When you are sick and are needing vitamin, mineral, or nutrient _____, unfortunately eating foods rich in this vitamin/mineral/ nutrient may not be enough to be therapeutic. According to my Clinical Nutrition professor, when you reach this point, the amount of vitamins/minerals/nutrients found in whole foods is (normally) not enough to correct a full-blown illness. I rant more about this here. :P
One example (and there are hundreds more) involves the treatment of iron-deficiency anemia. If a patient's ferritin (aka iron) levels have dipped too low, the patient likely won't be able to bring their levels back up without the help of an iron supplement. Diet alone (likely) can't correct this deficiency. While the patient is encouraged to eat more iron-rich foods such as red meat, this dietary advice will be given in addition to a prescription for iron tablets.
Nevertheless, sometimes foods do contain enough vitamins/minerals/nutrients to be therapeutic. An example of this: consuming vitamin C during a cold. When you are sick, you could take vitamin C tablets, but eating lots of citrus, bell peppers, and broccoli, and drinking pure fruit juice will also work to keep vitamin C levels up. Another example of when whole foods work: eating soy for menopausal symptoms. You don't necessarily need to take soy isoflavones that are concentrated in tablet form to combat these symptoms; instead up your intake of tempeh, tofu, soy milk, miso, and edamame.
|Eat up! These are all vitamin C rich foods. Image source here.|
Wondering how to choose the best supplement? Stay tuned for Part 3 coming this week!