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Which Vitamins Are Better to Take: Synthetic or Natural From Foods?

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  • Which Vitamins Are Better to Take: Synthetic or Natural From Foods?


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    Today, many experts in dietetics are convinced that there is no need for additional intake of synthetic vitamins or complexes of vitamins and minerals, and the most correct and logical way is to try to get all the trace elements from natural products.

    Let's consider scientific facts about which vitamins are best to take: synthetic or natural from foods.

    According to Cornell University Professor T. Colin Campbell, Ph. D., author of the book "Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition": Synthetic vitamins and complexes are a colossal and unnecessary waste of money. Their main purpose is to convince us that it is OK to eat junk food. However, all we need to do is just eat wholesome food that is abundant in all the essential vitamins and minerals."

    The very fact of taking vitamin complexes can inspire the feeling that we are becoming healthier.

    But ask yourself an honest question: have you often noticed obvious changes in your health and well-being?


    Scientific research suggests that taking dietary vitamin supplements does not always bring benefits. Excess of certain vitamins and minerals can have a toxic effect on the body.


    Natural products (unlike fast food) have everything we need in their composition - a much greater variety of vitamins, minerals, and other biologically active substances, which you will never find in any synthetic multivitamin complex. In addition, they are all surprisingly well balanced.

    Take an orange for example. We used to think that the only thing it is useful for is a high content of vitamin C. Yes, it is.

    But did you know that it also contains B vitamins (B1 and B9) and vitamin A and practically important minerals for humans, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium? Oranges even have a small amount of protein, with all the essential amino acids!






    Benefits of vitamins from natural products

    Many people think that taking vitamins and minerals in the form of tablets can compensate for an inferior diet and that it is difficult to eat fully. This is a misconception.


    In fact, we are used to thinking, or maybe it was suggested to us by pharmaceutical companies, that our food is defective. In fact, it contains significantly more trace elements than you can imagine, and than is contained in any tablet of synthetic analogs.


    What makes natural food even more valuable is the content of biologically active substances-phytonutrients - content that you will never find in any of the most expensive multivitamin complexes.

    However, perhaps the most important advantage of natural vitamins from food-which explains their extraordinary power - is that all the trace elements in food are perfectly balanced.

    It is not enough to simply deliver 1, 2, or 10 vitamins/minerals inside the body. In the scientific review of scientific research on what vitamins are better to take, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it is noted that when ingested, the microelements of natural food enter into a complex interaction with each other, which ensures the maintenance of health, activation of mechanisms of protection against cancer and other diseases.


    Simply put, natural vitamins from food are significantly more useful and effective than their synthetic counterparts.


    Of course, one orange is not enough to satisfy the body's needs. But if your diet is full of whole plant foods and you eat enough calories to cover your energy needs, you can be sure that the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies is very low.

    Mayo Clinic researchers emphasize the following advantages of natural foods as a source of vitamins over synthetic multivitamins:
    • higher nutritional value. Each fruit, for example, contains a variety of nutrients that are balanced.
    • dietary fiber. Whole foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts) are rich in fiber. Fiber is useful in the prevention of many diseases, in particular, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, as well as in the fight against constipation;
    • biologically active substance. Whole foods are rich in natural biologically active substances, phytonutrients that are important for health, and protect against the development of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Many of them are antioxidants - substances that prevent damage to cells and tissues, the development of cancer.

    The most important advantage of natural food as a source of vitamins and minerals: it contains phytonutrients and all the trace elements in it are balanced





    Scientific research does not confirm the effectiveness of synthetic vitamins and complexes for health

    Despite the fact that additional intake of multivitamins looks logical, fashionable, and absolutely necessary (especially in sports), but, from a scientific point of view, there is no obvious evidence of their health benefits in the fight against common fatal diseases (cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke).


    This "verdict" was issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group of US experts who develop recommendations for the prevention of various diseases based on scientific research.


    One of the indicative studies of the uselessness of synthetic vitamins and complexes was carried out by scientists from the Iowa Women's Health Research Center (USA). They studied approximately 38,000 women aged 55 and older for 20 years 3. Their conclusion was that supplementation with vitamins and minerals did not affect life expectancy.






    Can multivitamins fix the problem of malnutrition?

    Important: Remember, if you eat a full meal, there is no need to supplement your diet with synthetic vitamins, minerals, or multivitamins.

    Statistics, however, suggest that most of us do eat poorly: less than 18% of adults eat the recommended minimum of fresh vegetables.


    This fact may have prompted pharmaceutical companies to come up with another idea for enrichment: the creation of synthetic vitamin complexes that would solve the problem of an inadequate diet without any effort on the part of humans.


    However, Ginny Messina, a famous nutritionist, says in her book "The Woman's Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet" that taking artificial vitamin complexes will never completely eliminate the problem of malnutrition, but only slightly smooth it out.

    It is always very difficult to tell what specific vitamins or minerals you lack. There is a difference between when some trace element enters the body in insufficient quantities for a short time and when the deficiency is chronic.

    But even in the case of a deficiency, any external signs of it may be absent until the significant progression of related diseases.


    Common symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency, such as chronic fatigue, frequent colds, dry skin, and acne, can appear for various reasons, i.e. they do not always clearly indicate a problem of vitamin deficiency.

    Someone will say: so let's take a blood test!


    With the help of a blood test, you can really see an objective picture of the sufficient / insufficient presence of trace elements in the diet but not all: vitamins B12, D, and iron - Yes. But the zinc content, for example - No.


    In a state of uncertainty and inability to accurately determine the presence of a deficit, many people solve the problem dramatically-they start taking complex vitamins: just in case, so as not to"miss".

    People think that after all vitamins are useful: they strengthen the immune system and are good for the heart, joints, nervous system, and brain. The more of them, the more useful they are.

    Important: Please understand: the state of lack of a COMPLEX of vitamins is almost impossible. As a rule, the deficiency concerns - one or two microelements. When you take a multivitamin complex, you will overdose all other vitamins.






    Synthetic vitamins are much easier to overdose, natural ones are almost impossible to overdose


    Sometimes it seems that if something is good in small quantities, then more will be even more useful. This does not work for vitamins and minerals.


    According to the US Medical Institute, depending on the situation (some of which are given below as an example), additional intake of certain vitamins or minerals in synthetic form may actually be recommended, from 10-25% to 4000% or more of the daily recommended amounts.


    “But beware of megadoses” " says nutritionist Ginny Messina.

    Some trace elements (fat-soluble vitamins A or E, the mineral iron) can become toxic if you take too much of them.

    In terms of overdose, water-soluble vitamins are less dangerous, since they are dissolved and excreted in the urine. But excess can still lead to side effects (for example, excess vitamin C can end in diarrhea).


    In the above study of 38,000 women, it was found that additional iron intake was recognized as a factor that can lead to premature death.


    This fact does not mean that iron and other synthetic vitamins and minerals are harmful to health.

    Iron is a vital mineral, especially for people with anemia. An overdose of iron is dangerous: excessive intake of it by healthy people can cause harm.


    In the list of trace elements that can be dangerous to overdose, not only iron but also other vitamins and minerals.


    Researchers at the Mayo Clinic claim that taking vitamin E can increase the risk of heart attack and premature death, and if the diet contains more than 200 mg of vitamin B6 per day, it can lead to nervous pain and attacks.

    Recent research by the US National Institutes of Health suggests that too much vitamin A in the diet can lead to bone problems.

    Important: the advantage of natural vitamins and minerals from food over synthetic ones is that they are almost impossible to overdose. With vitamin complexes - everything is different.






    Cases when additional intake of vitamins and minerals may be recommended


    Remember: if you are healthy and usually eat a wide variety of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, dairy products, meat, and fish throughout the day, you can say with almost 100% confidence that you absolutely do not need to take additional synthetic vitamins or multivitamin complexes.

    Additional intake of vitamins and minerals may be useful in some clinical cases, but always the recommendation should come from a nutritionist or doctor

    Additional intake of vitamins and minerals can be recommended for the elderly, vegetarians and vegans, and pregnant women.


    But, in any case, the recommendation should come from a qualified doctor or nutritionist.


    When synthetic forms of vitamins are better, and when natural ones are better:

    Modern pharmaceuticals have learned to artificially synthesize many vitamins. The natural question arises: is the synthetic form always bad, or can it have advantages over the natural one?


    1. Studies of the mineral calcium suggest that the best and safest way to get it is from natural foods that are naturally rich in it.

    Older women who take calcium from supplements have a higher risk of kidney stones, strokes, and even greater risk of death.

    A slight increase in the risk of death was also observed in studies of people taking vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements compared to those who did not.



    2. The exception to the “better from natural products " rule is two B vitamins: B12 and B9.

    Between 10 and 30% of older people are unable to digest and assimilate natural vitamin B12 from food. Therefore, for those over 50, it is recommended to take B12 in the form of supplements to avoid deficiency and related consequences. The same can be said about vegetarians: since vitamin B12 is not present in plant foods, it is critical for them to take it additionally.



    3. Vitamin B9 (folic acid) from supplements and fortified foods is absorbed twice as well as from regular food.

    Pregnant women are recommended to include folic acid in their diet in the form of vitamin supplements or fortified foods.



    4. Iron from plant foods is only half digested, compared to iron from meat.

    However, if you use vegetable iron-containing products with vitamin C, the degree of its absorption increases significantly.



    5. Natural bio supplements made from natural products do not necessarily contain more vitamins.

    In fact, the content of vitamins in them may be modest than in other types of synthetic vitamins. Their only advantage is the content of other plant nutrients, such as fiber.

    However, there is no point in overpaying for expensive natural food additives, especially since according to the results of an independent laboratory, the level of contamination with heavy metals (such as lead, for example) often exceeds the norm.



    6. As for natural vitamins in comparison with synthetic forms, in some cases synthetic ones have advantages, in others - there is no difference.

    Keep in mind that both types can be both useful in the treatment of deficits and other problems, and harmful at too high dosages.



    7. Vitamin E in its natural form is generally better than synthetic.

    At low doses, both the natural (d-alpha-tocopherol) and synthetic (DL-alpha-tocopherol) forms can be equally good, although in the second case, a larger amount of the synthetic form is needed to get the same amount of active vitamin E.

    There is also a greater risk of blood clotting disorders in the case of synthetic vitamin E in high doses.



    8. There are advantages of the natural form and vitamin K.

    The form of vitamin K2, known as MK7, is natural and is obtained from fermented soybeans. It is used in various vitamin supplements and is more effective in increasing vitamin K levels, compared to synthetic K1 or synthetic K2, known as MK4.



    9. Vitamin C, both in its natural form and in its synthetic form, is equally good and effective.

    Rosehip fruit and synthetically obtained vitamin C contain the same compound - ascorbic acid. Citrus bioflavonoids that are present in their natural form or added during the production, can significantly improve the absorption.



    10. Sometimes synthetic forms of vitamins have advantages over natural ones. A synthetic form of vitamin B3 (Niacin) called inositol hexanicotinate, for example, causes less skin redness than Niacin.






    Total: which vitamins are better to take?


    The answer to the question "what vitamins are better to take?" is unambiguous and obvious: those that are contained in natural products.

    Scientific studies do not confirm the benefits of the additional intake of synthetic vitamins/minerals and complexes for healthy people.

    Full-fledged natural food is an ideal source of balanced vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (which are completely absent in synthetic vitamin complexes). The daily need for trace elements can be met only with the help of a full-fledged diet. Besides, it will save you a lot of money.






    Main thoughts:
    • Some scientists believe that synthetic vitamins and complexes are colossal and unnecessary waste of money. All we need to do is just eat wholesome food.
    • The most important advantage of natural products as a source of vitamins and minerals: they contain phytonutrients and all the trace elements in them are balanced
    • There is no obvious scientific evidence for the effect of supplementation of vitamins and minerals on life expectancy and prevention of common fatal diseases
    • Taking synthetic multivitamins will never eliminate the problem of malnutrition
    • Overdose of certain vitamins and minerals can have a toxic effect on the body, leading to premature death, nervous diseases, bone problems, etc.
    • Additional intake of vitamins and minerals may be useful in some clinical cases, but always the recommendation should come from a nutritionist or doctor
    • It is better to get calcium from natural products
    • For the elderly and vegetarians, it is recommended to take additional vitamin B12
    • Vitamin B9 in synthetic form is absorbed twice as well as from food
    • Iron from plant foods is only half digested, compared to meat products. Additional intake of vitamin C contributes to better iron absorption
    • Natural supplements usually contain fewer vitamins than natural products. Often the level of contamination with heavy metals (lead) exceeds the norm
    • Vitamin E in its natural form is generally better compared to synthetic
    • The natural form of vitamin K is more effective than the synthetic form
    • Vitamin C in both natural and synthetic forms is equally useful and effective
    • Synthetic vitamin B3 has advantages over natural, causing less redness of the skin
    Last edited by Addy Williams; 09-19-2020, 05:38 AM.

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