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Food vs Supplements: What Is the Best Source of Nutrients

December 23, 2020

Selection of food that is rich in nutrients, rustic wood background

A nutrient-dense diet can benefit both physical and mental health. Therefore, the intake of high nutrient foods is crucial to maintaining good health as we age.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should meet our nutritional requirements through food intake. However, even in modern society, plenty of people find it hard to get enough nutrients from their diets.

In this article, we will cover the best ways to nurture your body and reach optimal health.

Nutritional Benefits of Whole Foods

Whole foods are rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. A healthy diet made of nutrient dense foods offers health benefits such as:

  • Preserve and strengthen the immune system
  • Boost and preserve our cognitive condition
  • Maintain and improve the development of gut bacteria
  • Preserve and strengthen the vascular function
  • Preserve and improve organ health
  • Regulate sugar glucose and cholesterol levels
  • Reduce the risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety
  • Enable weight management
  • Reduce the risk of developing cancer
  • Reduce the risk of heart illnesses

Are Supplements Necessary for Nutrition?

Ideally, nourishing your body should be done by consuming nutrient rich foods. However, there are circumstances where food doesn’t fulfill our nutritional needs. In such cases, dietary supplements can make up for the lack of nutrients.

Who Should Include Supplements in Their Diet?

Dietary supplements can help to complement a healthy diet for individuals like:

Aging Individuals

As we age, our dietary needs change. It becomes more challenging for elderly people to get the nutrients they need from food.

Factors that prevent old individuals from having good nutrition are:

  • When older people become less active, the body demands less energy. The lower energy requirements lead to reduction in the food intake.
  • The lack of activity causes metabolism to slow down. A slow metabolism makes people prone to gain weight and hence the struggle with weight management and having a balanced diet.
  • According to studies, the efficiency of absorbing nutrients from food decreases with age.

People on Plant-Based Diets

Sometimes, committing to a plant-based diet can lead to nutrient deficiency issues. If not done properly, vegan and vegetarian diets can lack nutrients like:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Calcium
  • Iron

By all means, plant-based diets are not unhealthy. The nutrients mentioned above are just more easily found in animal products.

The good news is that there are plant-based foods that contain calcium and iron. However, this is not the case for vitamin B12. Vegans and vegetarians need to consume either supplements or fortified foods to get vitamin B12 in their diets.

Downsides of Dietary Supplements

We recommend the use of supplements only when food cannot fulfill your nutritional needs. Here is why:

  • Unlike with medicines and foods, the production of supplements is under different FDA regulations. Therefore, customers must aim to only purchase from trustworthy providers.
  • Supplements are often more expensive than quality healthy food.
  • In contrast to supplements, food provides more than one nutrient. For example, kiwis are rich in vitamin C, but this fruit also provides us with fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and calcium.
  • Exceeding the supplement dose recommendations can lead to intoxication. It is the best to consult your physician before taking the supplements.
  • Sometimes supplements interfere with the efficacy of drugs used to treat medical conditions. If you are currently taking any medications, it is necessary to discuss with your doctor whether you should implement supplements in your diet.

At Z.E.N. Foods, our consultants can help you develop a diet plan that satisfies your physiological needs. We offer a variety of meal delivery plans including Vegetarian and Weight Loss meal plans! Reach out to us at (310) 205-9368!

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