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Myth: A multivitamin is a good substitute for fruits and vegetables

TRUTH:  So much of the food environment and discussion in 2011 involves eating locally, seasonally, and reducing processing. So, riddle me this, why are we still turning to multivitamins that are synthetic compounds processed into tiny little capsules or pills?  Am I the only person who finds that a little hypocritical?

First, let’s get this straight: you can meet all of your nutrient needs by eating a variety of healthy foods.  Sure, a multi-vitamin could be considered “insurance” just in case you don’t eat plenty of every vitamin every day.  However, I’d rather get my nutrients from real food.  Here’s why:

  1. Vitamins and minerals in food are better absorbed than when they’re from pills.
  2. Vitamin and mineral supplements don’t contain EVERYTHING.  Yes, they have vitamins and minerals.  But what about phytochemicals?  What about the antioxidants that aren’t vitamins with lettered-names?  There are a lot more beneficial nutrients than the vitamins and minerals listed on a nutrition fact label.
  3. Fiber.  Whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains have it, pills don’t.

BOTTOM LINE: If you want to be healthy, eat a variety of healthy foods.  If you have any dietary restrictions or limitations, talk to your physician about whether or not supplements would be beneficial.  In some cases they are, but not nearly as often as the marketing department of GNC wants you to believe.


  1. The New York Times: The Case for Real Food
  2. National Institute of Health: Dietary Supplements

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