I’ve had some interesting discussions with people about why I don’t formulate products that contain whole-food vitamins. And they also mistakenly believe that products like Absorb Plus contain synthetic vitamins or minerals – because if vitamins are not whole-food, then they must be synthetic.
First of all, minerals are rarely (if ever) synthetic because they are fairly cheap to extract/refine. Vitamins can be synthetic (especially watch out for Vitamin E) but the fact that they are synthetic is often indicated in the nomenclature.
D-Alpha Tocopherol – Natural Vit. E
DL-Alpha Tocopherol – Synthetic Vit. E
L-proline – Natural amino acid
D-proline – Synthetic amino acid
All other vitamins are extracted from the whole food, or source material. Some use chemical extraction/filtering processes, others use natural methods like water, fermentation, steam, etc.
When I formulate health products, I only select natural-source and naturally-extracted nutrients – to do this, I get the manufacturing flow chart from the raw supplier to check through all the filtering/extraction processes.
Sometimes you can get a natural-extraction form of the vitamin, but it’s in a matrix of sucrose and synthetic Vitamin E, for example (yes, this has actually happened). None of these bases are ever listed on any label, nor do most formulators, or manufacturers, even KNOW they are part of the vitamin. You will only find out when you request extra documentation (beyond the Certificate of Analysis) from the raw material supplier. So that is another reason I obtain the entire flow process chart from source material through the extraction/fermentation process, to the finished material.
Does synthesized mean toxic? Not necessarily. You have to keep in mind that many of the studies that show the beneficial effects of vit/min supplementation use synthesized or chemical-reactant forms. Perhaps because these forms are cheaper, or can be patented. But also because whole food forms are not available or not suitable for clinical trials – not isolated enough to be able to attribute the effect to one particular substance.