This is a good question. For some nutrients, being “all-natural” definitely does matter—but for others, the vitamin form doesn’t make a whit of difference.
What to Look for in All-natural Vitamins
On the other hand, most supplements contain synthetic vitamin C or ascorbic acid. It is chemically identical to all-natural vitamin C, less bulky and much less expensive, and I recommend it without reservation.
On all vitamin C product labels, look for bioflavonoids. These natural compounds occur in nature alongside vitamin C and enhance its absorption and efficacy. They are routinely added to good vitamin C supplements.
But as to the assertions that synthetic vitamins C, B-complex, and others are harmful and ineffective, consider that virtually all of the scientific research on these nutrients has been carried out using the synthetic forms.
Avoid Artificial Flavorings & Colorings
There is a final aspect of all-natural vitamins that I highly endorse, and that is avoidance of artificial flavorings and colorings, chemical preservatives and excessive excipients (inactive substances that are carriers for active ingredients). The best products contain only natural flavoring agents such as herbal extracts, lemon and vanilla, with no chemical dyes.
Most supplements require binders to hold tablets together or fillers such as cellulose or magnesium stearate for encapsulation. They may also contain silicon dioxide and other “glidants” to facilitate the manufacturing process. These substances are present in minute amounts and are harmless. However, some manufacturers use more additives than they need to—and these unnecessary additives may take the place of vital nutrients in synthetic or all-natural vitamins.
More Advice From Dr. Whitaker