Nowadays, dietary supplements are more popular than ever. Americans have been taking vitamins since the 1940s. This industry generates over $36.7 billion a year. Yet, only five percent of U.S. adults meet their daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. Even the slightest deficiency can increase the risk of chronic diseases, impaired immune function, depression, and hormonal imbalances. Even though vitamin supplements have their role in a balanced diet, they can not replace real food.
Vitamins vs. Whole Foods
Most supplements contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support optimum health. Some are designed for children and pregnant women. Others appeal to athletes, seniors, and people with special dietary needs. Their quality varies from one brand to another. Not all supplements are created equal. Many brands actually contain too much or too little of the active ingredient, making them ineffective and even dangerous.
The role of dietary supplements is to prevent nutrient deficiencies. As their name suggests, they are designed to supplement your diet, not to replace real food. Many people who regularly skip meals or lack the time needed to eat well rely on multivitamins to boost their nutrient intake. Unfortunately, these products can not offset the harmful effects of poor nutrition.
Some customers choose supplements over real food to cut costs. However, this may lead to serious health problems, so they end up paying on doctor visits and medications. Vitamin supplements work best for those who eat a balanced diet and have a healthy lifestyle. They may be cheaper than food, but can not replace natural vitamins and minerals.
Is It Worth Taking Vitamins?
The benefits of multivitamins are backed up by science. A quality supplement can boost your energy and stamina, improve immune function, and support brain health. Additionally, some nutrients are better absorbed into your body when used in supplement form. For instance, folate from vegetables has a low absorption rate, whereas folic acid capsules are quickly absorbed and cost less than real food.
Multivitamins are not a cure-all, but they can make all the difference. They’re particularly beneficial for children, elderly adults, and women of child-bearing age. When used as part of a balanced diet, their benefits are even greater.