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Where do vitamin supplements come from?

For many people, vitamin supplements are a part of everyday life. In the age of convenience foods and busy modern living it can often be difficult to get all the vitamins your body needs. For those that struggle to get their recommended daily intake, supplements can provide a way of getting those vital nutrients and can act as a support to the body’s natural defences.

But where do vitamins supplements come from? How do they appear in perfect capsule, gel or tablet form right before our very eyes?

Where do they come from?

Most supplements have been derived from natural food sources, including plant material and animal products. Cod liver oil, for example, obviously comes from the liver of the cod fish and is refined and purified for human consumption. Some vitamin A products are also derived from fish liver oil[1].

These are some other common sources of vitamin supplements[1]:

  • Vitamin B may come from yeast or liver.
  • Vitamin C can be extracted from small berries in roses.
  • Vitamin E may be extracted from soy beans or maize.

Vitamins can also be created in a laboratory through the use of chemicals or ‘synthetic’ products. These mimic the natural actions of the vitamins, and are often put into cereals and bread for consumption in our diets.

What are they used for?

Vitamin supplements provide a simple solution for those looking to get daily vital nutrients. A good example of this is vitamin D; our primary source is the sunshine. However, in the winter months in northern countries, our sun exposure generally becomes few and far between. Therefore people living in these countries may opt for vitamin D in supplement form, or include more meat, fish, or fortified milk in their diets.


[1] Net Doctor (2010). Vitamins, minerals and supplements. http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/health_advice/facts/vitamins.htm