Choose Food Over Supplements

Learn how to get some of our bodies' most-essential nutrients from food instead of supplements.
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Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Daniel Gilbey

Food > Supplements

Store shelves are full of products promising good nutrition in a bottle. Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t efficiently regulate all of those pills, powders and capsules, there are a lot of unreliable and unsafe products out there. To make matters more confusing, taking too much of any supplement can also be dangerous. Instead of wasting your money, go with the real deal. Discover how to get some of the most-sought-after nutrients from food instead of supplements.

Salmon: Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy blood and nerve cells. It’s plentiful in animal-based foods (like meat, fish and poultry) but can also be found in fortified cereals and grains. A 3-ounce piece of cooked salmon contains 80 percent of the daily requirement for B12, plus it’s a great way to get more of those all-important Omega-3 fats.

Eggs: Protein

On average, a 150-pound person needs 55 grams of protein per day. Eating 2 eggs will get you 25 percent of the way there. And please don’t skip the yolks — they contain just as much protein as egg whites, and offer additional nutrients like antioxidants and Omega-3 fats.

Red Bell Pepper: Vitamin C

A high dose of a vitamin C supplement may cause stomach upset. Besides, those high amounts are often unnecessary, since fruits and veggies contain plenty of vitamin C. Red bell pepper is especially impressive, offering up 95 milligrams (which is 160 percent of your daily needs) in just 1/2 cup.

Yogurt: Calcium

A recent study explored whether calcium supplements do more harm than good, but you can’t go wrong by grabbing some yogurt. Eating it regularly provides calcium and tummy-pleasing probiotics.

Milk (and Milk Alternatives): Vitamin D

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 25 percent of the U.S. population is at risk for not getting enough of this bone-building and immunity-boosting nutrient. Get one-third of your daily need for vitamin D in each cup of fortified milk or a milk alternative such as soy, almond or coconut milk.

Fortified Cereal: Iron

Red meat might be the most-obvious choice for iron, but you can also find plenty in cereals that have been fortified with the mineral. Our bodies rely on iron to help transport oxygen to all body cells (important to say the least). Check labels on your favorite brands of oatmeal and breakfast cereals, and choose the one highest in iron if you’re one of the many Americans who need more.

Berries: Antioxidants

These cell-protecting and inflammation-fighting phytochemicals are found in favorites like blueberries (wild blueberries are even higher), strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries and blackberries. Add berries to cereal, yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, salads and baked goods to keep a steady flow of them in your diet.

Cottage Cheese: Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Thanks to their role in building muscle, just about every advertised bodybuilding and performance-enhancing supplement includes branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Sadly, most of these products just don’t live up to the hype. The truth is there are plenty of BCAAs (aka leucine, isoleucine and valine) found in everyday foods. Cottage cheese is an excellent source of leucine in particular: There’s more leucine in 1 cup of cottage cheese than in 3 ounces of chicken breast.

Oysters: Zinc

Your body needs zinc for numerous functions including growth, energy metabolism, immune function and wound healing. Three ounces of cooked oysters provides five times the daily requirement. Not to worry if oysters aren’t your thing — you can also find plenty of zinc in beef, crab, pork, yogurt, nuts and beans. 

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