A recent (much buzzed about) study showed that beta carotene supplements could not successfully prevent cancer. Yet reams of published research has irrevocably found the food form can. What gives? Why would the results vary so drastically between supplement and food-form? We turned to our in-house scientist, VP of Research and Development Dr. Luke Bucci, to explain—and the answer might just give you a warm feeling inside. It turns out, like us, vitamins can’t work in a vacuum. In fact, vitamins work together.
Think about it: A carrot isn’t a vessel for beta carotene alone. Carrots contain a host of other complementary nutrients that our bodies metabolize as well. So while a "one ingredient solves it all" point of view might be convenient for things like selling supplements (“Want to get healthy? Try some beta carotene…”), it vastly overlooks the possibility that to rise to its fullest potential, beta carotene might need a little help from its nutrient friends.
Here’s a second example of how this concept works: You may already know that we generally consume enough calcium through our diet. However, that doesn't mean we're actually absorbing it. To fully deliver that calcium into our bones and tissues, we need sufficient amounts of vitamin D and vitamin K. Once again, vitamins working together to make it happen.
Another good illustration is vitamin C. It's famous for its preventive health benefits. So much so, that the US FDA has made what's called a "Qualified Health Claim" (so there are still a few disclaimers) about it—but only in food form. Here’s why: In supplement form, vitamin C appears as ascorbic acid. It’s virtually identical to the vitamin C found in food, but it's still missing one thing: Vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits also contain polyphenols. When vitamin C pairs with polyphenols, that’s when the actual work gets done —when the antioxidant activity happens, and absorption is as its best. All to say that it's not just a matter of a little tablet labeled “vitamin C.” That certainly won’t get you the nutritional effects that you’re hoping for.
We think it's time to not just update how we think about vitamins, but also how we take them. Our scientific team pored through (seemingly) endless studies, research and trials to assess what vitamins we need and, what’s more, what vitamins need each other. For instance, you most likely don’t have a boron deficiency (we’d like to see you try), but you may not be properly absorbing the magnesium, calcium or vitamin D you need without it. Our Essential for Women has it, along with eight other ingredients, that team up and—say it with us—work together.