By: Judy Davie
If you're someone who compensates a poor diet by taking copious amounts of nutritional supplements then you may need to rethink your health and wellbeing strategy, because new research tells us that although an intake of certain vitamins and minerals is linked with a lower risk of early death, the link is only seen when the nutrients come from food and not supplements.
It seems there are no corners to cut when it comes to good health and we all need to sharpen our knives, get the chopping boards out and hone our cooking skills to prepare nutrient dense food every day.
The study conducted by researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, found that not only do nutrients from wholefoods reduce the risk of premature death but large doses of nutrients, such as calcium, obtained through supplements can increase the risk.
Over a period of about 6 years the study tracked more than 27,000 participants in a national health survey and asked what they ate in the last 24 hours, and whether they had taken supplements in the last 30 days. During the study period, about 3,600 people died, 945 died from heart disease and 805 died from cancer.
The study found that people who consume adequate amounts of vitamin K (found in green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, Asian greens, rocket, parsley, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage) or magnesium (found in green leafy vegetables, peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus,Brussels sprouts, figs, avocado, banana and raspberries, nuts and seeds, black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans and oily fish) had a lower risk of death from any cause during the study period, compared with those who didn't get adequate levels of these nutrients. In addition, people who consume adequate levels of vitamin A, (oranges, rockmelon, papaya, capsicum, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, spinach and green leafy vegetables) vitamin K, zinc (meat, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils and beans, seeds, nuts, dairy foods, eggs and wholegrains) and copper (legumes, potato and potato products, nuts and seeds) had a lower risk of death from heart disease, compared with those who didn't get adequate levels of these nutrients.
But when the researchers considered the source of these nutrients - food vs supplements - only nutrients from food were tied to a lower risk of death from any cause or heart disease.
Real food contains more than just isolated nutrients. Fibre and bioactive compounds which feed our gut biome are essential for good digestion and maintaining good physical and mental health and you simply can't get it all from a handful of pills.
So please, save your money from buying supplements and buy a good cookbook instead. Then armed with your shopping list, head down to your local greengrocers and stock up on some fresh nutritious wholefoods.
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