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Why Plant-Based Nutrients Are Not Always Better than Synthesized

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You might be surprised to hear that plant-based is not always better when it comes to the nutrients in your daily vitamin. As usual, it comes down to the science.

The vegan/vegetarian nutrition conundrum

Without the help of modern supplementation, it can be a challenge to get all the nutrients you need from a plant-only diet. Certain nutrients, including vitamin D3 and vitamin B12, are nearly impossible to find in plant food sources. Plus, many plants contain other substances like fiber and minerals that inhibit the absorption of certain essential nutrients. That means that sometimes even food that is high in a given nutrient may cause low absorption of that nutrient because of other absorption-inhibiting compounds inside the food. All of this is to say that plant-based is not always a perfect solution when it comes to nutrition. Plants have limits too.

The problem with plants and supplements

Plants are grown in the dirt and out in the open air, which sounds pretty perfect, right? But like all uncontrollable environments, there’s a dark side to open fields and air: the risk of unwanted contaminants. Plant-based nutrients in vitamins come with the risk of exposure to pesticides and herbicides, as well as environmental exposure to BPA and other toxins. Even if you extract your nutrients from produce that’s grown organically, there’s still an inescapable risk of environmental and microbial contamination. You don’t want chemicals or microbes inside your vitamin.

We know what you’re thinking: if I eat plants themselves every day, aren’t I already exposing myself to contamination? Sure, of course, you are. But we’re making a pill that you swallow every day. That’s why we’re especially careful about contamination. Something you take for better health shouldn’t come with unnecessary health risks.

You don’t need to be scared of synthesized nutrients

You can get a lot of plant-based nutrients (peep the full rundown below), but a few nutrients are better when synthesized in a lab. To keep a vitamin vegan, you can use bioidentical, synthesized versions of nutrients that can’t be found in plant-based foods. Many people assume that plant or food-based is best because it’s what the body is used to getting. The truth is that your body doesn’t really know the difference between a plant-based nutrient and the identical synthesized molecule.

A synthesized nutrient can be exactly the same form that you’d find in healthy foods. A synthesized, bioidentical nutrient works just as well as the nutrients in food with less risk of contamination. That’s because synthesized nutrients are made in a sterile environment.

So how are synthesized nutrients even made? It’s a complicated process. Many people assume that synthesized means it was extracted from petrochemicals, but that’s not quite right. It’s true that some synthesized ingredients are made from petrochemicals, but not all synthesized ingredients are. Nutrients like our folate MTHF are made by yeast fermentation, like making beer or wine. Our vitamin K2 MK7 actually starts with compounds found in flowers. Then, these compounds and byproducts are chemically altered so that they have precisely the same molecular makeup as the nutrient molecules found in healthy foods.

The scoop on our nutrients:

We searched high and low to find the best, cleanest forms of every nutrient. Sometimes that means a plant-based nutrient, and sometimes that means a synthesized nutrient. Curious which of Ritual’s nutrients are extracted from plants and which are made in a lab? Take a look:

  • Vitamin K2 MK7 → Synthesized
  • Vitamin D3 → Plant-based from lichen
  • Vitamin B12 → Synthesized
  • Boron → Synthesized from fructose and minerals
  • Iron → Synthesized from iron and glycine, made by fermentation
  • Vitamin E → Plant-based from Brassica napus seeds
  • Magnesium → Synthesized but using plant-based ingredients
  • Folate → Synthesized from fermentation
  • Omega-3 → Plant-based from algae


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