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The majority of Americans don’t get enough nutrients from diet alone. 

Statistics show that over half of the U.S takes synthetic nutrients, such as multivitamins. 

There have been many debates between health professionals about whether or not there are benefits to synthetic nutrients. 

In this article we are going to take an objective look at what synthetic nutrients are, the differences between whole food supplements vs. synthetic, and the benefits they offer. 

What Are Synthetic Nutrients? 

Synthetic nutrients are dietary supplements made in a lab to mimic the way natural nutrients act in our bodies. 

They do not include “whole foods”, which are made from concentrated, dehydrated whole foods. 

They can be taken in pill, tablet, powder, or liquid form. To check whether the ingredients in your supplements are whole food based or synthetic, read the label. 

Supplements that list nutrients individually as opposed to listing them as food sources or labels that read 100% plant or animal based, such as vitamin C, are almost always synthetic. 

Whole Food Supplements vs. Synthetic 

Here’s the difference:

Whole Food Supplements – These are obtained through natural, whole food sources, such as plants or animals and are easily assimilated by our bodies.

Synthetic Nutrients – These are most often made artificially, in an industrial process. 

While synthetic nutrients are understood to be almost identical to whole foods chemically, your body reacts to them differently. 

Due to the fact that synthetic nutrients are created differently than how plants and animals make them, it’s unclear how well synthetic nutrients are actually absorbed and used in the body in comparison to whole food supplements. 

When you eat real food you’re not absorbing single nutrients but a range of vitamins, enzymes and minerals that allow for optimal use in the body. 

While whole foods are always the best option, there are an array of whole food supplements that are the next best thing to ensure your body is receiving enough nutrients. 

Standard Process is a whole food supplement company that offers products with beneficial and high-concentrates of naturally derived sources of nutrients. 

Benefits of Whole Food Supplements vs. Synthetic 

While it’s unclear how well the body absorbs synthetic nutrients, it is clear that natural nutrients are linked to a multitude of health benefits. 

Whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables, provide us with a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibers, and fatty acids that synthetic nutrients can’t replicate. 

Foods such as fish, beans, nuts, and whole grains are known to help reduce blood pressure, improve heart health, reduce risk of diabetes, and also have cancer prevention properties. 

These benefits can only be achieved through natural sources, such as whole foods or whole food supplements. 

The evidence on the benefits of synthetic nutrients is mixed. While some multivitamins have been linked to reduced heart disease and cancer, some have been proven to have no effect at all, or to even increase the risk of cancer. 

Some studies suggest that B vitamins may improve brain function, yet other studies prove the latter. 

Overall, studies on synthetic supplements are inconclusive. Many studies have proven to be weak, contradictory, or downright harmful. 

While there are some groups  in which synthetic nutrients have proven to be beneficial, such as for the elderly, vegans and vegetarians, pregnant women, and people with nutrients deficiencies (such as iron), getting natural nutrients is always the better option. 

While supplements aren’t a replacement for a healthy and balanced diet, they can be a great option if you’re lacking nutrients in specific areas. 

With this in mind, always opt for a whole food supplement. There are many reliable sources for natural supplements, including these Standard Process supplements