Your body needs a steady supply of vitamins and minerals to function properly, but it can't produce them on its own. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is still a great way to stock up on essential nutrients, but relying solely on food can make it challenging to get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals required for optimal health. Apparently, mainstream farming methods have stripped the soil of vital nutrients, making our food less nutritious. So, even if you stick to a well-rounded, healthy diet, you may still fall short of the recommended daily intake of certain nutrients.
Not to mention the constant demands of a hectic, always-on-the-go lifestyle, coupled with anxiety and chronic stress, leaving little time for most people to prepare and consume a wide range of nutrients from natural sources.
Today's fast-paced world pushes many of us to consume processed and fortified foods as they are more convenient and taste better. Unfortunately, processing our foods also strips them of many vital nutrients — contributing to the increasing prevalence of vitamin deficiencies, food allergies, and chronic diseases.
Since our food is now nutrient deficient, filling in the gaps with supplements has become increasingly popular in the world of health and nutrition. Consequently, the market for vitamins and dietary supplements has exploded, offering a dizzying array of options for consumers. Among these choices, you may have come across the terms "natural" and "synthetic" vitamins.
In this blog, we'll take an objective look at the science of synthetic and natural nutrients and dive deeper into their differences, how they are made, and their pros and cons to help you make informed decisions about your health and well-being.
What Are Synthetic Vitamins And How Are They Made?
Synthetic vitamins are dietary supplements made artificially in an industrial or laboratory setting to mimic how the body absorbs nutrients from food. They are typically produced through chemical processes that involve the extraction, isolation, and synthesis of specific vitamin compounds.
Now, you might be wondering, "Are synthetic vitamins bad?"
While synthetic dietary supplements are made to replicate the function and structure of their natural counterparts, they often lack the full range of nutrients, enzymes, and trace minerals found in natural vitamins.
With this in mind, let's delve into the reasons why it might be best to avoid taking supplements made with synthetic ingredients.
5 Reasons To Avoid Synthetic Vitamin Supplements
1. Synthetic Vitamins Don’t Contain Trace Minerals, Enzymes, and Co-Factors
Trace minerals, enzymes, and co-factors are necessary for the optimal absorption and utilization of vitamins. These components facilitate chemical reactions and aid in transporting essential nutrients across cell membranes. Without these "helper molecules", synthetic vitamins may not be efficiently absorbed, limiting their effectiveness and potentially leading to inadequate nutrient levels in the body.
2. Synthetic Vitamins Can Cause Deficiencies*
Vitamins and minerals work synergistically — meaning they rely on each other's presence to function optimally. For example, vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption, and magnesium helps regulate calcium levels in the body. When you take synthetic nutrients without their accompanying co-factors, the balance of these interdependent nutrients can be disrupted, potentially leading to imbalances or vitamin deficiencies*.
3. Synthetic Vitamins Aren't Easily Absorbed As Natural Vitamins*
Even if synthetic vitamins are presented as "chemically identical" to their natural form, the body doesn't easily recognize them*. They may feel, look and taste natural, but synthetic nutrients may not be absorbed in the same way that your body would absorb natural vitamins.*
Let's take folic acid vs folate as an example.
Though previous studies suggest that folic acid, a synthetic form of folate, is capable of providing similar benefits as natural folate, there are crucial differences in how the body processes these two substances. Folic acid requires conversion into the active form of folate, known as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), before it can be utilized effectively by the body. This additional step can lead to inefficient absorption and, in some cases, even block the absorption of natural folate. Hence, relying on synthetic folic acid is not the best choice for ensuring adequate folate levels in the body, especially for pregnant moms. *
4. Synthetic Vitamins Can't Be Excreted Right Away*
Synthetic supplements often contain high amounts of nutrients. This formulation is based on the assumption that providing higher dosages will help ensure that the body receives the necessary nutrients even if absorption rates are lower. However, these increased dosages can pose potential health risks as excess vitamins can build up and eventually become toxic to the body.*
As you might already know, vitamins come in both fat-soluble and water-soluble forms. When taken in excess, water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin B, will be eliminated through your kidneys in the form of urine. On the other hand, if you take a fat-soluble vitamin, it's not going to be excreted very easily and will likely get stuck in your fat cells — leading to major side effects.
For instance, if a pregnant mom takes high doses of vitamin A, there's an increased risk for the baby to develop a birth defect.* That's why pregnant moms need to be especially careful with their vitamin A intake and should consult a health care professional for the recommended safe dosage.
5. Synthetic Vitamins Can Eventually Become Toxic*
It's important to note that the FDA doesn't check dietary supplements before they hit the market, meaning supplement fraud can occur.
Previous studies found that the lack of regulation of commercialized vitamin supplements caused them to be unsafe, leading to many recalls and false claims.
Some synthetic supplements may contain more or fewer nutrients than what's listed on the label or may even contain substances not listed at all. Taking large amounts of synthetic nutrients can harm your health, as excess vitamins and minerals are hard on the kidneys.* A lot of synthetic vitamins are also crystalline. Crystals in our bloodstream cause damage and unwanted buildup of minerals where they aren't needed, like our joints.*
Another problem with synthetic vitamins is that they have residual traces of some solvents and chemical compounds, like acetate, chloroform, hexane, petroleum, and glyphosate (an herbicide). No wonder studies have linked synthetic vitamins to an increased risk of cancer.*
Although these substances are used in the production process and are not intended to be part of the final product, their presence, even in small amounts, can still pose a health risk. The long-term consumption of synthetic vitamins containing these impurities may lead to a cumulative effect, raising concerns about their safety and potential carcinogenic impact on human health based on studies. Choosing natural supplements from reputable brands that are 3rd-party tested and FDA-approved is important in choosing the right vitamins for you.
Why Are Natural Supplements Better Than Synthetic Vitamins?
Natural supplements are made by concentrating and condensing specific fruits, veggies, and other natural foods into a convenient form that allows your body to get the optimal amount of each nutrient per serving*. They typically contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds that are found in their food sources, which can provide several advantages over synthetic vitamins:
3 Benefits of Natural Supplements
1. Synergistic effects and co-nutrients
Natural supplements are packed with essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds. They all work synergistically, meaning they interact with one another to support and enhance various biological processes in the body*.
For example, B vitamins act as co-factors for various enzymes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, while minerals like magnesium and zinc are crucial for energy production and cellular function*.
2. Enhanced Absorption and Bioavailability*
Studies suggest that the body absorbs vitamins better in their natural form. One of the key advantages of natural supplements over their synthetic counterparts is that they contain a concentrated amount of bioavailable ingredients, which the body can readily absorb and utilize. These bioavailable nutrients are often derived from whole foods and natural sources, making them more compatible with our body's metabolic processes.
Rachel Baker, a registered dietitian and Manager of Scientific Content and Communications at GNC, notes that the absorption rate may depend on the presence of other nutrients within the body. Aiming for a varied and balanced diet is super important as it will provide you with an excellent source of essential nutrients so that dietary supplements can target specific biochemical pathways in your body for optimal health.
3. Lower Risk of Side Effects and Interactions
Natural supplements are typically produced from plant-based and natural ingredients and do not contain synthetic chemicals or artificial additives, making them less likely to cause harmful side effects and interactions with other prescription medications.
Let's take a closer look at your Root'd as an example. Inside your Root'd pack is a proprietary blend of superfoods, enzymes, and probiotics that not only aid in the absorption of electrolytes but ALL the robust nutrition to help increase your hydration, energy, immune, hair+ skin, and digestive health, amongst other long-term benefits.
YES, We’re Root’d to Side Benefits — Never Side Effects
We've teamed up with amazing nutritionists and worked with them for two years to formulate a multi that's not just different but way better! Our mission at Root'd is to craft health-driven, sugar-free, sustainable supplements — that includes transparency because you should trust what you're putting into your body.
Our MULTI goes above and beyond the traditional supplements laden with excessive sugar and synthetic ingredients. We've included the most bioavailable sources and forms of vitamins and minerals with precise input levels to target the specific nutritional needs of men, women, and pregnant moms + their babies.
Every ingredient and finished product we make and use is 3rd party tested by ISO-certified labs across the United States, ensuring the potency, purity, and integrity of all the Root'd MULTI’s you trust.
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