Americans have been taking multivitamin and mineral supplements since the early 1940s. However, the unfortunate reality is that many of the major vitamin brands are created by popular pharmaceutical companies. These companies have little interest in creating the most bioavailable and nutrient-dense product and instead create products with poorly absorbed vitamins and minerals. That’s why it’s important to read labels to find out which brands of vitamins to avoid.
Let’s take Centrum vitamins, for example. Centrum vitamins are the number one selling multivitamin in the US and Canada, with new ownership by Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Pfizer has been involved in many controversies, frauds, and legal battles ever since.
In fact, Pfizer was sued for false claims about Centrum vitamins in 2012 by the consumer watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest. They were forced to withdraw their false multivitamin claims surrounding breast and colon health, as well as other controversial language they pasted on their bottles claiming certain health benefits (1).
Pfizer’s Centrum brand of vitamins are also promoted as “complete” multivitamins, when in fact, no single supplement or multivitamin can provide your body with everything it needs in one day. To be fair, our food supply isn’t as nutrient-dense as it used to be, so it’s important to eat plenty of plant-based foods, as well as certain minerals that are depleted in the food supply (like magnesium).
Centrum Vitamins Debunked
If you are buying your vitamins from one of the larger pharmaceutical companies then I would not trust you. 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.
Many vitamins on the market (including Centrum) are also made with dangerous fillers, some of which come from chemicals used to make charcoal, tin cans, and propellants. Centrum contains at least three preservatives and various color additives, along with various additives and chemicals that are carcinogenic and toxic to health (2).
Here are some of the poorly absorbed vitamins and minerals found in centrum:
1. Magnesium as magnesium oxide: a unchelated form of magnesium and incredibly low quality. It is the least absorbable and cheapest form of magnesium.
2. Iron as ferrous fumarate: this type of iron can make you incredibly constipated and can be dangerous for people who are already getting too much iron from a carnivore diet.
3. B vitamins: the concentration found in Centrum is so low that it 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 the risk of prostate cancer and other diseases (3).
5. Nickel Tin Sulfate: 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, probably made from GM 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: They come from cattle and poultry, making 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, destroys the immune system and causes cancer (8).
7. Sodium Aluminosilicate: prevents dry foods from clumping together and also contributes to kidney failure and cancer (9).
8. Artificial colors: contains coloring agents derived from coal tar, as well as dyes such as Yellow 6 Lake, which have been banned in other countries.
9. Maltodextrin: it suppresses the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which can increase gut inflammation.
Synthetic forms of vitamins
Synthetic vitamins are not natural. They are isolated or synthetic nutrients that simply do not work as they should. Synthetic forms of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K are particularly dangerous because they accumulate in fatty tissues and become toxic.
These forms of synthetic vitamins should be avoided, when possible (10):
- Vitamin A: retinyl palmitate
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine mononitrate, Thiamine hydrochloride
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
- Pantothenic acid: D-calcium pantothenate
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Pyridoxine hydrochloride
- B12 vitamin: cyanocobalamin
- PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid): aminobenzoic acid
- Folic acid: pteroylglutamic acid
- Hill: 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 brands of vitamins to avoid
Centrum is not the only brand of vitamins to avoid. There are plenty of other companies that pack poor quality (and poorly absorbed) vitamins and minerals into their products, along with a host of other additives our bodies don’t need.
Here are other brands of vitamins to avoid:
- One a day
- go up go up
- flintstones vitamins
- made by nature
Real foods and real vitamins
The best way to get your vitamins is from real, whole foods. Although the soil has been largely depleted of the nutrients we need to maintain a healthy body, plant foods are still the best source to ensure adequate nutrition. If you only eat processed foods and take a multivitamin, you will notice your health slowly deteriorating over time.
Vegetables and fruits are loaded with crucial vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They are one of the most abundant sources of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli, well-ripened leafy greens, seasonal fruit, avocados, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and beets. The list goes on! Herbs are also loaded with many antioxidants, phytosterols, and essential oils that promote incredible health. Ginger, turmeric, garlic, parsley, coriander, basil, and dill are some of my favorites.
That being said, there are some supplements that I still recommend people take, due to poor soil quality and the degradation of certain vitamins and minerals in the soil (like magnesium).
Vitamins and supplements from brands I trust
There is an overwhelming number of vitamin and supplement brands out there that have little interest in your health. But that doesn’t mean they’re all bad.
While multivitamins are beneficial (when obtained properly), you can also opt for more specific nutrients that your body needs. Magnesium, for example, is a mineral that has been extracted from the soil due to poor agricultural practices. Most people should supplement with magnesium.
Another vitamin, vitamin B12, is poorly absorbed in people who have a history of antibiotic use, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. A very low percentage of people can absorb B12 from the food they eat because of this (yes, this includes carnivores too!). Taking a high-quality B12 supplement that contains the proper forms of B12 (methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin) is essential for most. The funny thing is that much of the B12 in multivitamins is cyanocobalamin, the cheapest and least absorbed form of B12 on the planet.
With that said, here are some key supplements that I keep on hand and take almost every day, or every other day. They are all made by amazing companies that I love and trust. No fillers and designed with your health in mind to ensure every nutrient is absorbed:
If you choose to take a multivitamin, be sure to follow these general rules:
– PURCHASE: 100% organic and 100% whole food based, raw or heated at a low temperature. Be sure to include minerals to ensure vitamin absorption.
– DO NOT BUY: anything with soy, gluten, corn, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, GMOs, colors (or dyes), or binders like magnesium stearate. USP Verified vitamins also contain synthetics (eleven).
Multivitamin brands I trust include: