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Plant-Based Supplements vs Synthetic. Does it Matter?

A fork and knife cutting a pill capsule

When it comes to the difference between natural and synthetic vitamins, the debate is ongoing. As more and more people become health-conscious, they look for options that are well suited for them. The question that gets asked more is, "Is plant-based better than synthetic?" Let's first look at the main difference:

Natural or plant-based supplements are obtained from whole food sources or derived from plant sources.

Synthetic supplements are supplements made artificially using an industrial process.

Most health-conscious people out there make a point to look for food that delivers a powerful nutritional punch when they are trying to eat. Eating vitamin-rich foods means that our body has the goods it needs to keep functioning at maximum capability. While this is the best way to obtain the nutrients, it is not always possible. When you eat food you do not consume a single nutrient but rather a complex with a whole range of nutrients and other enzymes optimally used by the body. Without the entire compound, it's unlikely that the absorption is going to be the same. The problem is that synthetic vitamins are not metabolized as well as natural food-borne vitamins - that is one of the most significant differences between natural and synthetic vitamins.

An example would be an iron supplement. A, which is derived from a plant source. B, which is manufactured through industrial extraction. Research shows that the plant-based one would be easier on the stomach and is better absorbed. This is because these natural pills come straight from food-grade ingredients and keep some of the minerals in them.

That said, sometimes other options are better. For example, Vitamin B12  is mainly found in animal products. A plant-based supplement cannot provide the same concentration as an animal one or a synthetic supplement. In this case, it might make more sense to get a synthetic one rather than not as you are getting a similar chemical composition.

So, what is the bottom line? At the end of the day, it's better to analyze your diet and see which major nutrients are missing. Also, look for companies that provide a better description on their labels. A professional can help you with these choices. Ask questions when visiting a shop before picking just any brand from the shelves. Not all products are created equal. Do some research before you choose any.

 

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