Millions of people take dietary supplements everyday to improve their health, but only a few know how to tell if their supplements are synthetic or not. Synthetic vitamins are usually less effective, because they are chemically created or reduced down to one specific crystalline vitamin; therefore, they are no longer natural. Synthetic vitamins are not natural because they are missing natural synergistic components, such as mineral activators, co-factors, enzymes and co-vitamin helpers.
Besides not being natural, some synthetic vitamins are contaminated with harmful chemicals and many of them are cheaply made. What makes it worse is that a good portion of synthetic vitamins contain genetically modified ingredients. This is because soy protein isolate, corn starch and modified food starch are added to the vitamins. These three ingredients, if produced in the USA, are usually genetically modified.
If we are only comparing the main chemical structures of synthetic and natural vitamins, the differences would not be that significant. If we compare all the chemical structures of synthetic and natural vitamins, the differences would be significant. In this case, natural vitamins would win because they contain more synergistic components. The most convenient way to tell if a vitamin is synthetic or natural is to read the label on the back of the container or package. Below are some tips about reading supplement labels and how to tell the difference between synthetic and natural vitamins.
What is %DV
- Percent DV (Daily Values) are standard values developed by the FDA for indicating how much vitamins or minerals are found in one serving. For example, if a vitamin has a percentage DV of 50 percent, this means that one serving equals half of the FDA recommended intake of that vitamin.
What is DRI and DRV
- DRI and DRV are standard values based on recommended intakes from dietary food sources developed by the FDA for use on food and supplement labels. It’s important to know that most of the FDA recommendations are not accurate because they target minimal health and not optimal health. For this reason, relying on their recommendations will not help prevent diseases.
- DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) are label values for vitamins, minerals and protein.
- DRV (Daily Reference Values) are label values for nutrients and food components that do not have an RDA.
What is RDA
- RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances) is a standard dietary guideline for recommending the amounts of nutrients that individuals should consume daily.
How to tell the difference between synthetic and natural vitamins
- Vitamin A: Natural sources are carrots, fish oils, sweet potatoes, and spirulina. Synthetic sources are from acetate, palmitate, retinol, or if there is no source then it is usually synthetic.
- Vitamin C: Natural sources are citrus fruit, chickweed, acerola cherry, rose hips and green pepper. Synthetic sources are from ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate and ester C.
- Vitamin D: Natural sources are fish oil and shitake mushroom. Synthetic sources are irradiated ergosterol (yeast) and cholecalciferol. If the source is not given it is usually synthetic.
- Vitamin E: Natural sources are D-alpha tocopherol, wheat germ oil, safflower oil, nuts and rice bran. Synthetic sources are mixed tocopherols, DL-alpha tocopherol, or if the source is not given, it is probably synthetic.
- Vitamin K: Natural sources are alfalfa, menaquinone, phylloquinone, wheat grass, barley grass and spinach. Synthetic source is menadione. If there is no source then it is presumably synthetic.
- Vitamin B1 (also known as Thiamine): Natural sources are yeast, wheat grass, wheat germ, beans and blackstrap molasses. Synthetic sources are thiamin mononitrate and thiamin hydrochloride.
- Vitamin B2 (also known as Riboflavin): Natural sources are rice bran, wheat grass, wheat germ, yeast, flaxseed and rose hips. If the source is Riboflavin it is synthetic.
- Vitamin B3 (also known as Niacin): Natural sources are yeast, barley and wheat grass. If the source is niacin it is synthetic.
- Vitamin B5 (also known as Pantothenic Acid): Natural sources are wheat grass, yeast, rice bran, chlorella, flaxseed and rose hips. If the source is calcium pantothenate it is synthetic.
- Vitamin B6 (also known as Pyridoxine): Natural sources are wheat grass, rice bran, yeast, chlorella, wheat germ, bee pollen, flaxseed and rose hips. If the source is pyridoxine hydrochloride it is synthetic.
- Vitamin B7 (also known as Biotin): Natural sources are rice bran, wheat grass and wheat germ, liver, yeast, chlorella, kelp, flaxseed and rose hips. If the source is D-biotin it is synthetic.
- Vitamin B9 (also known as Folate): Natural sources are wheat grass and wheat germ, rice bran, chlorella, flaxseed, kelp and rose hips. If the source is pteroylglutamic acid or folic acid, it is synthetic.
- Vitamin B12 (also known as Cobalamin or Cyanocobalamin): Natural sources are cobalamin, wheat grass and wheat germ, rice bran, yeast, chlorella, kelp, bee pollen, rose hips and flaxseed. Synthetic versions are streptomycin fermentation and cyanocobalamin.
Learning how to tell the differences between synthetic and natural vitamins can be confusing, but perfecting this skill will help you choose a dietary supplement that is worth your money. In general, vitamins are natural if the label shows food sources next to their names. Some synthetic vitamins do work but when taken without certain minerals, enzymes and co-vitamin helpers, they may not work as well as natural vitamins.
Keep in mind that the term “natural” can be misleading. Supplement manufacturers do not have to go through a verification process to use the term natural on their products. Because of this, they can add synthetic vitamins and preservatives and still claim that their products are natural. As for the term “organic” they need to go through a verification process before they can use it.
Where to buy natural and high quality vitamin supplements
One of the best places to find organic and natural high quality vitamins is at this website. Some good organic vitamin supplements are made by MegaFood. MegaFood dietary supplements are made with 100 percent whole food nutrients and certified organic herbs. They are free of pesticide, herbicides, gluten and soy.
If you want to learn more about natural and synthetic vitamins, I highly recommend reading this article. The article is written by Dr. Robert J Thiel, Ph.D., N.D. He does an great job of explaining the differences between natural and synthetic vitamins and why natural vitamins are superior.
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Category: Nutrition and Supplements