Food vs. Supplements: Which Provide Better Nutrients?

In 2018, the dietary supplement industry saw a significant increase in the number of Americans using their products to improve health and wellness. A survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) showed that 75 percent of U.S. individuals had strong confidence in dietary supplements. 

"This year's data provide further evidence that dietary supplements are mainstays in modern-day health and wellness regimens," Brian Wommack, senior vice president of communications at CRN, said. 

However, a new study warns that such trend could actually put many Americans at risk of developing medical conditions. Dietary supplements, such as multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin C, have been found increasing the risk of having cardiovascular disease or premature death, according to Medical News Today.

The researchers from Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University said nutrients from food could lower risks of death but the effect was reversed when the same nutrients were taken via supplements. 

"As potential benefits and harms of supplement use continue to be studied some studies have found associations between excess nutrient intake and adverse outcomes, including increased risk of certain cancers," Fang Fang Zhang, senior study author and an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, said. 

The findings, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, come from the analysis of data from more than 27,000 U.S. adults and assessment of the effects of adequate and excess nutrient intake on mortality. The researchers looked at the participants' dietary intake of nutrients from food using 24-hour dietary recalls and mortality outcomes through the National Death Index.

Results showed that adequate intakes of vitamin A, K, zinc and magnesium from food reduced the risk of death and cardiovascular disease. But the excess intake of calcium from supplements was linked to increased risk of death from cancer. Use of vitamin D supplements also led to increased risk of the same problem. 

With the findings, it important to consult a doctor when planning to buy supplements in the future. Always read the labels and get information about the manufacturer.