Synthetic vitamins and supplements are made from chemical compounds produced in a laboratory. They are made to mimic the natural way the body absorbs nutrients from food. The body doesn't recognize synthetic vitamins as easily, making it harder for it to absorb and use them efficiently. Most of the supplements available on the market today are manufactured artificially.
These include vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids, among others. As mentioned before, supplements can be derived from plant or animal products. A laboratory will take a fruit and extract a vitamin from it, for example. In the synthetic production of supplements, a vitamin (such as vitamin A) can be synthesized from, for example, an organic compound (such as acetone).
According to How Are Made, there is no structural difference between supplements created by these different methods. Look on the product label for forms of salt, a synthetic substance added to supplements to increase the stability of the vitamin or mineral. Even if synthetic vitamins occur in a form that is chemically identical to their natural form, they are not easily recognized* by the body. For example, anticonvulsant drugs can block the absorption of vitamin folate, according to Mayo Clinic.
When taken in excess, water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B vitamins, are eliminated from the body through urine. If you can identify vitamin C in the ingredient list, Kim says you can almost guarantee that the vitamin is synthetic. There's also some evidence that synthetic folic acid is more harmful than natural folate in foods. These benefits have been linked to the wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and fatty acids found in whole foods.
Long-term consumption of synthetic vitamins containing these impurities can have a cumulative effect, raising questions about their safety and their possible carcinogenic impact on human health, according to studies. A pharmacist can identify a natural or synthetic vitamin supplement and help you learn to identify them yourself. There is no clear evidence to suggest that most synthetic nutrients are beneficial to healthy, well-nourished people. Vitamins and minerals act synergistically, meaning that they rely on each other's presence to function optimal way.
However, the process of producing synthetic nutrients is very different from the way plants and animals create them. They may feel, look and taste natural, but synthetic nutrients may not be absorbed in the same way the body would absorb natural vitamins. It's more efficient to produce vitamins in a controlled laboratory environment than to obtain them from literally tons of fruits and vegetables. Natural supplements are generally made from natural, plant-based ingredients and don't contain synthetic chemicals or artificial additives, making them less likely to cause harmful side effects and interactions with other prescription drugs.