For example, most of the "vitamin C" sold in the US is ascorbic acid. This is a man-made chemical found nowhere in nature. There is no ascorbic acid in an orange, tomato or broccoli, or any fresh fruit or vegetable.
Ascorbic acid is manufactured in chemical plants by applying heat and pressure and additional chemicals to glucose (sugar), which converts the glucose to ascorbic acid. Not exactly like drinking orange juice, is it?
Ascorbic acid, being a chemical, isn't absorbed or utilized the same way as food, and can often upset the stomach and digestive tract because it is an acid.
Vitamin C as it is found in nature is not acid - it is neutral! The acid taste in oranges and other citrus fruits is caused by their citric acid content.
Some companies will combine ascorbic acid with other chemicals to "buffer" it (make it less acid). This results in the "sodium ascorbate" or "calcium ascorbate" forms of ascorbic acid. The bottom line is that these forms of "vitamin C" as well as most other "vitamins" you find on store shelves, are man-made chemicals. They are nothing like the true vitamins found in fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.
Now, let's take a look at the "minerals" that are available on store shelves. For example, 70% of the "calcium" supplements sold in the US is calcium carbonate. This is factually finely ground up limestone rock, seashells or coral.
Only 4-7% of calcium carbonate taken as a supplement is actually absorbed by the body. Calcium carbonate is sometimes combined with other chemicals to try and improve this very poor absorption rate. Regardless of the many different chemical forms calcium carbonate can get changed into, none of them are the same as the calcium found in a cabbage. Not even close!
These man-made chemical vitamins and ground up rock and mineral salts are called "USP" vitamins and minerals. (USP stands for United States Pharmacopoeia, which is a set of standards these vitamins and minerals are measured by.)
You may also come across vitamins and minerals that are labeled "food based". These are USP vitamins and minerals that have been physically mixed in with alfalfa or soy or some other food.
This mixing with food is done in an attempt to increase the absorption of these chemicals and ground up rock into the body. That is why you often see "take with food" on their labels. Occasionally these "food based" products will be labeled "organic". This simply means that the alfalfa or soy the USP chemicals were mixed in with was grown organically.
Today you can find vitamins and minerals dissolved in liquid form. If the product is made with USP vitamins and minerals, you're just pumping man-made chemicals into your body.
When you place a cabbage plant in the ground, its roots grow down into the soil and rocks, and they pull up from the ground calcium and other minerals in a form that you and I can't eat.
Then through the normal life processes of the plant, it converts these minerals into a part of the plant body itself. Now the calcium has actually become a food we can eat, and our body knows how to absorb and utilize it.
To be effectively absorbed and utilized, vitamins and minerals must be the way they are in food.
Bob Held is the Founder and President of the Wellness Support Network whose mission is to help people with health challenges such as Diabetes and its side effects - neuropathy, high blood pressure, etc. (realfoodnutrients.com) The Wellness Support Network uses Foodform Vitamins which can be effectively absorbed and utilized.