Getting Vitamins from Food vs. from Supplements

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Our lives nowadays might be quite chaotic. Getting adequate vitamins and minerals may be the last item on our priority list. Instead of thinking about what you’re eating, it could be easier to just grab vitamins or pills to replace what’s lacking in your diet.

However, it is critical to attempt to obtain vitamins from whole meals before resorting to dietary supplements. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, your nutritional needs should be fulfilled largely via your diet, but you can supplement with vitamins if your needs cannot be satisfied only through food. Supplements are not meant to replace eating. They cannot match the minerals and advantages of entire meals like fruits and vegetables.



Vitamins and minerals may be little, but they play an important part in the proper functioning of our bodies. These and other nutrients do everything from make red blood cells to maintain our eyes health.

Deficiencies in several vitamins and minerals might potentially have serious consequences. Iron insufficiency is perhaps the most well-known deficit. This results in weariness, heart palpitations, and a variety of other symptoms.

Whole foods have three major advantages versus dietary supplements:

More nutrients. Whole foods are complex, including a wide range of micronutrients that your body needs.

Some nutrients also complement one another. Vitamin D, for example, increases calcium absorption in the body. You may absorb extra calcium by eating an orange, which includes calcium and vitamin D. It wouldn’t receive that help if you just took one calcium supplement.

Fiber is necessary. Dietary fiber is found in entire foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Fiber in the diet can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, stroke, and heart disease.

Substances that provide protection. Many whole foods include health-promoting compounds, such as antioxidants, which slow down a natural process that causes cell and tissue damage.

In many cases, vitamins and minerals contained in food are simpler to absorb than those found in supplements. Eating correctly, with the extra advantage of other nutrients present in food, provides significantly larger benefits than taking supplements and eating poorly.

Who requires supplements?

If you’re a healthy adult who consumes a diverse diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and fish, you probably don’t require supplements.

However, supplements or fortified meals may be beneficial if you:

Are you pregnant or trying to get pregnant?

  • Are over the age of 50
  • Have a weak appetite or difficulty obtaining healthful foods?
  • Adherence to a diet that eliminates whole food groupings
  • Have a medical condition that interferes with nutritional digestion, such as persistent diarrhea, food allergies, food intolerance, or a disease of the liver, gallbladder, intestines, or pancreas?
  • Have undergone stomach surgery that has affected how your body digests nutrients

Consult your doctor or a dietician if you’re unsure if you need a vitamin and mineral supplement. Make careful to inquire about dosage, side effects, and any drug interactions.

If you decide to use a supplement, you must:


  • Examine the label. The active ingredient or ingredients, the nutrients present, the serving size, and the amount of nutrients in each serving may all be found on product labels.
  • Megadoses should be avoided. Taking more than the recommended daily dose might increase your chances of experiencing negative effects.
  • Inform your physician. Supplements can be dangerous if used in specific combinations, with certain prescription medicines, or before surgery or other operations.
  • Keep an eye out for warnings and recalls. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States does not regulate supplements to the same extent as it controls prescription pharmaceuticals. However, the FDA does monitor their safety. It’s a good idea to check the FDA’s website for warnings and recalls on a regular basis.
  • Report any issues. If you suspect that a dietary supplement is to blame for a significant reaction or sickness, discontinue use and consult your doctor. Your doctor may advise you to go online and file a safety report to the FDA.


While your body is capable of eliminating many extra vitamins and minerals, others remain and cause harm. Furthermore, supplements might conflict with some medications and potentially make you sick.

Vitamin A is a prime example of an important substance that may be hazardous in excess. This vitamin deficiency is uncommon in the United States, so you’re probably receiving enough through your food. If you take multivitamins that include vitamin A, you may be taking too much.

Excess vitamin A is dangerous to everyone, but especially pregnant women.

Taking too much iron is likewise dangerous, as can taking too many vitamins. Taking multivitamins or single vitamins might be dangerous because it is impossible to monitor your nutritional intake from diet.

Supplements can also be costly, particularly when compared to a whole-food, unprocessed diet. Whole grains, veggies, and legumes are low-cost foods that are high in nutrients.


Supplements aren’t necessarily bad. When utilized appropriately, they may be extremely valuable, even life-saving.

Some medical disorders prohibit the body from absorbing enough of a particular vitamin, and supplementing is the only way to acquire it in sufficient amounts. Pernicious anemia is an example of this, in which the body is unable to absorb vitamin B12.

Because supplements cannot be absorbed with this illness, getting vitamin B12 injections is a frequent strategy to treat it. Other illnesses and circumstances necessitate the use of vitamin B12.

Pregnant women, who require more folate than typical adults, are frequently recommended folic acid supplements. Iron supplements are also given to pregnant women, women who have heavy menstruation, and dialysis patients.

Some people’s diets are influenced by their lifestyle, and supplementing might assist.



In general, the data show a distinct difference between supplements and meals. Getting your nutrition from nutritious foods is the greatest approach to maintain your vitamin and mineral levels. While supplements should never be used in place of a balanced diet, they are sometimes necessary.

Personalized vitamin supplements and injections can help with everything from pregnancy and medical issues to a hectic lifestyle and feeling run-down. However, supplements should not be used until you understand the nutrients you are deficient in.