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Why You Should Stray Away from Synthetic Vitamins

Micronutrients are important for our bodies. Including, vitamins and minerals, which play a vital role in how we digest and absorb nutrients. They help strengthen our immune system, and improve our overall health. In fact, the number of people who take a daily multivitamin have dramatically increased in recent years. And although this shows how health awareness is increasing in our population, are vitamin supplements necessary if we have a well rounded diet? Studies argue the fact that there have actually been adverse health effects when taking a high-dose of supplements, which is why we should ​​stray away from synthetic vitamins. What are synthetic vitamins? Read on for more.

Differences Between Synthetic and Natural Nutrients

Synthetic vitamins are isolated nutrients made artificially though an industrial process. Whereas natural occurring vitamins are consumed through whole food sources. Synthetic vitamins, which also include fortified foods, (we’re looking at you cereals and milks!) are meant to mimic naturally occurring nutrients. Although, when isolated a nutrient is separated from the rest of its naturally-occurring enzymes and complexes, which creates a very unnatural process that is not as easy for the body to properly absorb. 

Studies have shown a difference in how our bodies absorb natural nutrients compared to synthetic. Whole foods contain a range of vitamins, minerals, cofactors and enzymes that influence how our bodies digest and absorb nutrients. Synthetic vitamins are isolated, creating a high dosage of one specific nutrient. When consumed in high doses vitamins A, E, D, C, and folic acid were proven to lead to adverse health effects. For example, overconsumption of vitamin A can lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, lethargy, eczema, patchy hair loss, edema, anemia, respiratory tract infection, chronic liver disease. 

When consuming vitamins from natural sources we can safely utilize the nutrients without risk of toxicity. For example, our bodies utilize plant carotenoids in the form of vitamin A and vitamin E from eating raw nuts and seeds, without risk of overconsumption.

Overconsumption of Vitamins 

There are certain nutrients that can have adverse effects on our health when over consumed. When consuming a synthetic vitamin it is highly concentrated and when added to our natural diet can lead to reaching what is known as an upper limit. Upper limit intakes are meant to ensure nutrient intake levels don’t exceed a safe level for most people. Which is why vitamin administration should be under the control of health provider professionals like pharmacists and be marketed by pharmacies. 

Whole Food Sources 

When searching through the long aisle of supplements, think about how you can attain as many nutrients through whole foods first. Not only is it safer, but having a wide range of whole foods in your diet is proven to have long-term health benefits. Reason being is that whole foods have naturally occurring enzymes that help your body absorb as much nutrients as possible! 

  1. Fruits and vegetables- Contain naturally occurring antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. When a part of our daily diet has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and other health related diseases. 
  2. Fresh Fish - Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish are amazing for our health, especially our heart health! Say good-bye to your fish oil supplements by including fish into your diet 1-2 times per week. 
  3. Nuts and Seeds- High in antioxidants, minerals and healthy fats. Similar to fish nuts and seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega 6-fatty acids! You can benefit your heart health by incorporating seeds into your daily diet. 
  4. Whole grains - Fiber, B vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium and selenium are all found in whole grains!


Hamishehkar, H., Ranjdoost, F., Asgharian, P., Mahmoodpoor, A., & Sanaie, S. (2016). Vitamins, Are They Safe?. Advanced pharmaceutical bulletin, 6(4), 467–477. https://doi.org/10.15171/apb.2016.061

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