Whole Food Supplements or Synthetics?

August 2010, Warren Matthews


Question: from Leslie

Are your supplements considered "whole food vitamins" or do you use synthetics in your supplements?

Question: from Leslie

Are your supplements considered "whole food vitamins" or do you use synthetics in your supplements? My chiropractor is advocating for a brand called "Standard Process" and I am trying to understand the distinction and where your supplements fall within the "whole food" definition?

I have used your products for over a year and have been most satisfied. Any additional information will be helpful to me in making an informed decision on which brand to use.

Answer: from Warren

Hi Leslie,

This ‘whole food vitamins’ and ‘synthetic’ and ‘natural’ is an interesting area with a lot of confusion.

For many ingredients in supplements there is no confusion, such as fish oil, or herbal extracts as it is obvious that these ingredients come from fish or plants. Where the problem arises is when ingredients are included that come from other sources and can be produced in different ways.

For example, certain vitamins can either be produced from a petroleum product or, by fermentation, or bio-technology. There is no doubt that a vitamin or ingredients derived from a petroleum base is synthetic. However, it could also be argued that a vitamin produced by fermentation is also synthetic…but, in general it is considered to be natural as they are effectively grown, albeit in a laboratory.

But, this is not how the ingredient is produced in nature, so one could argue that it is not natural. However, there is no alternative to producing a ‘natural’ vitamin this way, or for that matter many other ingredients such as CoQ10 or amino acids. To take the vitamin out of a plant is economically unviable and would be a waste of a valuable food resource.

Most quality manufacturers use ingredients that are produced by fermentation if they are not available naturally from plants, such as herbal extracts. It would seem that ‘Standard Process’ also do this. We certainly do. In other words we do not use anything that is synthetic and has been derived from a non food source or has not been grown by a fermentation process.

Hope this clarifies the situation.


  • “Hi Warren: I am an Xtend Life affiliate. I am starting to write article on folic acid. When you say we do not use anything that is synthetic in our products, folic acid is synthetic and we use in our Total Balance. How do you explain this and how I should resolve this question? Tks Ramraj”

    Ramraj - September 11 2010

  • “Hey Warren, has your prices gone up? Cause for the prices you were quoting up above I cant find on the product page, they are slightly more expensive than that.”

    Vaughan - June 07 2012

  • “Hi there, Could you provide some detail on your source for Natural Mixed Tocopherols used in your Fish Oil?  If derived from soybean oil (as I’ve found to be common), are you able to say if the soy is GE-free?  I’m very strict about choosing only organic whole (unrefined) foods – oils that are cold pressed, unrefined, and stored in dark glass bottles.  I feel uncomfortable about consuming a refined vegetable oil (processed with solvents, heat, deodorized, etc.) – and of course soy is a big GE crop on top of all of that. Many thanks, Christina”

    Christina - August 11 2010

  • “Hi Christina, The benefit of tuna oil is that it is naturally rich in DHA. You are correct about the toxins but that is not an issue because of the way this tuna is processed. It is done exactly the same as a high potency prescription fish oil medicine is done. This involves a purification process whilst it is still in triglyceride form before being concentrated. This is why we have so much lower levels of contaminants than other fish oil products. Yes, the mixed tocopherols are extracted from soy beans. I do know that it is non-GE. No, hoki is not as oily as salmon or mackerel, but it has some interesting properties that those species do not. There is no validity in the argument that EPA is better than DHA for depression. In fact, the contrary is true. The brain has a high component of DHA not EPA. If the body needs more EPA it can easily produce it from DHA as the DHA is a more complex fatty acid and just has to drop off some carbon and double bonds. On the other hand the body cannot easily convert EPA to DHA.”

    Warren Matthews - August 17 2010

  • “Hi Ramraj, Folic acid like various other vitamins and nutrients such as CoQ10 are produced by bio-technology. Because they come from natural sources (grown by fermentation) as opposed to being extracted from petroleum by-products they are considered to be ‘natural’ not synthetic.”

    Warren Matthews - September 14 2010

  • “Kassie, I think that you are getting Total Balance mixed up with a multi vitamin/mineral tablet. If you want a straight multi-vitamin/mineral supplement then you should be considering our Multi-Xtra, not the Total Balance. You can get a full months supply for just $16.85 which is almost impossible to beat. Multi-Xtra is not enteric coated. With Total Balance the vitamins and minerals are only a minute part of the formula. The real efficacy comes from the specialized nutrients such as SAMe, Glutathione and many others. The enzymes are not present as digestive enzymes but rather to help the bio-availability of the various nutrients when they are released in the upper intestine. SAMe and the various enzymes would be rendered useless if the tablets were not enteric coated as they would not survive the passage through the stomach. Hope this clarifies this issue.”

    Warren Matthews - August 17 2010

  • “Hi Warren, I’m a bit confused as to whether your vitamins are natural or synthetic. I just spoke with a very helpful person on your helpline and they said that some of the ingredients are synthetic. many thanks”

    Ayesha Walker - August 28 2013

  • “HI, It concerns me about the vitamin supplements being enteric coated tablets, as most of the minerals require digestion in the stomach to break them down properly and allow them to be absorbed… that takes out almost half of the basic nutrient benefits, not to mention the fact that the digestive enzymes don’t help digestion as much if they don’t start in the stomach. The basic complex is a simple multivitamin complex plus certain "specialty nutrients" that do help for optimal vitality in the proper doses. They have ingredients that are good for vision health, liver health, brain health, and defenses… some are in good doses, some aren’t. Some of the ingredients are barely over the base RDA so they will help to avoid deficiencies, but are not "optimal health" dosages. With all that being said, many similar multivitamins for MUCH cheaper prices than $80+ per bottle (as each $41 bottle is a 15 day supply) are better absorbed (the enteric coating and the tablet aspect are the biggest concerns). I would skip this product and get one of several other ones that are available from any of the good quality companies out there”

    kassie - August 16 2010

  • “Hi, As Christina said with the ge-soy, If your products are ge-free, then how come they are not labeled on the product that they are ge free? or why have you not been certified by thing concerning that?”

    Michelle - August 02 2013

  • “Hi Vaughan For some years we maintained our price structures; however in May 2012 we made an adjustment to our product prices across the board.  This increase was to help with general inflation, shipping, adverse exchanges rates and importantly compliance and testing costs which ensure our products always meet our exact standards for purity and efficacy. We hope that you do understand but if I can clarify any further please let me know. Kind regards, Chantal ”

    Xtend-Life Expert - June 08 2012

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