Supplements vs Real Food: Which is better?

Our bodies need a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins in order to function properly.

It’s important to note that supplements are just a supplement to our diets and that they do not provide all of the nutrients we need. I’m sure you already know where I stand with this and that’s on the real food side simply because food has more to offer than a pill.

So, is it better to get macronutrients and micronutrients from supplements or real food? Read on…

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Who Needs Supplements

It is important to consult a doc or RD when it comes to supplementation. With that said, people who need supplements include: people on restrictive diets (very low calories), older adults, vegetarian/vegan, pregnant, or a medical condition.

If you don’t quite fall under these categories and still take supplements I promise I won’t judge you. But, if you eat an array of nutrients through healthy foods then you most likely are getting enough nutrition through your diet and don’t need supplements. At the end of the day it’s your choice, but I just want to make sure you are aware of all aspects of supplementation.

And a big tip for choosing supplement brands – look for the USP stamp. The stamp is awarded to dietary supplements that have been tested for safety, quality, purity, potency, performance, and consistency (this is separate from the FDA) .

Supplement Regulation

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements in the same way it regulates food and drugs. Under the Dietary Supplement Healthy and Education Act (DSHEA), companies are responsible for the safety of their product and that the claims on the label are true. You will be shocked to find that supplements do not need approval from FDA before they are marketed/sold because of this law. However, the only time companies have to notify the FDA is if their supplement contains a new ingredient. I don’t know about you, but this sounds a bit sketchy.

“By law (DSHEA), the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that its dietary supplement products are safe before they are marketed. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, there are no provisions in the law for FDA to approve dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumerFDA – Dietary supplements

There are no rules for serving sizes or the amount of nutrients in the supplement. In this case it’s important to be aware of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for vitamins and minerals – it basically tells you how much of each your body needs based on age and gender. And be aware that too much of one thing is never good, what I mean by this is megadosing. By exceeding the Upper Intake Levels of any given vitamin/mineral could be toxic to the body.

Nutrition Through Food

I believe the best way to get your macros (carbs, fats, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is through food! Maybe it’s just me but if I bite into a chicken breast I know it’s a chicken breast, I can’t say the same about taking a supplement.

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Real food contains magical things that pills can’t give us:

FIBER Lowers the risk of colon cancer, you poo more (keeping it real), and helps control blood sugar
PHYTOCHEMICALS Substances found in plants that may help reduce the risk for disease
PHYSIOLOGICAL ASPECTS The ability to feel full/satisfied, chewing sensation
LESS EXPENSIVE Invest in organic fruits and vegetables instead
REGULATED BY THE FDA 

What do you think about dietary supplements? Do you take any? I want to know! 

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