Natural Vitamin:

Synthetic Vs. Natural Vitamins

By Dr. Ben Kim
DrBenKim.com

Here are some facts that you won’t find advertised on most of the vitamin supplements at your local vitamin store:

  • The majority of commercial vitamin supplements are made up of synthetic vitamins
  • Synthetic vitamins do not perform the same functions in your body as vitamins found naturally in whole food
  • Many synthetic vitamins deplete your body of other nutrients and tax your kidneys before being excreted through your urine
If you want a comprehensive understanding of what vitamins are and what they do in your body, it would be best to take a full course in biochemistry. Do you remember all of those molecular formulas and chemical reactions that you studied in your high school chemistry class? Biochemistry is really just an extension of chemistry, with an emphasis on the thousands of chemical reactions that occur in your body on a moment-to-moment basis.

Anyone who studies biochemistry learns that vitamins do not exist as single components that act on their own. Vitamins are made up of several different components – enzymes, co-enzymes, and co-factors– that must work together to produce their intended biologic effects.

Vitamins that are found naturally in whole foods come with all of their necessary components.

The majority of vitamins that are sold in pharmacies, grocery stores, and vitamin shops are synthetic vitamins, which are only isolated portions of the vitamins that occur naturally in food.

A good example is vitamin C.

If you take a look at a variety of vitamin C supplements, you will find that the majority of them contain only ascorbic acid or a compound called ascorbate, which is a less acidic form of acorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is NOT vitamin C. It represents the outer ring that serves as a protective shell for the entire vitamin C complex, much like an orange peel that serves as a protective shell for an orange.

Real vitamin C found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables contain the following components:
  • Rutin
  • Bioflavonoids (vitamin P)
  • Factor K
  • Factor J
  • Factor P
  • Tyrosinase
  • Ascorbinogen
  • Ascorbic Acid

When you take only ascorbic acid found in your synthetic vitamin C tablet or powder, your body must gather all of the other components of the full vitamin C complex from your body’s tissues in order to make use of it. In the event that your body does not have adequate reserves of the other components, ascorbic acid itself does not provide any of the health benefits that the full vitamin C complex does. After circulating through your system, the unused ascorbic acid is eliminated through your urine.

Just like vitamin C, almost all other vitamins that we know of offer their full health benefits when they are in the presence of a number of enzymes, co-enzymes, co-factors, and even minerals. For example, Vitamin D may have as many as twelve different active components, while vitamin P has at least five different components. The mineral copper is needed for full vitamin C activity, while vitamin E works closely with the mineral selenium to provide its health promoting, anti-oxidative effect.

Clearly, it is best to get your vitamins from whole foods because whole foods provide complete vitamins rather than fractions of them. In many cases, whole foods also provide the minerals that are necessary for optimal vitamin activity. For example, sunflower seeds are an excellent whole food source of vitamin E and the mineral selenium, both of which need each other to offer their full health benefits.

How do you know if the vitamins on your kitchen counter are from whole foods or if they are synthetic?

If the list of ingredients includes an actual vitamin like “Vitamin C” rather than an actual food that contains natural vitamin C like “acerola cherry powder”, you can bet that it is a synthetic vitamin.

If you choose to use nutritional supplements, it is in your best interest to use only those products that list actual foods as their ingredients rather than synthetic and isolated vitamins. While some synthetic and isolated vitamins have been shown to provide minimal health benefits, on the whole, most of them cause more harm than good and you are far better off spending your money on whole foods.

It is important to note that the principles in this article are just as relevant and applicable to minerals and mineral supplements.

Please Note: In the coming weeks and months, I will be writing a series of profiles on all of the major and trace nutrients that your body needs for optimal wellness. The main purpose of this upcoming series will be to provide you with a reliable resource that indicates the best whole food sources of all of the major and minor nutrients that we know impact human health. Please feel free to visit our site on a regular basis to check for the latest in this series.

The only whole food supplement that my family and I use on a regular basis is Dr. Ben Kim's Greens.

Dr. Ben KimImprove Your Health With Our Free E-mail Newsletter

Join thousands of people from all over the world who receive our natural health newsletter.

  • 100% free. You can unsubscribe anytime.
  • No spam. We respect and protect your privacy at all times.
  • Valuable information that you can use to improve the quality of your health and life.
First Name:
Email:

Reviews

Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate your newsletter. As a fellow health care provider (optometrist) and medical researcher, I find your distillation of the literature into lay terms to be accurate and very understandable. I really enjoyed your contribution regarding macular degeneration. Keep up the good work. - Kristine Erickson, OD, PhD, FAAO

I get a lot of e-mailed newsletters and yours is the only one I read thoroughly from top to bottom. Your advice is enlightening, educational, easy to follow and it works! Thank you so much for all that you offer. - Lisa Abramovic

Thanks for your excellent health newsletter. I look forward to it every week. Thanks for providing the best online health resource I have found. - Moorea Maguire

I'm sure as a doctor you hear your share of complaints. I just thought you'd like to know that there's at least one person in your "e-audience" that appreciates the time and effort you put into sending the emails. I really look forward to them. - Linda H., Raleigh, North Carolina

Many of my adult ESL students are Korean, and enjoy bits and pieces from your newsletter that I have shared with them. In addition to your logical approach to health, I enjoy sharing your newsletter because your English is unfailingly correct as well as easily understood. Thank you for your beautiful approach to life. - J. Zetterstrom

I thank you and your staff for such a great website. I am former National Level Bodybuilder so I know a thing or two about health and fitness. Your site is very valuable and I do my best to pass it on to friends and people I train. It is also a helpful resource in my career as a human service provider working with clients who need to recover from substance abuse. I believe a major part of recovery is getting your body and mind feeling healthy and strong. Thank you again! Great Website! - Michael Christopher, MSW

I truly appreciate your wonderful newsletter - your balanced and professional way of looking at issues is so helpful! - Erica H.

First Name:
Email:




Disclaimer: Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.