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Open Letter to the Natural Supplements Industry: Synthetic Versus Natural Vitamins

Dear Natural Supplements Industry,

Thank you for your comments.  

I am not sure how you interpret that we have included synthesized natural form vitamins as an objection to the natural vs. synthetic vitamin controversy, but to call a synthesized vitamin "natural" is an oxymoron. Natural vitamins are made by nature not "created" (synthesized) from something by experts in laboratories.   It is possible to make almost anything from anything else in a synthetic manner if you know the chemical pathway, but this does not apply to real, natural nutrition.  Only nature can truly "make" a natural food or nutrient and if you concede something is "partially" synthesized then it falls into the non-natural (not made by nature) category.

The OCA Nutri-Con campaign is initially about the fact that many vitamins are USP synthetic which go into a food supplement and then are labeled "natural" or from whole food or other information that is not correct.  If a vitamin used in a food supplement product and/or the label indicates a potency listed for the synthetic vitamin in question and the label is also claiming "natural" or from a food source, or something similar then it is mis-labeled.  More than this, the consumer has the right to know if the vitamin is naturally occurring from a food or food concentrate or if it is USP synthetic or synthesized or something other than naturally occurring (NOS).  The consumer will decide if they want a synthetic vitamin or not and it is important that the labels clearly indicate where their claimed vitamin potencies are coming from so that the consumer can make an informed decision.

Many health professionals and others don't care about the natural vs. synthetic vitamin controversy because they are content to use synthetic vitamins as drugs are used for various applications. This is fine, but they have to admit to what they are doing and not try to confuse the consumer with science that relates to effects of chemical compounds vitamins which, like drugs, are what USP synthetic vitamins truly are.  Certainly, there are some products that use synthetic vitamins in some special natural mixtures or vitamins that may have been synthesized "better" than others, but this debate comes after the initial understanding that there are only two types of vitamins available, one is synthetic (made by men in labs) and the other is naturally occurring (made by nature in foods and botanicals).  There are many arguments and studies relating why one synthetic vitamin or mixture or vitamin product is better than another, but there is still a basic first choice between naturally occurring vitamins from organic foods and synthetic vitamins which must be made.  The first step is  make a choice.  If you choose synthetic vitamins, then all the arguments about which synthetic is better comes into play, but only until you make the basic choice first between natural and synthetic.

The good news is that there are now organic food concentrates that offer alternatives for all of the vitamins anyone would want in food supplement ingredients and so a clear choice can be made to get one's vitamin supplementation from NOS ingredients or from synthetic ingredients.

Thanks again for your comments and we look forward to being of service to you.


Scott Treadway

for OCA>