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How to Tell if A Supplement is Synthetic
This is a question that has been asked a million times but I’ve never made an official post on it. So let’s get right into how to tell if a supplement is synthetic (and why that matters!).
Some definitions of “synthetic” from Wordnik:
“Produced by synthesis, especially not of natural origin. Prepared or made artificially. Not natural or genuine; artificial or contrived.”
Basically, if a supplement does NOT say “whole food based”, then it is synthetic and lab made!
Read the whole label to see the truth. I have seen many companies that are sneaky with their labeling. Many will put just “vitamin A, vitamin C” on the main label but in the small print of ingredients they will list the actual sources which is synthetic.
If the label says things like this:
- Vitamin C as ascorbic acid
- Vitamin B12 as cyano/methyl cobalamin
- Vitamin D as cholecalciferol
- Magnesium sulfate/malate/etc
- Potassium chloride/bicarbonate
- With NO mention of food- then it’s synthetic!
Why should we avoid synthetic “nutrients”?
Just like the fake foods we’ve all grown up eating, I think it’s time to say BYE BYE BYE to synthetic nutrients. They are FAKE! They are not something that your body recognizes as real and natural. While it might be tempting to try and speed up healing by taking 600% of the daily recommended amount of a nutrient, this is not how the body works. The allopathic “health” world has made us so confused on what true healing is unfortunately.
Why we should ditch the lab made “nutrients”:
- They are not REAL. They are basically like natural pharmaceuticals when they are in a synthetic form.
- Foods have nutrients in the correct balance with all of the co-factors needed for proper absorption. Many of these co-factors are ONLY found in food. So you will not get these in supplement form.
- Nutrients also have antagonists! Many nutrients taken in isolation can create deficiencies of other nutrients. So when you think you are fixing one deficiency, you could creating half a dozen more. It just makes no sense to do things like this.
- Many of my clients over the years have used synthetic and isolated supplements. Sometimes they helped with symptoms but if they stopped taking the supplement the symptoms would come right back! This is because it’s just a crutch- it’s not actually able to fix the deficiency because it is lacking the co-factors for actual absorption.
- Most people have 10+ deficiencies these days. Do you want to take 10+ pills every day for a long period of time? What is even worse is that many people that use HTMA are recommending this method and often put their clients on 30 or more pills per day. Absolute insanity.
- We need stomach acid to utilize our nutrients. So when we have many deficiencies it is often due to having low gut function! If we can eat better and heal
- Many supplement companies are owned by pharma companies- you are still putting money into pharma’s pocket by using many of the popular supplement brands out there. Read my post on this here!
So what to do?
Heal your gut to help your body utilize nutrients better. Heal your liver so we can not only process nutrients better, but we can properly eliminate toxins that would antagonize our nutrients. Heal your adrenals/thyroid/HPA axis to help your body react better to stress so you don’t waste or burn through nutrients as quickly. And be SMART about supplementing and eating: pick nutrient dense foods and whole food supplements that are tailored to YOUR particular needs. Plus, you can rotate your food choices around to get the most out of your diet.
Check out this post for ideas on amazing nutrient dense foods that you can use instead of synthetic supplements.
What about whole food supplements then? Well, isolated supplements in general can still be an issue with many of the points above even if they are whole food based. I personally only recommend one supplement in isolation- whole food vitamin C. In small amounts it’s not too hard on any other nutrients and it is a very big helper for those that need adrenal and copper balancing support. But for most other nutrients they can still create deficiencies of other nutrients.
Our goal with healing should just to be BETTER- not perfect (because there is no such thing). Stressing out about reaching RDAs (which are crappy guidelines anyway) is going to make you burn through even more nutrients. Heal your gut, increase nutrient absorption, eat the best REAL food you can, and live your life.