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Using Food as a source of Vitamins

This review article discusses the use of food rather than supplements (1). In the past, vitamins and minerals were used to cure deficiency diseases. Supplements nowadays are used with the aim of reducing the risk of chronic diseases of which the origins are complex. Dietary supplement use has increased over recent decades, contributing to the nutrient intake in the population, but not necessarily the proportion of the population that is sub-optimally nourished; therefore, not reducing the proportion below the estimated average requirement and potentially increasing the number at risk of an intake above the safety limits. The supplement nutrient intake may be objectively monitored using circulation biomarkers. The influence of the researcher in how the supplements are grouped and how the nutrient intakes are quantified may however result in different conclusions regarding their nutrient contribution, the associations with biomarkers, in general, and dose-response associations specifically. The diet might be sufficient in micronutrients, but lacking in a balanced food intake. Since public-health nutrition guidelines are expressed in terms of foods, there is potentially a discrepancy between the nutrient-orientated supplement and the quality of the dietary pattern. The author concludes that to promote health, current public-health messages only advocate supplements in specific circumstances, but not in optimally nourished populations.