Dietician says health found in food, not supplements
WHEN topping up on vitamins, a Warwick dietician has urged residents to reach for whole foods rather than plucking a jar off the shelf.
A study released by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology last week revealed there was no benefits found to taking vitamin supplements, unless you have a specific deficiency of that vitamin.
The study assessed the effectiveness of vitamins and minerals for stroke and cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment, as well as premature death.
It revealed that multivitamins, calcium, selenium and vitamins C and D had no effect in the randomised controlled trials.
But folic acid showed moderate or low-quality evidence for prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Warwick dietician Elia Faa said the study matched previous research, which refuted the health benefits of vitamins.
Eating a wide variety of healthy food was a more effective way to consume vitamins and minerals, she said.
"We do absorb things from food better than we would from a pill and there's lots of things in food that we can't even think to put into pills yet," she said.
"We eat whole foods to get everything, so there's a range of non-vitamin components that have value like fibre and flavonoids."
Mrs Faa said some people held concerns about the way food was grown, which leads them to use supplements.
"There's a whole industry and the internet that make people afraid, it's easy for us to have these doubts about the food supply and how good it is," she said.
"What they're putting into it where they think taking a pill is more safe and would cover them.
"I don't have a problem with people taking pills, but I think they have to realise it's expensive urine."
In October last year, it was estimated by 2020 Australians would spend more than $2billion on vitamins.
Mrs Faa said there were some cases where vitamins were advised, such as when people had food allergies limiting the food they could eat.
Some fat-soluable vitamins also had risks of toxicity if consumed in high amounts, she said.
For deficiencies such as vitamin D, she said there was also an alternative solution.
"Mostly what I would recommend is to roll up the sleeves and sit in the sun for 15 minutes, or sit in a sunny window and get it that way," she said.
Mrs Faa said clever marketing was fuelling the consistent use of vitamins in society, with celebrities endorsing products.
To view the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating visit eatforhealth.gov.au.