Natural or Synthetic Vitamins – What’s the Difference and Why it Matters

Natural or Synthetic Vitamins – What’s the Difference and Why it Matters

Contributed by Joanne Barber

Everyone knows that vitamins are vital to our health and general well-being. The most ideal situation, of course, would be to obtain these essential nutrients from fresh, wholesome and unprocessed foods.

However, it can be quite an uphill task to maintain a balanced, nutrient-dense diet when, after a long day at work, you just want to kick back and pop a pre-packed meal into the microwave instead of toil over a hot stove. The aging process also takes a toll on our bodies and greatly affects how much vitamins can be absorbed.

 Supplements are a great and convenient way to make up for these dietary defiencies. But do you really need them and are all vitamins created equal? Before you rush out to buy a cocktail of supplements, here’s what you need to know.


First things first - Do you require extra vitamins?

I know most of us are, to some extent, deficient in certain vitamins. That doesn’t mean you should stock your entire pantry with a multitude of vitamins because you can have too much of a good thing. An excess of vitamin A, for example, may result in liver abnormalities or lower bone mineral density. Always consult your doctor and get the right blood tests done to ascertain what you’re deficient in, before you purchase vitamins.


What’s the difference and why does it matter?

Whether a vitamin supplement is considered synthetic or natural boils down to how the source from which the vitamins are extracted from, is grown, and how the supplement is manufactured.

Have you considered how your food is grown? In fact, it’s very much similar to how you manage your own health.

To put it into perspective, a farmer may add fertilisers to the soil or spray chemicals on his crop to fight against insects or diseases, just like how we supplement a diet with vitamins and minerals when stressed, rundown or fighting ailments. A conventional or non-organic farmer may cut corners to increase his yield, resulting in crops which are lacking in nutrients. This is akin to how some people purchase cheap products based on quantity, not the quality or goodness of a product.

Many vitamins are manufactured with other not so good mineral chemicals and are therefore only partial vitamins. They may have added colours, ingredient fillers like calcium carbonate or petroleum bi-products, as it’s cost-effective for the manufacturers, and the lower costs are a big draw for price-sensitive customers. The vitamin compounds can also be produced in a lab and created to mimic the way natural vitamins act in our bodies, but because of the fillers, they may not be entirely good for our bodies.

Natural vitamins, on the other hand, are obtained directly from raw material containing the vitamin. After they go through a culturing process, these packaged food cultured vitamins are rich in probiotics and other amazing nutrients, and can make them more bioavailable.

I believe the best form of pure vitamins come from the farms and land that are cared for properly, where ample time is allocated for soil regeneration - the ones where you find fresh and certified organic food, the way nature intended.

How do I know if it’s truly a natural vitamin?

Read the packaging, does the label claim it’s from “naturally occurring food sources”? If you’re not able to read the entire ingredient list, chances are, it’s likely to be synthetic.