Natural supplements are concentrated vitamins and minerals derived from plants. They are often manufactured in a lab for sterility purposes, but they are not created in a lab.


Natural supplements are concentrated vitamins and minerals derived from plants. They are often manufactured in a lab for sterility purposes, but they are not created in a lab.

Synthetic vitamins are cheaper to make and usually more stable. Producers of these synthetic vitamins are permitted to call them “natural” because scientists label synthetics as virtually identical to those found in food. Your body can tell the difference, even if a microscope can’t. The “ingredients” of synthetic supplements are chemicals that are constructed in a lab.

The way these compounds are made is not remotely similar to the metabolic processes that plants and animals use to create them. According to a multitude of studies, these synthetic vitamins are not as bioavailable, absorbable, or usable. These “virtually identical” vitamins are not what we find in natural foods and not as recognizable to the body.

Synthetic vitamins are not all bad; however, far from it. The synthetically produced form of folate (vitamin B9), called L-5-MTHF, has an advantage over whole food sources. Still, it is also where the lines can blur in regards to the benefits of synthetic supplements.

There are two forms of synthetically produced folate – L-5-MTHF and folic acid. For years many supplements (especially prenatal vitamins) used synthetic folic acid as the form of vitamin B9 because of folic acids superior absorption rates over whole-food folate. Recently, folic acid got a new brother called L-5-MTHF— a synthetically produced form of folate that is better than folic acid because it is delivered in the active form the body needs it to be in to do its job.

This is important because folate from whole food and folic acid is difficult for some people to convert into its active form due to a genetic mutation of the MTHFR gene that interferes with the production of the MTHFR enzyme that is required to convert food folate and folic acid into its active form (5-methylenetetrahydrofolate). It is now estimated that as many as 60% of the population may have this genetic mutation, which is why so many people are cautioning against the use of synthetic folic acid because people with the MTHFR mutation cannot utilize it. It can build up in the body, increasing levels of homocysteine – a risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease. In this case, synthetic folic acid falls into the second definition and could be dangerous. But also, in this case, synthetically produced L-5-MTHF is not only beneficial but also superior to whole food folate.

Below is a list of important vitamins where natural reigns supreme.

Natural Vitamin A

Natural Vitamin A – Vitamin A shows up in food as beta-carotene. The body must convert it into vitamin A to be useful. This sounds less effective, but vitamin A can be toxic in large doses. Beta-carotene allows the body to convert what it needs and discard what it does not as a natural safeguard against damage.

Synthetic Vitamin A

Synthetic Vitamin A Synthetic vitamin A is retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate. This synthetic is made from combining fish or palm oil with beta-ionone. Palm oil is leading to deforestation of rainforest and endangerment of orangutans. Beta-ionone is created using citrus, acetone, and calcium oxide.

Natural Vitamin B1

Natural Vitamin B1 – Thiamin, or vitamin B1, is a water-soluble vitamin created by plants and bound to phosphate. Digestion releases the thiamin using specialized enzymes that target phosphate.

Synthetic Vitamin B1

Synthetic Vitamin B1 – Thiamine mononitrate or thiamine hydrochloride is made from coal tar, ammonia, acetone, and hydrochloric acid. It is much less absorbable since it isn’t bound to phosphate. In addition, it is crystalline in structure, unlike plant-based vitamins. Many synthetic vitamins are crystalline. Crystals in our bloodstream cause damage and mineral accumulation where it isn’t needed, like joints.

Natural Vitamin B2

Natural Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin is easily absorbed, stays in the bloodstream for long periods, and is readily used by the body in many important enzymes.

Synthetic Vitamin B2

Synthetic Vitamin B2 – Synthetic riboflavin is made with acetic acid and nitrogen or genetically modified bacteria and fermentation. It has been shown to be less absorbable and then quickly removed from the bloodstream and expelled in urine like a toxin would be.

Natural Vitamin B3

Natural Vitamin B3 – Niacinamide or nicotinamide is what we find in food and commonly call niacin. Niacin can have side effects, but these are minimal when coming from plant foods.

Synthetic Vitamin B3

Synthetic Vitamin B3 – Nicotinic acid is created using coal tar, ammonia, acids, 3-cyanopyridine, and formaldehyde. It is less absorbable and has more risks of side effects.

Natural Vitamin B5

Natural Vitamin B5 Pantothenate is the natural version of this essential B vitamin.

Synthetic Vitamin B5

Synthetic Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic acid involves isobutyraldehyde and formaldehyde to form a calcium or sodium salt. The alcohol derivative panthenol is sometimes used as it is more stable and lasts longer on store shelves.

Natural Vitamin B6

Natural Vitamin B6 – Like B1, pyridoxine is bound with phosphate in plants to make pyridoxal-phosphate. This is the biologically active form. Any other form of B6 must be converted into this phosphate combination before our body can use it.

Synthetic Vitamin B6

Synthetic Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine hydrochloride comes from petroleum ester, hydrochloric acid, and formaldehyde. It isn’t readily absorbed or converted and has been shown actually to inhibit the action of natural B6 in the body. It also has side effects not usually found with natural food sources of this vitamin.

Natural Vitamin B7

Natural Vitamin B7 – Biotin is involved in cell growth, fat production, and metabolism.

Synthetic Vitamin B7

Synthetic Vitamin B7 – Synthetic B7 is produced using fumaric acid.

Natural Vitamin B9

Natural Vitamin B9 – This B vitamin exists in food as folate. It is essential in creating and repairing DNA, thus the vital importance of this vitamin before and during pregnancy. However, it can be hard to absorb, and as such, L-5-MTHF is the best B9 to supplement with.

Synthetic Vitamin B9

Synthetic Vitamin B9 – Folic acid doesn’t exist in natural foods, is crystalline, and is not easily absorbed despite the large amounts added to vitamins and supplements. It comes from petroleum derivatives, acids, and acetylene.

Natural Vitamin B12

Natural Vitamin B12 – Cobalamin B12 is only created by micro-organisms like the bacteria that grow in soil and our intestines, as well as some micro-algae and perhaps some seaweed species.

Synthetic Vitamin B12

Synthetic Vitamin B12 – Cobalt and cyanide are fermented to make cyanocobalamin. That’s correct. Cyanide. It is in minuscule amounts, but it is still cyanide.

Natural Vitamin K

Natural Vitamin K – This vitamin is essential to proper blood clotting and some metabolic pathways. It is found in dark leafy greens.

Synthetic Vitamin E

Synthetic Vitamin E – The synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol is created using refined oils, trimethylhydroquinone, and isophytol. It is not as easily absorbed, doesn’t stay as long in tissues, and is quickly dispelled like a toxin or unknown chemical.

Natural Vitamin E

Natural Vitamin E – Vitamin E refers to 8 different fat-soluble compounds, and it acts as an antioxidant that protects fats from oxidation. The most biologically active form is found in grains, seeds, and the oils from grains and seeds.

Synthetic Vitamin D

Synthetic Vitamin D – To mimic the natural production we find in our skin, scientists irradiate animal fat to stimulate vitamin D3 synthesis. They usually use lanolin, the waxy secretions from sheepskin that keeps wool dry.

Natural Vitamin D

Natural Vitamin D – Technically this one isn’t always thought of as a vitamin since we make it ourselves. Mushrooms, yeast, and lichen produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Humans do too. A daily dose of about 20 minutes of sunlight provides all we need. Vitamin D3 is the most effective kind, the same that comes from our skin and lichen. Mushrooms and yeast often yield D2.

Synthetic Vitamin C

Synthetic Vitamin C – Ascorbic acid is an isolated vitamin from genetically modified corn sugar hydrogenated and processed with acetone. It does not include the flavonoids and phytonutrients that make it work.

Natural Vitamin C

Natural Vitamin C – This vitamin is readily available in citrus, red bell peppers, berries, and many more fruits and vegetables. In nature, it is combined with flavonoids and phytonutrients that help in its absorption and use.

Synthetic Vitamin K

Synthetic Vitamin K – Synthetic vitamin K, menadione, comes from coal tar derivatives and genetically modified and hydrogenated soybean oil and uses hydrochloric acid and nickel. It is considered highly toxic and damages the immune system.

Vitamins should ideally come from food sources as much as possible. If you want a multivitamin, reach for ones that use whole food sources like holy basil, guava, and other herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Often it is worth avoiding supplements that use words ending in -acid, -ide, and sometimes -ate or that use the “dl” before the name. Minerals should be from whole foods as well as often as possible. They are not considered organic materials as they come initially from the earth, but plants incorporate minerals into their systems and combine them with organic compounds. This is how our bodies know them and incorporate them into our systems as well. Minerals are often combined with proteins to form enzymes.