Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins III
How They Are Different and How to Tell Them Apart
Did you know…
• that the vitamins you are now using are very likely synthetic?
• that synthetic vitamins have only one component out of a whole family of micro-nutrients that accompany them in their natural state?
• that less than 50% of a synthetic vitamin can be utilized somewhat efficiently?
• that some sensitive people may actually have an adverse reaction to the synthetic vitamins?
• that scientists can chemically reproduce sea water but when you put fish in this synthetic sea water they die?
Is the World Flat?
At one time many respectable people were mislead to believe that the world was flat. This view was based on what were believed to be very good reasons (for example, the oceans never over-fill, the water must be running off the edge…). Today many respectable people insist that synthetic and natural vitamins have identical molecular and chemical structure. Thus, they insist that synthetic vitamins are just as effective as natural vitamins. Is this reason sufficient basis to form a pro-synthetic judgment?
In the laboratory, chemists can duplicate sea water that is chemically identical to natural sea water, but if you put fish in this synthetic water they will die. Obviously, there is a life-supporting difference between natural and synthetic.
The Amazing Human Body
The human body is a truly amazing machine. When healthy, it is a resilient and intricate system capable of initiating millions of chemical reactions that work to keep it functioning and healthy at all times. In fact, there are an estimated 100 trillion cells in the average adult body, each requiring daily nutrients and sustenance.
Vitamins are some of these key nutrients, providing vital nourishment to the cells. They are catalysts that trigger chemical reactions essential in every metabolic process throughout your body. Vitamins play a primary role in cell repair and growth. Without these fundamental nutrients, the trillions of cells that make up who you are would eventually begin to break down and malfunction, allowing disease to set in.
The human body is designed to be self-sufficient in many ways. For instance, it has the innate ability to heal itself, a process called homeostasis. It naturally works to restore balance and keep the internal environment consistent and healthy. As wonderful as our bodies are however, they still require outside nourishment in order to perform these tiny miracles on a daily basis. In a perfect world, we could simply obtain this daily nourishment from the food we eat. But for many reasons, our food alone can no longer sustain our nutritional needs. As such, we must now resort to supplements.
You Get What you Pay For
The first thing you need to know is that not all supplements are created equal. Nowhere is the adage, “you get what you pay for” more appropriate than in the health food industry. Too often we are led to believe vitamins are all good simply because they are natural. But the reality is that the natural health industry is one of the fastest growing industries today and with $3.3 billion up for grabs, you can bet there are companies looking to seize their share of the profits. Where healthy competition should lead to high-quality products, you often find cheap, ineffective supplements manufactured simply for profit. And just like there is junk food, there are also junk vitamins.
One of the best examples is Vitamin E. This wonderful supplement can be found for as little as $5.99 a bottle. Yet, another similar bottle can cost you upwards of $40. So, why the discrepancy? The short answer… quality.
Defining natural, Crystalline, and Synthetic Vitamins
One of the biggest misnomers about supplements is that they are all alike – Vitamin C is Vitamin C no matter what brand you buy. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Supplements in fact, are manufactured in three basic forms (natural, crystalline and synthetic) and each form is very different when it comes to quality, efficacy and reliability. There is a vast difference between natural and synthetic vitamins and minerals. In natural food, there are many factors present. When you eat natural foods or take supplements derived from them, you are getting all the factors, known and unknown. Such natural products yield far better results than synthetics.
Natural or whole food vitamins are those found in the food we eat. Food nutrients contain a number of micronutrients and enzymes that all work together to provide us with maximum nutrition. For instance, a food that contains an essential B vitamin also contains the necessary micronutrients and enzymes that allow you to assimilate this vitamin. If one or more of these micronutrients is missing, your body is not able to obtain the optimal nutritional benefit of that particular B vitamin. Natural vitamin products therefore, contain the total complex family of micronutrients as they are found in nature. Natural vitamins are the most desirable simply because the nutrients your cells require are delivered in a highly absorbable and ideally potent state just as nature intended. Natural supplements are also the most expensive form primarily because of the cost associated with extracting the vital nutrients while still preserving their natural potency and effectiveness.
Crystalline vitamins on the other hand, while also derived from natural sources, are chemically treated with solvents, heat and other refinements designed to extrapolate a pure form of the specific nutrient. As such, they are no longer entirely natural. This refining also damages the essential micronutrients, enzymes and minerals critical for optimal absorption within the body.
Finally, synthetic vitamins are those created entirely by man. These supplements are made in a laboratory by reconstructing chemical compounds to match the precise structure of any given vitamin molecule. These synthetic forms are also known as “isolates”. In reality, your body can only absorb a small percentage of an isolate vitamin and as such, is not able to completely utilize the majority of nutrients. Depending on the quality of the isolate used, some studies also show that synthetic vitamins can even cause adverse reactions in some people.
Chemically, there is no difference between synthetic and crystalline vitamins. Essentially, both lack the majority of vital components required for absorption and efficacy within your body. In the example of Vitamin E, the cheaper synthetic form (dl-alpha tocopherol or d-alpha tocopheral acetate) is proven 50-70 percent less effective than the natural form (d-alpha tocopherol). Unfortunately, as the health food industry grows and becomes more mainstream, the bulk of supplements being manufactured are synthetics simply because they are cheaper to produce.
The lure of synthetic vitamins
Most chemists maintain, molecule by molecule, synthetic vitamins are identical to natural vitamins. The isolated factor of each may be identical, although newer information challenges this belief. Man-made synthetic supplements are a combination of some of the separate factors, never the whole complex of synergistic factors found in nature. The whole family of B, C or E vitamins is known as a “complex”.
Synthetic vitamins may cause improvement of certain conditions for a short time but the whole complex goes even further. It is now believed that the “unknown” co-factors found in natural vitamins, not found in synthetic forms, act as catalysts which make the vitamins more effective. The reason why synthetic vitamins are so popular is because they are easier and cheaper to manufacture in a lab from petroleum products than to grow and harvest from crops.
Synthetic Vitamins may cause deficiencies
Research indicates that synthetic vitamins may actually cause nutritional deficiencies. When you take a synthetic vitamin, it needs the co-factors normally found in the whole food, in order to complete its action. If they are not in the foods you eat, it will draw the co-factors from your body. You may feel good for a while but when the co-factors run out, you will begin to feel worse. The prolonged action of the synthetics imitates the action of drugs; they over-stimulate rather than feed your body. Science does not even come close to duplicating nature. Many illnesses, pain and suffering are the result of our dietary ignorance.
Take Vitamin C, for example. The FDA has allowed ascorbic acid to be called Vitamin C. Ascorbic acid, however, is the anti-oxidant protector of the Vitamin C complex, much like the eggshell that protects the egg. The C complex consists of Vitamin P, J and K. Most people have not even heard of vitamins P or J. Vitamin J carries the oxygen and vitamin P is the anti-fragility factor. There is another element in whole food vitamin C called terrosenase, which is a copper enzyme. It is needed to make hemoglobin and prevents anemia. Ascorbic acid, on the other hand, is this chemical teased-out portion which is deficient in all these co-factors and will never have the effect that vitamin C has. It has no effect on the common cold or other conditions that vitamin C has. Studies show that people who eat a diet rich in vitamin C do much better than those taking ascorbic acid. In fact, the body has an enzyme that gets rid of ascorbic acid. Nature knew that we needed the egg and not the eggshell.
Vitamin E is similar. It also has an anti-oxidant protector called tocopherol. There are alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherols. They protect the center of the vitamin, which is the mineral selenium. In addition to selenium, they also protect some essential fatty acid factors, which are needed to transport calcium. Many people who get muscle cramps rush out to get calcium when the problem is simply that they are taking high doses of this teased-out portion of vitamin E called tocopherol. The whole food form of vitamin E contains Vitamin F that moves calcium from the bloodstream to the tissue therefore preventing cramps. Also, involved in vitamin E are other E fractions that are important to heart health that synthetic E will have no effect on. Check your vitamin bottle. Natural vitamin E is d-tocopherol, while synthetic vitamin E is dl-tocopherol.
Synthetic vitamins will never have the effects of natural vitamins simply because they are missing many parts of the whole complex.
Enzymes are needed to make it all work Vitamins play only a small part in our daily nutrition and it is a wise nutritionist that knows vitamins have little function without minerals. Lacking vitamins, the system can make use of the minerals, but lacking minerals the vitamins lose their ability to do their work. Minerals liberate the vitamins to do their work. For instance, the mineral iron has a relationship to Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron through the intestinal walls. However, the lack of iron raises your need for Vitamin C. The less iron in your diet, the more Vitamin C you will need. Vitamins need minerals. Yet neither can do their work without enzymes. It may be wise to place our first importance in nutrition on enzymes. The primary aim of Enzyme Nutrition is the restoration of the basic function of the body by feeding and fortifying the body with whole food nutrition, as nature intended.
Give your body what it needs, it’ll make everything else from that. To sustain good health, your cells must have all the elements they need to perform the jobs of growth and tissue repair in your body. Your body does not need hundreds of vitamins and minerals in order to maintain itself. It seems that every month a new miracle vitamin is being touted. Each cell in your body requires certain nutrients to maintain its basic metabolic function and keep healthy. The body will manufacture everything else from these basic building blocks.
These plus approximately 1300 enzymes required for each cell.
A word about labels
Many consumers are confused by the labels. Many labels say “Natural” or “Food based” or “Organic”. “Natural” is a term used very loosely. Many things are natural (e.g. oyster shells) but they may not be ideal for human consumption. Food based simply means that it started with a food product (such as a carrot) but the rest of it was synthesized in a lab. And if the carrot was organic, then they can also add the word”Organic” to the label. One way to tell if a product is synthetic is to use the word potencies. In reality, high concentrations have nothing to do with potency. A 10 000 mg capsule of Vitamin C may not necessarily be potent at all! Remember, you will never see those concentrations or combinations in nature. They simply do not exist like that except in a bottle manufactured in a lab. Eat food, not chemicals
The best form of vitamins and minerals are food concentrates. This is as close to natural as you can get. At the Center for Health Education and Research, we only use food nutrients of the highest quality and purity. We believe in feeding your body FOOD, not a bunch of chemicals. And at C.H.E.R., you can expect only the best.