Beyond the ABC of Using Vitamins – Natural or Synthetic Vitamins?

abc of vitaminsIn the previous post we looked at the ABC of Vitamins, their odd sounding names, the dosage we should take and at the whole issue of Official recommendations for our health.

The next step is to get more details about the vitamins in our food and to do that we'll go back to vitamin C again.

You can buy this as a powder to mix with water or as a tablet. Powdered vitamin C mixes well with water or juice because it dissolves well in water. Once the powder is mixed with water it tastes just like lemonade, and is rather yummy in my view.

Not all vitamins mix like this, some like vitamin A and E will mix well and dissolve in oil and fat and not in water.

Which is best – water or fat soluble vitamins?

The body needs both types of vitamins because it is made from cells which have an oily cell wall and a watery interior and both parts of the cell need the protection that vitamins give.

The vitamins that mix with water are called “Water soluble” and those that mix and dissolve with oils and fats are called “Fat soluble”.

Of our ABC of Vitamins we find that vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble and vitamins B and C are water soluble.

Water soluble vitamins are going to be lost in the water used to cook foods with these vitamins if we throw the water away as most people do. Instead it is best to collect the water from cooked vegetables and either drink it with the meal – it is you might say, vegetable soup or keep it for stock.

Fat soluble vitamins may be in short supply in the average diet simply because people have been bombarded with so much wrong information about fats and oils being unhealthy that they risk not getting the vitamins in those foods! If you are persuaded to follow a low fat diet then don't be surprised that you are getting amounts of fat soluble vitamins too.

And that could be dangerous!

For example, the reason butter is yellow is because vitamin A in it gives it that colour naturally. With butter substitutes such as margarine, additives are used to give the impression that you are eating butter!

Butter and healthy oils like Olive oil carry fat soluble vitamins and adding them to foods makes it easier for the body to absorb and use the valuable fat soluble vitamins it needs

Different forms of vitamin C

Just in case you think that you now know all there is to know about vitamins we have one more slight complication!

And that is that there are several forms of each of the vitamins – each with their own pros and cons!

So vitamin C usually comes in the form called ascorbic acid but you can also buy it as calcium ascorbate or sodium ascorbate or…enough already! There's no need to list them all just to give you an idea of the complexity!

What to Buy

The major decision is around whether the version of the vitamin you are thinking of buying is a natural version or whether it is synthetic.

The difference may be dramatic.

There is a well publicised study of some smokers in Finland which has been interpreted by some Doctors as meaning that a vitamin supplement caused some of the smokers to die a little earlier than expected.

The problem lies in the fact, not revealed in the research paper that published the results that a SYNTHETIC molecule invented to mimic a vitamin was used rather than the natural form of the molecule.

It was not a vitamin that was used in the research – it was a manufactured “vitamin like” chemical made by the drug company that supported the research

So vitamins may be natural form or they may be synthetic and my advice is to avoid the synthetic versions.

We'll look at some of the details of this and other studies later in this series – I want to equip you as well as I can to choose and use the right vitamins to fill your needs, but I'm going to do it step by step!

OK 🙂 ?

Our next step is to look in detail at each of the vitamins and we'll do that in the next post in this ABC of Vitamins series with Vitamin A.

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