We know that the food that we often take does not allow us to have an adequate intake of nutrients. For example, a recent study has shown that in recent years the number of people in the United States seeking supplements of synthetic nutrients has increased. Currently, it is estimated that more than half of Americans use multivitamins as a way to respond to this lack of natural nutrients in their diet.
Some see this as an entirely natural fact: “if my money or my habits do not produce the necessary number of nutrients, they must come from somewhere, right?”. Thus, in some cases, they replace a balanced diet with the benefits of capsules or medicinal potions.
Others, however, assure that this habit deteriorates our diet, and have even pointed out that synthetic nutrients are dangerous. But is that true?
In this guide we propose to make a comparison with scientific bases, and teach you to choose between natural and synthetic nutrients.
What are natural and synthetic nutrients?
The nutrients are those chemical compounds that our body needs to function, grow and remain stable. As we have already said, the nutrients can be natural or synthetic. Basically, the difference between them seems in form and not in substance:
- Natural nutrients: obtained from the total food in our diet.
- Synthetic nutrients: obtained from natural nutrients, isolating them through industrial processes of concentration or dehydration of compound foods.
On the other hand, natural and synthetic nutrients can be manufactured to be sold in the form of supplements. So that you can differentiate them when buying them, look at these aspects when you see the label of the container you purchase:
- The natural nutrients are obtained mainly from our balanced diet, and all humans consume them: fish, meat, rice, fruits, vegetables and dairy are all general nutrients. If the supplement label does not mention any of this, they are highly synthetic nutrients.
- Synthetic nutrients, on the other hand, are made up of isolated vitamin compounds: lists of vitamins or chemical compounds used in their preparation will always appear on their labels.
Are there different between natural and synthetic nutrients?
We are often told that synthetic nutrients come from what we find in any food and that they have similar structures. This is partially true; however, the fact that plants and animals do not manufacture their nutrients in the same way that synthetic nutrients are manufactured should not be overlooked.
In the long run, our body ends up noticing the difference between one and another type of nutrient. To begin with, when we nourish ourselves with food, we not only absorb nutrients, but also vitamins, minerals and enzymes that help the body function in an integral way. When we take synthetic nutrients, we deprive ourselves of all this, and if there is no overall balance in our diet, the body will end up resenting.
Another difference is the ability of our body to process chemical compounds. To illustrate: some studies have shown that the body absorbs up to twice as much vitamin E when it is ingested in food, than in capsules. The same applies to other processed chemical compounds.
Benefits of natural nutrients
Studies have shown that natural nutrients bring more benefits when they come from our daily intake: not only to keep us functional, but also to prevent diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
Some natural elements such as fruits and vegetables provide mixed benefits, such as fiber and minerals beneficial for the heart, sugar levels and prevent cancer. Others, such as fish oil, provide protein and omega-3 highly necessary for heart health and maintain good levels of antioxidants.
But are these the only nutrients we should consume?
Should I consume synthetic nutrients?
The truth is that although it is more advisable to consume natural nutrients, synthetic nutrients also provide mixed benefits. To show it to you, we explain when you should, and when you should not consume synthetic nutrients.
When to consume synthetic nutrients?
Synthetic nutrients may also be necessary in many cases, as well as natural ones. Some of those cases are:
- Old age: our body will not absorb natural nutrients in the same way over the years. A little extra help is indispensable.
- To complement vegetarian diets: due to the amount of vitamins present in animal products, these vegetarian diets need an extra supply of iron, calcium, zinc or vitamin D , among others.
- Pregnancy and lactation: synthetic nutrients help mothers, especially in need of vitamin D and minerals.
- People with nutritional deficiencies: there are people with nutritional deficiencies, such as anemia, who simply need some help to make their bodies work properly.
When do not consume synthetic nutrients?
In general, for most people it is safe to consume synthetic nutrients. However, some cases in which you should be careful are:
- When these are not perfectly labeled: most consumer protection federations do not monitor this type of product. Thus, frauds may occur such as when you find yourself with a placebo product or with substances that are dangerous to you and you do not know it.
- When you are already getting enough nutrients: if you feed yourself in a balanced diet, excessive consumption of nutrients can lead to organic intoxication, weakness or lack of appetite.
- In pregnancy: nutrients such as vitamin A in excess can have harmful effects for the fetus.
Also, some control studies have shown that exceeding the consumption of substances such as folic acid or zinc can lead to a progressive risk of cancer.
It is best to evaluate our intake not empirically, but through medical checks. Let a professional recommend us their consumption, based on our general diet. Remember that a well-balanced diet, of course, cannot be replaced, but it can be complemented.
Related Wiki Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_supplement