Dietary Supplements, Multivitamin & Minerals | Special Report

Date: 10/15/1999    Written by: Jon Barron

Multivitamin & Mineral Formulas

Why we need to supplement

There was a time when it took a lot of arguing to convince people that they need some kind of vitamin/mineral supplement. Not so anymore. Although people may not know the exact numbers, they are aware that the food that is sold in markets today is less nutritious than it was 50 years ago. For example:

  • It takes 80 cups of today's supermarket spinach to give you the same iron you'd get from just one cup of spinach grown 50 years ago.
  • According to a Rutgers University study, it now takes 19 ears of corn to equal the nutritional value of just one ear of corn grown in 1940.
  • There is less than half the protein in today's wheat as in the wheat our grandparents ate.
  • Much of our soil is so depleted that our farm crops depend ENTIRELY on the chemical fertilizers they are fed to grow. That means that most of the food we eat is devoid of virtually all the trace minerals we need for survival.
  • And on and on.

When you think about it, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what's happened. We've exchanged quality for quantity. You can't keep increasing your yield per acre, at the same time steadily depleting your soil year after year, and not expect to lose something in the process. And what's been lost is the quality of our food.

The bottom line is that if you live in any industrialized country in the world today, you must supplement to maintain your health -- to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, degenerative diseases of all kinds, retard the aging process, and protect against toxic injury.

What kind of supplements should you take?

You would think that supplementation would be pretty easy. Figure out just where people are likely to be deficient; then make a pill that supplements for those suspected deficiencies -- sort of a one-a-day multiple-vitamin kind of thing. Determining the best supplement to take would then be a simple job of reading the label.

Unfortunately, it's not that simple. There are actually several problems.

  • Natural and synthetic vitamins are not the same thing.
  • In nature, nutrients do not exist in isolation; they exist molecularly bound in complex relationships with numerous other food constituents. As it turns out, our body cells have specific receptor sites for the carrier proteins attached to most vitamins -- not the vitamins themselves.

Actually, vitamins can be classified as either: totally natural, co-natural, or synthetic.

Totally natural

Almost no vitamins that you buy are totally natural. Why? Quite simply, cost. Direct extraction of vitamins from foods is prohibitively expensive. For example, acerola cherries, the best natural source of vitamin C, contain only 1 percent of vitamin C by weight. Most supplements that list acerola cherries as their vitamin C source contain only a small percentage of vitamin C from the cherries -- the rest is synthesized vitamin C.


Co-natural vitamins are derived from vegetable and animal source through the use of solvent extraction, distillation, hydrolysis, or crystallization -- but, by definition, haven't undergone any conversion or chemical alteration during the extraction process. However, analysis reveals that most co-natural vitamins contain substantial amounts of chemical residues such as hexane -- the result of the extraction process. They also contain all kinds of preservatives and additives. And the amazing thing is that none of these chemicals and additives appear on the label. All you see is "Vitamin A" or "Niacinamide." The labels NEVER show the other nonsense that comes along with these vitamins.
As non-optimal as they may be, however, co-natural vitamins are nevertheless far superior to synthetic vitamins.


Synthetic vitamins can be derived from either natural or chemical sources. What makes them synthetic is that they undergo a process of "conversion," either as a result of the extraction process or as the result of pure chemical buildup. Synthetics are, at best, about 50% as effective as natural vitamins and may actually suppress the body's ability to absorb the natural portion of the vitamin.

Synthetics are easily identified by an "l" designation, which stands for levorotary (referring to the fact that they rotate light to the left). Natural vitamins carry a "d" for dexorotary (referring to the fact that they rotate light to the right). A natural vitamin E, for example, is easily identified by the "d-alpha-tocopherol." The synthetic by "dl-alpha-tocopherol." (Incidentally, the body can't use the l-form of vitamin E, and the l-form may even inhibit the d-form from entering cell membranes.)

What you actually get in the store

Many commercial grade vitamin and mineral concentrates are synthesized by the large pharmaceutical and chemical companies (Kodak, Hoffman La Roche, etc.) from the same starting material that they make their drugs from (coal tar, wood pulp, petroleum products, animal byproducts, waste and fecal matter, ground rocks, stones, shells, and metal.)

  • Most vitamin D is made from irradiated oil.
  • The bulk of all vitamin E is produced as a byproduct of industrial chemical processes.
  • Niacinamide is made by boiling sulfur in the presence of asbestos.
  • Supplemental calcium, for the most part, is either mined from the earth, ground from old bones, or made by grinding up oyster shells.

Another surprise is that the term organic, when applied to supplements, does not mean the same thing as it does with food. For supplements, all the word organic means is that the molecule contains at least one carbon atom (as in organic chemistry). In other words, a supplement can be labeled 100% organic and not be natural at all.

Many so-called natural vitamins have synthetics added to "increase potency," or to standardize the amount in a capsule or batch. Many vitamins also add a synthetic salt form of the vitamin to increase stability. These synthetics are easily identified by the terms acetate, bitartrate, chloride, gluconate, hydrochloride, nitrate, and succinate.

The bigger problem

Modern medicine refuses to define the human body as a holistic entity, but rather as a grouping of separate parts and pieces. Not surprisingly, that same paradigm has been applied to nutrition. In other words, modern nutrition is based on the concept that key nutrients can be identified and isolated. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different.

  • Fifteen years ago, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was all the rage. Then, suddenly, after years of people scarfing down ascorbic acid, it was discovered that your body really couldn't absorb ascorbic acid very well unless the bioflavonoids, hesperidin, and rutin were present. So, suddenly, all vitamin C was sold WITH the bioflavonoids, hesperidin, and rutin. Then it was discovered that you really couldn't absorb vitamin C very well (even if the bioflavonoids, hesperidin, and rutin were present) unless calcium was also present. (And remember, absorption aside, cellular utilization for isolates is extremely low.) So again, suddenly, all vitamin C was sold WITH calcium. A couple of questions that any thoughtful person might want to ask are:
    • What value were people getting all those years they were consuming just ascorbic acid?
    • Was there any source for vitamin C available for all those years that packed ascorbic acid with its bioflavonoids and calcium? The answer is: of course! Oranges package the whole deal together. Grapefruits package the whole deal together. Acerola cherries package the whole deal together. Nature packages the whole deal together!
  • Several years ago, Beta Carotene was "discovered." Suddenly, Beta Carotene supplements were everywhere. At first the press was touting the anti-cancer properties of Beta Carotene. Then they were touting other studies that proved that it didn't prevent cancer. (Both negative studies, incidentally, evaluated a synthetic Beta Carotene. For what it's worth, almost all of the Beta Carotene on the market today is an isolated synthetic made from acetylene gas. Yummy!) Then, forget Beta Carotene; suddenly, everyone was touting another carotenoid, lycopene. Lycopene prevented prostate cancer. Then there was Lutein, also a carotenoid. Lutein prevents macular degeneration. But once again, if we turn to nature, we see that nature already packed all of these things together in a complex. The seaweed, Dunaliella salina, for example, contains all of the popular carotenoids plus a whole slew of others, such as Alpha carotene and Zeaxanthin. Carrots, for that matter, contain approximately 400 different carotenoids in addition to Beta Carotene, and many of those carotenoids are far more powerful than Beta Carotene. Once again, Nature packages the whole deal together!

I could go on and on giving examples, such as the B vitamins and vitamin E, where science has continually come up short in identifying the key factors that make it all work. The bottom line, though, is that in nature, vitamins do not exist in isolation; they exist in molecularly bound in complexes.

And here's a final thought for you. Although it is conceivable that science may someday identify all of the key nutrients contained in nature so that we don't keep finding out what nutrients we forgot to include, it is an absolute impossibility that science will ever identify how all of these nutrients interact with and support each other. The mathematical possibilities are just too immense.In the end, we will find that there are literally thousands of nutrients that our bodies require to remain healthy, and the possibilities for the synergistic interaction of all of these nutrients is astronomical. (As I've already mentioned there are some 400 carotenoids alone that have already been identified -- just in one carrot. And each day there are new phytochemicals (not to mention whole new classes of phytochemicals) and brand new antioxidants being identified and added to the list.

What to do? What to do? What to do?

So the question remains, what's the best overall (one-a-day kind of thing) supplement? The best way to look at the question of an overall supplement is to break it into three categories: Optimum, Acceptable, and Avoid at all costs.

Avoid At All Costs

Supplements made from synthetics are not an option. At their best, they are only 50% as effective as a natural vitamin. At their worst, they actually may carry harmful side effects.

Almost Acceptable

It's possible to find high quality vitamin/mineral supplements at the health food store that use only co-natural vitamins and no synthetics. The problem with supplements BASED on co-naturals is that they can never be complete (they don't contain the full vitamin/mineral complexes), and they rely on megadoses to overcome this deficiency.


A good choice is to use concentrated "food-based" vitamin complexes. Such supplements will contain concentrated forms of liver, yeast, and wheat germ for example.


Another alternative is a superfood combination that contains things like spirulina, chlorella, flower pollen, nutritional yeast, wheat grass, barley grass, powdered beets, etc. to provide a full complement of vitamins and minerals. The actual amount of vitamins and minerals you get will be less than in the other options, but the bioavailability will be high.

Watch out for fillers. Superfoods are expensive, and many manufacturers cheat their formulas down by adding large amounts of things such as non-stabilized rice bran and lecithin. Also, it's important to make sure that your superfood provides good sources for the B vitamins and for vitamin D.

For years, it was thought that edible seaweeds, fermented soya foods, and spirulina contained high levels of B12. They don't. What they contain are B12 analogues (chemical lookalikes) which your body cannot use. You'll need another source of B12.

Recent studies have found that more than half of all people have too little vitamin D in their bodies. The big surprise was that 1/3 of those who were deficient were taking vitamin D isolate supplements. Make sure your superfood provides adequate amounts of real vitamin D -- and get some sunlight on your body.

Best choice at this time

At this point in time, the best supplements are actually “grown” using a live, biodynamic growing process that results in organic food matrix supplements.

  • Instead of being chemically manufactured, this type of supplement is literally created by growing nutritional yeast (or in some cases, probiotics) in a "super-dense nutrient-broth." What you end up with is a "living" vitamin/mineral complex that is comprised of a highly complex interlocking system of: vitamins, enzymes, minerals, active bioflavonoid groups, microproteins, complex carbohydrates, and countless other naturally occurring food constituents.

    More specifically, the resulting supplement is an organic food matrix consisting of non-denatured, water-soluble nutrients and micro-nutrients molecularly bound into a highly complex interlocking systems of lipoproteins, glycoproteins, phosphoproteins, phospholipids, nucleoproteins, essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, numerous enzymes and coenzyme groups, biologically-active bioflavonoid groups, water molecules, and countless other naturally occurring food constituents in an authentic food complex.

Make no mistake. This type of multivitamin/mineral formula is unlike most other supplements you have ever used. Supplements made this way are easily the most body-friendly vitamin/mineral supplement you can find and provide optimum levels of nutrition, while avoiding the problems associated with the mega-dosing of synthetic and co-natural vitamins.

Energy Balanced

There are several companies that manufacture this type of supplement. All produce good quality product, but some are better than others. Some actually energy balance their supplements, using an energy that can be quantified and seen in Kirlian (or energy field) photographs.

The first picture shows one of the largest selling "Natural" multivitamins in the world. Notice how the tablet in the center projects so little energy that it is almost invisible.

Regular Multivitamin

In the second picture, we see a top selling "Chelated" multivitamin in a whole food concentrate. Here we see the tablet in the center projecting a small, unbalanced energy field.

Chelated Multivitamin

And finally, in the third picture, we see a bio-dyamincally grown, energy balanced tablet putting out such a strong and coherent energy field that it literally obscures the tablet in the center. This is your best choice in multivitamin/mineral formulas at this time.

Bio-dynamically grown multivitamin

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    Submitted by Guest on
    June 30, 2011 - 10:09pm

    Do you have specific brands that you recommend?

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    July 5, 2011 - 3:09pm

    Here is a list of supplements and the manufacturers that Jon Barron trusts:

    Submitted by JOHN KINKER on
    August 9, 2011 - 4:03pm

    Great Article as usual

    Submitted by Hugo R. Vigoroso on
    October 31, 2011 - 3:00pm

    Do you have specific brands that you recommend? May I be direct? Given the complexity of your responses which most off us probably cannot understand, how can we verify the validity of your descriptions/explanations? I do not mean to be arrogant; it is an honest concern of mine to always consider/check out he source of any information. Thank you for listening.,

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    November 2, 2011 - 5:43pm

    You found the answer to the question above to be complex, which most people would not be able to understand? The answer being, “Here is a list of supplements and the manufacturers that Jon Barron trusts:” I’m not sure how it could have been made much simpler. And it would seem most people could understand it. Or are you talking about the above report itself? No one has ever complained before that it was difficult to understand. We just looked over it again, and it seems pretty straight-forward and direct – and mostly written in non-technical language. In any case, We’re not exactly sure what your concern is. If we’ve addressed it, great. If not, please clarify.

    Submitted by Dave on
    January 13, 2012 - 8:43am

    Baseline: I think you missed it in this response. Yes he should have looked at Jon's recommendation list but this was not his only concern. I don't believe you realize how many people today are looking for alternatives to medicine and are totally confused by what they find. Every company has data that is endless explaining why their's is the best. E,D,C,Fish Oil,B's, Anti-oxidants the list goes on. In this article many things are laid out but without any cites to studies that would validate the article's claims. In all forms of anecdotal evidence, its reliability by objective independent assessment may be in doubt. This is a consequence of the informal way the information is gathered, documented, presented, or any combination of the three. The term is often used to describe evidence for which there is an absence of documentation, leaving verification dependent on the credibility of the party presenting the evidence. So if there are sources outside of Jon then just cite them for the guy so he will become better informed and make changes for his health

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    January 14, 2012 - 2:11pm

    The Baseline of Health Foundation is not about product recommendations. It is designed to be an information resource on many aspects of alternative health. In terms of references, form follows function. Many articles, such as this the 10/31/11 newsletter on vitamin E and prostate cancer contain an extensive list of references. The article above is more of a common sense essay on how to think about multivitamins when you are planning to make a purchase. Concepts like: nature doesn’t produce vitamin isolates and your body prefers vitamins in the form it is already familiar with over synthetic forms are pretty much self-referential and don’t require references. That said, check out the link to the article on vitamin E and prostate cancer that I just listed for a detailed discussion on the difference between natural and synthetic E. Or check out Jon’s Gift to the Media article for a discussion on the differences between natural and synthetic vitamin D.

    Submitted by Destine Courtier on
    April 26, 2013 - 12:14pm

    I would very much like to know hat vitamins name brand you recommend.

    Submitted by jocelyn on
    August 8, 2011 - 1:30pm

    Hi Dr. Barron,

    Is there a multi-vitamin for children that you recommend?

    Submitted by Dave on
    January 13, 2012 - 8:44am

    Just to clarify Jon is not a DR.

    Submitted by GuestJocelyn on
    March 14, 2012 - 9:09am

    Thanks for clarifying Dave. It was an honest mistake.

    I still need Mr. Barron to please tell me which brand of children's vitamin he recommends. I don't see any in his product list.

    Thanks, Jocelyn

    Submitted by ROBERT BOLMARCICH on
    June 8, 2015 - 12:06pm
    OAKDALE , Louisiana


    The fact that Jon Barron is not a conventional doctor is to his credit because most doctors know very little about nutrition; unless a doctor is an integrative doctor, whereby he or she has acquired and placed nutrition as a serious entity in his or her profession, he or she is limited, imo, in being as successful in their profession, as he or she would be if they took "nutrition" as seriously as Jon Barron has. Being nutritionally oriented, as Jon Barron is, is very rare in 'these present times.' Imo, THERE IS NO ONE; DR OR OTHERWISE, WHO CAN "HOLD A CANDLE" TO JON BARRON in his area of expertise, and that is very obvious from just reading his transmittals as well as the testimonials cited on this website. NO BRAG- JUST FACT!

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    March 14, 2012 - 10:25am

    Hi Jocelyn, Please see the products and the companies that sell them under our "Products" page above.  Any formulas that Jon recommends will be on this page only.  The second on the list is the Food Grown Multivitamin.

    Submitted by GuestJocelyn on
    March 20, 2012 - 10:11am

    Hi, I already contacted Lifestar and they don't make children's vitamins.


    Submitted by Jason on
    November 26, 2016 - 8:38pm
    Gallipolis , Ohio


    There is a company called Grown By Nature that uses the same process as Lifestar to create multivitamins and they have a children's version.

    Submitted by Stephen on
    January 11, 2013 - 2:09pm

    This article is excellent and why I choose Juice Plus! Everyday I am eating 17 fruits and vegetables, and haven't had the flu or even a cold in a year.

    Submitted by Gabriel G on
    March 18, 2013 - 9:32pm

    Right on! I love Juice Plus! 10 servings of 27 different fruits, vegetables, berries and grains! all whole food, gluten free, nonGMO, organic, kosher, NSF certified and organic! Plus it makes me crave MORE raw fruits and vegetables!


    Submitted by Dr Robert Goodrum on
    July 25, 2013 - 9:33am

    I think Jon Barron's website is a plethora of
    Information on health issues and wellness.

    He's very informed and gives good advise.

    He's obviously passionate about health and
    has made a rather good range of natural
    supplements that he sells.

    I'm a DO Doctor and ND and I enjoy my daily
    E-mails from Jon Barron

    Dr Robbie Goodrum DO.ND

    Submitted by Bob on
    October 8, 2013 - 10:28am

    With regard to the little dust-up at the top of this thread about the complexity of Jon's prose and ideas - we consumers actually have to do our share of the heavy lifting when it comes to understanding our health. Yes, we actually have to re-read stuff sometimes. That's part of the deal. If you don't understand something, read it until you do understand it. Sheesh! That said, I myself find Jon's prose to be remarkably accessible.

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    October 8, 2013 - 6:48pm

    Thank you Bob, it is truly refreshing to hear this.  I will pass this on to Jon Barron!

    Submitted by Steph on
    March 16, 2014 - 7:55pm

    Great article, up to almost the end. With that bit on energy at the end you've blown it all. Why not just stick to science.

    Submitted by Lynn on
    April 28, 2014 - 11:57am

    Are people ever allergic to this type of vitamin? I was taking it for a long time (along with their vitamin C product) but still wound up with heart issues, dehydration, thyroid not working, etc. (although I still at wheat at the time - now I don't). My diet is the best it has ever been (although still not perfect - working on it) and I read Jon's articles on a regular basis (love the info he provides). I've been reading alternative articles for 15 years and still come back to his products and information every time. It's absolutely the best I've found and I always try to lead friends, family and neighbors to his site for information. My alternative doctor does kinesiology and muscle testing for compatability - is that a good thing? (better than doctors and hospitals I'm sure).

    Submitted by bill dawson on
    May 23, 2014 - 10:45am

    I have preferred your products to accomplish my goals and have learned much from your newsletters. But I need to ask about the phi-zymes. How is it that you can take up to 10 capsules a day and absorb the various nutrients, presuming that you are also taking other nutritious foods, supplements and vitamins? thanks so much!

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    May 26, 2014 - 8:11pm

    pHi-Zymes aren’t nutrient’s by any accepted definition of the word. They don’t provide nutrition. They are systemic enzymes, which break down offending proteins in the body. The instructions explicitly say you should take them without food and at least an hour before or after eating. That way, they have nothing to do with the digestive process and can make their way into the bloodstream where they circulate systemically throughout your body and do their enzyme thing in every nook and cranny. As we have learned, they even can make their way into your saliva and then into your mouth, where they break down the proteins that bond dental plaque to your teeth--a neat side benefit.

    Submitted by Annette on
    September 18, 2014 - 12:50am

    I love you Jon, thank you for helping us get and stay healthy.

    Submitted by Walter on
    October 28, 2015 - 12:27pm
    Calgary ,

    I liked the article but I have a question on the kirlian photos. The last photo says "this is your best choice". Is this photo for the two multivitamins recommended in Jons recommended list which are made by The Synergy Company and Lifestar multiplex?


    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    October 29, 2015 - 11:46am

    That photo is specifically taken of the Lifestar supplement. But the Synergy formula is made from similar ingredients and made in a similar way—and it tests well in actual use. As a food formed supplement, the odds are exceedingly high that it would produce a similar Kirlian photograph.

    Submitted by Walter on
    October 29, 2015 - 2:00pm

    Thanks for the information. You mentioned that the first photo is of the largest selling natural multi, that wouldn't happen to be MegaFoods would it? That is what I've been using for a couple of years now. If it isn't, now would MF rate? OF course I want the best for my money and it would seem that the other two you mention as being the best are about the same price, maybe a little more than MF.

    Thanks again.

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    November 3, 2015 - 7:28pm

    The article was written over 15 years ago. The picture is of an all natural vitamin that was selling extremely well back then. But it is the lowest energy picture of the three choices. Whatever it is, you don’t really want it. He’s rated two multivitamins that he likes and that have high energy levels. As for other brands, there are thousands, and Jon can’t rate them all.  It’s a physical impossibility. If you choose one of those, and there are probably good ones among them, you are on your own. Hope that helps.

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