Multivitamin Supplement Labels: How to Tell if your Vitamins are Natural or Synthetic

decode vitamin label

by Colleen Russell

Graphics by Kerrie Bross

What’s In Your Multivitamin?

If you’re like the majority of health-conscious consumers, you probably take a daily multivitamin.  These days, they are readily available from a variety of sources that range from your doctor’s office to the health food store to the pharmacy or supermarket aisle and a variety of online retailers.  Last week, we began the process of “decoding” supplement manufacturer claims, debunking myths, and teaching you how to read labels so that you will know exactly what is in your multivitamin–as well as if it is made from synthetic or natural ingredients.  As the demand increases, the supply grows, giving us a wider variety of multivitamin supplements to choose from.  With this expanding selection comes a dizzying array of vocabulary words, a great deal of confusion regarding the ingredient sources, and a difficult-to-justify cost variation.  In today’s installment of “Separating Multivitamin Fact from Fiction,” we have brought you a handy vitamin guide which will help you push past the manufacturer claims and tell for yourself whether your vitamins are natural, whole food vitamins or lab-created, synthetic isolates.

Natural vs Synthetic Vitamins

On the surface, the contrast between different multivitamins seems quite simple:  natural vs. synthetic vitamins.  The broad definition of those two terms and the manufacturing process unique to each supplement company gave us pause.  This week, we took a closer look at what constitutes a whole food supplement.  We were surprised that what we found challenged information we thought we already knew.

How to Read a MultiVitamin Supplement Label

Multivitamin labels typically contain a list of included vitamins along with their respective percentage of the recommended daily allowance.  Most multivitamin labels are very vague in terms of actual ingredients, though.  The reason for this, the manufacturers suggest, is the protection of proprietary secrets.  In our humble opinions, the reason is more closely aligned with the protection of the popular belief that all multivitamins are good-for-you, wholesome, extracted food concentrates.  In truth, a very small percentage of multivitamin supplements are made with actual food products.  Most multivitamins are a concoction of chemically-derived synthetic isolates.  Need proof?  Check the label. Natural vs. synthetic vitamins are actually defined.  The information is there, written in a code that the majority of supplement consumers cannot discern.  Refer to this handy natural supplement buying guide the next time you make a purchase, and never be in the dark again!

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