THE BLOG
05/04/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

HoneyLine: Everything You Need to Know About Vitamins

I have friends that look at me sideways when my one-year-old drops some sort of food on the floor, picks it up and then eats it. If I'm at home I just let that move roll (we're not at the public train station or gas stop bathroom). These are the same friends that don't think twice about going to a drive-through window for a burger (that may or may not have been dropped on the floor or better yet - sneezed on by some hormonal seventeen year old). I compare this kind of thinking to the individuals who won't blink when some white coat gives them a pill for some ailment or a little extra stress but would NEVER take a vitamin. Too risky. I mean after all your meds could lead to three other pills to deal with your new side effects or your impulse to
gamble or bloody urine. Makes sense to me.

I can see how vitamins are confusing, an added expense, and a pain in the butt. However, none of us are getting the 39 essential vitamins and minerals we need in our food so, in my mind, they're something we should rotate in and out of our diets. You can run down to Costco or to GNC when they are having a sale and go grab a bottle. Sorry, it's not quite that easy.

What are the things you should consider when buying and taking vitamins?

First of all, keep it simple. If you are taking twenty-three pills three times a day, eighteen minutes after you eat, but not forty five minutes before bed it is not going to happening. On the functional side, you have to get a quick understanding about the differences between the kinds of vitamins, how they absorb in your body, and who is making them.

1. Vitamin Absorption

Better to buy a whole food vitamin since it's a food already. There are tons of studies showing that the body can absorb these vitamins 20x greater then synthesized vitamins. So yes, the buy in bulk vitamin is cheaper, but you may be only get 1% of the nutrients if any at all. Talk about a waste of dough!

2. Vitamin Quality

Not that it would matter to me but the FDA does not regulate the vitamin supplement industry (probably not enough money in it). You want to buy from a company that self regulates and holds it's products to high standards. Check to see if they display USP-DSVP stamp (US Pharmacopoeia Dietary Supplement Verification Program).

3. Natural Vitamins

Given that the vitamin is produced by a solid company, a natural vitamin is easier to absorb. Be mindful that they don't often taste great, won't be cheap, and will have an expiration date.

4. Liquid Vitamins

The good news about the liquid supplement is they have about a 98% absorption rate. The inconvenient part is that they need to be refrigerated so not good for on-the-go or traveling supplementation.

5. Don't Take a Vitamin Instead of Food

It's not a good idea to rely on vitamins as a source of nutrition, hence the word "supplement".
Take a strong multivitamin that contains all 39 essential vitamins and minerals. A few solid brands are Rainbow Light, Solgar, KAL, and Nutrilite. Look to sites like Dr. Mercola's website, Dr. Al Sears website, Drugnatural.com, and naturalhealthconcepts.com. These are great places to start.

Like anything we ingest, it is smart to do one or two months on and then take a week off. Our bodies get use to anything so, in order to continue to get the benefits, it's imperative to bring them in and out of your diet.

I realize it seems a little voodoo voodoo, but I am a real believer in vitamins helping us defend our health, sleep better, process stress, and just better over all body function. If you want to get crazy I'm all for natural Chinese herbs and teas.

Whoa, easy there, are you sure you don't just want a Prozac? I mean tea can seem pretty scary, and it has been around for thousands of years. What do they
know?

In all seriousness, here is to your good health.

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