Can supplements replace a healthy diet?

Several people have asked me if taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement can take the place of eating fruits and vegetables. The answer, or course, is no! There is more to food than vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are also a good source of fiber and some are good sources of protein. 

I address this question in my Health & Fitness column this week and provide additional examples of why eating healthy food is the best choice. Trying to make up for a poor diet by taking supplements simply won’t work.

That said, taking a multivitamin/mineral supplement is appropriate as a way to “top off” the vitamins and minerals you get from the food you eat. Most supplements contain levels that are at or above 100% of the recommended intake (the RDA) for most of the vitamins and minerals. In most cases this isn’t harmful and you will excrete the excess. But you should look for a multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains at most 100% of the RDA for each; there is really no benefit of taking in more. The key point is that the vitamin supplements your diet, so you don’t need to get 100% of your vitamins and mineral from the supplement. 

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