One should always have a vitamin C pill for colds, another pill for stronger nails and a supply of magnesium supplements at home? Almost every third German nowadays takes vitamin tablets or other preparations to prevent various diseases and to strengthen the organism. Health thanks to dietary supplements – that sounds tempting at first. But do the artificial vitamins really help? What is the difference between natural and artificial preparations? And why should one ultimately prefer natural foods to tablets and powders?
Why are there artificial vitamins?
We humans want our bodies to feel good. That is why many of us go to sport, eat a healthy diet and allow ourselves enough sleep. And almost every third person in Germany takes vitamin supplements in order to benefit from the supposedly positive properties of the tablets. As a consumption study in 2008 showed, we spend around 800 million euros every year on products that are supposed to protect our organism from viruses and the like. The idea of “a lot helps a lot” originally comes from a time when seafarers were confronted with diseases such as scurvy – these diseases were triggered by a lack of vitamins. At that time it was realized that food can provide more than just carbohydrates or protein. Micronutrients are the magic word and you became aware of the fact that the body can only produce them to a limited extent. It is therefore necessary to take in sufficient amounts of these substances through food, although this was not always possible in earlier times. As research at the time showed, a lack of vitamins and minerals can make us sick. Thus, in the 1920s, more and more researchers worked on isolating substances like vitamin C and magnesium and producing them artificially. The preparations produced should be consumed in addition to food and thus compensate for the deficiencies at the time.
Artificial vitamins effect
The vitamin pills that we can buy in drug stores or pharmacies are either of artificial or natural origin. In the case of artificial products, the components are synthetic vitamins that are produced in the laboratory. In most cases they are the cheaper alternative to natural products, which is primarily due to the less complex manufacturing process. The main disadvantage of the artificial preparations lies in their composition. While natural vitamins often come with additional nutrients, synthetic vitamins are limited to the isolated active ingredient. In order for our organism to benefit from the positive properties of plant substances, however, they have to interact with other substances. Our body can hardly metabolize the synthetic products. Furthermore, one should be aware of the fact that the natural mixture of nutrients protects the substances from external influences such as heat or cold. Since artificial preparations do not naturally benefit from this protective property, they have to be enriched with additional chemical substances in the laboratory. In the worst case, these can have a negative impact on our body.
Artificial vitamins damage the human organism
Artificial vitamin preparations cannot work in most cases because they lack essential substances that our organism needs for metabolism. Studies have now even confirmed that some synthetic substances, such as synthetic beta-carotene, can be harmful to health. The ingestion of artificial vitamin E can also lead to the fact that the absorption of natural vitamin E can be blocked at the cell level. This means: If we eat vitamin-rich food after consuming such a preparation, our organism cannot properly metabolize the nutrients it contains and we therefore do not benefit from the positive properties of healthy foods.
Natural vitamins effect
Natural vitamins and minerals are more complex to produce. Products that use natural building blocks are accordingly more expensive. In addition to the corresponding vitamin, they contain other nutrients that enable our body to metabolize the preparation better. The active ingredient mixture is made up of various individual active ingredients, such as the flavonoids. The fact that natural products consist of a mixture of active ingredients not only has a positive effect on our organism – the sensitivity to external influences such as heat and cold also decreases. It can also be stated that natural vitamin preparations enhance the effect of nutrients that we take in through our food. If we add too many natural vitamins to our body, the excess can be eliminated. You can imagine it like this: If you consume nutrients, they will eventually reach the intestines. There they are tested for usefulness, along with other nutritional components. Enzymes and other substances decide whether the nutrients that have arrived there should be used – i.e. whether they are needed in the body. If this is the case, all nutrients are passed on and transported to where they are needed. Should there ever be a surplus, it will be transported away. This process can only be carried out with natural preparations, as their structure is very similar to the structures of the human organism.
Do we even need the preparations?
To answer this question, we have to look again at how preparations are made. Supplements such as vitamin C tablets or magnesium powder were developed at a time when it was not possible for many people to meet their needs for nutrients through food. The logic that swallowing pills more often makes you healthier may have worked out in earlier times. Nowadays we are mostly well supplied with our food. In a national consumption study it was even found that although many people do not necessarily have a healthy diet and eat fewer fruits and vegetables than recommended, they are not undersupplied with vitamins and the like. We should also be aware that many preparations – regardless of whether they are artificial or natural – can have side effects that are sometimes unpredictable. The question of whether we really need preparations in order to be healthy can therefore be answered with “no” in most cases. The nutrients we need can be found in many foods and superfoods, which are always healthier to consume than tablets. Black sesame, for example, contains tons of calcium or chia seeds, a lot of magnesium and selenium.
In summary it can be stated that we are so well supplied with food these days are that our body can get enough nutrients through food. If the need cannot be met – if there is an increased need or some illnesses – vitamin supplements can be used. However, you should use the natural variant in order to benefit from the positive effect of the active ingredient mixtures. It would be better to switch to a diet rich in vitamins, here superfood can be the key to success.