Artificial Vitamin Blends Vs Whole-Foods – What’s The Difference?

Last Updated 31st March 2020
healthy seeds used in meal replacement shakes

Everyone would love to be able to say that they consume their optimum nutritional intake from their daily diet, but the reality is that many of us don’t.

With your life’s responsibilities no doubt extending further than just over your own daily dietary intake, it’s no surprise that artificial vitamin blends are being produced and sold the world over; lauded for their convenience and perceived health benefits.

But are synthetic vitamin blends really what you need to perfect your body’s dietary nourishment?

Let’s take a look.

woman drinking meal replacement shake

What is an Artificial Vitamin Blend?

An artificial vitamin blend is a man-made product for human consumption with the intention of supplying the body with a specific nutrient dosage, mimicking the effects that consumption of the natural version would have upon the body.

The most commonly-recognised such product are multivitamins, but artificial vitamin blends also present themselves as mineral blends (which are often found in meal replacements), antioxidants, and amino acids.

These products are also sometimes referred to as ‘isolated nutrients’.

Identifying whether a product you’re consuming includes an artificial vitamin blend may not be as easily done as you’d expect.

Check the ingredients – if a specific vitamin or chemical is listed, it’s likely to be a manmade version rather than derived from a natural foodstuff.

And don’t be fooled: this isn’t just pills or powders!

You can find synthetic vitamins in almost every manufactured item, and they can be in the form of liquids, gels, oils, capsules and tablets.

It may surprise you but around 90% of meal replacement shakes on the market contain artificial vitamin blends!

sweeteners

What Are Whole-Foods?

Whole-foods are plant-based foods that have been unrefined and unprocessed.

Therefore, the nutrients within them are naturally-occurring and have not been tampered with externally.

The vitamins found in whole-foods are free from artificial intervention.

This ensures that the nutrients are present in their natural form and have not been diluted or lessened in any way.

You can tell if a product is getting all its nutrients from whole-foods as there will be no mention of ‘vitamin blend’ or individually listing types of vitamins in the ingredient list.

Nutribuddy’s range of meal replacement shakes are made of 100% whole-food ingredients.

Nutribuddy Breakfast shake's natural wholefood ingredients
Nutribuddy Breakfast shake is made with a range of healthy whole-foods

Why Do Most Shakes Contain Artificial Vitamin Blends instead of Using Whole-Foods for Nutrients?

When researching into meal replacement and protein shakes online, you’ll quickly discover that many such products are pumped full of artificial vitamin blends rather than using whole foods to balance their nutritional content.

There are several reasons for this, including, but by no means limited to:

It’s cheaper!

Mass produced low quality artificial vitamin blends are widespread, and they’re cheap to procure.

In the race to attract customers to a protein or meal replacement product, many manufacturers will opt straight for the cheapest ingredients; in order to pass on the financial savings to those purchasing their products.

This means that synthetic ingredients are more likely to be found in cheaper products, and whole foods in more premium options.

many ingredients are concerning

They’re easier to formulate

The RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowances) for nutrients are easy to concoct when you’re simply weighing out ready-made vitamin blends and pouring them all in.

Whole-foods require expert intervention and a specialist nutritional technician to determine how best to reach the most balanced palette of vitamins and minerals.

Society tells us multivitamins are good for us

But are they?

The first multivitamin products hit high streets back in the 1940s, and whilst it’s fair to say that such products have improved since, the science doesn’t back up lots of the positive health claims made about them.

A clinical study that took place on over 14,000 people across a decade-long period of multivitamin intake found no evidence of reductions in heart attack, stroke or mortality; and some studies have found an increased risk of death through cancer when consuming artificial iron supplements.

Why Whole-Foods are Far Superior to Artificial Vitamin Blends

When you consume a whole-food, your body is rarely taking in just one vitamin or mineral, but rather a blend of natural nutrients.

Artificial vitamin blends, however, are isolated nutrients and therefore a combination of them may be needed to balance out a complete nutritional profile.

As synthetic blends are created rather than grown, the body reacts differently to their consumption than it does naturally occurring nutrients – even though chemically, they may present nearly identically.

healthy weight loss shake

Whole-Food Nutrients Are Easier for Our Bodies to Absorb

Whole-foods don’t isolate a single vitamin or mineral, so it is always presented as part of a thorough nutrient mix.

This is, put simply, the way nature intended it, and so it’s optimised for efficient nutrition and absorption by the body.

Whilst artificial vitamin blends may well be close to the ‘real’ natural thing, the process within which they’re made affects the body’s ability to consume them.

Clinical studies show that the rate of nutritional absorption varies, but several vitamins are considerably less effective when consumed in synthetic form – including Vitamin E, which is twice as easily absorbed when consumed in a natural form.

Losing Weight at a Healthy Rate is Better for Weight Maintenance

Vitamin Blends Are Unnecessary As We Can Easily get our RDA of most vitamins through Eating Regular Whole-Foods

The government’s RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowances) of dietary nutrients are guidelines given to fit the age and gender of a person.

As with anything health-related, it should be a priority to individuals, but of course, with modern life in the way, this doesn’t always happen in the way we’d like.

RDAs are most easily met by consuming artificial vitamin blends to ensure everything sits at the right levels; but this is simply chemical interference that need not happen. RDAs, and other such dietary objectives, can be met by consuming a balanced and varied whole food diet that keeps your intake natural and organic.

woman cutting organic fruit for vegan smoothie bowl

Artificial Vitamins May Have Nasty Side Effects

Research done into the side effects that artificial vitamin consumption can cause is limited – not least because humans haven’t been consuming them for that long!

Research that has taken place is primarily related to multivitamins, as these are the most commonly consumed type of artificially manufactured vitamin blend.

These indicative clinical studies do throw up some worrying statistics and coincidences linked to the long-term usage of manmade vitamin blends. 

One study profiling women who took multivitamin blends found that their consumption was connected to an increased mortality rate and cancer risk, particularly when consuming iron.

A trial on pregnant women also found that artificially created Vitamin A could cause birth defects in their unborn children.

There has been no such evidence to suggest that naturally occurring incidences of these vitamin are harmful in the same way.

woman looking concerned

Benefits of Artificial Ingredients are Lacking

Despite vitamin manufacture companies having commissioned studies and research into proving the health benefits of their products, the evidence still seems to be inconclusive.

A common misconception into man-made vitamin blends is that they can decrease the risk of strokes and heart attack, but a study into over 14,000 men consuming them found no evidence in that claim.

Other studies have shown no decreased risk of cancer through unnatural vitamin consumption, and no positive changes in mood or cognitive function.

Needless to say, this is probably not what the businesses selling artificial vitamin blends intended their studies to say – but we’re sure they’ll continue to commission more.

Nutribuddy High-Protein Sculpting Shake's natural wholefood ingredients
Nutribuddy’s High-Protein Sculpting Shake consists of natural whole-food ingredients

The Inclusion of an Artificial Vitamin Blend May Lead to us Consuming Too Much of a Particular Vitamin

Without the balance of a naturally occurring range of vitamins and minerals, the consumption of isolated nutrients can result in an individual taking in too much of a particular vitamin – which can have negative health consequences.

In particular, Vitamins A and D can be ‘over-consumed’ somewhat easily.

Vitamin A toxicity is the more common of the two, and can have damaging health effects.

It is worth noting here that over-consumption of a vitamin may not be due to user error.

As artificial vitamins are created, any mistakes made in the manufacturing process can result in too much of one ingredient or another being included, which has happened before with Vitamin D.

In a whole-food, this is avoided, as if there was too much of one ingredient present, the food would rot and die – so would never be served for human consumption.

vegan protein powders

Conclusion: Whole-Foods Rule

There’s no doubt about it: the most well-rounded and healthiest way to consume a balanced nutrient profile is through the consumption of whole foods rather than artificial vitamin blends.

The evidence for synthetic ingredients of this type having a long-term positive impact on health is underwhelming, so there’s clearly still work to be done in their manufacture and processing before they can be considered a valid alternative to nature’s intended foodstuffs.

Whilst there is no doubt that artificial ingredients can be a quick and easy way to up your vitamin intake, they’re yet to be the whole solution.

Overall, a balanced diet of whole-foods will provide you with better long-term health prospects, encompassing all nutrients just as your body likes them.

Should you have a deficiency in one particular nutrient, whole food consumption can be easily adapted to cater for that, and what’s more… they taste considerably better, too!

Here at Nutribuddy, all of our products are made using natural whole-foods.

We sell a range of nutritious meal replacement shakes as well as instant porridge!

Nutribuddy Breakfast shake by Romylondonuk

Stock image credit: UnsplashPexels & Pixabay

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nutribuddy Ltd.

Author Bio!

Post by Lex

I’m a full-time Marketing Manager and Copywriter but also a qualified yoga teacher and keen runner; so I know a thing or two about maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a good dose of fitness! My previous roles include marketing and social media for the likes of the household names including the Cabinet Office and Aviva. Outside of work, I’m a Mum, passionate social rights campaigner and bookworm.