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Vitamin Supplements – Part Two: How to Tell if Your Vitamins are Synthetic

Vitamin Supplements – Part Two: How to Tell if Your Vitamins are Synthetic

syntheticLast week we kicked off our discussion on vitamin supplements by identifying what vitamins are, why they’re necessary components for health and how soil deficiencies are mandating we supplement our diet with extra amounts of these vital nutrients.

Furthermore, we learned that not all supplements are made alike… and some are downright dangerous.

But how do we know which supplements will propel us down the path to vitality and not just be a waste of precious money?

Today I’ll tell you about how to identify synthetic vitamins and reveal the brands I recommend for achieving optimal results.


Supplements: What Not to Take

Vitamin supplements fall into two main camps: those derived from whole food sources and those that aren’t.

The truth is, if you’re taking a synthetic vitamin you’re only receiving marginal benefits at best and are most likely harming your body instead! (Be sure to check out part one of this series for more information on why fractionated, synthetic vitamins are detrimental to your health.)

On the flip side, nature – as always – offers us a better life-giving alternative: Whole, nourishing, food.

Is it surprising, then, that there are over 100 companies who sell vitamins in the U.S., and only a handful of them use whole-food derived vitamins that possess their complete synergetic chemical structure?

When it comes to vitamins, what you pay for is what you get, my friends. And there’s a market for cheap “health”.

So what do we do? How do we know whether our current supplements are synthetic or not?


Read the Label

Synthetic vitamins will have ingredients that:

  • Begin with the letters “dl”, like “dl-alpha tocopherol” for Vitamin E (like this one);
  • End with “ate or “ide”, like acetate or palmitate for Vitamin A  (like this one – click “product labeling” for more information);
  • Are not listed as foods (if only the name of the vitamin itself is listed, it’s sure to be synthetic);
  • Include additional additives: glucose, sucrose, starch, microcrustalline cellulose, FD & C Blue #2 Lake, FD & C Red 40, sorbates, benzoates, nitrities and/or sulphites.

Synthetic vitamin labels can also be tricky things and will often use the word “natural” to describe a product that contains both whole-food derived vitamins AND synthetic ones. (like this one). Stay away!

Photo credit: thenext28days

Photo credit: thenext28days

Lastly, don’t be fooled by the vitamin potency listed. If the supplement has a high or unnatural potency (like Emergen-C’s 1,667% of Vitamin C), then it’s synthetic and reaches beyond the scope of good health practices.

For more information on the synthetic names of vitamins and where they’re derived from (some can be pretty scary, like coal tar and petroleum!) be sure to check out the last page of this document for a helpful guide.


Buying Supplements: Which Company Should I Choose?

If you’re ready to toss your synthetic vitamins but are wondering which supplements are worthy of your hard-earned dollar, I recommend the following:

  • Garden of Life is my first and favorite company and their raw multi-vitamin product line: Vitamin Code.
  • MegaFood is a great company that also offers a multi-vitamin that’s safe to use if you’re taking prescription drugs because it’s herb-free.
  • American Health has a time-release multi-vitamin which allows the body to gently assimilate the vitamins and minerals over the course of time, instead of bombarding the system all at once.
  • Floradix is my go-to company for an iron supplement if I’m pregnant and struggling with anemia. It’s terrific, does not cause constipation and contains strength-building herbs as well. Floradix doesn’t have a huge line of products, but the ones they do have are high quality.
  • New Chapter used to be a favorite of mine until they recently hung the “Under New Management” sign. They were acquired by Procter and Gamble just a few months ago, which in my experience means big business profits may begin to overshadow the quality of ingredients. Since their takeover there have been several discontinued products, so who knows what’s in New Chapter’s future. It was nice knowing you…
  • Lastly, Standard Process is another terrific supplement company to consider. The only hang-up is that their products are only available through a registered health care professional. My chiropractor carries their products and has them readily available for purchase and other holistic practitioners in your area may as well. They offer a search feature on their website for identifying physicians carrying their products and you can always ask your physician to order them for you.

Most of these supplements are available through Vitacost. And you can get $10 off your order by clicking here (affiliate link).

And if you’re local to me, be sure to check out the Garden Herb Shop for a wonderful selection of these and other holistic health supplements!

Budget-Friendly Supplements… Are They Out There?

Perhaps you’re more than ready to toss the synthetic vitamins in the trash, but the price tag on quality whole-food supplements like those above keep you holding back.

Is there a way to get the nourishing vital nutrients we need with the quality we want on the budget we have?

Yes! There is a simple and effective way! Be sure to check out our final post on vitamin supplements: Vitamin Supplements: How to Make Your Own For Less!


Are you currently taking a vitamin supplement?

Which are your favorite supplement companies? 


Sources/Further Reading