Decode Your Multivitamin: Natural Vitamin Names Vs. Synthetic Isolates

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by Colleen Russell

Whole foods are undisputedly the best, most biologically-available source of dietary vitamins and minerals.  Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet falls short of supplying the optimal daily value of these essential nutrients.  It’s no wonder, then, that multivitamins have become a major health staple in households across the country.  But have you ever wondered how it could be possible to squish an entire day’s recommended allowance of all those vitamins and minerals into a form so concentrated that it will fit into a 750 mg capsule?  Or how it can be done so inexpensively that a one-month supply can be found in the grocery aisle for less than ten bucks?  As the old saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”  If you want real, bioavailable vitamins to supplement your diet, you have to pay a little more.

Are All Vitamins in Supplements the Same?

Unfortunately, a common notion perceived as truth is that food-based vitamins and their synthetic counterparts are one in the same.  The term Ascorbic Acid has been used interchangeably with Vitamin C for years.  Would it surprise you to learn that they are not actually the same thing?  Vitamin C, like all nutritional vitamins, is part of a biological complex consisting of a network of cofactors that enable its nutritional function within our bodies.  Ascorbic acid is a laboratory-synthesized reproduction of a fractionated part of Vitamin C–a fake replica that is missing all of the ingredients required to function.

Why Don’t ALL Supplement Companies Use Whole-Food Vitamins?

There are a variety of reasons that synthetic vitamins are the most commonly found vitamins in supplements and fortified foods.  The most powerful, though, is the cost.  Pharmaceutical-Grade Vitamins are cheaper to make and faster and easier to encapsulate than their food-based counterparts.  Many consumers don’t know the difference, and therefore aren’t willing to pay a premium for a more bioavailable multivitamin.  Since high-temperature pasteurization and manufacturing practices stop vitamin activity from occurring in a natural vitamin, fractionated vitamins have become the norm.  At this time, an estimated 95% of multivitamins are created using synthesized vitamins.

How Can I tell if A Multivitamin Contains Whole-Food or Synthetic Vitamins?

We have compiled a list of vitamin names, their natural forms and sources, and the chemical names of their synthetic counterparts.  Pull your supplement bottles out of the cabinet right now and check your labels, looking beyond manufacturer claims.  Make sure that your multivitamin is a whole-food, bioavailable product made from natural sources–not a chemical isolate made from petroleum, coal tar, and sugar derivatives.  For a variety of whole-food, quality multivitamins for men, women, and children, visit the Peaceful Planet Store here.

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