Supplements: Natural, Synthetic or none?

Good Afternoon All,

I was enquiring about views on natural vitamins vs synthetic ones.

Speaking with a nutritionist they recommend natural supplements (as much as possible), as your body absorbs it much easier as its a known entity.

Is this true? Supplements with this more natural approach, seem to definitely cost a little more, but are they worth it?

Also, antioxidant supplements, I struggled to source, (Terra Nova), but are these worth a daily dosage?

Food is supposedly better than supplements for getting vitamins into the body.

If your guy is suggesting “natural” supplements over artificial supplements, it’s likely to be quackery.

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Been going the “none” route for a few decades now, and not dead yet. I guess it works.

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I generally don’t bother either except for;
Vitamin C and Zinc - if I feel I’m starting to get sick or one of the walking incubators (kids) are sick.
This does seem to be backed up by science.

Fizzy multi-vit for a B vitamin boost if I’m feeling run down.
This probably isn’t backed up by science and may be a placebo effect, and most of it gets flushed away but works for me.

Antioxidants - berries! Frozen berry smoothies are my intake of choice.

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If you are eating a minimally processed, organic, mostly plant-based diet, you likely don’t need supplements. But then, you are stressing your body in unnatural ways through excess exertion, so you might need to supplement. I like to think I eat fairly well but I still take:

D3 in the winter due to lack of direct sun,
B12 due to reduced meat consumption,
two drops of iodine daily due to soil depletion,
Magnesium, Zinc and Iron due to exercise
Lutein for my eyes due to age.

Pharmaceutical grade supplements are needed because the cheap stuff is mostly filler.

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This is a really complex area as there are a lack of studies to back up most of the claims. With supplements not needing to follow the same criteria as prescription drugs, it gets even trickier. Factor in that everyone’s diet is slightly different, there are many different variables at play.

As a general rule, getting as much nutrition in through a well constructed diet is still going to be best. An example is Vit C, which the body metabolized to oxalate and excretes in the urine, has been linked to calcium oxalate kidney stones. However this risk is greatest when taken as a supplement and seems to be minimized if the Vit C is taken as part of regular food (eg. oranges).

Vit D has been a focus over the past 10 years or so as there are many individuals who are low, especially during the winter months when sun exposure is reduced. In addition, dairy intake is down and Vit D was often obtained in the diet by drinking milk that was fortified with it. When Vit D is low, the body responds by raising PTH (parathyroid hormone) and this can lead to other issues including increased bone breakdown. Therefore replacing it to normal physiologic levels seems to make sense. There was a trend for supra-physiologic replacement but this has fallen out of favor.

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I’m firmly in the “none” camp, as I strongly agree with what was said, upthread: if you’re eating a normal, healthy, balanced diet, you don’t need any supplements.

That being said, I do have some special needs, so I’ve grudgingly added a few synthetic supplements:

  • a multivitamin, as I’m on daily Pepcid for GERD, which can interfere with nutrient absorption
  • magnesium and potassium, as I was getting horrific leg cramps, and I was desperate for a solution. Since starting these supplements, I have had zero leg cramps

Again, if I didn’t have these needs, I would eschew any sort of supplement.

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The berries part is, of course, not a supplement - it’s a treat!

A mix of frozen cranberries and blueberries makes a great base for a post-ride smoothie.

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Hello! I think it will be best to use natural supplements for they provide the necessary nutrients that our body needs.

Not true at all. Many man-made supplements do not contain the needed enzymes, nor the spectrum of other ingredients that a nutural supplement does. For example synthetic vitamin C is only absorbed in small quantities at a time up to perhaps a few hundred milligrammes, yet they are often sold in huge 1,000 mg tablets etc. Your body will pee most of this out.

Smaller dose man-made vitamins are more sensible than mega doses.

However, the body can absorb larger quantities of naturally sourced vitamins and minerals, such as spirulina, chlorella, fruit extracts, etc…

Also, too many people suggest just eating a normal healthy diet will cover all bases.

Under normal circumstances this would be adequate.

However, most people’s opnion of what consists of normal or healthy food is grossly inaccurate and contains large amounts of highly processed foods which are dense in calories but poor in nutrition.

Also, athletes can find that some limited and sensible supplementation can speed recoveries and lead to better quality training and progression etc.

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I would say that those that are posting to this site are looking for a little more out of their body than “not dead yet”. We as cyclist are looking to thrive and not just survive. So the OP 's original question should be focused on supplements (natural vs synthetic) for performance enhancement.