Whole Food Center
I have decided it’s time to do this... For 17 years I didn’t publish it online, but sometimes you just have an obligation to do the right thing that has been gnawing at you for years and you just can’t keep it inside anymore.
Here is the Rooted Nutrition definition of a whole food supplement:
A true whole food supplement is one that is made from nothing but 100% real whole foods. This can simply be ground and dried foods or food concentrates (for example 40 pounds of food is concentrated down into one pound of powder, you may see on the label 40:1) or full spectrum extracts as long as they preserve all the naturally occurring compounds in their original state.
They have no synthetic or isolated substances such as vitamins or minerals added at any time during the process. Any nutrient value must come 100% from the foods themselves not from added vitamins or minerals.
The only exceptions are flow agents needed to help get ingredients through the machine, such as cellulose, or starch, or things that hold the pills together like gelatin capsules etc.
However, no additives can contribute towards the nutrient content. If a product lists 60mg of vitamin C, it should all come from food. It can not be partly from something like ascorbyl palmitate, a synthetic form of vitamin C often used as a lubricant.
You will not see any products in the Rooted Nutrition Whole Food Center that do not meet this definition.
Since there is no FDA or legal definition of a whole food supplement, we will be using the Rooted Nutrition definition of a whole food supplement as the standard as we go through different brands and types of products and see how they stack up.
Let’s go over some brands and products that have various marketing terms related to food on them and see if they meet the Rooted Nutrition definition of a true whole food supplement.
There is no regulation of this term and it can be placed on any supplement. This is usually put on supplements that contain isolated and synthetic vitamins mixed with a very small amount of food.
One brand that uses the phrase “Food-Based” on some of their products is Rainbow Light, which is owned by the Clorox (yes, the bleach) Company. They are one of the best selling brands in health food stores.
Here is the label for their Food-Based Calcium:
Not counting fillers, binders and excipients, and just counting the calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, betaine HCL, stinging nettles, horsetail and spirulina, each tablet contains a total of about 842.5mg of ingredients. *Vitamin D is measured in IU and 500IU converts to about 12.5mg. In that tablet, only the nettle, horsetail and spirulina are food or herbs, which adds up to 60mg. The rest are isolated or synthetic vitamins and minerals. Out of 842.5mg, only 60mg is actual food- which works out to only about 7.121% of the ingredients. It seems this "food-based" product actually contains very little food.
Would this product meet the Rooted Nutrition definition of a true, 100% whole food supplement? Definitely not.
"Whole Food Fermented Vitamins"
There is no regulation of this term, so it is unclear as to what exactly this should mean.
An example of this would be the New Chapter (owned by Procter and Gamble) Coenzyme B Food Complex:
From the New Chapter website:
"Coenzyme B Food Complex is a complete Vitamin B supplement with a major advantage: it’s fermented with probiotics. New Chapter’s patented fermentation process ensures each nutrient is unlocked for your body to use. The power of probiotics helps to activate and transform basic nutrients into whole-food fermented form. The result is easily digestible nutrition that’s so gentle you can even take it on an empty stomach."
The label also states that it is made with "Organic Vegetables and Herbs".
According to the New Chapter website, their vitamin fermentation process involves 7 steps:
Organic yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is mixed with natural plant carbohydrates.
Targeted nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are added to the yeast solution.
Organic, non-GMO soy and additional organic whole foods, such as alfalfa, carrot, and orange peel, are added for continued fermentation.
The yeast begins to biotransform the vitamin or mineral by absorbing it into its structure.
Enzymes from tropical fruit are added to slow down fermentation.
L. acidophilus, B. biﬁdum, and L. rhamnosus are added and low heat is applied to complete the fermentation process.
Individual whole-food fermented nutrients are intelligently blended to create exclusive formulations for different needs and life stages.
Let’s focus on number two: "Targeted nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are added to the yeast solution." This statement combined with certain vitamin names on the label, such as folic acid and pyrodoxine hydrochloride, which don’t exist in nature, means that the company is adding synthetic and isolated vitamins to the formula as the source of many of the vitamins and minerals. This means the vitamins are not actually made from food, but the product does have some small amounts of food mixed in with the vitamins.
Would this product meet the Rooted Nutrition definition of a 100% true whole food supplement? No, because it adds synthetic and isolated vitamins to the formula.
"Raw" & "Food Grown"
There is no regulation of either of these terms so they could mean anything. Let’s take a look and see what we find:
One example of this type of product is Garden Of Life (owned by Nestle and the #1 selling brand of supplements in health food stores) Vitamin Code Raw D3 5,000.
Let’s start with the term "raw". According to the Garden Of Life website page for the product,
“Vitamin Code supplements are RAW, which not only means that they are produced below 115º F, but also means that these nutrients come with their natural cofactors,”
As you can see, Garden Of Life is clearly stating that the vitamin D3 in the product is produced at temperatures below 115º F. So who makes the vitamin D3 that goes into this product? Here is a statement released by Garden of Life several years ago when pushed to say how their vitamin D3 in this product was made:
“Growing vitamin D starts with a single-celled plant; in this case Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or baker’s yeast. S. cerevisiae was chosen because it retains the complex cell structure of a plant, but it is also easy to grow. Another important feature of the S. cerevisiae is the fact that it produces Vitamin D2 as a normal, non enhanced function, and on a cellular level, there is a specific receptor site for the binding of Vitamin D3.
To begin the process, the plant is mixed with water that has been subject to a multi-stage purification process. This ensures that it is free of any unwanted ingredients that will affect the growing process. Molasses is then added as food for the yeast and the yeast is allowed to begin the growing (budding) process.
At the same time the yeast is growing in its tank, isolated Unites States Pharmacopeia (USP) grade vitamin D3 is put into a much smaller preparation tank. Widely used, the commercially available D3 we purchase has been synthesized from animal cholesterol, primarily lanolin. The starting material is subjected to a lengthy conversion and UV exposure process briefly described below.
Chemists follow a two-step process in order to synthesize vitamin D3 from cholesterol. During the first phase, the molecular structure of the cholesterol is converted into crystalline 7-dehydrocholesterol. During the second phase, the 7-dehydrocholesterol is exposed to ultraviolet light (similar to the sun’s rays). The resulting material is entirely pure D3, free from any chemical residues.
All USP grade D3 is manufactured using this process and, as a result, is described as “synthetic” – or synthesized through a chemical process. (Researchers are still studying ways to synthesize D3 from plant derived sources, but have not yet succeeded.)"
A vitamin synthesized from animal cholesterol, like lanolin, which is then subjected to a lengthy conversion and UV expsosure process, does not sound like a whole food vitamin to me.
Speaking of that lengthy conversion and UV exposure process, I wonder what temperatures that takes place at?
According to a manufacturing processor,
"In order to get the vitamin d3 down to where it is usable in supplements, it has to get to at least 183 degrees."
That information really seems to contradict the claim, “Vitamin Code supplements are RAW, which not only means that they are produced below 115º F but also means that these nutrients come with their natural cofactors,”
So which Garden of Life statement should we believe?
Would this product meet the Rooted Nutrition definition of a 100% true whole food supplement? No, because it adds synthetic vitamins to the product.
Just because a product claims to be raw or whole food it does not mean anything, because if you can put those words on a product that involves using a material made by:
Chemists follow(ing) a two-step process in order to synthesize vitamin D3 from cholesterol. During the first phase the molecular structure of the cholesterol is converted into crystalline 7-dehydrocholestorol. During the second phase the 7-dehydrocholestorol is exposed to ultraviolet light (similar to the sun’s rays). The resulting material is entirely pure D3, free from any chemical residues.
All USP grade D3 is manufactured using this process and, as a result, is described as “synthetic” – or synthesized through a chemical process.
Then those words don't really mean anything.
Let's check in with a brand favored by many chiropractors, who states front and center, "Whole Food Supplements Since 1929".
"Whole Food Supplements Since 1929"
Nearly everyone I have ever met who sold or took Standard Process supplements has insisted that they do not add synthetic or isolated vitamins to the products and that they are only made from foods. I can understand how people may feel that way, it says "whole food supplements" right on the front of the label and the point that they are 100% whole food is reinforced over and over again from numerous sources and at various conferences.
In a statement from Standard Process themselves, not a competitor, they say,
Synthetics are used in instances where specific nutrients are not available from a whole-food source, like vitamin D for example. A natural form of vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight. All vitamin D supplements contain a synthetic form of vitamin D because there is not a natural source of vitamin D that would provide amounts sufficient in quantity to meet recommended intakes. Standard Process uses vitamin D3 which research shows is the most effective form to maintain serum vitamin D levels.”
*As an aside, there are in fact naturally sourced vitamin D supplements currently on the market. They're made from lichen.
Further down in the brochure, they define synthetic ingredients:
"Synthetic—A food component produced by chemical means. Vitamin D, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6, and niacinamide (vitamin B3) are examples of synthetic ingredients."
These are their own words, admitting that they use synthetic vitamins in their products.
Here is a list of the synthetic, isolated and non-food derived vitamins and minerals found in just in Catalyn alone:
Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Cholecalciferol ( Vitamin D3)
Pyrodoxine hydrochloride (b-6)
Vitamin A palmitate
Thiamine (cocarboxylase, b-1)
Would this product meet the Rooted Nutrition definition of a 100% true whole food supplement? No, because it adds synthetic and isolated vitamins to the product.
What about this vitamin C that's "fresh from farm to tablet"?
"Fresh From Farm to Tablet"
This one starts out promising, we have pictures of oranges on the front of the bottle, and it even has a little sign that says “Meet Our Farmers”.
On the supplement facts panel it says a serving size is one tablet, which contains:
"Vitamin C (ascorbic acid with organic orange) 400 mg"
If each tablet contains 400mg of vitamin C and there are 60 tablets in the bottle, each bottle contains 24000mg of vitamin C.
The average orange has about 70 mg of vitamin C. That means that six oranges would give you about 420 mg of vitamin C. To get to our 24000 mg of vitamin C in this bottle of Ultra C-400, it would take about 340 oranges.
We have some questions.
Can we really concentrate 340 oranges into one bottle? I’m gonna guess no.
How much would this cost? Right now on the wholesale market organic oranges are going for about $.80 or $.90 cents a pound. Even if they are buying a huge amount and getting a great discount, and only paying $.50 cents a pound for these organic oranges, with the average orange weighing about 4.5 ounces, that is still about $170.00 dollars worth of oranges at that very low price of $.50 cents a pound. Since the bottle retails for $39.76, I am guessing they are not losing over $150.00 dollars per bottle.
I think we can safely say all of that vitamin C is not from oranges. Let’s see what the company's website has to say about this:
Step four says, "We then move this delicious pulp through a series of tanks where we integrate in more vitamins for potency. So now, your body not only recognizes the whole foods, but it allows our super-fresh nutrients to be readily absorbed as food."
Would this product meet the Rooted Nutrition definition of a 100% true whole food supplement? No, because they add synthetic and isolated vitamins to the product.
On the packaging it seems to check a lot of the boxes we are looking for:
"Liquid Whole Food"
"RAW Food-Created Nutrients"
"Non-GMO Project verified"
Blend of organic fruits and veggies
From their website:
“mykind Organics is a unique brand of vitamins that stands apart from all other vitamins because it is made exclusively with organic whole foods. It is the only brand of vitamins currently available that is dual certified, meaning it is both Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. It is also independently certified as both Vegan and Gluten Free. mykind Organics B-12 Organic Spray is a delicious raspberry spray made with organic foods and herbs. One spray daily delivers 500mcg (8333% DV) vegan vitamin B-12 as methylcobalamin from Saccharomyces cerevisiae to support energy and metabolism.†”
According to the Garden of Life website, the b-12 is in the form of methylcobalamin and derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae also known as nutritional yeast. This looks like it could be the winner right, I mean- nutritional yeast is a food and it has b-12!
Nutritional yeast (sometimes also called brewer’s yeast) does not actually contain b-12.
All at once we can hear the screams of angry vegans yelling: “What do you mean nutritional yeast doesn’t have b-12?! I have been buying it for years as a source of b-12 and putting it on my popcorn!”
Nutritional yeast does not naturally contain b-12, it is added to it. That’s why when you buy nutritional yeast that says it has b-12, you will see it in the ingredients list.
INGREDIENTS: Inactive Dry Yeast, Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine HCl (B6), Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin HCl (B1), Folic Acid, and Vitamin B12.
Other Ingredients: Inactive Nutritional Yeast [dried yeast, niacin (vitamin B3), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin B1), folic acid, vitamin B12
Ingredients: Inactive Dry Yeast, Niacin (vitamin B3), Thiamin (vitamin B1), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), Folic Acid and vitamin B12
Here's the label of a non-fortified nutritional yeast:
On the ingredients list, the only ingredient is nutritional yeast flakes. And on the nutrition facts panel, it does not list any b-12. So, if Saccharomyces cerevisiae (nutritional yeast) does not have b-12, how can Garden of Life’s b-12 spray actually be derived from nutritional yeast? Something doesn’t add up here.
I think the answer might be at the bottom of the back panel where it says: “To learn more about the RAW Food-Created Nutrients…”
On the front of the label it says the product is vegan, so we are going to assume no animal products are used. Here's another suprise for you, no vegan foods contain methylcobalamin, some do contain a form of b-12 called cyanocobalamin- like chlorella- but none contain methylcobalmin.
That leaves two options:
Option 1: The product is not actually vegan.
Option 2: The methylcobalamin is not actually made from food.
The methylcobalamin is not actually made from food. What they are actually doing is taking methylcobalamin that was made in a lab, feeding it to nutritional yeast, and then saying it’s actually made from the yeast. That seems like a bit of a stretch* to me.
* I can’t use the word I want to use, or Nestle will sue me.
Here are the ways in which methylcobalamin is actually produced for use in supplements. We do not know which of them Garden of Life uses, so we’ll just list them all and see which ones seem like “whole food”.
Japanese Patent 45038059 discloses the preparation of methylcobalamin (I) by reduction methylation of cyanocobalamin (II) with methyl iodide and sodium borohydride, in the presence of iron salts and the resulting cyano ion is removed.
German Patent 2,058,892 (Offen.) discloses the preparation of methylcobalamin (I) by methylation of cyanocobalamin reduced with sodium borohydride through methyl p-toluenesulphonate . The reaction occurs in the presence of metallic salts (copper or iron) which result in stable complexes with the cyano ion and in the absence of oxygen and light.
German Patent 2,149,150 (Offen.) discloses the preparation of methylcobalamin (I) by methylation of hydroxocobalamin (II) with methyl mercuric iodide [MeHgI] or ammonium methylhexafluorosilicate [ (NH4)SiF6Me] .
German Patent 2,255,203 (Offen.) discloses the preparation of methylcobalamin (I) by methylation and reduction of hydroxocobalamin (III) through oxalic acid methyl monoester and powdered Zn, in the presence of cobalt salts that catalyze the reaction.
German Patent 2,434,967 (Offen.) discloses the preparation of methylcobalamin (I) by methylation and reduction of cyanocobalamin (II) through methyl acid oxalate and powdered Zn, in the presence of cobalt salts that catalyze the reaction.
Belgian Patent 889,787 discloses the preparation of methylcobalamin (I) by methylation with methyl iodide after reducing cyanocobalamin (II) with sodium borohydride; the reaction occurs in the presence of an aldehyde in order to sequester the released cyano ion.
European Patent 1236737 discloses the preparation of methylcobalamin by reduction methylation of cyanocobalamin or hydroxocobalamin through sodium borohydride and trimethylsulfonium or trimethylsulfoxonium halides in the presence of iron or cobalt salts.
Or this (slightly) less wordy, US Patent 6657057B2
Ferrer Health Technologies has managed to produce a methylcobalamin with a greener, more environmentally friendly process than other methylcobalamin processes, but it is still not derived from nutritional yeast.
Would this product meet the Rooted Nutrition definition of a 100% true whole food supplement? No, because the methylcoblamin b-12 is not actually made from food.
If you are looking for whole food supplements, check out our Whole Food Center shop and you can be assured that every product meets our Rooted Nutrition true, 100% whole food definition. No more searching the internet and having to guess or wonder and as with all of our products testing data and references are available.
Rooted Nutrition has no problem with companies selling or making isolated and synthetic vitamins and minerals, they certainly have their uses and can be beneficial. Sometimes we use those, sometimes we use whole food ones, it depends on what is best for the individual. Our issue lies with companies, practitioners and store employees making people think, through advertising, marketing, or implying it in some other way, that products that are partially or entirely made of synthetic or isolated vitamins are whole food, made entirely from food, raw, or any number of other terms. By using marketing terms like that, companies know that people are going to believe their vitamins are of and from food, but in fact they are not.
To close out we will just leave you with a legal term, you may or may not be familiar with:
Intent to defraud:
“Intent to defraud is the intention to deceive others. It involves a specific intention to cheat others, for causing financial loss to others or bringing financial gain to one’s self. Intend to defraud can also include an intention to deceive others, and to induce such other person, in reliance upon such deception, to assume, create, transfer, alter, or terminate a right, obligation, or power of a property”