Skip that meal, but take supplements? It’s not all the same…..

There have been many articles written about supplements and issues surrounding them. Some find that supplements are good and have a positive impact, and other studies find that the lack of standards make them ineffective and, in some cases, dangerous. 

I always say that getting the right vitamins and minerals does lower the risk of early death. However, I prefer to get my vitamins and minerals from food that I eat and not relying primarily on supplements. One recent study found that there are benefits associated with nutrients from foods that are superior from the nutrients obtained from supplements.

This recent study, that tracked 27,000 individuals for six years found that during the six years 3,600 people died. Out of this 945 died from heart disease and another 805 died of cancer. 

This study concluded that consuming certain vitamins such as vitamin K, A and certain minerals such as zinc and copper had the lower risk of death from heart disease than those who are deficient in such vitamins and minerals. When the researchers looked further into this issue, they found that only nutrients from food were tied to a lower risk of death from any cause including heart disease. For example, the study found that consuming higher levels of calcium from supplements was linked to high risk of death from cancer. But there was no link between eating foods associated with calcium and death. 

There have been many studies showing harmful side effects of supplements. The one referenced above showed that calcium can have harmful side effects. Another one has shown that vitamin E is linked to dementia and increased risk of prostate cancer in men. An older 20-year study found that supplements in older women was linked to an increase in death. 

Because of the potential risks, and lack of standards and oversight, it has been recommended by experts and organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that people should get their nutrients form foods by eating a healthy diet. In addition, a healthy diet doesn’t have additional benefits needed by your body such as fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants. 

Don’t think I’m recommending staying away from supplements. In certain cases, our bodies may not be able to process the food, we may have an illness where we are lacking in certain minerals/vitamins, or we have a vitamin/mineral deficiency. In such cases, supplements are totally appropriate. However, always seek the opinion of your physician.