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Consumer Reports: Is food better than supplements?

Posted at 6:20 AM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 09:20:22-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - About half of all adult Americans take vitamin supplements. But is America’s love affair with supplements healthy or just a lot of hype? Nutritionist Sandra Arevalo says if you eat a healthy, balanced diet, most of the time vitamins and mineral supplements are unnecessary.

“Some people think that supplements are just like a magic bullet, you know like I’m going to take this and all my problems are going to go away," says Nutritionist, Sandra Arevalo.

But according to the Tufts study, taking supplements didn’t translate to a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or any other cause. But getting adequate amounts of vitamin K and magnesium from food was associated with a lower risk of death from all causes. And getting enough vitamins A and K, copper, and zinc through diet was associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.

Consumer Reports says if you stick to a diet made up of mostly whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein you’ll get just what you need.

“You can find vitamin A in carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots and spinach. Cauliflower, leafy greens, and brussels sprouts are all rich in vitamin K," says Consumer Reports Health Editor, Trisha Calvo.

Bananas and nuts are great for magnesium. And for copper, think whole grains, potatoes, and shellfish. The study also found overuse of supplements was not without negative effects. High calcium intake, around 1,000 milligrams a day from supplements, was linked to an increased risk of death from cancer.

“The study found that when people got the same amount of calcium from foods like yogurt, cheese, and milk, they didn’t have the same increased risk of death from cancer," says Calvo.

Now there are times when supplements are recommended. For example: If you are pregnant folic acid supplements are important! As always, check with your doctor.

For more information on the Tufts study and what it found, click here.