I get most of my vitamins from pills. Will this do me any harm?
While your faith in science is admirable, it would be nonetheless naive to suppose that we have reached the stage at which food is interchangeable with tablets. However, it appears that you are not alone – recent reports show almost half of us take vitamins daily, with sales now outstripping that of painkillers. What you need to know is that there’s a very good reason they’re called “supplements”. Popping a multivitamin with your plate of chips is no replacement for a proper meal.
Aside from their lack of dietary fibre, kilojoules and fats, synthetic nutrients are not utilised by your body quite so easily as those from wholefoods. “Some pills disintegrate too slowly for your body to fully absorb the vitamins,” says nutritionist James White.
However, using tablets as a daily top-up can be a sensible strategy. “I see supplementation as an insurance policy,” says White. “They’re a nutritional safety net for when you run into natural deficiencies – vitamin D, for example, can often be hard to obtain through food and sunlight alone.”
So, if your diet isn’t measuring up, keep popping (only as recommended, though). Just consider taking a detour to the meds via the fruit-and-veg aisle.
A MEAL IS MORE THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS.