Replacing Fruits and Vegetables With Multivitamins?

March 13, 2012

Who needs supplements most?

What are vitamins?

Vitamins, along with minerals, are an integral part of the health and function of our body. While there are some vitamins that serve only one purpose, the majority of vitamins work with other vitamins, nutrients, minerals and other substances as cofactors. There are some major processes in our body that goes on when the vitamins combine with each other to achieve certain functions, affects, or processes.

Where do we find vitamins? (Fruits and Vegetables)

Vitamins can be found in various fruits and vegetables. Here is a short list:

Vitamin A aids in cellular reproduction and can also stimulate immunity and formation of some hormones. Vitamin A helps vision, bone growth promotion, and tooth development. It could be found in various fruit sources such as watermelon, guava, cantaloupes, grapefruit, and mango. Vegetables include bok choy, brussels, Chinese broccoli, peas, and winter squash.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is important in production of energy. It can be found in such fruits as mango, pineapple, and grapes; and such vegetables as asparagus, butternut squash, and okra.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is important for reproduction, body growth, and red blood cell production. It is found in such fruits as dates, grapes, and pomegranate and such vegetables as asparagus, bok choy, mushrooms, and peas

Vitamin B3 (niacin) helps in the function of the skin, nerves, and the digestive system. It also converts food to energy. It is found in such foods as avocado, boysenberries, dates, nectarine, and peach; and such vegetables as artichoke, butternut squash, corn, pumpkin, and potatoes.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) plays a role as the body’s antioxidant and can protect body tissues from oxidative damage. It can also protect the cells from the effects of free radicals. It can be found in such fruits as mango, lychee, kiwi, pineapple, and strawberries; and in such vegetables as bok choy, kale, butternut squash, and brussels sprouts.

Are Vitamins in Whole Food Enough?

The vitamins that you get in food are enough if you eat a complete and healthy diet. If you are not, or if you don’t like fruits and vegetables, then it is a good idea to take multivitamins. Other benefits of taking a multivitamins:


Most people don’t consume enough calcium-containing foods, which add a risk in developing osteoporosis, or weakened bones later in life.

Fish oil

Some people don’t like or are allergic to seafood. They’re missing out because in fish oil is omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Folic Acid

Folate is a B vitamin and folic acid is supplement form of folate. Folic acid supplementation is recommended for pregnant women. Folate also helps reduce risk of heart disease by decreasing homocysteine levels.

Can a pill replace fruits and vegetables?

“There is no way that taking a pill can replace eating fruits and vegetables” says Walter Willent, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. To cram all of the necessary vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, plant hormones into one pill would be possible, but you would just need an extremely big pill. The thing that fruits and vegetables get correctly is that everything is combined in synchronicity. The chemical compounds are combined in such a way that it works for fruits and vegetables.

One example where nature trumps anything you can take in pill for are the antioxidant pigments known as cartenoids. Cartenoids can be found in tomatoes or carrots. When you eat a carrot, for example, a variety of different carotenoids will get into different types of cells and different parts of cells. This will ensure that there is antioxidant protection throughout the cell. When consume in the proportions found in foods, carotenodis and other phytochemical collaborate and protect the cells at different levels. In contrast, when delivered in unnatural proportions, such as when it is done in pill form, an overabundance of one carotenoid can block the action of another. For whatever reason, when it is done in fruits and vegetables, it works out much better.

So can we replace fruits and vegetables with multivitamins?

The answer is no, you should do your best to take both. Even if you have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, there are always some vitamins and minerals you can always get more of in order to get the full benefit. Some fruits and vegetables may not have as high vitamin and mineral content as it used to which is why it is good to supplement with multivitamin. See how many fruits and vegetables you typically eat and replace the rest with supplements.

Who need supplements the most?

If you’re generally health, do not have any history of disease, eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and fish, you likely won’t need any supplements.

Dietary guideline recommends supplements the most in these cases:

  • Women who become pregnant should get 400 micrograms a day of folic acid from foods or supplements, as well as eating food that contains folate.
  • Women who are pregnant should take prenatal vitamin that has iron or a separate iron supplement.
  • Adults over 50 years of age or older should take vitamin B12, or take a multivitamin that contains B12.

Dietary supplements are also appropriate if:

  • Consume less than 1,600 calories a day or don’t eat well.
  • Practice veganism or are a vegetarian.
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  • Have medical conditions that affect how body absorbs or uses nutrients.
  • Most recently had surgery on digestive tract and do not have proper digestion or nutrition absorbption


  • Sandy Halliday May 7, 2012 at 6:49 am

    Good advice. If you are going to take a multivitamin and mineral supplement make sure they are natural and not made up of synthetic vitamins.

    It’s a well established fact that the body absorbs and processes truly natural ingredients much better then synthetic ones.

    The best ones contain raw, organic or wildcrafted nutrients such as Green Organics Daily Extreme which I take regularly as an insurance policy.

    • Elena Anne May 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

      I agree Sandy. I prefer supplements with natural ingredients too. There are many brands that use a formula that provides complete supplements with natural ingredients with natural process. Thanks for your point :)

  • sally brown July 23, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Hi Elena,

    Wow! What a lot of useful and wonderful information. I do eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. Since I went through chemo, I’ve watched what I eat and take supplements. I’m hoping to be able to get back to exercising soon as well. Thanks for sharing this info. Saly

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