Synthetic Form VS Natural Form

As I mentioned in the article of The Best Prenatal Vitamins, we’d like to choose the natural source for each of the ingredient in the formula.

It is not just more biological activity from natural form than a synthetic source for some nutrients, but also more safe and less side effectiveness if it’s all from a food base.

However you can see that the product price is much higher if we choose some ‘labeled as whole food’ brands, such as Garden of Life, New Chapter, Megafood than other brands.

Also there is some disadvantage when we choose the natural source product. The dose of the ingredient are much lower than normal brand. Maybe it is a little cost consideration for this product. For example:

Currently, as we know the vitamin E has different potency between the synthetic and natural source. There are different stereoisomer forms within vitamin E family. d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, d-alpha tocopherol and d-alpha tocopheryl acid succinate, are three forms of natural vitamin E. Synthetic vitamin E refers to dl-alpha-tocopherol. One easy way to tell if vitamin E is from natural forms or synthetic form, is reading from the ingredient formula: if it contains mixed tocopherols and/or d-alpha-tocopherol then it is in natural form. If it is dl-alpha-tocopherol then it means they’re synthetic forms.

Synthetic forms vitamin E can be in equivalent active if in a much higher IUs as natural vitamin E. But at the same time it has a higher risk of potential bleeding issue if take fewer dose of synthetic vitamin E.

Label in synthetic form Vitamin E:

synthetic vitamin e




Label in Natural Vitamin E:

natural vitamin e




Synthetic folate, called folic acid is more stable and higher absorption in the body about twice as well as natural folate. But be careful, it will cause some safety concern when you take an overdose folic acid, but it is safe when you intake too much folate if it’s from your dietary.

A natural MK-7, also known as vitamin K2 has a longer half-life time than vitamin K1 (synthetic source), although vitamin K2 is at a higher cost but becomes more popular in supplement’s formula.

We can find there are natural form (triglyceride form) and synthetic form (ethyl esters)on the market when we try to buy fish oil supplement. You can easily tell the price in triglyceride is more expensive than in ethyl esters, which means a higher absorption in short term in the body (it is equally if taking fish oil supplement both in triglyceride or ethyl ester in a long term).

Recommended: Best fish oil for pregnancy

Of course, there are some exceptions for the nutrient absorption between natural form or synthetic form.

For vitamin C, actually our body cannot tell if any difference between synthetic or natural form. They’re equally recognized and utilized by the body, both of two forms are providing the L form of ascorbic acid.

Generally, we suggest you to take supplements in natural form than in synthetic form, if you’re taking the safe and effective at the first place other than the product price when you’re choose the supplement.