gut is the most sensitive and he has digestion issues since he was a baby (even certain foods I ate while nursing would bother him).

  14. Emily Cowles Brown via FB says:

    Love the 2-parter post! :)

  15. Another reason why I love Innate Choice (! Dr. Chestnut’s whole premise is that we need NO supplements, just whole foods (when it comes to everyday life for the normal person- not in reference to treatments/therapy for some conditions). And, for the whole foods the average person can’t get in nature, he’s come up w/ a great whole food nutritional line. You wouldn’t believe the amount of children we see who still take Flinstone vitamins, yes, w/ all the dyes and corn syrup! Great post, as usual, Heather.

  16. Sarah Hall says:

    Hello! I can’t wait to read part two! I have been following your blog since they posted it on DIB. I am a little overwhelmed by it all, but in a good way. I am really wanting to know about magical bone broth? I have thought about doing that but then wondered why it was worth while other than just being a fancy cook. :)

  17. Erica Hope Kassner – Well said! I am going to be talking about some of these issues in the follow up post :)

  18. Erica Hope Kassner – I was going to message you this question but can’t seem to. Would you mind sharing the companies you have found to be reliable? I know of a few but I want to make sure I’m not missing any! (You can send me the info at @Heather Alger Dessinger if you’d like :)

  19. Grace says:

    We’re taking quite a few right now. Two of us are detoxing from heavy metals, and dealing with parasites, and those things really use up minerals in your body. We do get blood tests to know what our vitamin levels are (especially ferritin). If my son misses a day or two of his vitamins, I can tell a difference right away. Unfortunately, food isn’t enough for us right now. My son is just starting to take bioray’s ndf plus.
    I would like to hear more on which supplements are the best and most absorbable. Especially chlorella and vitamin C.

    • Heather says:

      I’ll do my best to go over those in the follow-up, Grace! If I forget just leave me a message and I’ll add it in. And you’re right, sometimes food isn’t enough. Wishing you health and healing in the New Year!

  20. Whitney Shafer Reijonen via FB says:

    We take Isotonix which is a powdered formula rather than a pill. More often than not the pill will be expelled from the body before any nutritional benefits happen. Isotonix is delivered immediately into the bloodstream with full nutritional benefits. I buy from http://WWW.Marketamerica/gwr. There are several different health supplements.

  21. Tiffany says:

    this is great. looking forward to the follow up. Are you going to touch on Standard Process?

  22. Jenni says:

    Great post! I went though different phases of supplementing with my kids. As I went along, I landed on probiotics being a major player in keeping my kids healthy (based on experience not science at that time). I do however still believe in outside supplementation with some of the ‘real food’ supplements. This can especially be the case when you are dealing with lots of food allergies and thus many food restrictions. In my case, I am severely allergic to casein (all forms), ghee is not an option either (especially homemade) since there are trace amounts of casein in it…even in the brands that say ‘casein free’. I do yearly blood tests to see how my levels are, this helps me not blindly supplement. I encourage people to work with a natural Doc they trust to help them decide what to, or what not to supplement with. Both options can be a shot in the dark. I am interested in what happened to you with the magnesium. I have to take magnesium to help with my calcium levels and proper distribution of it to my bones and not my to my muscle tissue. Newer studies are suggesting that it is quite difficult to take too much magnesium. I have been taken off calcium all together for the time being. Also, the more vitamin D you take the more magnesium your body uses to convert it…which now that I think about it, is probably why I have to take so much magnesium, since I am both on cod liver and a high dose liquid form of Vit D. If there are obvious health issues in a persons family I think informed supplementation can be a life saver…but YES, never a replacement for good healthy nutrient dense eating!

    • Raquel says:

      I also have an allergy to casein and maybe whey, not sure if ghee is ok for me or not. I am planning on doing GAPS after chrsitmas to heal my dairy allergies. I noticed that when I was supplementing with hight doses of vitamin D (like 5,000 I.U.) a day I would get constipated and only found out recently that if you are deficient in magnesium you will get constipated when you up your intake of vit. D. Everything has been ok since adding the magnesium. I dont like to take supplements but if I dont take the magnesium when I am on vit. D I run into problems.

      • Heather says:

        That’s very interesting, Raquel! I am not against supplements at all, but as you know from experience it takes a lot care and consideration to keep things balanced!

    • Heather says:

      Interesting thoughts, Jenni! During parts of my pregnancy it was extremely rainy and I did not get enough Vitamin D, so that could have played a role in the cal/mag imbalance. I did not know about supplementing with D3 at the time . . . all I knew what that I was craving sunlight like crazy. Anyway, you’ve given me food for thought. Thank you!

  23. bethany says:

    I will hold back the torrent of questions rushing through my mind and wait for the second post. My fiance and I are navigating the supplement waters right now so I’ve got my research cut out for me. I do have one little question: How does an individual order fermented cod liver oil? I can’t figure it out just looking at the website. We already take coconut oil faithfully and I incorporate a lot of organic and/or grassfed butter into our diet but I am really wanting to add cod liver oil stat.
    Great post by the way! I am 31 and I feel like I am just now learning what food really is and how to shop for it, prepare it, and really eat and enjoy it…thanks!!

  24. bethany says:

    Nevermind! I just looked at Radiant Life and figured it out. =0) Glad I catch on quickly? Well…sometimes.

  25. Caroline says:

    I found that my kids were happier and slept better when they started taking calcium and fish oil. My kids refuse to drink any milk, so on days that we don’t eat yogurt or kefir we do the calcium supplement. For me I found that I had more energy when I went by the vitamin standards set out in “Fertility, Cycles, & Nutrition” by Marilyn M. Shannon. It was one of the books we got in our NFP class and it has been my go-to manual when I notice irregularities in my cycle (of which I had MANY, despite the healthy food choices we make and the active lifestyle we maintain). Of course my first choice is to turn to the food I’m eating for my daily vitamins, but somehow spending an hour at Whole Foods and testing myself on every single supplement they had until I found the right combination for me has really helped me in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. This post has given me some food for thought, though. Thanks for that! (I’m really loving the comments, too.)

    • Heather says:

      I’m loving the comments, too! :) And hey, we do NFP! Quick question for you: how are you testing yourself? I do muscle testing with my herbalist but I can’t do it for myself. That would be super-helpful!

      • Caroline says:

        If I need muscle testing done I usually bring my husband along and he’ll help test me. I will also use the pendulum method if he can’t come but I make sure to double check everything with my husband testing me later. I’ve never had an instance where the results didn’t line up, though, so it has been pretty reliable for me. Hope that helps! And YEA!! for NFP! ;)

  26. Michelle Valdes via FB says:

    looking forward to part 2!!!! My kids can’t have cow milk or cheese, but I can give them a little butter, and I’ve always used calcium to supplement since I make their own alt. milk, too. They actually do eat their veggies…my son even asks for brussel sprouts (who is that kid?!?). ;)

  27. A. B. says:

    Thanks for posting…I am really unsure about this. I have to say that I notice a HUGE difference when I take a good prenatal…my nails become stronger and I feel better in general. That being said, I see your point about concentrated vitamins that may or may not be “natural.” What do you think of Source of Life? They guarantee all their supplements to be 100% food based and raw. Sounds good to me!

  28. Cod liver oil and probiotics!

  29. keller says:

    Thanks for such a great post. I am 4 months pregnant. My two year old takes cod liver and probiotics. I am just getting into the broths etc… Her doc wants her to take Juice Plus which we tried. They told me it was organic? Is that the kind of high temp drying you mentioned above?
    I am not sure what to take at this point being pregnant. It has been hard for me to eat much so all this time I thought my vitamins were making up for it? I take Melaleuca vitamins which I like but I After reading this post it confirms what I have felt for a while. I need to concentrate more on whole foods. We eat all organic and we eat tons of butter here. Grassfed when we can afford it but always organic. Did you take any prenatals while pregnant?
    Thank you again for this post!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Keller! I took prenatals with my first but not my second. Personally, if a mom is just getting started with real food while pregnant I would probably recommend a whole food supplement. I can’t comment specifically on Juice Plus because I haven’t looked at their label, but they’re not one of the few companies I’ve been able to verify that is doing things top notch.

  30. I used to be one of those moms who gave their kids gummy vitamins… until Dr Jim Bob told me they were junk! Since then we stopped, and began getting the bulk of our nutrition from real food. My kids, especially my youngest, aren’t fond of veggies, but they’re getting better, and it’s a relief for me to read that that’s ok, so thanks for the info! We have a cabinet full of supplements but don’t take them regularly, but rather on a need basis. Although, we will be starting a new probiotic and fermented cod liver oil soon! I must say though, my dad raised me to take a ton of vitamin C when I felt a cold coming on, and to this day whenever I follow that advice, my nasal passages instantly clear up, no joke!

    • Heather says:

      That’s interesting, Joanna! I think my response to that would be to say that it’s not that we don’t see some benefits from synthetics, but that if they are taken consistently we could end up experiencing unintended consequences that cancel the benefits. For example, I got relief when I took megadoses of magnesium but then had to help Katie remineralize her teeth because she didn’t get enough calcium in utero. Make sense?

  31. A. B. says:

    Not source of life…”Garden of Life”.

    • Heather says:

      Hi A.B. – I have taken Garden of Life before and thought they were pretty good . . . but that was before I knew what to look for! Honestly it’s been a long time since I looked at their info so I can’t really say. Sorry I can’t be more help on this.

  32. Ellen says:

    We do not supplement much with vitamins but the whole family takes an ounce of liquid plant derived minerals everyday. I have been amazed at the difference it has make in our family’s health, especially mine. I also supplement with a superfood/green drink from Garden of life called perfect food. I really feel good when I take it.

  33. Rachel J. says:

    I agree that you have to be really careful about what you supplement with. Unfortunately much of our food supply’s nutritional value is dwindling, meaning that even if we eat a wide variety of healthy foods and rarely waste our “nutritional space” on empty foods we still may be deficient. Especially if our guts and/or digestion are compromised. I’m not sure what the correct answer is. I do know that when my N.D. recommended that I take IntraMax I could feel a dramatic difference in my energy levels. I’ve since stopped taking it for a few years and have to admit that I feel pretty bad and am desperate for something to bring my energy levels back up (trying The Mood Cure) My gut health is definitely not what it should be, and I just don’t think I can get everything I need from my bone broths, herbal infusions, FCLO/butter oil, and general eating (I have to confess there’s been a lot of chocolate in there, too). But what to do?

  34. Robin says:

    You always seem to post things as just the right time! I’ve always struggled with insomnia and “restless” muscles at night. Throw in an 8th month old baby and a husband who works late and I’m at my wits end. I’m pretty sure I have a magnesium deficiency. I don’t generally take vitamins or supplements (other than cod liver oil). But in desperation I bought a mineral supplement (one recommended by cheese slave). It’s a huge horse pill that I rather not take. Any thoughts on what my issue might be and what to do about it? You really are quite brilliant. I appreciate your posts so much!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Robin! I’m so glad this was helpful. A magnesium and possibly other mineral deficiency sounds like a good guess. I’ve been wanting to read that post by Cheeseslave but haven’t had a chance yet. Is it just magnesium or is it a multi-mineral? I may be wrong on this but I think the ratio of calcium to magnesium supplementation is supposed to be 2:1, so you might want to add in a calcium supplement. But maybe that is counter-productive? Ack! It’s easy to out think oneself here – that’s why I like food! Personally, I take epsom salt baths or spray magnesium oil on my skin to make sure I get enough. It is my understanding that the skin will absorb only what it needs so you don’t have to worry about overdosing.

      • Rachel J. says:

        I think sometimes you need a little more magnesium than the normal 2:1 ratio, in part because magnesium is utilized by so many other vitamins/minerals, in addition to calcium. I know that a magnesium and sometimes cal/mag supplement helps with my restless legs. I also read in The Mood Cure that it may be linked to deficiencies in folate (I hate calling it folic acid, like that’s the natural form), iron, or vitamin E. I try to drink nettles and/or red raspberry leaf infusions daily because they are high in mag/cal and other minerals but missing just a few days, or a few days of eating poorly can make it hard to recover without a little supplemental boost.

  35. Rachel J. says:

    Oh, Heather, thank you for the motivation to work harder at getting my nutrition from my food. Off to drink some water kefir and more nettles/RRL (that’s a lot to drink!).

  36. Crystal says:

    I take Melaleuca vitamins, so do my kids. They are different from other vitamins b/c of the patented way they are absorbed. I’ve done quite a bit of research on these vitamins and have found them to fit my needs. They also have a documented study showing you absorb 10x more than with the leading national brands. Anyway, I love them, felt a huge difference in energy and overall health when I started taking them. All I can go off of is my own personal response and that of others I’ve shared the vitamins with.

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Crystal. I’ll look into Melaleuca!

      • Katie says:

        I would be interested to know what you found out about melaleuca! The company as q whole does not seem very honest, as they tout “all natural” cleaners that are NOT all natural.

        • Marisela says:

          I’m a Melaleuca customer. The company actually says their cleaners are non-toxic and are powered by natural ingredients such as lemon, thyme, etc. They don’t claim organic nor 100% all natural ingredients. They do use enzymes to increase the efficacy of their products. It may be a term some customers naturally use to describe the products just because of the natural ingredients in them. However, “All natural” even when used with food labels is hardly all natural because the term is not regulated as the term “organic” is regulated. Hope that helps :)

  37. Jamie says:

    Heather, I am so glad you wrote about this!

    I’ve been skeptical of vitamins for a long time, but now there is actually scientific evidence that is backing my theory.

    I know of at lease five people that took water soluble vitamins in high doses for years. Two got kidney cancer and died and the other three have failing kidneys. They all believed it was their vitamins causing their kidney issues. My last friend who found out her kidney function was way off stopped taking her vitamins immediately and her function returned to normal. That is scary…especially since water soluble vitamins are supposed to be “safe”

    With that being said I will randomly pop a vitamin B or prenatal pill….I really need to up my greens and just stop….

  38. Kirsten says:

    Wow, a double post for my one little question! I feel so flattered. ;) THANK YOU for taking the time to pass on this valuable information! I have to admit, my brain is reeling a little, as I try to make sense of everything I’ve been taught previously in combination with everything I am learning now. I personally AM taking vitamins right now…when I remember, that is…Garden of Life Women’s multi, fish oil, Cal/Mag, Vit. D3…and potentially some kind of iron supplement if I don’t get my levels up with food (liver chili, here we come!). I’ve been tandem nursing AND pregnant for 4 months now, and though I try my best to eat as well as possible, I know I’m depleted. Anyway, thanks again for the awesome post, and I can’t wait to read part 2! :)

  39. Raquel says:

    Off topic question, do you know why I would have receding gums on the top and not the bottom? I also have horizontal lines on my molars on top near my gums? I had to have periodontal surgery on the top gums :( Never want to go through that again.

    • Heather says:

      I think Ramiel Nagel may touch on that in his book, Curing Tooth Decay, but I’m not 100% sure. Maybe you could search his website (www.curetoothdecay) and see if anything pops up . . .

  40. Lisa Mickey via FB says:

    Looking forward to the follow-up post on probiotics…I have a picky eater (or shall we say self-limiting eater). I really want to see if I can reverse this with CLO and probiotics. Want to get serious on the new year (after a big move…too much going on now…how I hate continually putting this off!)

  41. Carrie says:

    Very interesting post. Makes me re-think the supplements that I am taking. I do need a calcium supplement because I don’t drink milk and I can only have so much yogurt. I make bone broth too, but not sure whether the calcium from bone broth is enough. So I am taking the calcium supplements from Garden of Life just to be safe, but they do have the problem that you mentioned.

    What about supplements from MegaFood?

  42. Kari R. SaintLouis via FB says:

    i just started cod liver oil yesterday…but I do admit to having many vits in my cupboard…some from the indian store which are a little closer to the “real” deal- meaning from the actual plant or root of plan. I found some lemon with cod liver oil for kids…but trying cod liver on myself first. I avoid gleatin. Rule of tumb for my “new” life….less processed the better- (still trying to make my kitchen look this why-and have husband stop buying “crap” foods)

  43. Laura Greiner via FB says:

    I’m curious what you think about Garden of Life’s Raw line. Thanks!

  44. […] post on why multi-vitamins are not the insurance policy we think they are was kind of a downer. But yay, today I’m going to share what I consider to be the two most […]

  45. Sarah Hall says:

    I know this is a little off topic, but do you have a post about NFP?

    • Heather says:

      I have a topic on why we use it ( but not how it works. If you’re looking for help learning how to use it I highly recommend the Couple to Couple League. They’re a Catholic organization but classes are open to anyone. Their website is

    • K says:

      I know this comment’s years old now, but for you or anybody else, I found super helpful, useful and effective after days of research on the topic. They have a free ‘course’ explaining everything and their charting tools are what are really helpful afterwards. You can input data on the computer or via their app on your phone, I eventually opted for the paid VIP membership for extra charting details/options, but it would work just as well with the free version.

  46. Megan Alba says:

    My naturopath actually told me NOT to “waste my money” on supplements. While she advocates the use of essential oils in healing and health, she pushes for supplementation through proper nutrition. Lots of butter, raw milk, and himalayan salt in her prescribed diet! Yum!

  47. candis says:

    We use nutrition supplements from Reliv. I understand they are synergistic, made from food, and are 98% absorbed in the body within 30 minutes.

  48. […] cod liver oil was, or that many of the “whole food” supplements I was taking were really synthetic.  The uncured black olives I craved like mad that contained nothing but salt and water? Oh yes, […]

  49. […] Do you pick up your child’s dinner plate – sigh over the untouched veggies – and then think “oh well, at least he/she takes vitamins!”? Well then, I have good news and bad news. First – and you are going to LOVE me for this (Read more) […]

  50. Hi Heather,

    This is great share. I always knew that vitamins are not what the media is telling us. Pure hype! I don’t really give my kids vitamins as well.


  51. […] it be easier to just close the nutritional gap with supplements? Yes, it would! Unfortunately, most “whole food” based supplements are not what they seem, so as much as possible I recommend sticking with actual food. Besides, we’re talking about […]

  52. […] I actually think they may hinder your natural processes.  To read further check out this article “What The Vitamin Industry Does Not Want You to Know,” by Mommypotamus.  FCLO is the only thing we take on a daily […]

  53. […] ugly of synthetic multivitamins. I prefer to focus on what we should be doing, so hop on over and find out about why they are a bad idea. Acerola: high in Vitamin […]

  54. […] Discovering a natural source for Vitamin C (Because if you didn’t know vitamin manufacturers have a dirty little secret) […]

  55. Tiffany says:

    My kids take their “multi vitamin” fermented cod liver oil! The only supplement they take. Of course their diet is full of raw milk, raw butter and lots of organic fruits, veggies and grass fed meats.

  56. mindy says:

    heather! thank you AGAIN for such a well thought out article! i “knew” some of this, but, probably like many, did not know the depth of it. your magnesium excess during your pregnancy with katie explains my problem right now. i was told i have low tissue calcium. it makes more sense now. no more mag. supplement and MORE bone soup! thanks a million!

  57. […] these synthetic versions can actually weaken the mitochondria and possibly cause kidney stones. (source) Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to tell what’s what just by reading […]

  58. […] According to this article, supplementing Vitamin D is actually MORE effective at preventing the flu than the vaccine. You can find more tips for preventing colds and flu’s naturally here and here. I recommend using the acerola powder mentioned in the second article over a traditional Vitamin C, supplement, which is likely to be synthetic. […]

  59. Meg says:

    Great Post! Thanks for all your knowledge…. I have a few questions

    1. About kids not doing well with vegetables, what do you think about juicing? Could giving your kids a glass of (cucumber, carrot, beet, etc) juice be bad for them?

    2. I have looked into Juice Plus quite extensively and I have not found any downsides to the capsules (I am not a fan of their gummies). There is lots of research that shows it gets absorbed by the bloodstream and helps many bodily functions. Also, there does not seem to be any of the detrimental “fillers”, there are no pesticide residues, and they are just juiced fruits and veggies (no synthetics). So if you ever get to look into them, I would love to hear your input!

    Thanks again!

  60. MommyPaine says:

    Heather, did you ever get a chance to look into Melaleuca’s Vitality line of products? They are all patented with Oligo technology for better absorption, higher solubility, antioxidant protection from free radicals and claim to be ‘closer to nature’. I’d love to hear what you think…you can message me privately if you wish.

    Read morescience at:

  61. Amber says:

    Have you looked into Juice Plus+ before? It is 17-25 Fruits, Vegetables, Berries, and Grains in capsule or chewable form. It is whole food based nutrition. In fact, it is the only whole food supplement with a Nutrition Label because it is literally just concentrated food. It is the most thoroughly clinically researched whole food based product in the world. There are over 31 published clinical studies that prove it is what it says it is and it does what it says it does.

  62. Mirian says:

    Thorne products has Mg stearates.

  63. […] What The Vitamin Industry Does Not Want You To Know: – The bad news is those vitamins may give your kids nothing more than very expensive pee. According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, “many supplements on the market have a very low absorption rate, some only 9%, so the [child's] body would actually get way below what it says on the bottle.” (Gut & Psychology Syndrome p. 295) […]

  64. Dorothy says:

    We’ve been using Juice Plus, is that ok?

  65. […] to this great post by Mommypotamus, as little as 9% of nutrients listed on vitamin labels may be absorbed. This is in part because the […]

  66. […] I’m not sweating my decision as, according to Mommypotamus (who’s written an excellent post debunking multis), the nutrients in these pills […]

  67. Hana says:

    Jesus! Who can you trust nowadays? I know. Most of the ingredients you get out of supplement or vitamin capsules are synthetic and may just be worthless. For me, I guess it’s back to basics with fresh veggies and fruits for the kids!

  68. […] ingredients.  For more on why synthetic vitamins are not a good thing you can read here and here. You can, however, get the majority of the vitamins you need in quantities that work together […]

  69. Kristina says:

    I am curious what your thoughts are on the company Shaklee. They are supposed to be top notch with natural sourcing for their vitamins and supplements.

  70. […] these synthetic versions can actually weaken the mitochondria and possibly cause kidney stones. (source) Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to tell what’s what just by reading […]

  71. sanju says:


    I am curious what your thoughts are on Honest MultiVitamins for kids?

    • Kate says:

      We’ve tried them, but we like to use whole food vitamins (not synthetic) and we switch between Hakuna Matata vitamins and Standard Process.

    • Mellissa says:

      The vitamins are all synthetic with a proprietary blend of whole foods based powders mixed in. It is better than most synthetic vitamin brands as far as additives and fillers, but it is still synthetic.

  72. Mellissa says:

    I am so glad to read this! My daughter is 15 months old and is slow to gain weight and hates vegetables. I learned of synthetic vitamins being bad for her and we don’t use them. We give her raw cow cultured butter from a local farm share, and raw goat milk, fermented cabbage juice (disguised in foods) she loves fruit galore. She loves eggs and fruit pretty much all she wants right now. So we give her plenty of raw butter with those eggs! I am happy to read this and learn we are on the right track. Many thanks and best of luck to all your picky eaters!

  73. Anna says:

    What do you think about Druckerlabs company the vitamins called Intramax. Do you have any idea if it’s safe to take during pregnancy??

  74. Dorothy says:

    Hi, my son is 3 years old and has been getting sick constantly since beginning daycare 6 months ago. I know it will take him a while before his immune system gets used to it, but why is he always sick? For the 3rd time he has gotten an ear infection and has fluid build up in his ears. He took Flintstones Gummies which he will not anymore. He is great with food and eats lots of fruits and veggies. But i feel like he needs to be taking something to boost his immune system.

  75. Linda says:

    My husband is not a veggie eater but recently had some bloodwork indicating he needs to eat healthier. He has started buying all kind of veggies in bulk and dehydrating them, then powdering them and putting them into capsules, for vitamin d he dehydrates portabello mushrooms. He has also alterd his diet and uses some of the powdered veggies in his egg whites soups, stews and eats no red meat but mainly fish, chicken and beans. He’s lost 26 pounds and has more energy. I have also been taking many of the homemade supplements he makes. We are in our mid sixties and feel better than we have in years.

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