Let’s talk about supplements for a second, shall we? With around 75% of the American population taking a supplement, it’s a hot topic, and we want to break down what you need to know about food vs. supplements.
From how our bodies absorb nutrients from the foods we eat to our top nutrient-dense food picks, we got you covered.
How Our Bodies Absorb Nutrients from Food vs. Supplements
Some of the most commonly taken supplements include calcium, C, D, or a multivitamin. However, nothing replaces food as the #1 source of all nutrients and vitamins.
Why is this?
When we consume natural, unprocessed food, we take in a symphony of hundreds of complex carotenoids, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, all in perfect combination — one that simply cannot be replicated in a lab. For this reason, our bodies don’t usually absorb vitamins in pill form as well as we do when consuming natural sources.
If you need the scientific proof, a recent study published in the journal of the American College of Cardiology found that those consuming supplement versions of vitamin A, K, zinc, and magnesium were at no advantage when it came to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease or overall mortality.
On the flip side, those getting adequate levels of those vitamins from actual food, were!
Other reasons to focus on food vs. supplements? Food tastes amazing! There’s no struggling to remember to take your supplements, and food is almost always cheaper than those pricey supps.
Are Your Favorite Supps Sold Out? Eat These Instead
Of course, there is no promise of concrete results from supplements ever — there’s no magic pill that can prevent all health woes, and there’s no one thing to pop to rev up or boost your immune system.
And, heads up — be cautious of health claims that sound too good to be true — they almost always are.
Your body is perfectly built and equipped to detox and fight off disease naturally, so supplements are meant to be just that — a supplement to what you put on your plate.
Here’s how to bulk up your diet with nutrient-dense foods packed full of powerful vitamins and minerals.
- Worried About Your Vitamin C Intake? Try These Foods
Chow down on fresh citrus or veggies like bell peppers, broccoli, and even cabbage and potatoes — they’re all loaded and will easily have you surpassing the recommended daily intake!
- Looking to Get Your A in?
Luckily, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, and animal foods like liver and salmon are packed, making it easy to consume the RDA of 700 mcg a day for women or 900 mcg a day for men.
- What About Calcium?
The RDA for calcium of 1000 mg is also easily met by combining a variety of calcium-rich foods like greens, beans, figs, and also milk or fortified almond milk or soy milk if you find you’re lacking.
- Don’t Forget About Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another essential nutrient for preventing osteoporosis and has even been shown to support mood, among other functions. It is naturally occurring in small doses in some foods like egg yolks, tuna, salmon, and cheese, but it’s one that’s harder to get from foods alone.
Enjoying fortified foods or making sure you’re getting plenty of sunlight is helpful with getting vitamin D, but be sure to get your bloodwork done regularly to make sure you’re not still low (in these cases, supplementation may be needed!)
Nothing Beats a Wholesome Diet
While we’re certainly not dismissing the good that supplements can do, food is always #1, so focus there first and supplement next (if needed!) But, don’t’ forget the amazing power of fresh, whole foods.
If you find you’re not getting adequate amounts of a vitamin from your food or have underlying health conditions that mean you need more, always consult with your doctor to find the best route for you!