Natural Cures: Why You Should Take Vitamins and Minerals in Their Better Forms

By Scott J. Banks, Joe Kraynak, J. J. Virgin

Do you just grab whatever vitamin is on sale? You may want to consider buying their better forms for a true natural cures approach. Not all vitamins and minerals are created equal. Here’s why:

  • Certain forms of a vitamin or mineral are more bioavailable than others. Bioavailability is a measure of how readily the body absorbs the nutrient and delivers it to the targeted cells or tissues in the body. For example, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the form of vitamin D that the body manufactures from sunlight and is the most bioavailable form of vitamin D. However, many supplements contain vitamin D as vitamin D2, which is derived from irradiated fungi. Whether you take D2 or D3, your body must convert it into a useable form, but it converts D3 five times faster and can store two to three times the amount of vitamin D as D3 than it can as D2, helping to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

  • Certain forms of vitamins and minerals are better tolerated than others. For example, vitamin C as ascorbic acid has a greater tendency to cause indigestion and diarrhea than vitamin C in the form of mineral ascorbates.

The take-home lesson here is to take vitamins and minerals in their better forms (and to steer clear of any products that contain soy as a filler or additive).

Vitamin Preferred Form Why the Preferred Form Is Better
B12 Methylcobalamin (methyl-B12) The more common form of B12 is cyanocobalamin, but methyl-B12
is the natural form your body uses. To use cyanocobalamin, the body
must convert it to methylcobalamin, a process that leaves behind a
toxic cyanide molecule, which the body must then filter out and
excrete. Methylcobalamin gives you the benefit of B12 without the
work or the toxic residue.
Vitamin A Retinyl palmitate and beta-carotene Vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate and beta-carotene
provides you with water-soluble building blocks derived from plants
that your body can use to build all the vitamin A it needs. Vitamin
A as retinoic acid, retinal, and retinol are fat-soluble; the body
stores excess amounts of these forms of vitamin A, which can build
up in the body and become toxic. Taking the better form of vitamin
A is the safer alternative.
Vitamin B12 Methylcobalamin Vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin is the natural form your body
uses. To use the more common form of B12, cyanocobalamin, the body
must convert it to methylcobalamin, leaving behind a toxic cyanide
molecule, which the body must then filter out and excrete.
Folate 5-MTHF Many people can’t convert folic acid into the form that
the body needs: 5-MTHF. Taking folate as 5-MTHF ensures that your
body can use the nutrient.
Vitamin C Mineral ascorbates Vitamin C in the form of mineral ascorbates, as opposed to
ascorbic acid, enables you to take higher levels of vitamin C with
less risk of diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disturbance.
Vitamin D Vitamin D3 Vitamin D3 is cholecalciferol, the
bioidentical form of vitamin D that the body synthesizes from
cholesterol following activation by UV rays in sunlight.
Vitamin E As a full-spectrum formula Vitamin E as a full spectrum formula that provides a blend of
d-alpha, d-beta, d-delta, and d-gamma tocopherols and tocotrienols.
A full spectrum formula provides a blend of tocopherols rather than
just isolated alpha-tocopherol. Avoid the synthetic
d-alpha-tocopherol used in less expensive formulas. It does not
have the same therapeutic effect as the natural d-alpha
tocopherol.
Calcium As calcium lactate Calcium comes in several forms, each of which is better for a
specific purpose. Calcium lactate is used to improve sleep.
As MCHC MCHC is used to support healthy bones. It contains a broad
range of compounds and essential trace elements required to build
strong bones.
As calcium D-glucarate Calcium D-glucarate is best for detoxing the body of estrogens,
xenobiotics, and fat-soluble toxins.
Calcium glycinate chelate Calcium glycinate chelate is the more bioavailable form of
calcium and is best for supporting healthy immune and reproduction
function and enzyme formation.
Magnesium As magnesium citrate Magnesium citrate is effective for constipation, cognition, and
muscle support.
Magnesium malate and bis-glycinate chelate These forms are better for overall health.

You get what you pay for. The most expensive nutrients are the ones that don’t work, not the ones that cost the most. Over-the-counter supplements, the ones that crowd the shelves at grocery stores and pharmacies, rarely provide vitamins and minerals in their better forms. In addition, they often contain inexpensive fillers and excipients (inert carrier compounds) that cause reactions in sensitive individuals.

To ensure that you’re getting quality supplements, buy from manufacturers that supply doctors and other professional practitioners (chiropractors, functional medicine practitioners, naturopaths, and so on). Many of these manufacturers don’t sell their products directly to consumers, so you may need to purchase them through your healthcare provider.