Food vs Supplements: Which is Better?

The supplements vs food debate has been going on ever since pharmaceutical companies realised, they could bottle nutrients and sell them. But it’s not as simple as an opportunity to make money. Supplements are often prescribed by GP’s for a variety of issues. So, should they be a part of your daily life? Or should you focus your attention on what you eat?

Vitamins and minerals play a major role in the functioning of our bodies, from keeping our red blood cells in check to promoting healthy skin. Although many people use dietary supplements, a 2018 study showed that multivitamins, vitamin D, vitamin C and calcium showed no advantage or added risk in the prevention of cardiovascular disease or premature death. Many supplements also contain active ingredients that may have strong biological effects. Combining supplements, mixing supplements with medicines or taking too much of one supplement can also be harmful for the body.

Supplements aren’t intended to substitute whole foods as they cannot replicate all of the nutrients and health benefits. Whole foods offer three main benefits over supplements, which include…

Better nutrition
Protective substances – e.g. antioxidants
Essential fibre

If you’re a generally healthy person and eat a wide variety of healthy foods, you likely do not need supplements. Supplements may be appropriate in a wide variety of situations such as women who are pregnant and need additional folic acid, or an elderly person in need of additional vitamin B-12.

If you decide to take a vitamin or supplement it is important to do the following:

Talk to your doctor to get advice on what you should be taking and how much of it is safe.
Watch what you eat – you may be unknowingly digesting more than the recommended daily allowance of a vitamin/nutrient.

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