Commercially sold almond milks, as found at your local health store, are full of synthetic chemicals that stress your immune system and contribute to chronic disease. Read on to find out why you should only drink real home-made almond milk.
Here are just some of the harmful ingredients you will find listed on your store-bought “almond milk” carton:
Vitamin A Palmitate – This is a synthetic version of vitamin A that is associated with birth defects and bone fractures while providing zero health benefits. Other side effects of this isolated chemical form of vitamin A include tumor enhancement, joint disorders, osteoporosis, extreme dryness of eyes, mouth and skin, enlargement of liver and spleen, irritability, drowsiness, fatigue, insomnia, abdominal pain, blurred vision, headache, hair loss, muscle pain with weakness, menstrual abnormalities, seizures, nausea, and immune suppression.
Furthermore, vitamin toxicity, known as hyper-vitaminosis, commonly results from consuming too much synthetic “purified” vitamin A and not from naturally occurring vitamin A (from real food sources). A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that “the acute and chronic effects of vitamin A toxicity are well documented in the literature. Emerging evidence suggests that subtoxicity without clinical signs of toxicity may be a growing concern, because intake from preformed sources of vitamin A often exceeds the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for adults, especially in developed countries [emphasis is mine]”.1
Vitamin D2 – This is the synthetic form of vitamin D. Numerous recent studies have demonstrated that vitamin D supplements are highly ineffective at preventing disease, and potentially harmful. Even in amounts considered safe, taking vitamin D over an extended period of time has been shown to contribute to a wide range of health issues, including gastrointestinal symptoms, increases in LDL cholesterol, prostate cancer, kidney disease, and calcium stones.2-8
This is especially a concern for children who consume many products that are fortified with this chemical. The immediate effects of toxicity include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle weakness and bone pain. As toxicity continues over time, the result could be a buildup of irreversible deposits of calcium crystals in the soft tissues of the body that damage the heart, lung and kidneys.9
To best way to prevent Vitamin d deficiency is through sunshine, not pills. For more information watch “The truth about vitamin D”.
Calcium Carbonate – This is derived from non-organic, non-living mineral sources such as chalk and eggshells. That’s right, you are consuming chalk- the same stuff you use to write on a blackboard! Even more worrisome, however, is the fact that calcium supplementation is associated with serious health risks such as cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and kidney stones.10 Recent studies are finding that it may even increase the rate of hip fractures in older women.11 Unfortunately, many foods, such as almond milk, breakfast cereals and orange juice, are fortified with supplemental forms of calcium. This should alert you to the fact that people are commonly consuming large amounts of dangerous supplements without even realizing it. It’s just another part of our SAD Standard American Diet which leads us down the path of our “disease-care system”. My video, The End of Osteoporosis, exposes the truth about calcium supplementation and osteoporosis.
Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (vitamin E) – Included in some brands of almond milk, this synthetic petroleum derived version of vitamin E has been shown to increase the risk of prostate cancer in healthy men. Dr. Marc Garnick, a clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, an oncologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and editor in chief of Harvard’s Annual Report on Prostate Diseases, warns all of his patients to completely avoid any dietary supplement containing vitamin E.12 Hopefully, he also teaches them to avoid this ingredient by reading the label on all of the “fortified” processed foods they consume, such as almond milk.
Studies have repeatedly shown that the human body prefers whole, natural Vitamin E because it retains it at healthful levels as opposed to working to quickly excrete it as it does with synthetic versions. After absorption, a protein in the liver recognizes only the naturally occurring forms of Vitamin E, while the unrecognized synthetic forms are excreted. The Toxicology Data Network provides a list of the numerous health problems related to synthetic vitamin E. This list includes skin rashes, GI irritation, blurred vision, breast enlargement in males and females, diarrhea, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, headache, nausea, stomach cramps and weakness. A 2006 report on natural versus synthetic vitamin E, presented at the American Oil Chemists’ Society symposium, concluded as follows: “In conclusion, natural Vitamin E is a major safe antioxidant nutrient that consists of 8 different components. It is chemically different from synthetic Vitamin E. The natural form is at least twice as effective physiologically than the synthetic form. In addition new research is showing specific health benefits of the individual natural forms.” 13
Synthetic chemicals do not equal naturally occurring nutrients:
- Your body does not always recognize synthetic (man-made) ingredients in vitamins and supplements, and reacts differently than when provided with real food.
- When you ingest a synthetically produced vitamin, such as the ones found in “almond milk”, your body reacts as if you have swallowed some foreign toxic chemical. This means that your immune system must combat the enemy invasion. If you keep stressing your immune system in this way it will eventually become too weak to protect you from illness or disease.
- Lastly, since the very beginning of the boom in the supplement industry which included “fortified” and “enriched foods”, the scientific community has known, researched, and clearly shown with numerous studies that synthetic supplements weaken your health. In fact, these chemicals found in your “almond milk,” bread, and cereal boxes are not properly absorbed nor utilized by your body – instead they act as a burden to your health, even causing withdrawal symptoms when you eliminate them from your diet. Nothing replaces whole food, naturally occurring nutrients that your body recognizes, absorbs, and utilizes as nourishment.
- Over 60,000 cases of vitamin toxicity are reported annually to US poison control centres.14 With close to 50% of the North American population taking vitamin supplements daily, and with synthetic vitamins added to many foods, vitamin toxicity remains a growing yet largely unreported health issue.
You can read more warnings from the Organic Consumers Association regarding how isolated synthetic vitamins are not recognized or metabolized by the body in the same way as naturally occurring nutrients.
Home-Made Almond Milk is Your Only Healthy Option:
Other than toxic synthetic vitamins, your typical carton of store-bought “almond milk” also contains additives, preservatives, too much sodium and sugar. Even if you purchase what claims to be an unsweetened and organic product it will still contain harmful chemicals, and provide you with none of the benefits of whole almonds. Simply put, there is no healthy choice for almond milk that exists on supermarket shelves today.
It can be especially frustrating if you made the wise decision to cut out cow’s milk only to find out that the store-bought almond milk you replaced it with is so unhealthy. However, there is no need to be discouraged because from this point on you will be consuming a delicious, natural and homemade beverage that helps to build and maintain a healthy body.
Discover How to Make Almond Milk at Home.
Naturopath, Health Educator
Nutrition & Exercise Specialist
- Penniston K, Tanumihardjo S. The Acute and Chronic Toxic Effects of Vitamin A. Am J Clin Nutri. 2006 Feb;83(2): 191-201).
- Heikkinen AM, Tuppurainen MT, Niskanen L, Komulainen M, Penttil I, Saarikoski S. Long-term vitamin D3 supplementation may have adverse effects on serum lipids during postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy. Eur J Endocrinol. 1997 Nov;137(5):495-502.
- Tuppurainen M, Heikkinen AM, Penttil I, Saarikoski S. Does vitamin D3 have negative effects on serum levels of lipids? A follow-up study with a sequential combination of estradiol valerate and cyproterone acetate and/or vitamin D3. Maturitas. 1995 Jun;22(1):55-61.
- Witham MD. Vitamin D deficiency: More evidence is needed before general supplementation. BMJ. 2008 Jun 28;336(7659):1451
- Tuohimaa P, Tenkanen L, Ahonen M, Lumme S, Jellum E, Hallmans G, Stattin P, Harvei S, Hakulinen T, Luostarinen T, Dillner. Both high and low levels of blood vitamin D are associated with a higher prostate cancer risk: a longitudinal, nested case-control study in the Nordic countries. Int J Cancer. 2004 Jan 1;108(1):104-8.
- Marshall TG. Vitamin D discovery outpaces FDA decision making. Bioessays. 2008 Feb;30(2):173-82.
- Meyer G, Kpke S. Vitamin D and falls. Information on harm is missing. BMJ. 2009 Oct 28;339:b4395. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b4395.
- Bajnok L. [Vitamin D and calcium in the mirror of clinical evidence]. Orv Hetil. 2016 Jul;157(31):1242-7. doi: 10.1556/650.2016.30419.
- Clement, Brian (2009). Supplements Exposed: The Truth They Don’t Want You to Know About Vitamins, Minerals, and Their Effects on Your Health. Franklin Lakes. New Page Books.
- Mark J. Bolland, Andrew Grey, Ian R. Reid. Calcium supplements and cardiovascular risk: 5 years on. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2013 Oct; 4(5): 199–210.
- H A Bischoff-Ferrari, B Dawson-Hughes, J A Baron, P Burckhardt, R Li, D Spiegelman, B Specker, J E Orav, J B Wong, H B Staehelin, E O’Reilly, D P Kiel, W C Willett. Calcium intake and hip fracture risk in men and women: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1780-90.
- Skerrett P. Selenium, Vitamin E Supplements Increase Prostate Cancer Risk. Harvard Health Publications. Available at: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/selenium-vitamin-e-supplements-increase-decrease-prostate-cancer-risk-201402287059. Last accessed: February 28, 2014.
- Lelah, Michael. Conference paper presented at the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) Hot Topics Symposium, May 2006. Theme: Controversy over the Role of Natural Vitamin E in Reducing Leading Causes of Death.
- Rosenbloom M. Vitamin Toxicity. Medscape. Available at: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/819426. Last accessed: Octobor 14, 2014.
UPDATE: 2014- October 16th
I was alerted of a social media attack that Dr. Joe Schwarcz launched against me on October 4th. Dr. Joe Schwarcz is a Montreal chemist and media personality who teaches the public that synthetic nutrients are equivalent to their natural counterparts and, on numerous other topics, he has consistently supported big industry (chemical companies) versus defending public interest.
Dr. Joe Schwarcz posted my article on almond milk on his Facebook page and wrote “The Food Babe is not the only nutritional numbskull out there. This character is bloated with ignorance”.
Here was my response:
I am the author of the article on almond milk. I stand by my article 100%…
I haven’t read any facts to counter the points made in my article. We have made unbelievable advances in science and medicine, and this has served humanity very well. However, I hope we have not come to a point of arrogance that we believe that synthetic man-made nutrients are equal to what nature offers us?
Someone commented that a glass of commercial almond milk is normally around 30 calories. This is equivalent to about 5g of almonds or 3-5 almonds. 5g of almonds contain 1.3mg of vitamin E, yet many almond milks sold on the market contain 10 mg of vitamin E. 5g of almonds contain 0.1 IU of vitamin A, yet almond milk labels claim 500 IU for those same 30 calories. The point being that you are consuming some sort of multivitamin every time you down a glass of almond milk. Some people are okay with that, however, a majority of people are largely unaware. I do not believe that people would blindly walk into a pharmacy, pick up any supplement without reading the label, and start taking it daily. However, when it comes to foods, especially those labelled with natural ingredients, the public doesn’t generally make the connection that they are consuming the equivalent to supplement pills. What’s even more fascinating is the fact that, under current laws, a vitamin marketed as “natural” only needs to contain 10% of real, plant-derived natural ingredients, while the other 90% can be synthetic. Again, some people are okay with that, especially Dr. Joe Schwarcz who, as a chemist, doesn’t see the difference. However, whatever your position is on synthetics versus natural, wouldn’t you agree that false labelling is an issue?
Finally, people that enjoy keeping up to date with scientific research will take this opportunity to cite the many studies that clearly show that we do better when we consume nutrients that come as part of their whole matrix, and this includes literally thousands of cofactors all working together in synergy. I always tell my clients that we should listen to the scientists, and I strive to educate them to become better consumers of scientific research. I could go on citing the numerous studies that I reviewed before writing my article but, to be brief, I will end with one quote from Professor Isobel Jennings from Cambridge University who wrote in her book, Vitamins in Endocrine Metabolism, “Synthetic vitamins, prepared from chemicals instead of nature, are frequently less active biologically than their natural counterparts, thereby reducing any beneficial effect they may have.” Yes, I stand by my simple point that almonds are better than synthetic nutrients produced by scientists in a lab- and if that makes me a “numbskull” then so be it.