Nutrition - Medical Dictionary


Natural Vitamins

We all know vitamins can help us lead longer, healthier lives.  But, is there a difference between natural vitamins and synthetic vitamins?  Many people only prefer to take natural vitamins, believing that vitamins that which are derived naturally from plants and minerals are superior.  But, is that necessarily true?

Ideally, natural vitamins are those that are taken from the original sources and retain their natural material.  That is, they have no artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives.  Natural vitamins often have co-factors that come with them.  For example, Vitamin C has a co-factor called bioflavoniods.  It must be carefully extracted from the natural source using no extreme heat, pressure or any toxic solvents.  There are no co-factors present in synthetic vitamins as they are made in a laboratory using coal tar derivatives. 

Another way to look at synthetic vitamins and natural vitamins are through their molecular structures.  Is there a difference between the two?  There are many health authorities that believe that synthetic vitamins are ineffective, yet there are also doctors and nutritionists who claim that synthetic vitamins have the same molecular structure and are therefore just as effective as natural vitamins.  Then there are even others who say that taking any vitamin – even synthetic – is better than not having the nutrients at all.  After all, our cells need proper nutrients or they begin to die and our health is damaged.  And in today’s busy world, many people just don’t have time to obtain all the vitamins they need through eating the proper servings of fruits and vegetables.  Even fruits and vegetables may not have as many nutrients as expected unless they are grown organically.

The debate about whether synthetic vitamins are as good for you as natural ones is far from over.  Tests have shown that synthetic vitamins may be as much as 70% less biologically active than natural vitamins. 

One thing it may come down to when purchasing vitamins is price.  Some people say you simply cannot afford to purchase vitamins that are 100% natural.  Many places today sell synthetic vitamins rather than natural vitamins because they are cheaper to produce.

If you want to purchase vitamins that are natural, you can try reading the label to see if they are really natural.  Many will contain certain things that are giveaways to the fact that they are natural.  For example, natural Vitamin A will contain fish oils, while synthetic will contain acetate or palmitate.  Yeast is another good indicator that a vitamin is natural.   Look for yeast on the labels of Vitamin B-Complex, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), and Niacin as an indictor to whether the vitamin is made naturally or synthetically.

If you need vitamins to help you have more energy, run more efficiently, and protect yourself from disease, natural vitamins are the way to go if you can afford the cost.  But, if you can’t, many experts will tell you that synthetic vitamins contain the same molecular structure and are almost just as good for you as natural vitamins.  Just check with your doctor before you start taking any vitamins to make sure you are taking the correct vitamins as well as the correct dose.  Even too much of a natural vitamin can cause problems.

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