What About Those Pills…

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a landmark recommendation on June 19, 2002 that all adults should take a multi vitamin each day in addition to eating a healthy diet, to make sure they get the optimal amount of vitamins and minerals. However, have you ever considered whether a vitamin pill is your best answer?

Makers of pills, tablets, or caplets have standard size molds for the precise size of their pill. It does not matter what the active ingredients are because the manufacturer will add fillers, binders, waxes, and other ingredients to take up the space. A filler does nothing more than take up volume and some common fillers are talcum powder, sugar, whey and yeast. If a company claims it does not use any of these common fillers, then they surely use dehydrogenated animal fat. They have to use something to fill up the space within the mold! Also they must use wax or some kind of binders to make the components stick together when they squeeze everything to make the pill.


The elliptical radiopaque densities scattered throughout the abdomen represent undissolved tablets. (Courtesy of Paul Van Wyk, DC, Denver, Colorado) From the medical text: Essentials of Skeletal Radiology, Terry R. Yochum, Lindsay J. Rowe.The molds must be sprayed with a releasing agent which is another form of wax or grease to allow the pill to drop out of the mold. Some tablets are coated with a shiny coating. This is normally shellac-the same as used on wood floors and boats! It is a mixture of shellac and 200 proof alcohol that makes time release capsules. There is a little bit of active ingredient and fillers coated with the shellac/alcohol mixture. The percentage of alcohol controls the time the pill takes to dissolve in the stomach.Normal tablets must meet U. S. Pharmaceutical standards here or European standards in Europe. Pharmaceutical standards means tablets must dissolve within 15 to 30 minutes once in your stomach. To test your tablets, place white vinegar in a dish or glass and drop in your pill. Check periodically. It should dissolve within 15 to 30 minutes to meet U.S.P. standards. If it doesn’t, then you are paying a high price for fillers! You can keep this test up for 45 to 60 minutes, but if the pill is not dissolved by then, it can’t possibly generate any benefit to your body. In fact, according to the Physician’s Desk Reference, only 15 to 30% of vitamins and minerals in any pill form are absorbed by the human body. To see how this translates, if you take a 100mg tablet, your body will only get 8.3% concentrated in the blood; as compared to 98% if you consume a liquid product which allows the body to utilize all the vital nutrients. So where does the rest of the vitamins and minerals go that your body didn’t absorb from the pill? Well, in Tacoma Washington, 250,000 lbs of undigested pills are pulled out of the sewers every six weeks; and in Salt Lake City, over 150 gallons of vitamin pills show up in their filters every month. (Chiropractic Economics, March/April, Volume 40, number 6)

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