Energy drinks and Vitamin Supplements: with a little bit of Cyanide
I first want to point out that I am actually a big believer in vitamin supplementing. I know you are thinking, “if you eat a proper balanced diet there should be no need to supplement.” Right? I would agree if food was produced the way it was 100 years ago. If most of our soil wasn’t depleted and void of its natural nutrients, if big agriculture practices were determined by keeping our population healthy as opposed to financial gain and political agendas and if we weren’t using pesticides, hormones and chemicals in our food supply. In others words, in a perfect world I would agree that vitamin supplements are unnecessary. However, our world and our food supply are far from perfect and moving quickly in the wrong direction.
Either way, I am not writing to debate the health repercussions of energy drinks or whether or not you should or shouldn’t supplement (although if you are interested in my thoughts on vitamins I have included a section at the end). What I am writing for is to inform consumers of what they are unknowingly consuming when they ingest them.
Being vegan means I have to pay extra attention to obtaining my B vitamins since they are not naturally occurring in most plant based foods. So I sprinkle fortified nutritional yeast on everything from soups to veggies, get regular blood tests for vitamin B levels and use supplements….
This is where my curiousity with the various descriptions and ingredients with vitamin B supplements began. I am a huge, HUGE label reader. I trust nothing. I am convinced that we live in a world dictated by greed not health and unfortunately in most cases I find myself proven correct and not vice versa. Like the time I looked at the ingredients listed on random children’s multivitamins and found 4/5 to contain aspartame.
North American Pharmaceutical companies generally have 45% profit margin and rank higher then banks in industrial sector profit. A healthy population is not good for drug sales and I truly feel that is what drives most health and wellness advice, regulations, products, treatments and attitudes.
Reading the labels of B vitamin supplements and energy drinks (which contain high doses of B Vitamins based on the premise that this will contribute to increased energy) I wondered why the term “cyanocobalamin” was being used since it is not the chemically correct name for natural b12. Turns out it is a form of B12 with a “little bit” of cyanide that is either derived from sewage/charcoal bi-product or completely from chemicals. Of course despite there being various scientific inquiries regarding the safety of cyanide being added to our populations food and vitamin supply, our governments have rendered cyanide safe in small doses and since it’s cheap, 95% of the B vitamins on the market are cyanocobalamin.
To be fair the amount of cyanide in your energy drinks or vitamins is indeed a small amount. Estimates I found approximate 3000 vitamin b tablets would have to be consumed for a lethal dose. However, there is nothing mentioned that I could find pertaining to a build up of cyanide in the body or long term effects from ingesting small amounts on a daily basis. Apparently so long as something doesn’t instantly kill you it’s safe for consumption so I guess we can bring on the cyanide!
Counter arguments to the safety of cyanide being added to vitamins are fueled around the fact that cyanide is naturally occurring in some fruits. Apple seeds, mango pits, peach pits and a few other seeds. In my opinion this is a pretty moot argument when one considers that the ONLY way this naturally occurring cyanide would be absorbed by humans is if we were to grind up these seeds and pits and eat them. I don’t know about you but I don’t add pits to my smoothies….
There are ways of producing B vitamins without cyanide, methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin are the safer natural alternatives, but sadly it is extremely expensive and difficult to find these. Since the average consumer has probably not even considered the possibility of cyanide when buying vitamins they are usually going to purchase the less expensive ones on the market. So the companies manufacturing the cyanide version get richer and can offer that lower price while the ones producing a quality product suffer with low sales.
Unfortunately I have no solutions other than if you can afford to support the companies making quality, health conscious products you should do so, while the rest of us remain guinea pigs to the long term effects from the products that aren’t. I just want to make you a smarter consumer in hopes that if more of us are there will eventually be a change.
B vitamins are extremely important. Deficiencies mimic the effects of iron deficiencies and can even cause anemia. Not to mention that B deficiencies are also linked to nerve and cardiac issues, thyroid disorders, depression and a host of other chronic illnesses. I don’t want you to stop taking supplements I want you to READ labels, research and ask questions. Never assume because a product made it to the shelves of a store that it is safe for you and your family. ✌?️
To supplement or not…..
My diet is pretty meticulous. I haven’t eaten fast food in over a decade, I consume no animal products, I eat soy in extreme moderation, I rarely eat anything processed or from a package (and if I do I have educated myself extensively on how to read ingredients), I aim for 75% raw and when I cook I always try do so at low temps and slowly (slow cooker, soups) and avoid the microwave to retain as many nutrients as possible. I always buy high quality food, try to stick to local and there is no question as to whether I consume enough vegetables. And yet I supplement. Let me explain why.
The answer is two fold. On one hand we have food that regardless of how careful and diligent you may be is not as dense in nutrients as it was in years past (for reasons I have stated above). Second, if you are past childhood and/or have ever had ANY digestive issues you are probably not even properly absorbing the nutrients and vitamins from your food anyway. Double whammy. What do I mean when I say digestive issues?
Lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance or sensitivity, IBS, crohns, colitis, indigestion (I see you popping those TUMS like candy), most medications including over the counter, surgery and every single chronic illness (diabetes, lupus, thyroid, etc), alcohol consumption, poor diet and genetics all contribute to damage somewhere within the digestive system in your body and impede your ability to ABSORB vitamins and minerals. It just makes sense to supplement because of this.
I am not sure where this current attitude toward shunning vitamins originates from but in my opinion it’s a huge mistake. At worst quality vitamin supplements are ineffective. Yet our society takes pharmaceuticals in the blink of an eye and without any hesitancy because they are “approved.” Before you pop a pill in your mouth again please pause and consider who exactly is deeming them as safe. I can honestly tell you that in 12 years of nursing I have never once been called to a code for a vitamin overdose. I have never seen a death attributed to supplementing and I have yet to see even a simple hospital admission based on a patient having fantastic vitamin levels. On the other hand I have witnessed countless dementias, injuries, addictions, withdrawals and even deaths from those “safe”prescription drugs. Despite the lack of quality in many of our supplements, as I explained using B vitamins and cyanide as an example, there ARE some good products out there, you just have to be smart with your choices. Happy vitamin shopping!
(This avocado is happy with his B vitamin fortified nutritional yeast eyebrows)?