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Do Synthetic Vitamins Work Like Natural Vitamins?

Naturally occurring vitamins and synthetic vitamins are very different. They’re not in the same chemical form so your dog’s body will have trouble recognizing and using the fake, synthetic vitamins. Many studies are showing that synthetic vitamins aren’t as bioavailable meaning your dog can’t use them like real vitamins they get from food.  Since the synthetic vitamins you put into your dog aren’t recognizable by his body they are treated as toxins and excreted from the body creating yellow smelly urine. This detoxification is hard on your dog’s kidneys and, over time, the kidneys can slowly shut down.


"There appears to be a tendency to label those who profess that natural vitamins are better than synthetic ones as quacks. This broad brush label may be stifling legitimate nutrition research. This paper describes physiochemical differences between certain natural and synthetic vitamins, proven clinical advantages of natural vitamins, and some of the effects this labeling may lead to. It concludes that lessons of history as well as modern science support the view that natural vitamins are nutritionally superior to synthetic ones." 

Thiel RJ. Natural vitamins may be superior to synthetic ones. Med Hypotheses. 2000 Dec;55(6):461-9. doi: 10.1054/mehy.2000.1090. PMID: 11090291.

What Are Vitamins Made Of?

Most people think vitamins are a natural extract from their vegetable or fruit source. However, many of the vitamins you’ll find in your dog’s supplements or food are made from waste products from the petroleum and coal industries. While the chemical structures may share similarities they have been found to accumulate causing toxicity 


For Example:

  • Vitamin A: Methanol, benzene, petroleum esters, acetylene, refined fish or palm oils

    • Some synthetic derivatives do not resemble the natural isoprenoids from  vitamin A class at first sight. However, the basic vitamin A string is hidden in their structures, and they are similar to other retinoids in their interaction with retinoid receptors. All these compounds are liposoluble and, unlike water-soluble vitamins, are easily accumulated in the body, especially in the liver and adipose tissue.This represents, on one hand, an advantage since temporal deprivation of vitamin A intake is not associated with clinical symptoms, but on the other hand, accumulation with subsequent toxicity can appear.​

      • Carazo, A., Macáková, K., Matoušová, K., Krčmová, L. K., Protti, M., & Mladěnka, P. (2021). Vitamin A Update: Forms, Sources, Kinetics, Detection, Function, Deficiency, Therapeutic Use and Toxicity. Nutrients, 13(5).

  • Vitamin B-1: Coal tar derivatives, hydrochloric acid, acetonitrile with ammonia

  • Vitamin B-9: Isobutyraldehyde with formaldehyde

  • Vitamin B-12: Cobalamins reacted with cyanide (yep – cyanide)

  • Vitamin C: Hydrogenated sugar processed with acetone

  • Vitamin D: Irradiated animal fat/cattle brains or extracted with solvents

Do these chemicals sound like things your dog should eat? There’s really nothing natural happening here!

The truth is, vitamins are often made from these industrial waste products simply because it’s cheaper and because they last longer than the vitamins found in real foods. This means they can sit on shelves for months or years, and can also be added to foods in super high doses.

But these cheap synthetic vitamins probably aren’t giving your dog the benefits she needs.

How To Spot Synthetic Vitamins In Dog Food

Nearly every commercial pet food, even some raw diets, contain synthetic vitamins. In fact, most kibbles and canned foods rely on synthetic vitamins for your dog’s nutrition. Instead, look for fresh whole foods that don’t rely on synthetic vitamins.  Here’s a list of the natural and synthetic names of some common vitamins … so you can recognize them on the label. And we’ve included a more complete list of what synthetic vitamins are made of. And you’ll see natural dietary sources of each vitamin so you can give your dog vitamins from fresh whole foods.

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