From the desk of Mrs. Nikita Naterwalla Founder - Arelang Naturals®
I've spent nearly a quarter of a century in the wellness industry and it's been quite the journey in the relentless pursuit of understanding what truly supports our well-being. Over the years, I've had my fair share of trial and error, learning the ins and outs of supplements and even crafting my own formulations. But now, as I stand here, I can't help but wonder - do multivitamin pills live up to the hype?
So, here's the scoop: We're all in pursuit of healthy aging and optimal nutrition, right? We want our bodies to feel fantastic, but do multivitamin pills hold the key to this quest? I'm about to spill the beans on why, despite my extensive journey in the wellness industry, I'm not entirely sold on these pills.
First, let's establish a few facts - do we really need to supplement?
There was this groundbreaking 10-year study, backed by the US Department of Agriculture, and its mission was clear: to unravel the mysteries of those once-a-day multivitamin tablets. Were they truly delivering the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we often lack in our diets? This extensive research brought forward two crucial discoveries:
1. Spotting Our Nutrient Gaps: It pinpointed the exact vitamins and minerals that most of us are missing.
2. Calculating the Nutritional Shortfall: It tallied just how many vitamins and minerals we're not getting enough of.
It's like a straightforward equation, and after 25 years in the wellness industry, I can't help but appreciate its simplicity:
(Recommended Daily Amount - Actual Dietary Intake) = Supplement Required
Remember that advice to munch on 8-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily? Well, here's the shocker: less than 20% of us even come close to reaching that goal. Plus, with our soil losing its mineral mojo and our fruits and veggies harvested before their prime, they're not the nutrition powerhouses they once were. Today, you'd have to have 8-10 modern oranges just to match what our ancients got from one!
But why should you care? Your health, your weight, your longevity - they're all riding on this. And that multivitamin you thought was your knight in shining armor? Well, hold onto your hat, because this study uncovered some serious issues with these supplements. It's like a huge spotlight shining on the dietary supplement industry, revealing a blueprint for the perfect multivitamin. But what did they do with this treasure trove of knowledge? Not much, actually. They sort of tried to sweep it under the rug to keep pushing those cheap, synthetic vitamins on us while skimping out on crucial minerals.
Now, as you all know, I'm no fan of swallowing pills, but when it comes to health, supplementation is not just a preference - it's a necessity. This study is like a megaphone announcing that we've got nutritional gaps, and these gaps are only becoming larger. And the negative effects of vitamin and mineral deficiencies are cumulative. Which means they build up and get worse over time.
Does this sound familiar? Feeling tired and run down for no reason, having low energy, getting sick often? And these are just a few common signs of nutrient deficiencies. Not getting the right vitamins and minerals in the right amounts and from the right sources can have serious long-term impacts on your health and longevity as well. This is a lot more common than you think. In fact, chances are you are deficient right now. Even if you take a multivitamin, studies conclusively show that long-term nutrient deficiencies can show up as problems with your vision, and digestion, cause premature aging like sagging and wrinkled skin, brittle bones, mood and mental health problems, memory loss, weight gain and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is a big deal!
Now, brace yourselves because here's a real shocker: did you know that more deaths are now linked to bad diets than to tobacco and high blood pressure combined? Unbelievable, right? Unhealthy eating habits have taken the lead as the number one cause of death.
So what is really going on?
Today there are over 90,000 dietary and multivitamin supplements available in India alone with multivitamins by far the leader in sales, and yet we are less healthy than ever! Now, I've tried it all, made my own formulations, and embarked on a mission to understand what our bodies need. So, I've got a pretty good sense of what's what. And let me tell you, the solution isn't in a pill; it's in a well-balanced diet. Without a shadow of a doubt - Eating healthily remains the most effective way to obtain the vitamins and minerals we need to function at our best. So unless you're living on an organic farm, chowing down on just-picked fruits and veggies, you're probably falling short. But the truth is that we eat what we eat and even if we do change for the better and hook onto a healthy or even a fad diet, it's only for a short period of time.
So, skipping the right multivitamin? Well, that's like strolling around in a perpetual state of "meh" health, and believe me, it'll catch up to you. But that's not all - some multivitamins are playing it a little too fast and loose, giving us way too much of some nutrients. It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet of vitamins, but more isn't always better!
Would you believe it? A Vitamin Deficiency is less serious than Vitamin Excess
Let's look at what else this study tells us. Perhaps, an even more serious issue than deficiencies is that multivitamins are giving us way too much of certain nutrients - nutrients we don't necessarily need. Sometimes even to toxic levels, well beyond the upper limits of safety set by the FSSAI. And I can assure you – more is not better when it comes to vitamins.
This misguided notion from supplement marketers has been going on for far too long. I mean when I see labels showing 300% or more of RDA of nutrients, I get concerned. In fact, the studies show that on average, people using traditional multivitamin formulas are getting an overdose of many vitamins and an underdose of many essential minerals. So why do multivitamin manufacturers put excessive amounts of some nutrients in their formulas?
Let's play a little trivia - ever heard of hypervitaminosis? It sounds pretty intimidating, right? But if you've been popping multivitamins for a while, you might just be well-acquainted with it. Hypervitaminosis is the over-the-top intake of certain vitamins, especially the fat-soluble ones like Vitamin A and some minerals. Take Vitamin A, for example. The study found sky-high levels of Vitamin A in your run-of-the-mill multivitamin. The problem is, that this stuff builds up in your body, and excessive intake can lead to reduced bone density, headaches, dizziness, and more. But not taking Vitamin A is a problem too. It's vital for your health, especially your peepers. In fact, low Vitamin A is a top cause of preventable blindness in kiddos and supports a healthy heart, lungs, kidneys, and more.
And let's not forget minerals! Most multivitamins are missing or skimping on key minerals like magnesium, which is super important for bone health. The thing is, as we age, magnesium becomes trickier to absorb, so it's even more critical to get the right, absorbable, organic magnesium. But most multivitamins play the cheap card with inorganic forms that your body barely absorbs. It's not just magnesium. It's calcium, too! Synthetic sources in multivitamins have laughable absorption rates, as low as 1-3%. It's like taking a sip from an ocean - it's a joke!
A good supplement should check all the boxes:
- Fill in your nutrient gaps
- Cover your exact nutritional shortfalls
- Use the right forms and sources for each nutrient
- Deliver vitamins and minerals naturally
- Have a little something to help your body absorb it all, like Piperine.
Why I chose plant-based
There you have it, guys! The wild world of multivitamins isn't all rainbows and sunshine and the perfect multivitamin supplement is just a pipeline dream. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about taking in the nutritional deficiencies, but I'll be sticking with the natural stuff from plant-based sources and mixing that up with a well-balanced diet. Why?
- It's simple, our body recognizes plant-based ingredients as foods and therefore finds it easy to absorb, digest, and utilize them. That's the eventual goal, right?
- My body has all the functions it needs to synthesize the foods it gets and knows exactly how many enzymes, hormones, etc to produce - nothing more and nothing less! I would prudently call that smart economies.
- While I'm supplementing with plant-based ingredients, I'm ensuring that the ingredients are in their most potent form, be it extracts from the plant or bio actives isolated from the extracts, making the doses small, bioavailable to the body, and extremely efficient to the cause. That puts less strain on my liver.
- By giving my body the food it's lacking in the form of food, I'm utilizing the functions of the body and allowing them to continue working as they should have. Absorbing calcium from my yogurt, milk, soya, nuts, leafy veggies etc, rather than directly putting ready calcium supplements into my body, which not only is synthetic in nature but has an inefficient absorption rate. It will make sense - just read this point again.
- Finally, and here's the best part - I believe that supplements are something that supplement the deficiencies in the foods we eat - so if it's food that we are lacking, why have them in the form of a pill?
So what’s the final takeaway?
No, I'm not a dreamer and I know that just a well-balanced diet is not going to cut it. This is why I tore away from my corporate life and set off to find us all, natural plant-based solutions to tackle the body’s requirements.
We can all agree that there is no one fixed formulation for vitamin doses. Each person's vitamin requirements vary and there is no way one pill can fit all. Besides, most ingredients used in these multivitamins are in some synthetic form or the other, and I refuse to put more chemicals into my body. We also know that the body is an expert machine and has all the functions it needs to synthesize nutrition from the foods it gets every day.
That's when Caim by arelang was born - India's first Candyceutical company. After all, life's too short to be popping pills that might do more harm than good!