Americans have been taking multivitamin and mineral supplements since the early 1940s. Today, millions of Americans try to boost their health by taking a daily multivitamin, with one of the most popular being Centrum vitamins.
Centrum vitamins are the number one selling multivitamin in the U.S. and Canada, with new ownership being held by Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Pfizer has been involved in many controversies, fraud and legal battles since then.
Pfizer was actually sued over false claims about Centrum vitamins in 2012 by the consumer watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest. They were forced to pull their false claims about the multivitamin surrounding breast and colon health, as well as other controversial language they stuck on their bottles that claimed certain health-promoting benefits (1).
Pfizer’s Centrum brand of vitamins are also touted as being “complete” multivitamins, when in fact, no supplement or multivitamin can provide your body with everything you need in a day. To be fair, our food supply isn’t as rich in nutrients as it once was, so it is important to consume plenty of plant-based foods as well as certain minerals that are depleted in the food supply (such as magnesium).
Centrum Vitamins Debunked
If you’re buying your vitamins from one of the largest pharmaceutical companies around, then I wouldn’t trust it. In fact, the dosages of most of the nutrients in Centrum are negligible, and not even close to therapeutic levels. The nutrients in the vitamin are also cheap, and in forms that are not easily absorbed by the body.
A lot of vitamins on the market (including Centrum) are also made with dangerous fillers, some of which come from chemicals used to make coal, line tin cans, and propel jets. Centrum contains at least three preservatives and several colour additives, along with various additives and chemicals that are carcinogenic and toxic to your health (2).
Here are some of the poor absorbing minerals and vitamins found in centrum:
1. Magnesium as Magnesium Oxide: non-chelated form of magnesium, and incredibly low-quality. It is the least absorbable and cheapest form of magnesium
2. Iron as Ferrous Fumarate: this iron type can make you incredibly constipated, and can be dangerous to individuals who are already taking in too much iron from a meat-eating diet.
3. B Vitamins: the concentration found in Centrum is so low, that they would have little impact on energy levels (which they claim to promote).
4. Vitamin E as DL-Alpha Tocopherol: synthetic form of vitamin E, which is linked to prostate cancer risk and other diseases (3).
5. Nickelous Sulfate and Tin: humans don’t really need to supplement with nickel or tin – so this is a pointless addition.
6. Calcium as Calcium Carbonate: the least absorbable form of calcium on the market. Only a small percentage is absorbed by our body.
Other fillers and binders found in Centrum:
2. Corn Starch: a binder, likely made from GMO-corn, which has many negative side effects.
3. BHT: a chemical preservative that has been linked to liver, thyroid, lung, and kidney toxicity, and has been shown to promote tumours and other ailments (6).
4. Gelatin: sourced from bovine and poultry, which makes them unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians.
5. Soybean Oil: another GMO product that undergoes hydrogenation – a process that has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and other diseases (7).
6. Sodium Benzoate: deprives cells of oxygen, breaks down the immune system, and causes cancer (8).
7. Sodium Aluminosilicate: keeps dry foods from clumping, and also contributes to kidney failure, and cancer (9).
8. Artificial Colours: contains colouring agents derived from coal tar, as well as colourings like Yellow 6 Lake, which have been banned in other countries.
9. Maltodextrin: suppresses the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which can increase intestinal inflammation.
Synthetic Vitamin Forms
Synthetic vitamins are not natural. They are isolated or synthetic nutrients that simply don’t work as they should. Synthetic forms of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K are particularly dangerous, because they build up in your fatty tissues, and become toxic.
These synthetic vitamin forms should be avoided, when at all possible (10):
– Vitamin A: Retinyl Palmitate
– Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
– Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
– Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
– Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
– Vitamin B12: Cyanocobalamin
– PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
– Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid
– Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
– Biotin: d-Biotin
– Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
– Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosterol, Calciferol
– Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate
Real Food And Real Vitamins
The best way to get your vitamins is from real, whole food. Although the soil is largely depleted of nutrients we require to maintain a healthy body, plant foods are still the best source to make sure you get adequate nutrition. If you’re consuming only processed food stuffs and taking a multivitamin, you’ll notice your health slowly dwindle over time.
I still recommend taking a magnesium supplement (in glycinate form (bisglycinate) by Pure Encapsulations) – magnesium is something that most people are low in, even if you are consuming a diet high in plant matter.
Vegetables and fruit are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and crucial phytonutrients. They are one of the most abundant sources of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli, dark leafy-greens, properly ripened, seasonal fruit, avocados, brussels sprouts, carrots and beets. The list goes on! Herbs are also loaded with plenty of antioxidants, phytosterols, and essential oils that promote incredible health. Ginger, turmeric, garlic, parsley, cilantro, ginger, basil and dill are a few of my favourites.
If you do choose to go the vitamin way, make sure to follow these rules:
– DO BUY: 100% organic, and 100% whole food-based, raw, or low-temperature heated. Make sure minerals are included to ensure vitamin absorption.
– DON’T BUY: anything with soy, gluten, corn, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, GMOs, colourings (or dyes), or binders like magnesium stearate. USP-verified vitamins also contain synthetics (11).