What The Bleep Am I Eating? Part II

Natural vs. Synthetic

In What The Bleep Am I Eating? Part 1 I shared my surprise at the list of ingredients that are found in a box of Kellogg’s All-Bran. Not knowing what some of these ingredients even are, and where others are typically sourced I decided to do some research in order to make an informed decision about what I am eating.

A few things are worth noting before we delve into the ingredients themselves.

  •  When a vitamin or mineral is added as an ingredient it can be added in its natural form or created synthetically. Just determining that the ingredient is vitamin or mineral does not mean it is “natural” or “healthy”. It is not a requirement in Canada or the US to label the source or call out genetic modifications.
  • Being a Vegan, I will call attention to the fact that labels do not show if a source ingredient is vegan or not, we vegans have to do some digging to determine that fact.
  • As a general rule, it is accepted (by everyone except large corporations and their proponents) that the less processing that takes place on foods the better.
  • When vitamins and minerals are added to products, it is often because these nutritional components were removed during processing.

The Low Down


I was surprised to find in my research that “Malt Flavouring” is often a form of hidden MSG used in consumer foods. It is called a flavour “enhancer” but many of the articles I read on its creation and use referred also to its addictive behaviours, a variety of health concerns, and the ability to make lesser quality food taste “better.”  If you would like to read more about the research I did, you can read here, here, and here.  In the end I have decided that I would be on the lookout for malt flavouring ion products and choose not to partake in eating them as much as possible.


These minerals are used as additives in many foods. I spent a fair amount of time researching both of these types of Calcium and was unable to determine any real concerns with either. I was also pleased to see that both are vegan.  You can see some additional information about their uses and sources at The Vegetarian Resource Group here.


This is Vitamin C and as is the case with any of the vitamin and mineral ingredients are of no concern and are in fact helpful to the body. One point that has become clear to me through some of this research is that there is no way to know with certainty that they are not sourced from genetically modified plants is to buy organic. For example if I was to purchase Natures Path Organic Smart Bran, I would know that the source ingredients were also organic unless otherwise labeled on the box.


The term “reduced” is not in reference to the amount of iron in the product but the process by which the iron was refined. As with the other mineral and vitamin ingredients, other considerations would be if the product is organic how much processing or refining takes place. For example, a cereal that has four whole grains and a resulting percentage of iron is quite different than a product where the grain is processed, manipulated, removed of nutrients and supplementary synthetic vitamins and minerals are added. In my world, the simpler, the more whole, and the less processed the ingredients are the better.


This is another name for Niacin which is a type of Vitamin B. In looking for natural sources of Niacin I can look to legumes and whole grains. Because only the “Bran” of the wheat is used in All-Bran it is higher in fibre but not whole grain and therefore processed.


Another synthetic B vitamin like Niacin. In this case, I could look to whole grain rice as a natural source, as well as the brain itself.


For the purposes of food production this B vitamin is sourced from fungus and/or bacteria. A more palatable alternative would be leafy green vegetables.


Folic Acid comes in both vegan and non-vegan forms typically in food production. I have heard through the Vegan Grapevine that the only way to know for sure if a producer uses a vegan (synthetic or fungal) source is to contact the company directly. Thankfully, others have gone before me and the accidentally vegan website by PETA has already established that All-Bran is in fact Vegan. They have done the legwork for me on this one.  Looking for a natural source? Look to mushrooms and green leafy veggies to get your fill.


Similar to others we have discussed above, this is a synthetic B Vitamin that occurs naturally in whole grains legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables


One of several names for Vitamin A, this can be both vegan and non-vegan in processed foods, in this case being vegan. It can be found in its natural form in milk, eggs, some fish oil but for vegans, “many orange and yellow vegetables contain a substance which is transformed in the body into the vitamin” as per The Vegetarian Resource Group.


Occurs naturally only in Animal Foods, but in this case is created synthetically.


This can be vegan or non but is often sourced from animal products for food production, it can also be created through fungus or synthetically.

So What Do I Do Now?

So what does this all tell us? Well I think it each of us something different as well all have different priorities and values. For me personally, it is clear to me that I would prefer other products to this one even though it is Vegan. I try to avoid making absolute statements, this just sets me up to fail later and creates an unhealthy feeling of restriction, so I am instead making a decision to avoid this product moving forward, where possible. If circumstances arise that make choosing All-Bran the best choice for me in that given moment, I am going to allow for that possibility. I think this is a balanced and grayer step in my health MEbucket.




One Comment to “What The Bleep Am I Eating? Part II”

  1. Wow, thanks for all the great info!

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