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Why a Balanced Diet Beats Nutritional Supplements

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Go to any convenience store and you will discover rows upon rows of dietary supplements.

That’s because vitamin and mineral use has skyrocketed within the last decade as the nation has experienced a massive health and wellness boom.

A lot more than 75 percent of adults in the United States currently take supplements, based on a survey from the Council of Responsible Nutrition (CRN).It found 87 percent trust the safety, quality, and effectiveness of dietary supplements.

However, up until recently, researchers have now been unsure concerning what sort of health benefits most dietary supplements provide, if any.

Now, new research implies that nutrients from supplements do little to decrease your risk for death.

On another hand, nutrients sourced from foods seem to significantly reduce your risk for death, in line with the study, that was published in Annals of Internal MedicineTrusted Source.

“The main takeaways of the and similar studies are that healthy, whole foods should often be the initial place we turn to when you want to obtain a balanced diet with optimal nutrient levels,” Suzanne Dixon, a registered dietitian with The Mesothelioma Center in Orlando, Florida, told Healthline.

“This doesn’t mean supplements are always harmful, but it does suggest people should carefully consider if they need dietary supplements before adding them into their daily routine,” she said.

Nutrients from food, not supplements, lowers risk for death

To measure the advantages and harms of dietary supplements, researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University studied the diets in excess of 27,000 U.S. adults aged 20 and older.

The dietary data was pulled from six two-year cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination SurveyTrusted Source, which calculated participants’daily supplement doses with their dietary intake of nutrients from foods.

The study team then looked over death outcomes for every single participant through the National Death IndexTrusted Source.

The team discovered that adequate intakes of vitamin K and magnesium from food sources, not supplements, were associated with a lower threat of death.

Additionally they discovered individuals with higher intakes of vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc — again, from nutrients in foods, not supplements — had a lower threat of death from cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, excess calcium intake was associated with a higher threat of death from cancer in participants who took supplemental doses of at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day. There is no association between cancer and calcium intake from foods.

“Our results support the idea that, while supplement use contributes to an elevated amount of total nutrient intake, you will find beneficial associations with nutrients from foods that aren’t seen with supplements,” Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, an associate professor at Friedman School and the senior and corresponding author on the analysis, said in a statement.

“This study also confirms the importance of identifying the nutrient source when evaluating mortality outcomes,” she said.

The supplement industry is essentially unregulated by the FDA

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) features a limited role in supplement regulation.

Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA)Trusted Source, the FDA isn’t authorized to review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before each goes to market.

Rather, the FDA’s role in monitoring supplements is more reactionary, only pulling a product from shelves or curtailing utilization of it once a significant amount of people report adverse side effects from the item, says Dixon.

“Quite simply, the burden of proof a supplement may cause harm lies with the consumer, not the FDA,” Dixon noted.

Furthermore, DSHEA allows certain language on supplement packaging labels that lots of consumers find confusing, such as for instance “supports immune health” or “works better than the usual prescription drug.” According to the FDATrusted Source, if a state seems too good to be true, it probably is.

“All this has generated an environment where many individuals place more faith in dietary supplement safety and efficacy than is warranted by available research evidence,” Dixon said.

Supplements shouldn’t replace a well-balanced diet

Generally speaking, our diets must be our main source for vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, health experts believe.

“Dietary supplements can’t compensate for an undesirable diet,” said Dr. Jonathan Stegall, an integrative oncologist and medical director of The Center for Advanced Medicine.

“Dietary supplements must be reserved for special circumstances to handle measurable deficiencies within the human body and not really a source for mega-dosing in an effort to somehow create health,” he said.

Our anatomical bodies are designed to absorb and use nutrients while they naturally occur in foods, says Dixon. When we ingest high levels of nutrients from dietary supplements, our vitamins and minerals start to compete for absorption, which could eventually lead to dangerous nutrient imbalances.

Rather than load through to dietary supplements, most health experts recommend following a healthy, plant-based diet full of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains.

If you’re considering having a supplement, make sure you first consult your doctor. They could determine if the supplement would be safe and helpful for you.

Underneath line

A fresh study from Tufts University discovered that nutrients from food, not supplements, are associated with a lower threat of death.

In fact, excess calcium intake from supplements increased people’s threat of death from cancer. Health experts agree totally that while not all supplements are harmful, a well-balanced, healthy diet is the better way to really get your nutrients.

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