Whole Foods or Vitamins: Which is Better?

How does the health of a busy mom who uses the drive-through for dinner every day compare to the health of a mom who cooks foods made of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat? What if the busy mom supplemented her diet with essential vitamins and minerals? Medicomp, the portable cardiac monitoring experts, understands these two scenarios are worlds apart, but the health benefits of these two women may be closer than you believe. Read below for a number of vitamins and minerals that are more beneficial when consumed within a whole food, and others that actually tip the scale in favor of a supplemental pill or tablet.

  • Calcium: Occurring naturally in dairy products, calcium is also available as a supplement. Studies have proven that older women whose diets include calcium supplements seem to be at risk for kidney stones, strokes, and have a shorter lifespan than women who consume dairy products or other foods naturally rich in calcium. Men who consumed more than 1,000 mg of a calcium supplement daily over a 12-year period were at a 20% greater risk of heart disease than men who did not supplement their diets with calcium tablets.
  • Vitamin A and beta-carotene: Supplements of vitamin A or its predecessor, beta-carotene, have been shown to slightly increase the risk of death when compared with people who derived their vitamin A from natural sources.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): Supplements of vitamin B3 have been proven to cause less skin flushing than natural vitamin B3.
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid): Foods are often fortified with folic acid because fortified foods and supplements are twice as likely to be absorbed than folic acid in a green salad, for instance.
  • Vitamin B12: This vitamin is difficult for 10%-30% of the elderly population to digest and absorb from food. Therefore, a supplement is in order for those over age 50.
  • Vitamin C: Supplements and naturally occurring vitamin C are equally good for you. When consumed with citrus bioflavonoids, vitamin C is more quickly absorbed.
  • Iron: The iron derived from plants is not as easily absorbed as iron from meat sources. If iron is in a naturally-occurring source that also includes vitamin C, though, its absorption is strengthened substantially.
  • Vitamin E: Synthetic vitamin E causes excessive bleeding in high doses more frequently than natural vitamin E. However, the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E needs to be increased if the source is a supplement rather than vitamin E in its natural form.

Supplements derived from whole foods do not give you the same benefits as eating the whole foods. They will give you other plant compounds that are beneficial to your health, though. Also, remember that all vitamins and minerals should not be consumed in quantity: in other words, if a little makes you feel better, it does not necessarily mean that a lot will make you feel great. In this respect, both whole foods and supplements are in accord: follow dietary guidelines when consuming vitamins and minerals.

The portable cardiac monitoring professionals at Medicomp remind you that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains gives you a much more balanced blend of the vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats your body needs to work properly and for your heart to remain healthy. Contact Medicomp at 800-23-HEART (800-234-3278). Our website offers an abundance of articles pertaining to personal and heart health as well as tips on keeping you living a fuller, healthier life.

    *This form is intended for sales inquiries/information only. Do not include any patient health information (PHI) with your submission.