Not all vitamins and minerals are created equal, and your body can tell the difference between synthetic and plant-based supplements. If you have ever taken a cheap, synthetic vitamin or mineral and failed to notice a change in how you look or feel, there is a reason. Artificial vitamins often pass through your body without being absorbed. Just like when selecting food to eat, taking the time to study the labels and ingredients can make the difference between achieving the health you want or wasting your time and money.
A lot of the same rules you probably already use for choosing food also apply to choosing the right supplements. Study the nutrition facts label and look for ingredients that are plant-based, organic, and come from whole-food sources. Likewise, steer clear of synthetic chemicals or other artificial ingredients, sweeteners, and fillers.
What Are Plant-Based Supplements?
Plant-based supplements are made from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, spices, bark, flowers, leaves, and other botanical ingredients. The exact source depends on which vitamin or mineral is needed. Typically, the process starts with a plant that is already naturally high in the desired nutrient. From there, supplement manufacturers use a variety of methods to extract the desired nutrient and create a plant-based supplement that can provide the full Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
Examples of Nutrients and Their Plant Source
If you are not familiar with the existence of plant-based supplements, then it's easy to think that every vitamin on the shelf is the same. This could not be further from the truth. To give you a better idea, here are some common vitamins and minerals with their preferred plant-based source next to their synthetic or animal-sourced alternative.
|Supplement||Plant-based Source||Non-plant-based Source|
|Vitamin C||Fruit and Berries||Acetone|
|Vitamin D||Mushrooms||Lanolin (Sourced From Sheep's Wool)|
|Iron||Murraya Koenigii Leaves||Sulphuric Acid|
|Omega 3||Algae||Fish Guts|
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What Are the Benefits of Plant-Based Supplements?
Minimally-processed, plant-based supplements offer several advantages over synthetic vitamins and minerals. Here are the top benefits of plant-based supplements.
Bioavailability is how easily your body can absorb a given nutrient. An overwhelming amount of evidence indicates that healthy, whole plant foods are the foundation of a nutritionally complete diet. This includes the supplements you use to maintain your health. The best supplements are those that your body is equipped to handle, in other words — they’re plant-based. This is because your body evolved to recognize and use nutrients that come from the plant sources that our ancestors found in nature.
Lower Toxicity Risk
Proper absorption is not just about getting more. In some cases, taking too much of a particular mineral can be toxic. Plant-based supplements typically carry a lower risk of mineral toxicity than their synthetic or animal-sourced counterparts. For example, the risk of toxicity from a plant-based iron supplement is less than that of animal-sourced iron supplements.
Additional Cofactors & Conutrients
Plants contain a complete spectrum of vitamins, minerals, aromatic oils, and phytonutrients. In many cases, these nutrients work together. When you isolate specific compounds, you may get the star of the team, but you leave all the supporting players behind. These supporting players are the cofactors and conutrients that are only available in plant-based supplements. Here are just a few things that synthetic and lab-made supplements might leave out.
- Plant pigments: chlorophyll, curcumin, flavonoids, carotenoids, lutein, anthocyanins
- Flavonoids: catechins, quercetin, polyphenols
- Aromatic compounds: allicin, sulforaphane, carvacrol, thymol
- Alkaloids: caffeine, quinine, theobromine, piperine
- Enzymes: protease, cellulase, amylase, nattokinase, lipase
- Terpenoids: saponins, limonene, phytosterols, oleanolic acid
- Polysaccharides: cellulose, acemannan, pectin, hemicellulose
Natural Smell & Taste
One of the most desirable traits of plant-based supplements is that you know what you are getting. Plant-based supplements typically don’t have the synthetic fillers, toxic chemicals, and artificial sweeteners that are far too common in other supplements. Plants include oils and other constituents that provide the natural smells and tastes absent in lab-grown vitamins. If you want to check the quality of a plant-based supplement, open it up and check the smell and taste. You should be able to recognize some of the natural odors of the organic ingredients.
They Are Vegan
Relying on plants is better for your health and better for the environment. While the majority of plant-based supplements are also vegan, it is still possible that unscrupulous manufacturers will sneak in some animal byproducts or use non-vegan, gelatin capsules to hold the otherwise vegan ingredients. More often than not, plant-based supplements are vegan but check the label carefully to be sure.
Questions to Ask When Selecting Plant-Based Supplements
Buying plant-based supplements is always the smarter option, but how do you know you are getting the best? Look for a brand you can trust that pays attention to how and where each plant-based ingredient is grown and processed.
How Are the Plants Grown?
Make sure the plants used are grown using sustainable practices. Organic and wildcrafted sources are best, and reduce the likelihood of it being tainted by industrial farming chemicals and pesticides.
How Are the Plants Processed?
As soon as plants are harvested, they begin to degrade. Heat, humidity, and time are all enemies of fragile plant nutrients. Supplement companies who are serious about your health will do all they can to protect the plant and keep these valuable nutrients, cofactors, and conutrients in the final product. Proper drying, milling, and concentrating techniques that lock in these compounds should be in place. Without these rigorous protocols, your supplements will not provide their maximum possible benefit.
Global Healing Is Reinventing Plant-Based Supplements
From the beginning, we have insisted that all of our cleanses and supplements use plant-based sources. Not only does this keep us connected with nature, but it’s good for mind, body, and soul. At Global Healing, we strive to innovate and change how we use these sacred plants.
Using the latest research and testing, we’ve developed an all-new process for creating a Raw Herbal Extract™. This new approach to extracting nutrients from plant sources preserves the natural power of each ingredient. Whether you try Iron, Global Healing's Aloe Vera, Immune Boost Bundle, or any of our other plant-based supplements, you’ll taste, smell, and feel the difference that can only be had when high-quality herbs are preserved with respect.
- Tuso, P.J., et al. "Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets." The Permanente Journal 17.2 (2013): 61–66. PMC. Web. 9 Aug. 2017.
- "Absorption of Minerals and Metals." Colorado State, n.d. Web. 09 Aug. 2017.
- Shahidi, F. "Nutraceuticals, Functional Foods and Dietary Supplements in Health and Disease." Journal of Food and Drug Analysis. 2012;20(1) 2012,226-230.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.