Natural Vs. synthetic vitamins

Vitamins are essential to maintain a good health. Our daily diet must have substantial portion of vitamins and minerals. Most of us opt for synthetic vitamin supplements to fulfill their nutritional. However, are the synthetic vitamin supplements worth using and completely safe for consumer’s use?

This article may help you all to decide what’s the better choice about the  vitamins sources.

What are synthetic vitamins?

These are the vitamins that do not come straight from natural source and are synthesized chemically. No doubt these synthetic forms mimic the action of natural one. However, the organic consumer association suggests that human body does not recognize and utilize the synthetic vitamin supplements as the natural ones. Surprisingly, about 95% vitamins available to us are synthetically prepared.

What’s the big deal about synthetic form?

A huge amount of vitamins are synthetic. The synthetic version of vitamins comes at a price. For instance, the natural vitamins have natural plant or fruits source. The natural form is compatible with human physiology. Moreover, these come in combination with certain micro nutrients and minerals. Their absorption and utilization is different than synthetic. Moreover, these  benefit  our body more than the synthetic vitamins. The synthetic form usually has a label ‘dl’.

Similarly, taking supplements of vitamins is harmful for body as these are much more concentrated and their accumulation in body tissues can prove toxic.

Have a look at harmful aspects of using synthetic vitamin supplements:

Negative aspects of synthetic vitamins supplements

1. Harmful chemicals

Synthetic vitamins may contain harmful substances.  These are usually not suitable for human consumption at first place. For instance, synthetic vitamin B12 is cyanocobalamin which has cyanide in it. Yes you read it right. Cyanide – a toxin. It puts more stress on liver and damages it. Some other harmful substances in synthetic vitamins are:

  • Magnesium stearate
  • Monosodium glutamate (the so called natural flavor)
  • Titimium dioxide

2. Difference in chemical formula

One important point of consideration is that the chemical formula and structure of both natural and synthetic form of vitamins is different.  The chemical structure is essential and determines the level of absorption, utilization, storage and transportation in body. Let’s have a look at few examples:

  • Vitamin B2

The natural form has riboflavin linked with the co enzyme. The body stores it and utilizes it in metabolic pathways.

The synthetic form has riboflavin only. This is composed of acetic acid and nitrogenous sources. With less absorbance and utility in body, the body expels it readily like a toxin and waste.

  • Vitamin B6

The natural form has glycosylated pyridoxine.

Synthetic form consists of peridoxime or pyridoxil hydrochloride.

  • Vitamin C

The natural form has L-ascorbic acid, dehydro-L ascorbic acid.

The synthetic form had ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate.

  • Vitamin E

The natural form has RRR- α tocopherol, β and gamma forms of tocotrienols

The synthetic form, on the other hand, has eight stereoisomers of tocopherol and tocopheryl acetate.

  • Vitamin A

The natural form has beta carotene component of food, which our body converts into vitamin A. The body itself keeps a balance of this vitamin which means the conversion of beta carotenes is controlled and balanced.

The synthetic form is retinyle acetate or retinyl palmitate. The synthetic form development requires a combination of fish oil, palm oil and beta-ionone. The supplements provide the body with high vitamin concentration which may be harmful. Also, the excessive use of palm trees is leading to deforestation.

  • Vitamin B1

Natural form of Vitamin B1 or thiamine is water soluble. In addition to water solubility, the molecule has bound or linked phosphate group with it. The human digestive system and its enzymes release the thiamine for absoption and utilization.

On the other hand, synthetic form is obtained from coal tar, HCl and acetone. Its structure is crystalline which makes it less soluble in cells and alos pose issues with normal blood circulation.

Risk factors for using supplements

According to reports by FDA, there are almost 6, 3000 reports of adverse effects of vitamin supplements in last few years. The associated symptoms are of heart problems, kidney and liver problems and short term symptom are of vomiting, nausea and skin rash.

1. Dietary supplements as prescribed drugs

The recommendation of dietary supplements is in fact a threat to consumers. Reports since the year 2008 indicate that more than 400 clinical products use synthetic vitamin supplements which results in various health issues.

2. Overdose than the required amount

The natural plants and fruits provide the consumer with a balanced or comparatively safe dose of vitamins and associated minerals. On the other hand, the synthetic form comes with large dosage which is les soluble and absorbable than natural. This high dosage results either in vitamin accumulation in body cells. Or it stresses kidney and liver which need to work vigorously to expel these supplements from body as toxin or waste.

3. Insufficient evidence for curing diseases

Pharmaceutical companies who synthesize these supplements may claim that these can help consumers to get rid of some disease. The truth is otherwise. This is not proved in many cases. Recently, the FDA has issues a warning to BioAnue labs. of Rochelle GA, to justify and provide evidences their statement that their supplements and bovine cartilage serum prevents tumor formation.

Similarly, the omega 3 fatty acids are considered to reduce the heart attack risks and cancer. Some misanalysis and studies could not prove this statement.

Data reported in May 2012 in Journal of National Center Institute suggested that the Vitamin C and E, as well as beta carotenes do not seem to reduce cancer risks or death rate by cancer. Similarly, selenium cannot reduce the risks of prostate cancer according to some report. Vitamin C and E are rich sources of anti oxidants that are considered to prevent oxidative damage to cells. The problem arises with overdose of vitamins by taking synthetic supplements.

4. Digestive issue and allergies

Taking vitamin supplement pill sometimes cause allergic reactions such as skin rash in user.

Moreover, many cases have reported the chocking effects of using supplements pills. The reason is that these pills may irritate the esophagus and cause muscular spam, which feels like choking. Overdose of vitamins may result in GI tract discomfort and cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.

Bottom line

There is certain heath risks associated with using synthetic vitamin supplements. However, it requires more research and evidences to reach a final conclusion. But, this is highly adviced and recommended to use more of natural sources for vitamins requirements. Fruits are always the best option to fulfill the nutritional requirements for vitamins and associated minerals.