Natural vs Synthetic Vitamins – Which Is Best?
There’s no debate when it comes to the health benefits of taking a quality vitamin and mineral supplement. But with so much choice and variation in price, choosing a supplement can quickly become confusing. What’s the difference between all of these multivitamins? And why would you pay more for one than the other? Read on for answers!
Do I Need to Take a Supplement Anyway?
Being in the business of nutrition we are used to some common misconceptions surrounding vitamin and mineral supplements. From “supplements don’t do anything anyway” to “I can get those for half the price in any supermarket”, we’ve even heard “those things do you more harm than good!”
In a nutshell, there’s undeniable evidence that nutritional supplementation provides your body with a whole spectrum of healthful benefits. On the flip side, studies claiming that they’re bad for you have repeatedly been quashed!
Whilst it is possible to meet your daily requirements with diet alone, chances of achieving this on a daily basis is very unlikely. So, taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement is recommended for most – but not just any old multivit!
Synthetic vs. Natural: What’s the Difference?
Multivitamin and mineral supplements provide a whole spectrum of healthful nutrients in one or two daily capsules. Most claim to provide 100% of your daily nutrient requirements within this handy dose.
The main difference between bargain and premium supplements is where they come from. Nutrients can be derived from natural, whole food sources or – more commonly – manmade in a lab or factory. Where vitamins are sourced drastically effects how they are absorbed and utilised in the body – and so how they impact on our health.
Let’s take a look at the key differences between synthetic and natural vitamins and minerals – and why they matter.
- Where They Come From
Synthetic nutrients are usually made artificially, in an industrial process. Otherwise known as isolated nutrients, they are made to mimic the chemical structure of real nutrients – in the hope that the body will recognise and use them in the same way.
Natural Nutrients come from whole food sources such as fruit, vegetables and animal products. They are dried, concentrated and their nutrients are extracted to form the basis of a nutritional supplement. That way, the beneficial compounds remain in their natural form – just as you’d find them in the diet.
- How They Are Absorbed
Manufacturers hoping to create supplements that are cost effective strive to create synthetic nutrients that are as similar to their natural counterparts as possible. However, the production process of synthetic nutrients is very different to the way plants and animals create them. So, despite having a similar structure, your body may react differently to synthetic compounds.
This means that when they enter the gut and go on to the bloodstream, they may not be recognised as beneficial and so are harder to absorb. Worryingly, this can be so much so that your body excretes them as waste – money quite literally down the drain!
Studies have also shown that natural nutrients have a higher bioavailability than synthetic alternatives. This can be so much so that they absorbed twice as efficiently – giving double the benefit. So despite claiming to provide ‘100% RDA for Vitamins and Minerals’ – the amount you actually absorb can be as little as half.
Furthermore, the absorption of synthetic nutrients is extremely variable depending on which vitamin or mineral is in question. So, if we are talking multivits, it’s no good being able to absorb some nutrients and not others.
- How Much they Cost
Like any product in the world, there’ll always be a cheaper alternative that is lower in both price and quality. Syntehtic mutivits made en masse in a lab will always be cheaper to produce than natural nutrients. But multivits that utilise cheaper, synthetic ingredients mean parting with your hard-earned cash at the cost of your health.
A wise man (or woman!) once said “you get what you pay for” – and that’s certainly the case when it comes to nutritional supplements. Synthetic supplements may cost less than their natural counterparts, but if they provide little to no healthful benefits then your money is wasted anyway!
When it comes to a premium multivitamin and mineral supplement – spending a fraction more is certainly justified by the incomparable quality and benefits of the ingredients. Plus, what better thing to invest in than your health?
What Should I Look for When Buying a Multivit?
Browse the health aisle in your local supermarket or enter the word ‘multivitamin’ into an online search engine and you’ll be bombarded with choice. From the bargain to the premium and everything in-between, choosing the multivit for you can be an overwhelming task! 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
You won’t be surprised to know that our Organic Wholefood Multivit ticks all of these boxes. Like all Natural Nutrient’s products, the clue is in the name! In every capsule you’ll also find the nutrient cofactors and enzymes that are present in their wholefood source – further increasing absorption and utilisation. When it comes to choosing a multivitamin and mineral supplement – the choice is clear!
Thanks for reading,
Steph - Natural Nutrients Nutritionist
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