A supplement whose ingredients are real foods minus the water and fiber. That means primarily vegetables, fruits, herbs or spices, not isolated vitamins or minerals.
A whole-food multi is for people who believe nutrition matters… That our busy lives, chronic stress, lack of exercise, depleted soil, and polluted environments require more nutrition than we get in the food we eat… And that multivitamins are largely useless and even risky. People who believe nutrition matters take whole-food multis as an insurance formula against possible deficiency.
A whole-food supplement is made by taking a nutrient-rich plant like broccoli, removing the water and fiber, making it a powder, then encapsulating it or pressing it into tablets. All the nutrients in the plant remain intact, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and other nutrients, many of which are still unknown to research.
Whole food multis do not list amounts of vitamins or minerals because the value of the ingredients is not in amounts. It's in the synergy or interaction among the hundreds of nutrients contained in the ingredients, all working together. Functional medicine research is showing that very small amounts of a wide array of natural nutrients is usually more beneficial than large amounts of isolated nutrients. The body uses them more easily. Further, there is a cooperation between certain vitamins and minerals, promoting absorption. Correcting a deficiency in one vitamin/mineral requires the addition of others, not simply replacement of the deficient one.
Some nutrients are often included in a wholefood multi to amp up the effectiveness of the whole food blend. These can be absorbed because they are packed in with the whole foods. For example, alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that amps up the effect of the hundreds of antioxidants found in the veggies and fruits in Pop-A-Green and Pop-A-Purple.
A whole food multi is "a dose of good nutrition in a capsule," says Dr. Mary Schaffer, a Mill Valley, California, chiropractor, about Pop-A-Purple and Pop-A-Green, which she recommends to her patients and takes herself.