Some of our customers often ask us why we don’t carry whole food multivitamin brands. Rest assured, we don’t carry them out of ignorance or lack of time to properly research and consider them. We’ve carefully considered them several times over the past years and we’ve never been convinced to the extent that we hop on board (any whole food nutrient sales reps want to take me up on this challenge?)

Let’s get this out of the way first. IF there was a whole food multivitamin that could provide quantities of nutrients on par with regular multivitamins for a similar cost I would be singing from a different choir. The reality is that after spending a long time wrestling with the question about whole food vitamins versus natural USP vitamins (isolated or synthesized vitamins and minerals from natural sources and yeasts), in addition to speaking with representatives and educators from most of the major whole food nutrient manufacturers, fellow scientists and naturopaths, we’ve come to the conclusion that whole food vitamins are little more than glorified dried fruits and veggies in a capsule. I’m not saying that they are poor products, in fact the engineering of these products is way over the top; the problem is that the advantages given the cost and complexity are not readily apparent.

Without going into tremendous detail, most whole food vitamins that I have seen are made by carefully drying fruits and vegetables like carrots, oranges and broccoli and then combining them with nutrient rich yeast and then stuffing it all into a capsule. What’s interesting (and what most whole food manufacturers don’t tell you) is that the yeast becomes nutrient rich because it’s fed a diet of USP vitamins and minerals from old school multivitamins – yes, the same ones that are criticized by whole food multivitamin manufacturers.

"raisin" by Lara 604 licensed under CC BY 2.0

Look, there’s no way even 10 capsules of REAL whole foods (equivalent to approximately 10 grams) is able to achieve anywhere near the nutrient quantities listed on the label without spiking the mix with USP (isolated nutrients), and I’ll take that Pepsi challenge any day of the week. The technicality used here is that if you feed yeast USP vitamins and minerals, and the yeast then incorporates those minerals into its cell structure that it can now be classified as “food” – apparently. Supposedly this process also drastically increases nutrient absorption according to the manufacturers, but aside from some nutrients like selenium, I find the evidence lacking with regard to nutrients in general. It is also from this practice of “spiking” the products that whole food vitamin manufacturers can achieve the precisely rounded even numbers of nutrients (as would be nearly impossible in nature). Whole food nutrients starting to sound as perfect and clear-cut as you may have thought they were.

What does this all lead to? Upon rigorous and careful scrutiny and cross-examination, whole food multivitamins mean well from a number of standpoints, warm and fuzzy philosophy included. As I stated at the beginning, all else being equal, a whole food multivitamin would handily trump any conventional multivitamin from a nutritional perspective because it has MORE than just vitamins and minerals A to Z such as small quantities of thousands of phytochemicals. But let’s look at the realities here for a second. First off, dried fruit and vegetables stuffed into a capsule? Sure they will supply you with vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin E and all that other good stuff, but at best you’re getting 1000mg of dried food and USP spiked yeast per capsule and at a pretty penny to boot. It begs the question “why not just eat a handful of dried fruit and vegetables, or a plate of nutritious food, or a scoop of a good greens powder supplement for a tiny fraction of the cost?”

There are a number of other caveats and technical arguments that can be made on behalf of whole food nutrients, but with a few exceptions, none of them have ever been compelling enough for us to begin carrying them on our shelves en masse.

If you have any thoughts on the matter, or would like to know what some of the "exceptions" are please share it in the comments section, or feel free to contact us by phone or e-mail. We’d love to hear your perspective. Thanks for reading!