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Reasons to Avoid Synthetic Vitamins

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/10/2024

As supplementation becomes more common, it is important to understand how natural and synthetic vitamins differ at their core.

Learn more about synthetic vitamins, their effects, and what you should do to address nutrient imbalances.

Understanding Synthetic and Natural Vitamins

Synthetic vitamins, often found in everyday supplements, are made in labs using chemical processes. They aim to mimic the way natural vitamins act within our bodies.

The Molecular Differences Between Synthetic and Natural Vitamins

Natural vitamins provide a mixture of catalysts, co-factors, antioxidants, and minute amounts of elements that aid in their successful assimilation. Synthetic versions, however, usually only offer isolated portions of these compounds.

They might not give you the same benefits as their natural counterparts because your body can't process them fully.

Blister packs

Sources of Synthetic Vitamins

You may be surprised to learn that synthetic vitamins are often derived from less-than-appetizing sources such as petroleum oil or coal tar - hardly what we think about when picturing a health supplement.

Yet these industrial products serve as starting points for chemists who transform them into molecules resembling those found in nature.

The Absorption Rates of Synthetic vs. Natural Vitamins

Not all vitamins are equal because the body doesn't absorb synthetic and natural vitamins in the same way.

The Lower Absorption Rate of Synthetic Vitamin E

Synthetic vitamin E is a perfect example to illustrate this point. According to research studies, our bodies only recognize about half of the molecular structure of synthetic vitamin E, which leads to a lower absorption rate.

On the flip side, when we consume natural vitamin E, our bodies can use almost 100% percent because it recognizes its entire molecular structure.

While both forms may look similar on paper or under a microscope, the components that make each one up differ significantly.

Please ensure your doctor knows your supplements since high doses can have potential risks.

Potential Health Risks Associated with Synthetic Vitamins

Many people turn to synthetic vitamins for a health boost. But are they always beneficial? Let's peel back the layers of this question.

Adverse Effects of Beta Carotene and Vitamin E

Beta carotene and vitamin E aren't without their issues, either. Excessive intake may lead to complications like heart failure in smokers (according to research from Heart Institute Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris).

Nutrient Imbalances Caused by High-Potency Synthetic Vitamins

Buying a high-potency supplement might result in nutrient imbalances or deficiencies.

So synthetic vitamins promise better health on paper, but they could cause issues.

Exceptions in the Synthetic Vitamin Realm

Not all synthetic vitamins are created equal. Some, like vitamin B12, are as effective as their natural counterparts. But why is this?

The answer lies in how our bodies process these nutrients. Like a lock and key, some synthetic vitamins fit perfectly into our body's metabolic processes due to their identical molecular structure to natural ones.

Vitamin D is another exception. For those who don't get adequate sunlight exposure, especially during winter or in more northern latitudes, supplements can provide the necessary vitamin D intake.

Health Risks Associated with Excessive Consumption of Natural Vitamin Sources

Can excessive consumption of natural vitamins be detrimental to our health? Yes, and it's not just synthetic vitamins that pose risks. Even natural vitamins can cause problems when consumed in excess.

Chronic liver disease

The Dangers of Overconsumption of Vitamins Intake to Liver

The liver is nature’s multivitamin. Packed with vitamins A and iron, the liver has become renowned for its health benefits. But before you start feasting on liver pate daily, learn about some potential drawbacks.

Excess consumption could lead to hypervitaminosis A, a condition caused by too much vitamin A in your body. Symptoms include dizziness, nausea, and even hair loss. Too much iron isn't great either; it may increase the risk for certain diseases such as hemochromatosis.

In short, enjoy your liver steak or chicken livers sautéed with onions, but remember that moderation is vital.

Cheese and Vitamins

Cheese is not only a delicious addition to many dishes but also a source of essential vitamins. When considering different types of cheese, like American and cheddar, it's important to note that they offer varying nutritional profiles.

One notable difference between these two cheeses is their vitamin content. Cheddar cheese tends to provide more vitamins than American cheese.

For example, you might be wondering, "What is the difference between American and cheddar cheese?" Well, cheddar cheese is particularly rich in vitamin A, which is important for vision and immune health.

However, both types can be part of a balanced diet, and your choice may depend on your specific nutritional needs and taste preferences. So, whether you're enjoying the creamy texture of American cheese or the bold flavor of cheddar, you can benefit from the vitamins they offer as part of your overall diet.


Understanding the differences between synthetic and natural vitamins is crucial as supplementation becomes more common. While synthetic vitamins aim to mimic natural ones, their absorption rates and potential health risks can differ significantly.

It's important to consult healthcare professionals before starting any supplement regimen, especially high-potency synthetic vitamins, to avoid adverse effects and nutrient imbalances.

Excessive consumption of natural vitamin sources, like liver, can also lead to adverse health effects, emphasizing the importance of moderation in dietary choices.

Prioritize a balanced diet rich in natural, whole foods to obtain essential vitamins and minerals, and supplement only under professional guidance to address specific nutrient deficiencies.

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