Diet alone is never sufficient to provide us with all the essential nutrients needed for our bodily functions. Thus, supplements were introduced to fill the nutrient gap that we might miss in our daily intakes. While dietary supplements and fortified foods can be helpful and even necessary, in many situations, they could lead to excessive nutrient intake and other adverse side effects if consumed in excessive amounts.
There is no debate when it comes to the health benefits of consuming vitamins and mineral supplements. But our market is full of choices and variations of supplements, differences in pricing, opting for the right supplement could be a tough decision. Now the market is filled with multivitamins as well. What's the difference between all of these multivitamins? And why would you pay more for one than the other? Which are better, natural or synthetic supplements?
There are differences between the synthetic nutrients found in supplements and fortified foods and the nutrients naturally contained within the foods you eat.
Synthetic vs. Natural: What's the Difference?
Multivitamin is claimed to compromise more than one vitamins content which provides a whole spectrum of healthful nutrients in one or two daily capsules. Most sellers claim to deliver 100% of your daily nutrient requirements within this handy dose.
The main differences between both categories are where they come from or the sources of the vitamins. Nutrients can be derived from natural, whole food sources or artificial in a lab or factory. The sources on how the vitamins are derived affect how it is absorbed and utilized in the body. It directly impacts our health as well.
How are Synthetic and Natural supplements derived?
Synthetic nutrients are made artificially in the lab or an industrial process. They are also known as isolated nutrients. They are made to mimic or impose the chemical structure of natural nutrients so that the body will recognize and use them the same way. Natural nutrients are derived from whole food sources such as fruits, vegetables, and animal products.
They are dried, concentrated, and their nutrients are extracted to form a nutritional supplement. In a way, the process makes sure that the beneficial compounds in the supplements remain active and in natural form.
The absorption of supplements
The production of both synthetic and natural supplements is not similar. Some supplement company manufacturers create supplements similar to their natural counterparts. However, the production process of synthetic nutrients is very different from how plants and animals produce them. So, despite having a similar structure, your body may react differently to synthetic compounds.
When they enter the gut and pass through the bloodstream, the supplements may not be recognized as beneficial and are harder to absorb. Worryingly, this can be so much so that your body excretes them as waste.
Studies have also shown that natural nutrients have a higher bioavailability than synthetic alternatives. Thus they can be absorbed as twice as efficiently - giving double the benefit. So despite claiming to provide '100% RDA for Vitamins and Minerals' – the amount you absorb can be as little as half. This is why it is essential to know the importance of synthetic and natural supplements.
Furthermore, the absorption of synthetic nutrients is highly variable depending on which vitamin or mineral is in question. So, if we are talking about multivitamins, we might know which vitamin we are entirely absorbing and which vitamin we lack.
The cost difference between Synthetic and Natural supplements.
Synthetic supplements may cost less than their natural counterparts, but if they provide little to no healthful benefits, then won't be any use of spending money. Synthetic supplements are usually cheaper because they are made in a lab in a more extensive production. Thus, the cost will be cheaper compared to natural supplements.
Natural supplements are generally expensive because they natural, and some are even classified as organic.
Stay Away From Mega-Doses
No matter which type of vitamin you choose, do not take one that contains high doses of any nutrients. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, taking mega-doses of vitamins and minerals may harm your health and increase your heart disease risk. There are brands of both organic and synthetic vitamins that contain mega-doses. Instead, look for ones that have 100 percent of the daily value for most of the nutrients.
What Should I Look for When Buying a Vitamins?
Here are some key terms we think will be found on any supplement worth taking!
- 100% Natural
- Certified Organic
- Whole Food
- No Artificial Ingredients
- 100% Plant / Animal-Based
Research consistently shows that synthetic nutrients are no replacement for a healthy, balanced diet. Getting natural nutrients from whole foods is always a better option. However, if you truly lack a specific nutrient, then taking a supplement can be beneficial. Try to do research and study the ingredients of the supplements and the terms before consuming them.