Nutrients from food not pills

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Consumer Sentiment - Nutrients from Food

There is no data to support the view that US women feel that it's better for you to get your nutrients from food than from supplements. I believe that this is because the truth is on the contrary, and supplement use is popular amongst American women, and indeed in men too, and especially in the millennial age group.

METHODOLOGY

In order to answer your question, I first searched for data that shows that US women feel that it's better for you to get your nutrients from food than from supplements. I began my search by looking through recently published academic articles on the subject of women and supplements, and women and nutrition. After a thorough search, I found no papers published which look at women's sentiment surrounding this idea, so I then searched for papers on the same subject but for US adults, to see if they provided a gender breakdown, but again I found no useful studies published.

Next, I searched for data from surveys and questionnaires on the topic, but again, there was nothing to support the idea that women prefer to get their nutrients from food rather than supplements. Then, I looked through online articles, and news stories on the topic, as well as through popular online health publications. But again, no data was available.

Finally, I searched on various women's health forums for discussions on supplements, e.g. this on from patient.info, Imaginis and Female Forum. But again, there was no relevant data available.

In fact, as I searched, most of the data pointed to the contrary point, that women are more inclined to take supplements rather than try to get their nutrients from food, I have discussed this below.

USEFUL FINDINGS

While I could not find a direct answer to your question, I was able to gather some information about this topic, which I think will be helpful for your project. To begin with, I found studies that show that women report greater supplement use than men. This study also shows that women more likely to take dietary supplements than men. In addition, I found that supplement intake increases with age in both genders, but it is more apparent in women.

I also found a lot of data that suggests women are turning to supplements over food for specific health reasons. For example, there are many articles where professionals recommend that supplements are necessary for pregnant women. In general, they are recommended sources of nutrition from supplements rather than food. In addition, this article tells us that rather than follow diet and nutrition recommendations while pregnant, women are more likely to use supplements.

Also, 54% of working women report having supplements at work, ready for the cold season in order to support their immune system.

Finally, I found that, in general, both male and female US adults believe that some nutrient requirements can't be achieved through food alone, and in specific cases supplements are necessary. A study has found that 90% of US adults believe that supplements are required in order to get the right amount of calcium and vitamin D.

Finally, I found that the millennial age group in general are advocates of taking supplements. Millennials reportedly generally believe that taking supplements will solve their health issues. Over the past five years, it has been found that this age group has increased its supplement consumption by 1 extra pill per day. In addition, supplement use growing in the 18-34 age group. This shows that supplement use remains popular, and this supports the above- discussed ideas that women are using them in favor of food, rather than the other way around.

POSSIBLE CONTINUED RESEARCH

In understanding what types of information are and are not publicly available on this topic, I’ve suggested a few other routes you may be interested in researching. For example, there is much data that looks into the difference between genders in supplement taking (e.g. types of supplements and purposes). You may wish to take a deeper dive into this area.

CONCLUSION

To sum up, I have found that there is no data to support the view that US women feel that it's better for you to get your nutrients from food than from supplements. I believe that this is because the truth is on the contrary, and supplement use is still thriving in this demographic. Evidence suggests that women are more likely to take supplements rather than amend their diet to get nutrients when pregnant. They are also likely to have supplements at work ready to protect themselves in cold and flu season. In addition, 90% of both men and women believe that to get enough vitamin D and calcium, supplements are required.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Scientific Data - Nutrients from Food

Exhaustive research of the public domain indicates that studies directly comparing whole food and supplement nutritional effects are uncommon, largely because nutritional research studies tend to focus on either one or the other, in reference to their effect on specific physiological markers or medical conditions. Our research did find a 2017 study whose results indicate that whole egg consumption was more efficient than supplement consumption in reducing weight and body fat in lab rats. Aside from that study, the most relevant findings are summary reports of existing research which, in aggregate, strongly supports the position that it is better to get nutrients through whole foods rather than supplements. Below you'll find our methodology and relevant findings.

METHODOLOGY

Our research of academic and scholastic databases indicates that scholarly research directly studying the comparison between whole food and supplement effects on nutrition are almost non-existent, as noted above. Extensive research generated one direct comparison study; one meta-analyses of related research on nutrition, whole foods and supplements; one meta-analysis of related research on supplements; and one study of the nutritional value of ultra processed foods, which has a strong inference for the comparison between whole foods and supplements. The majority of these examples are dated; but this is common for academic research, in which the validity of research results are considered credible unless proven otherwise. As we found very little recent, directly relevant research, regardless of the results of the study, we assume that the validity of these older studies is still considered credible.

For the purposes of this request, we included only scholarly and academic research; we did not include non-scholarly articles quoting a medical or scientific expert.

Research limitations

In the US, the FDA's regulation of supplements is minimal; and most supplements are tested by the manufacturer, which has no vested interest in conducting whole food/supplement comparisons. In addition, "The amount of supplemental (purified or isolated) nutrients consumed is difficult to monitor because of extensive enrichment/fortification of products and the lax 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act, which allows manufacturers to label with minimum rather than actual amounts of nutrients contained in the supplements."

Medical and nutrition research - like most research - is often very specific to micro elements (for example: 'Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and IVF success rate among non-obese women attempting fertility'), which means that comparison across the relatively broad spectra of 'whole foods' and 'supplements' is largely confined to a composite review and analysis of available research. Two of the four sources used for this response are summary reviews/analyses of this kind. Lastly, some scientific research briefs only publish the abstract in the public domain; access to the full text requires subscription to the relevant medical or scientific journal. In those cases, we have presented what information is publicly available in the research brief abstract.

WHOLE EGG CONSUMPTION VERSUS SUPPLEMENTATION

A 2017 study published in the FASEB Journal found that the study results support the suggestion that "dietary consumption of whole eggs is more effective than supplemental cholecalciferol in maintaining circulating 25(OH)D concentrations in rats with T2D" - i.e., whole egg consumption had a greater effect on certain elements of Type 2 diabetes than did supplements. It also noted that "whole egg consumption attenuated weight gain and reduced percentage of body fat in ZDF rats. These data may support new dietary recommendations targeting the prevention of vitamin D insufficiency in T2D." The overall results of this study indicate that physiological uptake and use of vitamin D, as indicated by specific bio markers, is increased when the vitamin D is ingested in whole food form.

FOOD SYNERGY

A 2009 summary review of available nutritional research to date found that "a person or animal eating a diet consisting solely of purified nutrients in their Dietary Reference Intake amounts [i.e., supplements], without benefit of the coordination inherent in food, may not thrive and probably would not have optimal health." At that time, there were "few trials of dietary patterns or specific foods." The review author also opined that taking "a daily multi-vitamin...as insurance against nutrient deficiency...is risky given the lack of evidence of benefit, the occasional evidence of harm, and the relative lack of solid health research on supplements. This does not deny some indications of benefit, especially in nutrient deficiency. In our view, the better “insurance” would be to eat food with a broad coverage of nutrients and take no supplements at all, unless they are deemed necessary to fix a specific medical problem."

Two primary benefits of getting nutrients from whole foods, according to this review, is that nutrients absorbed through whole food intake are absorbed more slowly and are absorbed in synergy with other nutrients present in the food. Nutrients delivered via a supplement are released more quickly and do not necessarily have the benefit of synergistic absorption with other nutrients.

2006 NIH STATE OF THE SCIENCE CONFERENCE

The 2006 NIH State of the Science Conference literature review found some nutritional benefits for a small group of supplements, generally in response to existing deficiencies. However, that review analysis found that, in general, that "most of the [supplement] trial findings were null for planned or secondary endpoints." High doses of some supplements were found to increase mortality rates, which highlights one of the primary dangers of supplement use in general, that of inconsistent dosage. Please note that the full text of this report is not publicly available.

POTENTIAL SYNERGY OF PHYTOCHEMICALS

A 2004 study of phytochemicals in plant foods found that "the evidence suggests that antioxidants or bioactive compounds are best acquired through whole-food consumption, not from expensive dietary supplements. We believe that a recommendation that consumers eat 5 to 10 servings of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily is an appropriate strategy for significantly reducing the risk of chronic diseases and to meet their nutrient requirements for optimum health."
Although this study examined its findings specifically in reference to cancer prevention, the findings were broadly applied to nutritional health. Please note that the full text of this report is not publicly available.

ULTRA-PROCESSED FOOD

A 2018 study found that "ultra-processed products now dominate the food supplies of various high-income countries...The evidence so far shows that displacement of minimally processed foods and freshly prepared dishes and meals by ultra-processed products is associated with unhealthy dietary nutrient profiles and several diet-related non-communicable diseases." While this isn't directly responsive to the comparison between supplements and whole foods, nor specific to the US, it can be used as strong supporting evidence that, even though supplement use is growing exponentially in the US and globally, the nutritional health of high-income countries (like the US) is declining.

CONCLUSION

To wrap it up: extensive research indicates that scholastic and academic research comparing the nutrient uptake between whole foods and supplements is almost non-existent, and available review analyses are uncommon. However, available research indicates that nutrient uptake is altered in beneficially ways when nutrients are consumed in whole foods, and that certain nutrients show improved biomarkers when absorbed through food intake.


Sources
Sources

From Part 02