Americans have been taking multivitamin and mineral supplements since the early 1940s. The unfortunate reality is, however, is that many of the mainstream vitamin brands out there are created by popular pharmaceutical companies. These companies have little interest in mind for creating the most bio-available, nutrient-dense product, and instead, create products with poorly absorbed vitamins and minerals. This is why it is important to read labels to know what vitamin brands to avoid.
Let’s take Centrum vitamins, for example. 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 languages they stuck on their bottles that claimed certain health-promoting benefits (1).
Pfizer’s Centrum brand of vitamins is 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 color 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: a 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 tumors 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 coloring agents derived from coal tar, as well as colorings 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
Other Vitamin Brands to Avoid
Centrum isn’t the only vitamin brand you should be avoiding. There are many other companies out there that pack poor quality (and poorly absorbed) vitamins and minerals into their products, along with a host of other additives our bodies do not need.
Here are other vitamin brands to avoid:
- One a Day
- Up & Up
- Flinstone Vitamins
- Nature Made
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 foodstuffs and taking a multivitamin, you’ll notice your health slowly dwindle over time.
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 favorites.
With that being said, there are a few supplements I still recommend people take, due to poor soil quality and the degradation of certain vitamins and minerals from the soil (like magnesium).
Vitamins and Supplements From Brands I Trust
There is an overwhelming amount of vitamin and supplement brands out there that have little interest in your health in mind. But that doesn’t mean they’re all bad.
While multivitamins are beneficial (when properly sourced), you can also opt for more targeted nutrients that your body needs. Magnesium, for example, is one mineral that has been stripped from the soil due to poor farming practices. Most people should be supplementing with magnesium.
Another vitamin, vitamin B12, is poorly absorbed in individuals who have a history of antibiotic use, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. A very low percentage of people can actually absorb B12 from the foods they eat because of this (yes, this includes meat-eaters too!). Taking a high-quality B12 supplement that possesses the proper forms of B12 (methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin) is essential for most. The funny thing is, is that a lot of the B12 in multivitamins is cyanocobalamin, the cheapest, most poorly absorbed form of B12 on the planet.
With that being said, here are some key supplements that I keep on hand and take almost every day, or every second day. They’re all developed by incredible companies I love and trust. No fillers, and designed with your health in mind to ensure every nutrient is absorbed:
- Pure Encapsulation Magnesium Glycinate
- Cymbiotika B12 (use code LLF15 for 15% off)
- Cymbiotika DHA (use code LLF15 for 15% off)
- Good State Liquid Ionic Zinc
If you do choose to take a multivitamin, make sure to follow these general 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, colorings (or dyes), or binders like magnesium stearate. USP-verified vitamins also contain synthetics (11).
Multivitamin brands I trust include: