Will Synthetic Vitamins Make Me Explode?


we hear the words
natural and synthetic all the time when talking about food,
medicine, clothes and other things. but what do they mean?
if you took a poll most people would tell you that natural
has to do with their juice cleanse organic groceries, yoga and other healthy activities but for synthetic they’ll warn you of toxins scary chemicals and mean confusing
chemistry teachers with all these charged emotions it’s not
surprising that a lot of people equate these words with good and bad. but this discounts everything chemistry has to offer
society, so we need to change this view natural simply means made by nature, the
same benevolent force that brings us deadly viruses and toxic blowfish which looks strangely similar. synthetic means made by humans who save lives with
antibiotics and synthetic microbes that eat up the
oil from a tanker spill. now that we’ve decoupled these words from good and bad let’s look at something both nature and humans make. a vitamin is something we must
consume in small amounts in order for our cells to keep normal
function and metabolism most plants and animals make these on
their own but somewhere along biological evolution a few mammals lost the ability so we
have to eat them take vitamin C. for thousands of years
we’ve gotten this from fruit but with modern science we can identify
the structure of this and other compounds and make them ourselves. the question is are they the same? to answer that let’s look at how a vitamin works. a
vitamin has just the right shape to fit into an active site of an enzyme and make
interactions that turn on the enzyme like a lock and key. and just as it
doesn’t matter who makes your key as long as it’s the right shape for the
lock, same goes for the vitamin that’s why any molecule that these
specific atoms arranged in this way is vitamin C nature makes this just fine, always has
but when nature does chemistry it is limited to the normal pH and
temperature inside a living organism so it has to use big bulky molecules to do blind chemistry. when we do
chemistry we can use any exotic compounds and
conditions we want to build any molecule we want, and even though the pathways are different the end product is the
exact same molecule. so the bioactivity of a
molecule can not depend on how it came to be an enzyme simply can’t tell the
difference. furthermore it is often cheaper and easier to
synthesize these in mass quantities than to have to extract and purify from
natural sources so if we want to keep the growing global population healthy and well-fed, we have to get over
the idea that science looks like this, because
science looks like this

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18 thoughts on “Will Synthetic Vitamins Make Me Explode?

  1. I don't claim to be highly educated on the matter of whether taking vitamin supplements is useful or not. I've heard it claimed that it's a pointless waste but don't myself have the understanding of biochemistry to evaluate whether that's true or false. What is your recommendation?

  2. Aghhh…the amount of times I hear people say, "But it's got chemicals in it." Everyone should watch this! πŸ™‚ Unfortunately, the word 'chemistry' and its reputation have suffered through media-driven associations with clandestine laboratories, drugs, crime and consequence. Schools should make chemistry a core subject; given that it is so fundamental and also a common context for misconceptions. It's also a great foundation for learning computer science concepts like Object-Oriented Programming. I could go on for days…

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