Vitamin supplements are the most popular and widely available in the market. Although supplements are not regulated by the USDA, the majority of the population uses vitamin supplements to aid various physiological processes in the body.
Different vitamins serve different purposes in the body, including the absorption and distribution of other vitamins.
Natural vitamins are those found naturally occurring in food sources, including meat, dairy products, vegetables and fruits. Synthetic vitamins are those created in labs and imitate the structure of natural ones. These are often readily available in bottles at stores.
Are natural vitamins better than synthetic ones?
Although synthetic vitamins, including multivitamin capsules, are widely available and you can find almost any nutrient you are looking for, studies have shown that they do not get absorbed into the body as easily as natural vitamins. While natural ones do get absorbed into the body thanks to enzymes and other nutrients present in food, it’s important to note that not all food groups provide the body with the nutrients it needs.
For example, certain groups of the population may have certain vitamin deficiencies. These include vegetarians or vegans, elderly citizens, and post-menopausal women.
While vegetarian and vegan diets provide adequate macro nutrients to the body, most individuals following such diets tend to have a deficiency of micronutrients, such as vitamins B12 and D, calcium, iron, zinc, etc.
Elderly folks are also at a risk for vitamin deficiencies due to the body’s inability to absorb as much as it can when it's younger. Moreover, their bodies tend to use up these nutrients in higher doses to keep functions running. For example, elderly individuals will require more calcium, iron, and vitamin D supplements to prevent osteoporosis - the weakening of bones.
In a similar fashion, post-menopausal women are also at high risk of osteoporosis and other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc. The need for vitamins as a supplement increases around this time.
However, certain food groups are not safe for elderly or post-menopausal women to consume on regular basis. This includes red meat, dairy products, or foods with high sugar and sodium content. This limits their options for organic vitamin sources. In cases like these, synthetic vitamins triumph.
The bottom line
Organic vitamins are far better than synthetic ones in terms of absorption and the facilitation of physiological processes. However, when one cannot get all their vitamins from their diet, synthetic vitamins are something they can turn to. Just because they were formulated in a lab doesn’t mean they are bad or harmful - they have been developed by certified professionals.
That being said, it is always advisable to consult your healthcare provider before taking any vitamins.
Be sure to consume the recommended dosage of these supplements and not overdo it. Although rare and unlikely, there is a possibility of suffering from an overdose of vitamins. An overdose is usually marked by diarrhoea and discoloured urine. In case you think you have overdosed on vitamins, consult with your nearest healthcare professional.
Q. Do you take vitamin supplements?
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