Food versus vitamins
According to the Food Standards Agency almost one in three people in the UK take a vitamin supplement every day, while 15 per cent of us turn to high-dose supplements for a quick fix. But do vitamin pills really deliver the health and vitality they promise?
Well, I am and will always be a “food-first” dietitian. The reasons for this are simple. Food is a complex balance of hundreds of vitamins, minerals, plant-based compounds and various forms of fibre that all work together to provide multiple health benefits. Therefore common advice from dietitians is that if someone has a good, well balanced, nutritious diet, there should be no need for any supplements.
And yes, in a perfect world we wouldn’t need to pop any pills. However, how perfectly balanced is your diet? I have to confess… despite being a dietitian my diet isn’t always (Shhh! Don’t tell! ). The reality for us all is that we are unlikely to meet optimal nutrient levels of all essential nutrients, 100% of the time. High-speed lifestyles leave many people gulping down pre-made meals and grabbing food-on-the-go. Even if your diet is next to perfect the modern world we live in now has an impact on the nutritional profile of our food. Intensive agriculture, fast-growth crops and food processing means our food is significantly lower in minerals and vitamins than it used to be – not a recipe for perfect nutritional balance.