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Nutrition Column

You canít live on supplements alone

Supplements get the press, but food proves to be the best source for nutrients of all kinds.

With all the products on the market today, is it possible to obtain all you need in terms of nutritional requirements from pills and powders alone? Or do we still need whole foods?

A recent review article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association discussed whether nutrients in a diet ought to come from food or supplements. Many current studies on individual nutrients using supplements as disease fighters have found them to be less promising than when they are obtained in whole foods and in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Most studies have shown that taking separate supplements is fruitless in terms of disease prevention. The majority of the research has found that foods, which contain many more phytonutrients than the single nutrient studied, are more reliable sources than supplements alone in fighting disease.

Eating healthy does not necessarily mean eating green vegetables and fresh fruit. For example, Iceberg lettuce is green and a vegetable but contains few nutrients and is primarily water. In contrast, spinach another green leafy vegetable is loaded with vitamin A, vitamin B6, folic acid, potassium, zinc, and magnesium.

Eating healthy means eating nutrient-rich food.

Taking large doses of an individual vitamin or mineral is not only overkill but may precipitate disease rather than provide added health and vitality.

Supplements are not a replacement or a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. They should be viewed as compliments to whole foods and be used to fill the gaps in your diet - particularly for women, vegetarians, and the elderly.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 11.02.05