Supplements vs Superfoods

No one said it was easy to achieve the perfectly balanced diet. In fact, eating healthy can often be more complicated than just staying away from the bad stuff (processed sugars, trans fats, fried anything), because you also have to actively go after the good stuff, things with protein, fiber, nutrients, and vitamins.

Experts say that if you eat a balanced diet, there should be no need to take supplements. But, certain things tend to be harder to consume on a daily basis for many busy adults, like fish, or a whole glass of milk.

This is why supplements can be a great option for filling in those gaps. A supplement is usually taken in a pill form, and contains various nutrients and vitamins that are usually found in whole foods. But, experts also warn that a supplement is just that — something that should be taken in addition to a healthy diet, not in place of one.

There are benefits to receiving your vitamins and nutrients direct from the source in whole foods. Natural whole foods are complex organisms that are made up of much more than just the desired vitamin. For instance, an orange has lots of Vitamin C, but it also has other properties that help break down and optimize that Vitamin C for your body. Many fruits and vegetables also contain high amounts other good stuff, like fiber, which is essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system; and antioxidants, which help prevent cell and tissue damage, protecting your body from illness and even cancers.

Below are some major vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body, along with the superfoods they can be found in. If you notice any holes in your diet, make sure to fill them by either adding more of that superfood to your diet, or making sure to take a healthy supplemental dosage:

Omega-3 Fatty Acid (fishoil): Prevents inflammation and protects the body against heart disease and chronic illnesses. It also boosts the immune system, and strengthens hair, nails and vision, as well. Because we cannot produce this fat, and it’s found mostly in fish, supplements are often recommended.

Vitamin E: great for skin, works as an antioxidant protecting your cells from damage. It can also help balance cholesterol. Found in foods with good fat, like almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds, and also in butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

Calcium: Very important for bone growth and health. Many dairy products have calcium, but most of us don’t consume enough, so supplements are often suggested (especially for women over 50).

Vitamin A: helps promote healthy eyes, but also keeps blood cell reproduction healthy for strong bones and tissue. You can find it in carrots, along with many other orange veggies like squash and sweet potatoes, as well in dark leafy greens and in some fish like Tuna and Mackerel.

B Vitamins (B6 and B12): B6 helps with the metabolism of red blood cells, which keeps both the nervous system and immune system working properly. Can be found in starchy vegetables like potatoes and squash, non-citrus fruit (especially bananas), and animal products like fish, chicken, and organ meat. B12 benefits sleep and mood, and also plays a key role in aiding heart health and preventing neurodegenerative disease. It can be found in many animal by products, from meat (chicken, fish, eggs) to milk and other dairy products.

Vitamin C: great for immune support, among many other things. Found in citrus and greens like spinach and kale.

Vitamin D: helps build strong bone and muscle, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties to fight against long term illness like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. You can get Vitamin D through safe sun exposure, and fortified foods like milk and some cereals, but supplements are often best, as it’s very hard to eat a diet rich in Vitamin D.

Written by Olivia Murphy

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