Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Natural versus Synthetic: Not Always Relevant

Synthetic processes are often irrelevant; the resulting form is the most important consideration. For example, most mammals synthesize ascorbic acid in their livers from blood sugar, so synthetic processes are essential in biological ascorbic acid production and all of their internally produced vitamin C is quite literally synthetically derived. This process is mimicked in commercial production.

This means that synthetic is not a synonym for unnatural; it depends on the process and the end result. If the compound is a synthetic form, such as dl-ascorbic acid, that is not so good. But if it results in a natural form, such as l-carnitine rather than d-carnitine, and mimics the synthesis of that substance in the body, our biology can’t distinguish between the internally and externally produced sources.

"Synthetic" loses its automatically negative connotation when considered in conjunction with these factors because we internally synthesize thousands of compounds every day and only the unnatural forms are presumed to be inherently negative when ingested.