Background Info on Synthetic vs. Natural Vitamins (Q&A)
Note to reader: This page will be updated regularly with new questions and answers. If you have questions, contact us here.
Are all synthetic vitamins and minerals bad?
OCA’s Nutri-Con campaign aims to offer exposure to these issues to help consumers better choose products that are healthier and easier for the body to absorb and metabolize. The OCA does not claim that synthetic vitamins are all totally useless. Like other pharmaceutical drugs, some of these synthetics have their place in emergency health situations. But many of these synthetics are also unhealthy and naturally occurring vitamins and minerals found in organic foods and 100% plant or food-based supplements are much better. Labeling synthetic supplements as “natural” or “all natural” is consumer fraud. Consumers have a right to know if the vitamin or supplement they are purchasing is synthetic or truly made of naturally occurring ingredients.
How can I read product labels to be able to determine if a particular vitamin or supplement is truly natural or synthetic?
If a vitamin/supplement product label uses words like "Food State", "Food Source", "Food Base", “All natural” , or “Organic”, can I assume that it truly is what it claims to be? There are quite a few companies that use this kind of labeling, but many of them are not being clear on their labels and other literature that they use a medium of fermented or mixture of foods that have been spiked with synthetic vitamins. Many products contain synthetic vitamins which are put into our supplements even though the label says "all natural." One easy way to tell is to look at the RDA. If the potency is higher than anything you would find in nature (example 1000% Daily Recommended Allowance of Vitamin C per serving), the product contains synthetically produced ingredients, no matter what the producer of that product might claim.
How do I know what companies I can trust?
There is also a new standard under development known as the Naturally Occurring Standard (NOS). Products that meet this standard are naturally occurring, organic, fairly traded, and free of genetically engineered ingredients, synthetics, and nanoparticles. The OCA is working with the Naturally Occurring Standards Group (NOSG) on research and development of this new standard.
Are certain synthetic ingredients worse than others?
Also many people are allergic to the chemicals used as a base for synthetic vitamins. Some are toxic, including nicotine, coal tars and alloxal. Avoid toxic ingredients such as magnesium stearate or stearic acid (toxic flowing agents), silicon dioxide (common sand used as an expensive filler that makes the bottle weigh more with the hope that the uneducated consumer will equate weight with higher quality), natural flavors (a common term for toxic MSG used to disguise bland tastes), methylcellulose, carnauba wax, titanium dioxide, and many more. If you are not sure of what you are taking, do not take it! These toxic chemical agents can create significant health problems when consumed over time. The OCA will be posting a detailed list of some of the most problematic ingredients.
What is wrong with isolated vitamins?
Why is it a warning sign if a product is labeled “Manufactured by…” or “Manufactured for…”?
How can I tell if my B vitamin is good?