Which is better: balanced diet or nutritional supplements?

Vitamins are an essential part of the body and are found in our diet and there are pharmaceutical supplements, but these supplements are not always as effective as their natural counterparts provided by the diet, and doctors have also found that many of them can cause side effects. to have .

This report, published by the French newspaper “Le Figaro”, author Pauline Lina, research director of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, quoted Mathilde Tovey, a specialist in epidemiology and nutrition, that “a small proportion of the population suffers from a deficiency of vitamins in general, with the exception of vitamin D” (D). )”.

definition of vitamins

Vitamins are an organic molecule necessary for various chemical reactions to occur, and taking vitamins does not guarantee the supply of energy to the body, and the body does not produce vitamins except vitamins D and K, so care must be taken to get enough of the rest of the vitamins through food.

It was necessary to determine the body’s need for each vitamin and to develop tests to measure its percentage in the blood and determine the most effective form and amount to correct any deficiency of it. While needs are uniformly identified worldwide and the risks of systemic supplementation and misuse have been identified, dosages and shortcomings in follow-up remain a matter of debate.

Today, after nearly a century of scientific research, clinical and epidemiological studies – as at the beginning of the twentieth century – show that food is the best source of vitamin deficiencies. Only two types of dietary supplements showed clear efficacy; They are vitamin D and vitamin B9 (folate), which are commonly prescribed to pregnant women because they help prevent serious malformations in newborns. As with other vitamins, and in normal cases, diet remains the best way to prevent deficiency or overdose. to prevent.

Professor Elisabeth Dubrun, a pediatric dietitian and gastroenterologist at the Trosso Hospital in Paris, has observed a recurrence of cases of scurvy related to vitamin C deficiency in families following an unbalanced diet for 10 years, either as a result of children’s selective eating or dietary decisions. .

Minor intolerances in children are often temporary and unrelated to allergies, Dobren explained, but sometimes lead parents to stop consuming certain foods. She noted that only allergists can identify food allergies and suggest diets to avoid vitamin deficiencies.

Mechanism of dietary adaptation

Blood tests are rarely helpful in identifying or helping to correct a vitamin deficiency. Instead, questions about dietary and lifestyle habits can be asked to determine the risk of vitamin deficiency before symptoms appear. For example, doctors can check whether the amount of iron vegetarians consume from legumes is enough to make up for the absence of red meat. Someone following a vegan diet without animal protein should take vitamin B12 supplements and some other nutrients. Lack of exercise and lack of exposure to sunlight can put you at greater risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency.

In most cases, providing good nutritional information is enough to reduce the risk of vitamin deficiencies, along with the need to adapt public health recommendations to changes in people’s dietary habits. For example, the well-known advice “eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day” encouraged people to drink juices that contain less vitamin C and more sugar.

As a result, in April 2021, the National Food Safety Agency excluded juices from the list of fruits and vegetables in the hopes that teens who previously only had fruit juice for breakfast would replace this habit with a glass of milk to make up for the calcium deficiency.

The strategy of adapting the recommendations helps to identify the most effective medical interventions, also on an individual level: know patients and determine their needs according to their age, lifestyle and health status, ensure that their diet meets these needs and the necessary dosage of nutritional supplements in case of changing habits. Nutritional value insufficient. Often this approach to treatment takes longer compared to a blood test or prescription of vitamins, but it is more effective in the long run.

Adolescents and Growth

Not getting enough sleep and having trouble waking up in the morning are asking teens, whose bodies are still developing, to replace milk and nutrients with chocolate toast or cereals with a glass of sweet, nutrient-dense fruit juice. In the event that parents or the school restaurant do not offer a healthy and varied diet in the rest of the meals, or if adolescents follow an unbalanced diet, this can lead to a deficiency of some vitamins such as vitamins B12, C and A.

Pregnancy and Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 and Vitamin D are necessary during pregnancy to ensure the full development of the fetus, as with other vitamins, if the mother is not deficient, the fetus will not miss them, knowing that excessive intake of supplements can affect the health of the baby. negatively affect the fetus. During the lactation period, the child receives large amounts of vitamins and calcium, which the mother has to compensate for the deficiency by following a varied and rich diet.


Studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements by age 50 helps prevent osteoporosis and prevent some cardiovascular conditions. In fact, the body makes this type of vitamin in small amounts, so supplements should be taken regularly and in low doses to avoid high calcium levels.