Which Is Better For Nutrient Intake: Supplements Or Food?
No supplement can ever replace healthy eating food. But it is also a fact that "Not everyone needs dietary supplements, but seniors and others may benefit from them so they may get the nutrients they're missing from a regular diet." So let's understand the "Supplements vs. Food" concept through research and debate.
Foods Vs. Nutritional Supplements
However, food should never be substituted with a supplement. For example, the minerals and health benefits of whole meals, such as fruits and vegetables, are impossible to duplicate in a supplement.
Many studies demonstrate that supplements aren't as effective as claimed. According to several studies, getting enough of certain nutrients was associated with a lower risk of mortality from any cause. However, this benefit was seen only when food consumed nutrients. Furthermore, supplementation with the same nutrients did not affect mortality risk reduction.
This is because there are three key advantages of eating foods rather than nutritional supplements. These are:
- More nutrients - The body's needs for micronutrients are met by the complexity of whole foods.
- High-quality fiber - Dietary fiber is found naturally in whole foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Consuming a diet high in fiber may lower the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes type 2, and colon cancer.
- Toxin-blocking chemicals - Antioxidants are just one example of a healthful component found in many whole foods; these molecules reduce the rate at which free radicals can damage cells and tissues.
1999-2010 National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey
A study was conducted as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010. Participants were surveyed on whether or not they had taken any nutritional supplements in the prior 30 days. If they did, they needed to produce the storage units physically or mentally to recall the contents. Participants also disclosed their dosage and frequency information in revealing which supplements they used and how often.
Using the NCI methodology, two interviews were conducted with each participant to collect data on their diet and beverage use during the previous 24 hours. Researchers replicated the subjects' usual dietary habits and nutritional intake from this data. Researchers often estimate the nutrient content of an individual's diet by conducting daily interviews about what people eat.
Over half of the people had used supplements in the past month. When compared to non-users, supplement users were older, more likely to be female, less likely to be heavy smokers or drinkers, and more likely to have a chronic disease at the start of the experiment (these conditions included cancer, heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes). After getting information about the supplements and diets of the people in this study, participants were followed for an average of 6.1 years. Deaths were tracked during these observation periods.
The study found the following in regards to the correlation between food consumption and mortality risk:
- A lower risk of death was associated with getting enough magnesium and vitamin K in the diet.
- In addition, researchers found that people who got their recommended daily allowances of vitamins A, K, and zinc had a lower death rate from cardiovascular disease.
- High calcium intake was associated with a higher cancer mortality rate.
Researchers found, after comparing different means of nutrient consumption (diet vs. supplementation):
- The lower death risk associated with appropriate vitamin K and magnesium intakes was only shown in foods, not supplements.
- The link between getting enough vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc and a lower risk of death from heart disease was only true for nutrients that came from food. The link disappeared when nutrients came from supplements.
- Calcium supplementation of at least 1,000 milligrams per day was associated with an increased risk of cancer-related death, while calcium consumption from food did not.
Getting Nutrients From Food Is Preferred Over Supplements, But This May Not Be The Case If You're Deficient.
It is better to get nutrients from food than from supplements, but this may not be true if you are deficient. A study suggests that you may not receive the same benefits from supplementing your diet with the vitamins and minerals you need as you would from eating a balanced diet on its own. These results show that nutritional supplements are not suitable for a well-balanced diet, as one expert puts it.
Who Needs To Take Supplements?
One expert notes that it's crucial to stress that the study didn't look at any specific demographics that might have dietary needs that differ from the general population. However, another expert claims that some populations will benefit more than others from taking dietary supplements. "These may include people who have nutritional deficiencies or special dietary needs, such vegans or vegetarians, or pregnant women whose bodies aren't able to process certain nutrients normally found in food."
However, the results of recent studies do not necessarily rule out the possibility that these people would get any advantage from taking supplements. According to experts, supplements may not be necessary for someone who is healthy and has no deficiency in vitamins or minerals. A specialist believes that food-based nutrients are better than supplements unless a deficiency is present. Scientists were not included in this research.
An adequate daily intake of nutrients is essential for good health. However, experts agree that people deficient in certain areas (such as iron or vitamin D) may benefit from a supplement. A scientist believes it is more important to consult a physician or nutritionist to determine which nutrients you may be deficient in. Reversing nutritional deficiencies with diet alone may take a very long time for people who have been sick or who have undergone medical treatment.
This is why a specialist recommends taking a supplement. According to the expert, a doctor's approval is required before using any supplement & "People shouldn't start taking supplements without testing or a good explanation for doing so." It's not recommended that everyone needs to take a multivitamin daily.
Research Has Limitations.
One expert argues that the study's observational nature is one of its limitations. The study's findings show a connection between receiving the right nutrients in your diet and improved health (compared with getting the nutrients you need via supplements). However, expert says that the data don't necessarily mean that taking supplements instead of eating food is to blame for losing health benefits. Even more so when the topic is nutrition or supplements, there are always many potential confounding factors to consider in any observational study.
The study factors included income, education, smoking, exercise, and the presence of chronic diseases. However, there are still unknown factors that may affect people's inclination to take dietary supplements.
Researchers found that supplement users had a higher prevalence of co-occurring diseases than those who did not take supplements. The researchers accounted for the possibility of these situations occurring simultaneously. But the expert asks, "Is there a hidden bias that makes illness people more likely to take supplements?" If someone were already sick, would they be advised to take extra vitamins?
Some supplement users may have experienced these complications, which could explain why there appear to be links between supplement usage and mortality.
Self-report bias is another limitation of this study. For example, people likely exaggerated the quantity or quality of good items they consumed while failing to mention the less-healthy options they frequently ingested.
The researchers conclude that the findings of this study raise questions about the use of particular supplements for persons in generally good health. But that doesn't mean you should go chilly roast chicken on your supplement routine.The best version of yourself can be found by focusing on your happy life, so go out and find it. However, keep in mind, that you should always talk to your doctor if you have any doubts about the quality or safety of any supplements you're taking or are thinking about.