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Why Whole Foods Trump Vitamin Pills

In our latest video, “Supplements vs. Food,” David Lightsey, of the National Council Against Health Fraud, warns that isolated nutrients taken in pill form do not have the same synergistic effect in the body as do the countless compounds (some known, and some still being discovered) contained in whole foods.

According to Lightsey, author of Muscle, Speed and Lies: What the Sports Supplement Industry Does Not Want Athletes or Consumers to Know, “The potential risks of isolating nutrients in pill form are still unfolding…for example, taking alpha tocopherol in pill form can displace other forms from the vitamin E group that are available in food or that are stored in your body. Vitamin C in pill form may displace other antioxidants in the skin.”

“An easy way to illustrate the comparison between a multivitamin supplement and the nutrients available in fruit and vegetables would be to compare a teaspoonful of rice to a cupful. One may contain 20-25 separate nutrients whereas the food itself contains thousands,” says Lightsey. “It is fraudulent for the supplement industry to propose to the consumer that they actually have a complete vitamin-mineral pill of any kind, because they do not know all the nutrients that we have to have and how they work synergistically with each other.”

The good news is that it’s easier than you think to get the nutrients you need from food. Download our “What You Need to Eat Every Day and Why,” brochure (also available in Spanish) for a handy guide to the top sources of many essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

Published June 1, 2007

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