It is important that the main source of your nutrition is derived from real food. For other people supplements must be sued to supplement the nutrients that their bodies lack.
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.
As much supplements can be taken together with healthy foods there are circumstances when one choice is better than the other. There are some things that only natural plant foods can provide. For instance there is no fiber in a pill.
Using supplements made from whole foods won’t necessarily give you more vitamins (in fact, they typically contain more modest amounts of vitamins than other dietary supplements), but you will get other plant compounds which could be of potential benefit (as well as some grams of fiber if you are consuming, for example, spoonfuls of a whole food powder as opposed to a pill). Paying a premium price for this, however, may not be worthwhile and ConsumerLab.com has found lead contamination in some whole food and “greens” products.
Regarding natural vs. synthetic forms of vitamins in dietary supplements, sometimes natural is better, sometimes synthetic is better, and sometimes it doesn’t matter. Keep in mind that all can help prevent or treat deficiencies and other conditions, and nearly all are known to be harmful at too high a dose.
Wholefood supplements are better. This is something that every medical and nutrional expert agree on. Most of the supplements we have are the same as processed foods due to the process they undergo while being made.
Across the spectrum of the natural health world, one thing is agreed on by virtually everyone – eating whole foods is better for health than eating processed foods. Could it be any different with supplements? Most multivitamins are the supplement equivalent of processed foods, being comprised of isolated, refined, processed, and often synthetic nutrients combined in a capsule.
Like processed foods, processed vitamins have been stripped of their wholeness and integrity, which includes synergistic and balancing nutrients, enzymes, and co-factors. In their refined state, they can act more like drugs in the body. Processed minerals can act like crushed rock, and often very little is digested and assimilated.
Small amounts of nutrients in whole food form are several times more effective than larger doses of isolated nutrients. Food forms are slowly digested and absorbed, and their nutrients become available over a several hour time span. Much of a large dose of isolated nutrients is lost because the body can use only a small amount at one time.