• Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN

The "Secret" Ingredients

Updated: May 10

If someone handed you a bowl full of corn, wheat, & by-products and topped with heaps of synthetic vitamins/minerals and said, "Here's your complete and balanced meal!" you probably would want to eat somewhere else ASAP and maybe write a very aggressive Yelp review. Or what if you point out how unhealthy the meal is because it is loaded with carbs and artificial vitamins and minerals, and they reply, "But it meets all the minimum nutrient 'requirements.'"



What Are Synthetics?

Synthetic vitamins and minerals are isolated nutrients that have been artificially created in an industrial matter.



Why Are They're Added

Synthetics are added due too...


  • Dry food is heated to high temperatures causing many vital nutrients to be lost. They are added back in via synthetics.

  • To balance any formula (raw and/or kibble).

  • Synthetics can even be used to neutralize free radicals when low-quality meat is used.



Synthetic vs. Natural

For years, the debate has been going on: "Are synthetic better or worse than naturally derived nutrients?". Some sources even say that synthetics are dangerous. This is because the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed. Although synthetics may contain one main vitamin or mineral, they tend to lack some things that natural sources don't, such as trace minerals. Trace minerals cannot be found in synthetic due to them being crafted in laboratories. Fabricating synthetics does have benefits, especially for those with certain food allergies but depending on synthetics for all nutrients has its downfalls.


Not too long ago, Hill's Pet Food's huge recall was made due to toxic amounts of Vitamin D in dog food. Too many of these vital nutrients caused hundreds of dogs to die due to toxicity. SIn addition, some food had over 70 times the recommended amount of Vitamin D.


It was unknown why there were such lethal dosages of Vitamin D in the food. It might have been the mathematician's fault for miscalculation, or maybe the mixing machine had caked a little pile of the synthetics, and it finally fell into the unlucky kibble batch - there's really no way to know. Here is a list of recently recalled pet food products.


It's still unclear how synthetic vitamins and minerals are absorbed and used in the body. Some synthetics may be more easily absorbed, while others may not be bioavailable at all. This causes deficiencies as well as toxicity in pets all over the world. In addition, when feeding real fresh foods, the vitamins themselves are not being fed. Still, the whole array of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and co-factors are being put into the body for optimal absorption and use. Without these extra compounds, it is doubtful that synthetics would be used the same way in the body as their natural counterpart.


For example, studies show that natural vitamin E is absorbed