Supplements vs. Whole Foods

So often we want to take  a pill to improve our health, when in reality, there isn’t a pill that can replace a healthy lifestyle.

There’s so much talk going on about “Supplements”. Are they the quick fix to our health problems?  Mayo Clinic, a world renowned hospital, would say don’t pop down the supplements too quickly. Their website ( shares some important information in their article called “Supplements: Nutrition in a Pill?”

Supplements vs. whole foods

Supplements aren’t intended to be a food substitute because they can’t replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. So depending on your situation and your eating habits, dietary supplements may not be worth the expense.

Whole foods offer three main benefits over dietary supplements:

  • Greater nutrition. Whole foods are complex, containing a variety of the micronutrients your body needs — not just one. An orange, for example, provides vitamin C plus some beta carotene, calcium and other nutrients. It’s likely these compounds work together to produce their beneficial effect.
  • Essential fiber. Whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes, provide dietary fiber. Most high-fiber foods are also packed with other essential nutrients. Fiber, as part of a healthy diet, can help prevent certain diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and it can also help manage constipation.
  • Protective substances. Whole foods contain other substances important for good health. Fruits and vegetables, for example, contain naturally occurring substances called phytochemicals, which may help protect you against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Many are also good sources of antioxidants — substances that slow down oxidation, a natural process that leads to cell and tissue damage.

The article does go on to say there are times when supplements are necessary.  If you are pregnant your doctor will advise the specific amount of vitamins and nutrients you need. It is perfectly normal to be taking folic acid and iron supplements. If you are over 50, generally you should be taking B-12 and Vitamin D.  Dietary supplements can also be suggested for those who don’t eat well or who have a limited diet like vegans and vegetarians.

Some people turn to supplements because they want to lose weight. They don’t want the calories or carbs that come with food so they just eat supplements. This is not a healthy way to lose weight! You could actually be harming your body and are straying from the path to better health.

We need to eat a healthy diet because the foods we eat can actually provide us with health benefits that supplements can’t replicate. Many foods don’t just have just one type of vitamin. For example, oranges contain vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, and other nutrients. It is important to eat different food because these nutrients work together to provide different things the body needs.

The bottom line is this, try to eat foods that give you the nutrients you need and if you can’t get all you need from your diet,  then turn to supplements. I eat super healthy but I am low in vitamin D. It’s hard to consume enough Vitamin D from diet alone so that is the one supplement I do take.

We’ve gathered a list of foods to show the vitamins and nutrients they include:

Vitamin A- Milk, Eggs, Darkly Colored Orange and Green Veggies, Orange Fruits

Vitamin C- Oranges, Kiwis, Peppers, Papaya, Peaches

Calcium- Kale, Yogurt, Broccoli, Chia Seeds, Oranges

B Vitamins- Eggs, Chickpeas, Salmon, Nuts

Vitamin E- Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Peanut Butter

Beta Carotene- Pumpkin, Spinach, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes

Iron- Spinach, Clams, Whole Grains, Tofu

Zinc- Beef, Pumpkin, Squash, Crab, Peaches

Folate- Lentils, Garbanzo Beans, Black Beans, Asparagus, Orange Juice

Vitamin D – Fatty fish, Egg Yolks, Beef Liver

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