Natural versus synthetic vitamins—what difference is there? A vitamin’s a vitamin, right? Well, check out the facts and then decide.
Natural vitamins originate from plant tissues, and United States Pharmacopeia (USP) synthetic vitamin isolates, for the most part, do not. Therefore, USP vitamins are not food, even though they are sometimes called natural. They are actually synthesized, standardized chemical isolates. Vitamins derived from plants are never isolated, but are complexed with plant food.
Bioavailability is a major factor when it comes to vitamins. Our nutrients should come from natural sources, from plant food, not synthetic sources. The body recognizes plant-based vitamins and readily accepts them as nourishment. Most synthetic USP vitamins are crystalline in structure, while vitamins created in food are not.
Some synthetic USP vitamins have been shown to have no vitamin action and can even cause vitamin deficiencies. Here are some examples of the potentially harmful effects of synthetic vitamins.
Vitamin A – It has been reported that more than 10,000 units per day of synthetic vitamin A increases the rate of birth defects. It also possibly reduces the utilization of vitamin E.
Vitamin B1 – As a synthetic, vitamin B1 is usually marketed as thiamin hydrochloride or thiamin mononitrate. These are coal tar derivatives and processed with chemicals.
Vitamin B3 – The synthetic version of this vitamin is niacinamide or nicotinamide and created in a process that uses formaldehyde and ammonia.
Vitamin B5 – The synthetic form of B5 is pantothenic acid, which again uses formaldehyde in its production. The same can be said for vitamin B6 and B9.
Vitamin B9 – Apart from the use of formaldehyde, the USP synthetic form is folic acid and may also interfere with the absorption of the real thing, folate, for years and may put people at risk for B12 deficiencies on top of it all.
Vitamin B12 – Most B12 is made through the fermentation process with the addition of cyanide, and synthetic B12 is thus called cyanocobalamin.
Vitamin C – Ascorbic acid is the USP synthetic version of vitamin C, but it is not vitamin C. Vitamin C and ascorbic acid are not treated the same way by the body. Food grade vitamin C is also much better at doing the things that this great vitamin does best, like reducing cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, inhibiting atherosclerosis, helping with cataracts, and increasing collagen.
Vitamin D – Like other vitamins, synthetic vitamin D does not act the same as natural vitamin D in the body, being converted and used slower and less effectively.
Vitamin E – A study showed that natural vitamin E has roughly twice the availability when compared with synthetic vitamin E.
As a general rule, synthetic vitamins are much cheaper and the doses much larger because it is so inexpensive to produce them. However, it is my belief that these synthetic vitamins are dangerous and can increase the risks of cancer; they were even shown to actually shorten life in one major study that involved over 38,000 women.
Natural vitamins can help prevent disease by preventing the accumulation of advanced protein glycation end-products. These glycation end-products are believed to be a major contributor to Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, strokes, and diabetes.
Keep in mind, the primary reason isolated USP vitamins were developed was cost. Through research, I have concluded that synthetic vitamins can be dangerous. Vitamins derived from whole food sources will be recognized by the body as food, not a synthetic poison. Potencies from natural vitamins are lower than the synthetic counterparts, but those high potency vitamins can be high potency toxins.
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