If you take vitamins and understand the value of good supplements in maintaining your health, you probably want quality vitamins.
Vitamins you find on pharmacy shelves are usually made synthetically, through chemical processes, rather than derived directly from plants or other natural materials. In fact, manufacturers of all natural vitamins and some of their supporters, claim they’re superior to synthetic vitamins. Is there any fact behind these claims?
It’s not always easy to distinguish between “synthetic” and “natural” vitamins. The definition of a natural vitamin is a concentrated nutrient derived from a quality natural source. The idea behind this is, maximum retention of the natural material, no artificial colors, sweeteners, or preservatives should be used.
A natural source contains “co-factors” that naturally come with the nutrient in nature. For instance, co-factors that are usually found with Vitamin C are bioflavonoids. It should be in its concentrated natural source as much as possible. No extreme heat, pressure, or toxic solvents are used in making the vitamins. They should be free of sugar and chemical tablet coating. All natural vitamins should be prepared from high quality raw ingredients. No artificial chemicals, harsh binders or fillers are added.
Synthetic vitamins are made from “coal-tar” derivatives. All “co-factors” are removed. Most of the vitamins and food supplements sold today are synthetic, because they’re cheaper to produce than all natural vitamins.
Natural health experts claim that synthetic vitamins are ineffective and of no use. Doctors and even some nutritionists claim that synthetic vitamins have a chemical molecular structure identical to the all natural vitamin and they’re just as effective. OK, who’s telling the truth here? They can’t both be right.
The fact is that the two function similarly and are bio-available in identical amounts to your body, as long as there is no “alteration.” As long as no other substances unique to that particular source are included,
Vitamin E for example, the d- form of vitamin E derived from vegetable oils and other natural sources is different from the dl- form (which is the synthetic form). The dl- tocopherols (any of a series of structurally similar compounds, some of which have biological vitamin E activity.) are actually a mixture: the d-form and the l-form.
The human body only uses the d- form. The l- form doesn’t confer any known health benefit for the body and is normally excreted. So, in essence, when consuming the dl- form of vitamin E, you only get about half the effective dose, of the vitamin E dosage reported on the label.
Vitamin C that’s found in oranges is identical to the vitamin C derived from other plant sources, mostly because plants containing vitamin C, “biosynthesize” the substance in the same way. When Vitamin C was first isolated and made into a supplement, we didn’t know about “bioflavonoids.” We later discovered, that in nature, bioflavonoids always accompany Vitamin C and are essential for better absorption. They increase the benefits of bioavailability by 30%. This is why you should take the all natural vitamin form of vitamin C.
The critics would argue that, as with all foods and nutrients, Vitamin C is a chemical. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. You can take a bite of an orange and you’ll get ascorbic acid, or you can produce ascorbic acid from corn in a laboratory. The molecules are identical and they accomplish the same function in the human body.
Supplements are meant to assist a highly varied diet of whole, unprocessed foods. You can get “bioflavinoids” from citrus fruits but you’ll never know exactly how much vitamin C you’re getting and how much citrus you will need to take per day. The best way to get all the vitamins you need each day is by taking a high-quality liquid multivitamin.
Laboratory-produced compounds provide the biochemist with the distinct advantage of dose consistency. In nature, one orange might contain 50 mg of vitamin C and another might have only 10 mg. It depends on where it was grown, when it was picked, how it was transported and stored. All natural vitamins and nutritional supplement companies have to guarantee that their products deliver precisely what’s on the label.
Quality in vitamins and nutrients is hard to define sometimes. The ingredients and their amounts is the most important aspect when choosing your vitamins. If that list is about the same, then price should be your guide. Vitamin supplements are more effective in liquid form though because the body can absorb liquids, 5 times better than pills.
A good multivitamin is the bedrock of good health and nutrition. When you choose, look for factors like ingredients, quality level, and overall value.