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A well-formulated Multi-Vitamin Powder

A solid multivitamin is the keystone of a program of nutritional supplementation for optimal nutrition. But many people find it hard to swallow pills, or prefer to take their nutrients in a morning nutrition shake. Unfortunately, most liquid multivitamins are so weak or incomplete as to make no meaningful contribution to your diet, while others are unstable, unpalatable, or high in sugar. And most multivitamin formulas - pill or powder - continue to be unbalanced, poorly-designed, and out of step with the latest research.

A well-formulated multi-vitamin powder will provide you with all the essential vitamins and minerals, in balanced doses and optimal forms, in an easy-to-take powder.

True Nutritional Balance
Too many multivitamin formulations actually subvert the balance of a high-quality diet instead of enhancing it. Key features to look for in any foundational multinutrient formulation include:

Get the Retinol Right: One well-documented, crippling result of long-term, chronic supplement overdose is the association between excessive preformed vitamin A (retinol/retinyl esters) and the loss of bone health. Frighteningly, the amount of preformed vitamin A that puts you at risk of broken bones is right in the ballpark found in many - and perhaps most - multivitamins: "just" 1.5 milligrams (5000 IU) in one study, and a similar 6 600 IU in another is enough to roughly double your risk of a fracture.

It's important to understand that this refers to preformed vitamin A: beta-carotene and other ‘provitamin A' carotenoids have not been associated with loss of bone health. So should you simply avoid all intake of retinal, or depend entirely on carotenoids to get your vitamin A? No. The rate of conversion of "provitamin A" carotenoids into retinol varies nearly ninefold from person to person, and can be altered by age, genes, body weight, and alpha-tocopherol intake. Remember that retinol is an absolutely essential nutrient - and in fact, one of its most important functions in the body is in normal skeletal metabolism!

It appears that the ideal retinol intake - from diet and supplements combined - is in the ballpark of 2000 IU. But remember that, because of government-mandated fortification, a single serving of low-fat milk or yogurt contains between about 500 and 750 IU of vitamin A, and a standard 85g (3 oz) slice of liver contains an astounding 22 000 IU! So it's very easy to overshoot your safe vitamin A intake.

How does this all wash out? For almost everyone, a supplement containing several hundred IU of vitamin A as retinol will ensure that you're getting some preformed vitamin A every day, without putting you at risk of excess.

Natural Beta-Carotene: Beta-carotene from food contains two structural forms (isomers) of the molecule: all-trans and 9,cis-beta-carotene. But the beta-carotene used in nearly all supplements has been entirely composed of the all-trans- form of the molecule.

The difference is important to all of us, not just organic chemists. Studies have clearly shown that the effects of natural and synthetic beta-carotene are fundamentally different. Synthetic beta-carotene has much lower antioxidant activity; more alarmingly, studies performed in human white blood cells have revealed that the synthetic beta-carotene used in most supplements causes genetic damage to the cells! Natural beta-carotene, by contrast, does not have this effect. So perhaps it's no surprise that the studies designed to test the ability of beta-carotene supplements have actually found that the pills not only fail to protect users against cancer, but may actually increase the cancer risk.

Complete "Vitamin E:" Numerous studies in the health habits of large populations have found that the "vitamin E" in food provides protection against cardiovascular disease (CVD), and Alzheimer's disease. Yet these same studies have reported that users of "vitamin E" supplements have not been given protection. In fact, a "meta-analysis" study that pooled the results of 19 high-quality controlled trials, released to much shock in the fall of 2004, found that high-dose alpha-tocopherol supplements actually increase mortality in patients with existing cardiovascular disease! Scientists now have a very good explanation for this: again, the "vitamin E" in food is very different from the "vitamin E" contained in nearly all supplements.

We're not just talking about the difference between so-called "natural" "vitamin E" (d-alpha-tocopherol) and "synthetic" "vitamin E," (dl-alpha-tocopherol). Because while the "vitamin E" in food does contain d-alpha-tocopherol, this molecule actually makes up only a minor fraction of the vitamin E in healthy diets. "Vitamin E" is not this one molecule, but a complex, composed of eight distinct molecules - four tocopherols, and four tocotrienols. And in fact, the single largest amount of "vitamin E" in healthy diets appears as gamma-tocopherol.

The different members (or "vitamers") of the E complex have different functions in the body, just as different B vitamins do. these newly-discovered properties of gamma-tocopherol, tocotrienols, and other natural E vitamins explain why the "vitamin E" in food protects against chronic disease where supplements keep failing. And the real problem with unbalanced alpha-tocopherol supplements is not just that they're missing these other E vitamers, and therefore fail to provide their unique benefits. Astoundingly, alpha-tocopherol, at doses typical of most supplements, actually depletes the body of the other E complex members, and interferes directly with some of their key functions!

Careful examination of studies involving the cholesterol-balancing effects of tocotrienols reveals that the body needs at least twice as much of the "other" E vitamins to prevent alpha-tocopherol from canceling out their benefits.

The Superior Selenium: Selenium is a protective nutritional powerhouse, its powers backed by a massive randomized, controlled clinical trial. But to get the maximum benefits from this nutrient, you will want to use the best available form. Extensive research demonstrates that Selenomethionine is the most effective cancer-fighting form of selenium available.

The Zinc-Copper Balance: Both animal and human evidence suggests that, for optimal utilization of both minerals, the balance between zinc and copper should be about ten-to-one. But most supplement formulators have been so dazzled by the exciting research on getting adequate zinc that they've gone overboard, and simultaneously ignored the crucial place of copper in the equation. As a result, it's common for multivitamins to include very high doses of zinc, but little or no copper, so that many - perhaps most - multivitamin and multimineral formulas contain potentially harmful zinc-to-copper imbalances.

Such imbalances are more than just a theoretical concern. In a series of human studies, using a ratio between zinc and copper of 23.5-to-one (and sometimes lower) - common zinc-to-copper ratios, found in many multivitamins - resulted in wide-ranging metabolic disturbances, including reduced levels of the copper-based antioxidants enzymes cytosolic superoxide dismutase and ceruloplasmin, high total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, reductions in the body's levels of enkephalins (natural pain-killing molecules), and abnormal cardiac function (including rhythm disturbances and even heart attacks)!

Nutrition that Goes Down Smooth
If you have a problem with standard multivitamins, you need your nutrition packaged in a form that is palatable, easy-to-use, and gentle on the tummy. A well-formulated multi-vitamin powder will include the following quality features:

• Easy to swallow powder mix.
• Pleasant taste - so good that you can put the powder right in your mouth if that's convenient.
• Gentle to the digestive tract: a rice bran concentrate can be used as a carrier and buffer to enhance assimilation of nutrients and minimize the potential irritation to the stomach. A rice bran concentrate is also hypoallergenic and rich in phytonutrients.
• Highly bioavailable.
• No common allergens.
• Suitable for vegetarians.

A well-formulated multi-vitamin powder is an ideal alternative for people who find it difficult to take tablets and capsules and is easily mixed into juices, protein shakes, smoothies, or sprinkled onto breakfast cereals.

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