It is a common misconception that dietary supplements can replace full meals, but this is not the case. While supplements can be beneficial for certain population groups, such as older people and those with dietary restrictions, they cannot reproduce all the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Whole foods are complex and contain a variety of the micronutrients the body needs. It is important to talk with health care providers before making the decision to take supplements in order to achieve a balance between nutrients from foods and supplements. Janice Hermann, a nutrition specialist at Oklahoma State University Extension, explains that supplements are meant to complement the foods you eat.
Adults evaluated whether adequate or excessive nutrient intake was related to all-cause mortality and whether the results changed if the nutrients came from supplements rather than from food. The researchers found that people who took vitamin D supplements but were not deficient in vitamin D also had a higher risk of dying during the study period, but the supplements did not seem to increase the risk of death for people who lacked vitamin D.Pregnant women or women thinking about becoming pregnant should consider certain supplements, such as folic acid. However, a recent study found that multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C showed no advantage or additional risk in preventing diseases cardiovascular diseases or premature death. In addition, they combine with other beneficial nutrients, such as carotenoids, flavonoids and antioxidants, which are not found in most vitamin supplements.
The Annals of Internal Medicine study states that there isn't much evidence that supplements of any kind can prolong life, despite their widespread use. People should discard the idea that they can eat chips and drink soda with every meal, as long as they take supplements. Each person provided information on the use of supplements in the past month, more than half had consumed at least one, as well as on their dietary habits. The researchers found that nutrients in foods may be related to a lower risk of death, while excessive intake of certain supplements may have the opposite effect. For each nutrient, the scientists calculated the daily dose of the supplement “combining the frequency with the product information about the ingredient, the amount of ingredient per serving and the unit of ingredient.” People who took high doses of calcium through supplements had a 53% higher risk of dying from cancer than people who didn't take supplements. In conclusion, dietary supplements should not replace full meals which are essential for nourishing the body.
Doctors can help people achieve a balance between nutrients from foods and supplements. While some population groups could benefit from certain supplements, there is not much evidence that they can prolong life or prevent diseases. It is important to keep in mind that they are called supplements for a reason.