We need to eat because our bodies’ cells require nutrients to function.
Nutrients are the body’s building blocks, and we need to constantly replenish our supplies as they are used up for repairs and new growth.
To make sure that your body is getting the resources it needs, you need to eat various nutritious foods. If you don’t, you risk developing deficiencies and becoming severely ill.
People are turning to synthetic supplements to fill in the missing pieces.
Supplements are made through an industrial process. Sometimes it involves isolating and extracting compounds from their natural source (plant materials, usually). Sometimes it involves synthesizing a nutrient from scratch.
The process’s goal is to get a highly concentrated dose of a vitamin or mineral or a combination of nutrients that can be packaged and sold as a pill or powder.
Unfortunately, these supplements don’t appear to be anywhere near as beneficial as the nutrients from eating whole foods.
Not only are they harder for your body to absorb and not as effective, but some studies also suggest that long-term use of multivitamins may actually be harmful, increasing the risk of cancers and other chronic diseases.
The FDA does not review or approve dietary supplements before they are for sale. As a result, there is no guarantee that what’s on the label matches what you’re getting.
Whole, plant-based foods are the best source of nutrients because they provide all of the cofactors, enzymes, fiber, and secondary compounds that make nutrients work as a team.
Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds are all packed with the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and phytochemicals you need to maintain optimal health.
You also get a lot of essential nutrients from meat. Cows need vitamins and minerals just like we do – their bodies are full of them. It is helpful to understand that nearly all of the nutrients we need found in meat came from the plants that the cow ate.
One exception to this is B12, which is not made from plants. It isn’t produced by animals either, though; bacteria make it. When you consume meat, dairy, or eggs is a convenient source of B12, but you can also get this essential nutrient from supplements or fortified foods.
The best way to get all of the nutrients your body needs is to eat a wide variety of whole foods. A multivitamin supplement may be helpful in some cases, but getting these nutrients from vegetables is nearly always a more effective and safe choice.