Synthetic Vitamins

Synthetic Vitamins

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Why You Should Ditch the Synthetic Vitamins:

Synthetic Vitamins Can’t Replace a Whole Food Diet

Vitamins are crucial nutrients that are essential for maintaining good health. They play a vital role in countless reactions happening in our bodies every second. So, taking a multivitamin is definitely good for you, right? Actually, where those vitamins come from and how you consume them matters a lot, and the synthetic vitamins found in most supplements and many processed foods are not the kind of vitamins we want.

A well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet usually provides us with all the necessary vitamins we need. No tablets or pills needed. Natural sources of vitamins include fruits, vegetables, and animal products.

Synthetic vitamins vs whole foods

Unfortunately, our food system has undergone drastic changes in recent years. The extensive production and distribution of processed foods has made these nutrient-poor foods accessible and cheap, while whole, fresh foods have become a smaller portion of Americans’ everyday diet. This change has resulted in many people (six in ten Americans) experiencing chronic illnesses. While processed food may seem cheaper and more convenient, it lacks essential nutrients, leaving us nutrient-poor and more susceptible to illness in the long run.

Food scientists, mainly driven by profits from Big Food, came up with a so-called “solution” to the lack of nutrients in processed food: synthetic vitamins. Their idea was to create lab-made molecules that mimic the original vitamins and easily add them to their products. Voilà! But did they really solve the problem?

Synthetic vitamins are chemical compounds that mimic naturally-occurring vitamins. They are artificial and often added to processed food to give these products more nutritional value. You can also find them in supplements and skincare products. These lab-made molecules lack the same nutrient complexity and absorption levels of vitamins found naturally in food. 

These synthetic vitamins have not been adequately studied and are not a good replacement for naturally occurring vitamins.

What do synthetic vitamins lack?

Vitamins found in nature have nutrient complexity and much better absorption and bioavailability. Our bodies know how to effectively absorb and use the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other beneficial compounds that are found naturally in whole foods. In contrast, synthetic vitamins may have different chemical structures that make them harder for the body to recognize and absorb efficiently.

Synthetic vitamins vs whole foods

In other words, synthetic vitamins at best only provide INCOMPLETE benefits. For example, vitamin C from an orange comes with natural sugars and fiber that aid in its absorption. Synthetic vitamin C lacks these additional components thus reducing its effectiveness. 

There are numerous quality concerns regarding synthetic vitamins. The quality of synthetic vitamins can vary widely, and not all supplements are created equally. Some may contain fillers or additives that could be harmful, while natural vitamins from food are safe.

Synthetic vitamins vs whole foods

How are synthetic vitamins harmful?

Synthetic vitamins may have serious side effects and interactions with medications. Also, taking synthetic vitamins for a long time or in excess may interfere with the absorption or utilization of other nutrients, which may lead to chronic disease. Consuming large amounts of synthetic vitamins—such as A, D, E, K— can cause our bodies to store fat soluble vitamins, which can create vitamin toxicity and disease. Synthetic vitamins also cause significant GI distress such as bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, and constipation. 

Ultimately, these synthetic molecules lack long term data. We simply don’t know how much they can negatively impact our health in the future. But many studies suggest that relying solely on synthetic vitamin supplements may not provide the same long-term health benefits as a balanced diet rich in whole foods. The combination of various nutrients in whole foods assuredly have a more significant impact on our overall health.

Synthetic vitamins are also misleading. Companies use them to market products that aren’t healthy as “providing essential vitamins.” A product like Vitamin Water then has a reputation for being good for you, when in fact it is mostly just sugar and synthetic ingredients.

How should I get necessary vitamins without?

The best way to get the vitamins your body needs is to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and animal products, ideally organic foods grown in healthy soils. 

Supplements are mostly a misguided response to our diets changing to include too much processed, nutrient-poor foods. A better response is to shift to a more nutrient-dense diet, but that is not something that companies can sell you. They can sell you a bottle of pills!

Synthetic vitamins vs whole foods

Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, different types of meat (including organ meats), and drinking herbal teas every once in a while will provide most people with all the vitamins they need. 

If your kids need an extra boost and just love gummies, try making your own! We have an immunity gummy, gut-boosting lime, and sleepytime gummy recipe. All our recipes use whole food ingredients you’ll recognize and have no fillers, dyes, or preservatives.

Synthetic vitamins

Are there any supplements or vitamins you recommend?

In general, we don’t recommend supplements. In addition to the drawbacks and risks of synthetic vitamins, many supplements include fillers, coloring, and preservatives that are not good for us. Supplements and vitamins are not well regulated, so there can be all sorts of filler ingredients that you don’t want. Kids’ vitamins are even worse, often containing sugar, artificial sweeteners, food dyes, and more. 

There is, of course, some nuance here. Some companies take care to make quality supplements from whole food sources. A whole-food vitamin C complex is made with broccoli, oranges, and other naturally occurring vitamin C sources, while a generic vitamin C tablet is usually made with L-ascorbic acid which is synthesized in a lab from the glucose in GMO corn or other feed crops. 

Some valuable foods have moved far out of our normal diets and are hard to incorporate back in, like organ meats. These can be easier to work in through capsules, but you have to make sure the company sources high quality meat. We like Heart & Soil. Ancestral Supplements and Perfect Supplements are also good. 

Because modern diets have been usurped by processed foods, and many people are deficient in certain nutrients (sometimes for many generations), using high quality supplements for remediation may be supportive for some people. But supplementation should always be supported by a diet rich in fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, milk, and meat.

Embrace the superpower of natural sources for our nutrients! Lab-made copies are just not equivalent to the complex and dynamic nutrients found in whole foods. The long-term effects of synthetic vitamins are unknown, and they might not be as effective as the real deal. So, why settle for less when we can thrive with the goodness of nature’s gifts? Plus, fresh, real food is way more enjoyable than a handful of capsules. Let’s nourish ourselves and our loved ones with the simple and wonderful gift of natural foods.