Science

Plant-Based vs. Synthesized Nutrients

3 min read
Learn about the difference between plant-based and synthesized nutrients.
Learn about the difference between plant-based and synthesized nutrients.

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What does synthesis mean, and how does it apply to nutrients?

Simply put, synthesis is putting together compounds to make different compounds. Life does this naturally all of the time—we’re all synthesized from pieces of foods we ingest. You literally are what you eat. Trippy, right?

Synthesis can also happen in a lab. When we synthesize compounds from nature in a lab to create nutrients, we can make identical molecules that plants or our own bodies make. Meaning, the outcome is exactly the same—the only difference is where the process takes place, a.k.a whether it’s in a lab, plant, or animal.*

Doesn’t the body prefer plant or food-based nutrients over synthetic ones?

A lot of people assume that plant or food-based nutrients are better just because they’re found in nature. Well, get ready to have your world rocked: plant-based isn’t always the only option. Truth is, your body can’t tell the difference between a plant-based nutrient and an identical synthesized molecule made in a lab.*

Can a synthesized nutrient actually be “clean”?

Spoiler alert: Yes.

A lot of people assume that synthesized means “fake,” and that the nutrient was extracted from harsh chemicals. Well, that’s not totally right. While some nutrients on the market are created that way (and it’s 100% not wrong to be wary of ingesting them–yuck) there is a clean way to make vegan-friendly, synthetic nutrient forms without shady fillers or questionable mystery ingredients.

Case in point: nutrients like Folate can be made through yeast fermentation, the same process used to make beer and wine (cheers!). And the synthetic version of Vitamin K2 can start with compounds found in flowers—who doesn’t love a nice bouquet? These compounds are carefully reacted together so that they have the same makeup as molecules found naturally in food. So, even though the process is done in a lab, the nutrients are still made from compounds found in nature, and their molecular makeup is identical. See? Synthetic isn’t all bad.*

When is a synthesized vitamin a good idea?

Your brain might still be exploding from learning that plant-based isn’t always better when it comes to the nutrients in your daily vitamin, so let’s break it down a little further. When deciding if a plant-based or synthesized nutrient is the best choice for a vitamin ingredient, here are three determining factors:

1. To keep a vitamin vegan-friendly, you can use bioidentical, synthesized versions of nutrients that are otherwise commonly found in animal products.

Example: certain nutrients, like Vitamin B12 are difficult to find in plant-based sources. In those cases, we can turn to a lab to create vegan-friendly forms that are identical to the same nutrients found in nature—but not harmful to animals.*

2. The fiber and minerals in many plants can impact the absorption of some nutrients.

This means that even though a certain food is high in nutrients, other compounds inside of that food can impact their absorption. Clean, synthetic versions can be designed to take out the extra stuff that may get in the way of nutrient absorption.*

3. When the plant extraction process weakens a nutrient’s potency.

In order to remove unwanted contamination in plant-based sources, processing might be needed. Those processes can degrade the forms of some nutrients and weaken their potency. This is especially the case for vitamins like Omega-3, which is super important to things like brain health. Creating those same nutrients synthetically allows us to maintain potency.*

Ritual’s Nutrients

Here at Ritual, we’ve searched high and low to find ideal, clean forms in our vitamins. Sometimes, that means using a plant-based version. Other times, we go synthetic. Either way, we’re committed to ideal nutrient forms.*

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