Food supplements do not replace fruits and vegetables

Nutritional supplements they do not replace a varied and balanced diet (note 1-2) and should only be used when needed and for a limited period of time. These are the words the National Institutes of Health uses when answering readers who ask if multivitamin supplements can replace fruit. Antioxidants, vitamins, micronutrients… we have learned from the Internet, television and magazines how beneficial these substances are for your health. Since they are available as supplements that can be freely purchased at the supermarket or pharmacy, it is natural to wonder if they can replace fruits and vegetables that contain them naturally.

To date, there is no scientific evidence to establish with certainty that, in the absence of specific deficiencies diagnosed by a physician, taking vitamins in the form of supplements has a beneficial effect on the body and should be preferred to taking these substances through a balanced diet (note 3-4). In particular, multivitamin supplements have not been clearly shown to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment (5) or the development of cardiovascular disease (6) or cancer (7).


  1. Council for Agricultural Research and Agricultural Economics Analysis (CREA). Healthy Diet Guidelines 2018
  2. epicenter (ISS). Nutritional supplements
  3. Lichtenstein A.Kh., Russell R.M. Essential Nutrients: Food or Supplements: Which Should I Emphasize? (Synthesis). JAMA. 2005; (294)3:351-358
  4. Marra M.V., Boyar A.P. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Dietary Supplements. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009; 109(12): 2073-85
  5. Grodstein F., O’Brien J., Kang J.H. Long-term multivitamin supplementation and cognitive function in men: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2013; 159(12): 806-814
  6. Kim J., Choi J., Kwon S.Yu., McAvoy J.W., Blaha M.J., Blumenthal R.S., Guallar E., Zhao D., Michos ED. Association of multivitamin and mineral intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Blood circulation: quality of the cardiovascular system and results. July 2018; 11(7): e004224
  7. Angelo J, Drake VJ, Frey B. Effectiveness of multivitamin/mineral supplementation in reducing the risk of chronic disease: a critical review of evidence from observational studies and randomized controlled trials (summary). Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2015; 55(14): 1968–91

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