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Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins: What Do We Choose?

Have you ever wondered about which are best: natural or synthetic vitamins? It`s very important to have a good nutrition in our lives, but during pregnancy is that much more important.

Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins

Table of Contents

What Are Vitamins?

Vitamins are organic compounds used by the human body to carry out multiple metabolic processes (maintain blood circulation, repairing cells, producing collage). Therefore, each tissue specifically needs certain vitamins:

  • Eyes – vitamins A and B.
  • Skin – vitamins A, B, C and E.
  • Red blood cells – vitamins B, C and E.
  • The mucous membranes – vitamins B and E.
  • Liver – vitamins K and B.
  • Brain & heart – vitamins B and F.
  • Bones – vitamin D.
  • Blood leukocytes – vitamins B and C.

A deficiency of vitamins is manifested by fatigue, irritability, growth disorder, increased risk of infection, insomnia or muscle pain.

Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins

It probably is a classic question already. Most people will hurry in believing that “natural” ones are clearly the best, but most definitely some of these people have used at least once a product bought from a pharmacy or supermarket.

It`s pretty difficult to make a real difference between synthetic and natural vitamins. A natural vitamin could be defined as a concentrated nutrient from a natural source and to which it wasn`t added any substances such as preservatives, sweeteners or dyes.

The main difference between natural vitamins and synthetic ones is that the first ones are accompanied by cofactors, which are also useful for health. For example, vitamin C is accompanied by bioflavonoids.  Natural vitamins are the ones that we take directly from foods or are concentrated from natural sources, without being added any chemical solvents or aggressive physical methods. Synthetic vitamins are produced by laboratory methods.

Nutritionists claim that these would be inefficient and useless. On the other hand, doctors claim that they are just as better as the natural ones because they basically have the same chemical structure and once they reach the organism they do their job just as well.

Note: Judith A. DeCava said in The Real Truth About Vitamins, “vitamins from natural food sources are enzymatically alive. Synthetic vitamins are dead chemicals.”

Who Is Right?

The truth of the matter is that 2 identical substances will act similarly on the organism. The effect of a vitamin is the same whether if chemically synthesized or derived from a natural source, provided that only that particular substance to be added and nothing else.

For instance, vitamin E is a very powerful antioxidant. When it`s derived from vegetal oils and other natural sources, it can be found under the form of D-isomer (which means the molecule has a certain form). When is synthesized chemically, it will be obtained a mixture of 1.1 D and L isomers. During pregnancy, our organism only needs the D form, so natural sources offers a substance which is 100% efficient, while the synthetic form may only be in half a dose.

Vitamin C derived from citrus fruits is similar with the one from other plants and even with the one under the form of dietary supplement. The difference is that in plants it exists with bioflavonoids with up to 30%.

This somehow inclines the balance towards natural vitamins. However, vitamin C is still an ascorbic acid regardless that it derives from oranges or has been isolated from maize in a laboratory. The molecules from ascorbic acid will act the same at a cellular level.

An important difference between the natural sources of vitamins and nutritive supplements (as synthetic sources of vitamins) is dose, and more exactly the consistency of doze, from one administration to another. In nature, depending on lots of determinants, an orange can contain 50mg of vitamin C, and another one only 10mg. On the other hand, a pill of vitamin C will most definitely contain the same amount as another similar pill. Another advantage of nutritive supplements is purity. Foods can be contaminated with a lot of substances, while supplements are usually subject to more rigorous controls.

Natural Vitamins Are Assimilated to 98%

The main difference between natural and synthetic vitamins occurs primarily in the fact that natural vitamins are accompanied by cofactors, which are very useful in the absorption process. Vitamins aren`t individual molecular compounds, but rather biological complexes which action depends on a multitude of variables. These biochemical complexes act as vitamins only in the presence of all the co-factors and components that form them. Vitamins found in their natural state in fresh vegetables and fruits have an absorption of up to 98%.

Synthetic Vitamins Assimilated only to 10% – 20%

Secondly, drugs are more difficult to digest, tolerate and absorb. Less than 10% – 20% of the nutrients contained in a capsule reach the cellular level, meaning that 80% – 90% are eliminated from the body, being harmful to the liver and immune system. From the financial point of view, more than half of the money spend on vitamins are thrown away. The nutrients in a pill are absorbed at a rate of 10% – 20% compared to the natural ones absorbed by 98%.  An experiment on 2 batches of mice showed that the group getting synthetic vitamins lived less than the group that didn`t receive food at all, basically starvation being less fatal than synthetic vitamins.

So What Do We Use?

Generally speaking, foods (especially fruits and vegetables) should remain the main source. It`s important to try to get them from known sources and take advantage of seasonal products grown in areas that are close because this way there are bigger chances to be ripened naturally and haven`t been transported thousands for long distances. It would be ideal to know in what conditions they were grown, if there were used pest control substances or chemical fertilizers. Purchasing them from small producers increase the chances to find out all this information and eat healthy foods.

Vitamin and mineral supplements have also their value. These preparations are intended to cover deficiencies or to support the organism in more difficult periods, such as pregnancy, convalescence or sport for performance.

Image courtesy of Sonnes.com

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