Synthetic vs. Natural Vitamins: Which is Better?

Synthetic vs. Natural Vitamins

Eating a well-balanced diet is the key to being healthy. However, sometimes a proper diet alone is not able to fulfil the nutrient demands of the body. 

For instance, after a certain age the requirement of calcium increases, especially among women. If you keep eating what you eat earlier, this demand won’t be fulfilled and you start having symptoms of low calcium in the body. It is when the role of supplements or synthetic vitamins come into play. 

While natural vitamins are always good as the body accepts them readily, synthetic vitamins are equally beneficial. Even though there are sources suggesting that synthetic vitamins could pose health risks, having detailed information about them is essential. 

In this article, we will discuss the science behind them and learn about synthetic vitamins vs. natural vitamins. 

What Are Natural Vitamins and Synthetic Vitamins?

natural vitamins and synthetic vitamins
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Natural Vitamins

As the name mentions, natural vitamins are found naturally in whole food sources. They can be easily obtained by eating fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, etc. 

The benefits of natural vitamins are abundant. Eating a well-balanced diet can supply most of the essential nutrients to the body and thus prevent the risk of many common and life-threatening diseases. 

Below are the major sources of natural vitamins-

  1. Fruits and vegetables: Besides supplying vitamins, fruits and vegetables also offer fiber, minerals, plant compounds, etc, that contribute to a healthy body. People consuming fruits and vegetables daily have lower chances of cancer, diabetes, heart ailments, brain disorders, etc. 
  2. Fish: Being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish contributes to lowering heart diseases and other ailments. 
  3. Beans and legumes: These food items are a rich source of proteins, antioxidants and a lot of minerals. Consuming them regularly can reduce the chances of heart strokes considerably. 
  4. Nuts and seeds: From antioxidants and minerals to fibers and healthy fats, seeds and nuts can make a huge impact on your overall health. 
  5. Whole grains: From vitamins and minerals to fiber and other valuable nutrients, whole grains are wholesome foods that accomplish the nutrient demands of the body. They protect the heart and keep other organs healthy. 

Synthetic Vitamins 

Synthetic vitamins are made artificially in the industrial process. They are isolated nutrients usually made from dehydrated and concentrated whole foods.  

Plenty of synthetic vitamins are available today in the market that people can buy and consume as per the body’s requirements. Usually, they are available in the form of tablets, chewables, powders, or liquids. Once consumed, they mimic the way natural vitamins act in the body and fulfill the nutritional demand.

If you are buying synthetic vitamins, always go for products that are labeled 100% plant or animal-based with nothing artificial to reap maximum benefits. 

How Are Natural and Synthetic Vitamins Different?

Below is the table differentiating synthetic vitamins vs. natural under different heads-

CharacteristicSynthetic VitaminsNatural Vitamins
SourceChemically synthesized in laboratoriesDerived from natural food sources
CompositionIsolated compounds or derivatives of vitaminsComplexes of vitamins along with other nutrients found naturally in foods
Absorption RateMay have lower absorption rates or bioavailability compared to natural formsOften have higher absorption rates due to the presence of cofactors and other nutrients
Nutrient ContentPurely vitamins without additional nutrients or cofactorsContains vitamins along with other essential nutrients, minerals, and phytochemicals found in food
ProcessingHighly processed to isolate specific vitaminsMinimal processing, retaining the natural nutrient profile of foods
SafetyGenerally considered safe when used as directed, but some concerns about long-term effects and interactionsGenerally considered safe, with no concerns about long-term effects or interactions
Environmental ImpactMay require extensive resources and energy for production, potentially contributing to pollution and wasteRelies on natural sources and may have a lower environmental impact
CostOften cheaper due to mass production and standardized formulationsMay be more expensive due to the cost of sourcing natural ingredients and lower yields
RegulationRegulated by government agencies for safety and quality standardsLess regulation, but subject to the same safety standards as other food products
Health BenefitsProvides targeted doses of specific vitamins for addressing deficiencies or health concernsOffers a broader range of nutrients and potential health benefits beyond just vitamins

Is It Okay to Take Synthetic Vitamins?

Yes, synthetic nutrients are usually safe for people of all ages. However, it is essential to consult a doctor before taking any of them. 

People of certain ages and nutritional deficiencies can have huge benefits after consuming synthetic vitamins. These are-

  • Elders: After a certain age, the risk of vitamin D deficiency increases in the body. Likewise, to maintain bone density and bone health, the intake of Vitamin B12 supplements is also essential. 
  • People with vitamin deficiency: If your body is deficient in certain vitamins, the doctors recommend supplements to fulfil the shortage. 
  • Vegetarians and Vegans: These people may lack Vitamin D and B12; thus, taking synthetic vitamins can help.
  • Pregnant and lactating women: These women require an extra dose of nutrients for the developing baby and supporting pregnancy. 
  • Women trying to conceive: Certain supplements help reduce the chances of birth defects. Therefore, women trying to conceive are recommended to start consuming synthetic vitamins. 

Are There Any Downsides to Synthetic Nutrients?

Even though the consumption of synthetic vitamins is safe, overdosing and taking without recommendation may pose health risks. 

At the same time, it is advised to always take them from a reliable brand so that your body receives what is written on the label. This is because supplements may contain more or fewer nutrients than stated on the label. 

If your body doesn’t lack any vitamins and you keep consuming synthetic ones, it may result in hypervitaminosis. It means accumulation of high levels of vitamins in the body which is not good for health. 

Pregnant women should be highly mindful of their supplement intake, as an excess of certain vitamins can cause birth defects. 

Conclusion 

While getting natural vitamins is always a win-win, synthetic ones need to be taken with caution. Remember, synthetic vitamins should be taken only when the body lacks them; they are not a replacement for a well-balanced diet. 

Feature Image Source – Canva

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