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exploring synthetic and natural supplements

Health & Wellness

Exploring Synthetic and Natural Supplements

A lot of people struggle to get the required nutrients directly and purely from diet alone. This is primarily due to poor eating choices and improper balance of nutritional intake. In fact, this has led to a majority of the entire population needing multivitamins to fill in the gaps of their poor nutritional diets. However, there is a large debate centered around whether or not synthetic vitamins are nearly as useful as getting vitamins directly from diet alone. With that being said, there are natural supplements that offer plant-derived ingredient formulations. Below we’ll cover the benefits of natural plant-derived supplements and the differences between them and synthetic-derived vitamins.

What Are Plant-Derived Natural Supplements

Natural plant-derived supplements and nutrients are those that are obtained directly from whole food sources. Whereas, synthetic supplements are those that are made artificially through industrial processing. Because they are made from processing, synthetic supplements are not going to provide the same level of bio-availability as natural supplements. This is how a majority of the supplements on the market are made primarily due to the cost of manufacturing naturally derived supplements versus synthetic. They are typically available in the same form factor as natural alternatives and they usually include various synthetic ingredients that are meant to interact with our bodies in largely the same ways as natural options.

Natural supplements and bowl with powder

How Do You Know If A Supplement Has Synthetic Ingredients?

If you are trying to identify whether or not a supplement contains synthetic ingredients or if it contains whole food sources in it, you are going to want to look at the ingredient label. You will be able to tell if it is natural based on the ingredients that are listed on the supplement. Natural supplements that have natural ingredients are going to have whole food sources listed on the label and typically they will be labeled as plant-derived. Therefore, you should have no trouble spotting the natural supplements on the market. You can also tell whether or not a supplement contains synthetic vitamins by checking to see if the label has a lot of ingredients that sound like chemicals.

natural supplements

Natural Plant-Derived Ingredients

This is one of the best ways to take in supplements. If you are going to be aiming to introduce supplements in your daily diet, you will want to try to identify some of the best natural plant-derived ingredients possible because they are going to be the most effective. The biggest issue with the term natural is the fact that supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as dietary supplements rather than a food or drug. As a result, they simply have to meet the qualification of providing a dietary ingredient to supplement the diet.1 This, along with the lenient use of the term natural has a big impact. In fact, according to the “New Vitamin Bible,” a supplement really only has to be 10 percent naturally derived, with the other 90 percent free to come from synthetic sources. However, you could always look for a supplement being marketed as being 100% natural and be confident that you are purchasing a completely natural product with no synthetic ingredients. This alone makes it less effective to simply look at the terms that are marked on the products themselves unless you are looking closely. Ultimately, you are going to have to do thorough research with the label and various third-party testing to be sure that the ingredients are 100% plant-derived.

natural versus synthetic supplements

Fully Synthetic

This is a very popular method of producing supplements from manufacturers. Not only is it a cheaper way to go about processing supplements, but some vitamins have shown to be just as effective when produced synthetically as natural alternatives.2 Therefore, supplement manufacturers like to use some of the studies to prove that synthetic vitamins can be just as effective and handled by the body to cut the exorbitant costs that are required to produce 100% natural alternatives. The synthetic vitamins produced in the lab are different from natural alternatives. They do however have the same chemical composition. The biggest difference comes with how they are delivered and how efficiently they are capable of being absorbed by the body.

Food Based Supplements

Food-based supplements are typically produced by utilizing enzymes and combining them with both natural and synthetic vitamins and blending it together to create a whole food supplement. Because it is combined with enzymes, you are not only getting the synthetic or natural structures, but also the enzymes that are typically missing when you take any kind of supplement. This allows the supplement to effectively deliver an entire whole food’s nutrient profile which can help to maximize absorption rates.

supplements coming out of bottle

How Different Are Natural and Synthetic Supplements?

When it comes to figuring out how they are different, the main difference comes down to the reaction that your body has when you take synthetic supplements. While the ingredients are very similar in structure and while they are meant to mimic natural sources, the interactions that they have within your body can be very different.


One of the major differences between natural and synthetic vitamins is the fact that they offer differences in absorption rates. Studies have shown that different synthetic vitamins can have very different absorption rates. Some have shown the ability to absorb much like natural alternatives and some have been shown to offer very little in the way of absorption.3 The biggest reason that absorption is negatively impacted by taking in synthetic vitamins is the fact that you are not going to be consuming any other nutrients along with the vitamins which are typically there to help with the absorption rate of the various vitamins that you are consuming. This is why a lot of vitamin manufacturers recommend that you take the vitamin alongside food. That way, you have something that can help with absorption rates by adding digestive enzymes to better break down the vitamins. There have been many studies proving that synthetic vitamins are not as well absorbed by your body. This is especially true with vitamin E as the study proved that naturally derived vitamin E absorbed at a rate twice that of synthetic vitamin E.4


Another significant difference is cost, which is why you typically see a lot of the supplements on the market coming from synthetic sources. The fact is, synthetic vitamins are much cheaper to produce than natural alternatives. Therefore, you are generally going to find a lot more synthetic options on the marketplace because more manufacturers are going to opt for the cheaper alternative. This is primarily due to the fact that the chemicals and the entire process are much more simplified than creating 100% natural supplements. Also, not many consumers are fully aware of the differences nor the advantages of natural supplements so they are much less likely to spend the extra money for a 100% natural product.

Higher Potency

Another significant difference that you are going to get with the different options on the market is the potency. The fact is, synthetic vitamins are going to offer much higher dosages. Synthetic vitamins were specially designed to offer the highest level of potency whereas whole food or natural products are going to be limited by the natural makeup. Therefore, if you are looking for the absolute strongest vitamins on the market in terms of potency, you are not going to find better options than synthetic vitamins.

woman holding glass of water about to take supplement

Should You Use Supplements?

Experts definitely agree that getting your nutrients purely through diet alone is the optimal way. A balanced diet should be able to provide you with all of the essential nutrients that your body needs. However, there are plenty of reasons someone might benefit from taking various kinds of vitamins whether natural or synthetic. For instance, someone that is deficient in vitamin D would require additional supplementation to be able to eliminate the deficiency. Another would be childbearing-aged women taking folic acid. Because of the importance of folic acid, it is crucial to take it prior to even getting pregnant. At the same time, those that adhere to strict diets like vegetarians should take vitamin B12.5,6 As you can see, there are plenty of benefits associated with taking supplements. Therefore, you want to understand the differences between synthetic and plant-derived sources and the benefits and potential limitations of each.

diffuser and essential oil bottle

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

The supplement market is growing at a tremendous rate. Much-like supplements, the global aromatherapy market is growing increasingly fast as well at a rate of 7.7%.7 Likewise, you can find 100% natural and synthetic fragrances to use in combination with aromatherapy and in everyday life to achieve better overall health. Like supplements, you want to find the highest quality essential oils on the market to ensure that you are getting optimal benefits.


The main thing that you are going to want to do is get a high-quality diffuser that is going to work well for your intended use. A great option is our portable diffusers that help you breathe “Paleo Air” to help provide you with many health benefits that come along with exposing yourself to fresh forest air with our Forest blend.8 Additionally, they give you the advantage of breathing aromatherapy wherever you go.


Depending on what you are looking for, you can choose from various essential oils to help do just about anything. Studies have shown that lavender is particularly effective when used as a mild sedative and can help to promote deep sleep in men and women.9 Studies have also shown that essential oils have the ability to effectively minimize symptoms of fatigue through the inhalation of different essential oils including rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and sweet orange oil.10

Reputable Source

Whenever you are aiming to introduce essential oils and aromatherapy to your life, you want to be sure that you are doing a good amount of research on the brand to ensure that you are purchasing from a reputable source. As you can see, both vitamins and essential oils can play a critical role in optimizing your general health. The key is getting the best sources of each. Both supplements and essential oils can be a very beneficial aspect of a healthy lifestyle. The truth is, you should be getting a majority of (if not all) of your essential vitamins and minerals directly through your diet.11 However, there are plenty of reasons why you might need to add a supplement to your daily diet. Whether you have special circumstances, a health condition, or you simply have a poor diet, you will want to get additional vitamin and mineral intake by taking supplements. If you are going to be taking any form of supplement, you will want to attempt to narrow down your options to 100% natural supplements. That way, you know that the supplements that you take and the ingredient in them are going to be able to be used efficiently by your body and that they are going to be able to be effectively absorbed. While synthetic vitamins have research showing that certain synthetic vitamins have shown the ability to absorb just as well, it is always recommended to opt for completely natural alternatives whenever given the chance. When it comes to essential oils, you simply want to use the right oils to experience the benefits that you are aiming for. They can be used in a variety of ways but one of the best is via aromatherapy with a personal diffuser like Paleo Air. Photo credits:  IrynaImago/,  NataliaKlenova/, PhotographyJB/, SupitchaMcAdam/,  g-stockstudio/, NanakoYamanaka/, Cozine/

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