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August 27, 1973

Natural vs Synthetic Vitamins

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

JAMA. 1973;225(9):1124. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220370062034

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To the Editor.—  Under QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (225:73, 1973) a query as to whether there was any difference between natural and synthetic vitamins was answered by Margarita Nagy, MS, of the AMA Department of Foods and Nutrition, as follows:Biochemically, a vitamin has only one molecular structure; thus, whether a vitamin is extracted from a natural product or synthesized by the manufacturer, its structure is identical in either case, and possesses, consequently, the same biochemical activity... the human body utilizes vitamins without questioning whether they were synthesized by a plant or in the laboratory of a pharmaceutical company.This may be true of some vitamins, but it is definitely not true of vitamin E (tocopherol), in which the alpha fraction contains virtually all of the therapeutically active principle. D, αtocopheryl acetate is derived from natural sources, such as wheat germ oil, whereas dl α-tocopheryl acetate is the synthetic form. While