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How To Choose And Use Supplements — And Why They’re Good For You

  • By Shawn Talbott, PhD
  • Published Aug. 1, 2013
  • Updated Aug. 2, 2013 at 1:07 PM UTC
Supplements come in a variety of forms and brands. Do your homework before buying some. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Natural Versus Synthetic Vitamins

In most cases, natural and synthetic vitamins and minerals are handled by the body in exactly the same way. A good example of this is the B-complex vitamins, which can be obtained in supplements as “natural” B vitamins (usually from brewer’s yeast or a similar substance) or as purified chemicals and listed on the product label as thiamin (B-1), riboflavin (B-2), niacin (B-3), and so forth.

When either of these supplemental sources of B vitamins is consumed, the vitamins are absorbed, transported, and utilized by the body in exactly the same way — so we can say with confidence that there is no difference between natural and synthetic when it comes to B vitamins.

Two interesting exceptions to this rule are folic acid, which is better absorbed in the synthetic form (compared to natural forms found in foods), and vitamin E, which is far superior as the natural form (absorbed and retained in the body two to three times better than synthetic vitamin E).

RELATED: Combat Acid Buildup With Supplements

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