Natural Versus Synthetic Supplements

By Judith A. DeCava

Summary: This manifesto of whole food nutrition should be standard reading for anyone even thinking about taking or prescribing vitamin supplements. In it clinical nutritionist and researcher Judith DeCava spells out the precise differences between natural and synthetic supplements in light of modern nutritional discoveries. While science today ballyhoos the health benefits of phytochemicals such as lycopene and anthocyanins, for instance, DeCava notes that these substances are effective only when they are ingested as part of the food they come naturally packaged in; when chemically isolated or artificially synthesized, “they never seem to work as well.” This is similar to the message of Dr. Royal Lee, who eighty years ago insisted that vitamins are not isolated chemicals, as chemists and pharmacists defined them, but are complexes of cooperating compounds that work together synergistically to perform a nutritive function. While isolated food fractions may have a pharmacological (drug-like) effect, they are not nutritive, Dr. Lee warned, and do not belong in the category of nutrient. From Whole Food Nutrition Journal, 2003.