Vitamins: Pill vs. Food

Whew. I am sorry that I have been a bit MIA. This past month has simply been crazy.

I have been in the process of applying to a few local dietetic internships. Completing a dietetic internship is the last and final step I need in order to become a Registered Dietitian! Whoo hoo! So lately, my time and my energy has been mainly directed towards applications. However, they are now completed and turned in so now I just wait. And wait. And wait. (If you can’t tell, this is something that does not come easy for me!) I will keep you updated. For now, the good news is… I have time to blog again!

So my topic of choice for today is : Vitamins!


A little disclaimer: I do believe there is a time and a place for vitamins. If there is any sort of deficiency, illness, growth periods such as pregnancy, medication that requires supplementation, etc. then I completely understand the need for vitamin supplementation. However, for normal, healthy people (and of course this is just my opinion) I do not think using vitamins to supplement a healthy diet is necessary.

Why?

-Foods were created with natural vitamins and minerals long before we even had a concept that they existed.

-Vitamin deficiency is very rare in an average person’s diet.

-A healthy person can obtain all the vitamins and minerals their body needs simply from eating a balanced diet.

-It is impossible incredibly hard to reach a level of toxicity with vitamins when eaten in the food form and yet very easy to reach that toxicity level with vitamins in supplement form.

-Vitamins are man-made and are relatively a new idea. We cannot fully understand the long term effects of taking vitamins. In other words, it isn’t really known if taking vitamins over a long period of time actually helps or hurts our health.

-Vitamins, minerals, and other compounds are absorbed differently when paired with other compounds found in food or even when cooked certain ways! For a few examples (and there are many more)

  • Iron is better absorbed when paired with Vitamin C.
  • Calcium is better absorbed when paired with Vitamin D.
  • Cooking tomatoes seems to increase the amount of lycopene (an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red hue and is extremely helpful for the body) and cooking them in a little olive oil seems to increase its absorption in the body.

Unfortunately, we live in a world full of “quick-fixes” that tells us to pop a few pills to keep our bodies healthy rather than make lifestyle changes that can have a much greater and healthier impact.

When it comes down to it, I am a firm believer that eating a balanced and healthful diet rather than supplementing our bodies with synthetic vitamins & unknown long-term effects is a much healthier way to maintain our health.

And finally, if you are taking or considering vitamins, take a minute to read this very interesting article posted today by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Popular but Dangerous: 3 Vitamins That Can Hurt You

 

 

    3 thoughts on “Vitamins: Pill vs. Food

  1. Do you take a vitamin while you are nursing your child? I just had my second child in November. This has been a topic on my brain for a while of whether the vitamins are “good” or not. Over the past few years I have been researching and focusing on better eating, etc. I would love to become a nutritionist or have one as a friend. If you do or don’t take a vitamin, my next question is: What would be a daily diet for you or a week of lunches for you, etc? How do you know you are getting the right amount of veggies/fruits, vitamins & minerals? Thanks, Jessica (mommy of 2 currently recovering from mastitis)

  2. Jessica,
    So sorry for the delayed response. I was not notified of your comment for some reason. And I am also so sorry to hear you struggled through mastitis! Your kiddos are quite lucky to have such a trooper. One day they will thank us, right? 😉

    You know, I continued to take my prenatal vitamin for the first few months of nursing. Then, however, I struggled with thrush and began cutting a lot of things out of my diet… including my prenatal vitamin due to the additives found in the vitamins that could have an impact on thrush. That was a very unique circumstance though.

    Nutrient needs during breastfeeding are quite a bit higher, so I do see the value of continuing a prenatal vitamin. I will still stand by my opinion that it is better coming from food though. My recommendation during this phase of life would be to continue a prenatal vitamin, and focus on improving diet on top of the vitamin (which it sounds like you are doing already!). As for getting enough nutrients, I like to say aim to eat the rainbow. Different colors of fruits and veggies indicate the vitamins found within. So, if you aim to eat lots of different colors throughout the week, you would be getting a good variety of nutrients. For more detailed questions, I would recommend talking to an RD in person. I’d be happy to refer you to one if you would like. 🙂

    Does that answer your questions? Glad you stopped by! Loved your comment. 🙂

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