Has 21st century technology advanced how nutrients are delivered to the cells? Can what’s designed in a lab replace what the earth naturally delivers? Have we really progressed or have we fast tracked the process for added shelf life and profitability?
As most are familiar with the B vitamins, let’s examine B-complex. When comparing the evidence, you decide what you are willing to put into your body: synthetic or plant-based.
Interestingly, manufacturers label their products as being “natural”, when in fact it may only contain 10% of natural ingredients, and most commercial brands sold in pharmacies are more than likely derived from genetically modified materials. The other 90% could be synthetic nutrients, also referred to as isolated nutrients; these are usually artificially made, needing further conversation within the body before being absorbed. The majority of supplements available on the market today are made artificially. They include vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, among others. These supplements originate in the lab and are produced in facilities via chemical manipulations with the goal of duplicating the structure of the isolated plant nutrient.
Most of the B vitamins other than Next Generation B-Complex are produced using synthetic B’s derived as by-products of vegetables, animals or minerals, then add enzymes, probiotics and even fermentation and claim they are just like raw foods except they are not. They look for ways to stand apart from the competition in an effort to hide their synthetic B’s, using popular claims like ‘whole food based’ and ‘by fermented culture’. To carry their message their packaging displays vegetation in an effort to sway the consumer into buying their products. They start with synthetic B’s and add a salad mixture and with the help of fermenting agents they blend the two mediums stating that the mixture is now more bioavailable to the cells. Clever approach and a great selling feature to the average consumer. But you need to understand that the B’s do not change their origin, they are still synthetic, only now they are fermented synthetic B’s. If you have ever been wondering what will absorb best to the cells – a fermented synthetic thiamine hydrochloride or an organically grown spirulina rich in naturally occurring thiamine – you should get a clear picture now, especially after the material comparison below.
What is the advantage of using synthetic? First of all, it is far more stable than plant based – this is why you see it added to processed foods. Natural thiamine has a much shorter shelf life.
Since they are not found in nature, you might ask if they are safe. Typically thiamine vitamin B1 uses coal tar as its foundational base — crystalline yellow coal tar derived from fossil fuel. Hydrochloric acid is often added to allow precipitation. Then fermentation, heating, cooling, and other steps are completed until a final synthetic vitamin is created. It’s then dried and tested for purity before being shipped to distributors.
Deceptive marketing helps paint the picture that synthetic nutrients are chemically identical to those found in food. This is certainly not the case. The lab can’t replicate the way plants and animals have created them. Synthetic vitamins require conversion within the body since they lack the necessary oligo minerals (trace minerals) and must use the body’s own mineral reserves instead, which may lead to dangerous mineral deficiencies and your bodies will react, especially in higher dosages.
One more thing to be aware of: natural supplements usually list food sources under medicinal ingredients or are labeled as 100% plant or animal-based. Supplements that list nutrients individually, such as vitamin C, or use chemical names like ascorbic acid, are almost certainly synthetic.
Remember, when you eat real food, you’re not consuming single nutrients, food supplements carry the whole range of vitamins, minerals, co-factors and enzymes that allow for optimal use by the body.
Comparison Chart of Life Choice® Next Generation B-Complex (plant-based) and a Common Synthetic B Vitamins:
Life Choice Next Generation B Complex:
|Plant Based||Plant Source||Bio-availability||Absorption|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 12.5 mg||Spirulina||90%||95% (11.87 mg)|
|Riboflavin (Vit.B2): 10 mg||Spirulina||90%||95% (9.50 mg)|
|Niacin (Vit.B3): 8 mg||Spirulina||90%||95% (7.60 mg)|
|Pantothenic Acid (Vit. B5): 3 mg||Shiitake||90%||95% (2.85 mg)|
|Biotin (biotin): 25 mg||Legumes||80%||90% (22.5 mg)|
|Vitamin B6 (P-5-P): 5 mg||Spirulina||90%||95% (4.75 mg)|
|Vitamin B12: 125 mcg||Spirulina||90%||95% (118.75 mcg)|
|Folic Acid (Vit. B9): 12.5 mcg||Spirulina||90%||98% (12.25 mcg)|
|Vitamin C: 12.5 mg||Acerola berry||95%||95% (11.87 mg)|
|Vitamin D: 5 mcg (200 IU)||Lichen||95%||98% (196 IU)|
Synthetic B Vitamins:
|Synthetic B Vitamins||Source||Bio-availability||Absorption|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 25 mg||Synthetic||25%||30% (7.5 mg)|
|Riboflavin (Vit.B2): 25 mg||Synthetic||25%||30% (7.5 mg)|
|Niacin (Vit.B3): 25 mg||Synthetic||25%||30% (7.5 mg)|
|Pantothenic Acid (Vit. B5): 25 mg||Synthetic||25%||30% (7.5 mg)|
|Biotin (biotin): 25 mg||Synthetic||25%||30% (7.5 mg)|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 25 mg||Synthetic||25%||30% (7.5 mg)|
|Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin): 100 mcg||Synthetic||25%||30% (30 mcg)|
|Folic Acid (Vit. B9): 50 mcg||Synthetic||25%||30% (15 mcg)|
|Choline (Choline Bitartrate): 50 mg||Synthetic||20%||25% (12.5 mg)|
Studies have demonstrated that B Vitamins and nutrients from natural sources are well-absorbed when ingested (95%), and also have an optimum bio-availability (90%) at the cellular level in active form. One does not need to take high dosages or quantities to achieve health benefits.
On the contrary, Synthetic B vitamins are poorly absorbed (30%), and have lower bio-availability (25%). This is the reason why the most common synthetic B Vitamins are formulated with high quantities of ingredients. High concentrations of synthetic vitamins can be dangerous because they can build up in your tissues and cause toxicity. The reason that the synthetic form is more dangerous is because you get a high concentrated serving of the vitamin rather than the amount that you would get from a food-based form.
In closing, if your urine turns yellow after taking your B’s they are synthetic, your body is attempting to remove the excess as a toxin. If after taking your B’s your urine does not change colour they are from food. Can you image after eating a steak (rich in B’s) that your urine would turn yellow?
Schreeb KH, Freudenthaler S, Vormfelde SV, Gundert-Remy U, Gleiter CH. (1997) Comparative bioavailability of two vitamin B1 preparations: benfotiamine and thiamine mononitrate. European journal of clinical pharmacology. 52:4, 319-20.
Balk E, Chung M, Raman G, Tatsioni A, Chew P, Ip S, DeVine D, Lau J. (2006) B vitamins and berries and age-related neurodegenerative disorders. Evid Rep Technol Assess. (Full Rep), 134, 1-161.
Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM. (2017) The Differences Between Synthetic and Natural Vitamins.
Calton Institute. (2017) Synthetic Supplements Exposed!
Ralph Green (2017) Vitamin B12 deficiency from the perspective of a practicing hematologist.