LOCK AND KEY
Think of food as a chic Bondi pad with state-of-the-art security. Unless they break a window, no-one’s getting in. Likewise certain supplement-based nutrients, which are essentially locked. Food kickstarts different biological processes that are not triggered in the same way by supplements; eating food affects hunger (by triggering the release of appetite-suppressing hormones) and impacts on the bioavailability of food (how much is absorbed and used by your body). The nutrients found in some plant foods such as carrots, spinach and tomatoes become more bioavailable after being cooked. And the process of smelling, seeing and chewing food sets off responses in your mouth and brain and stomach that help you absorb all the nutrients your body needs from the food and also impacts on chemicals in your brain, says Melanie McGrice, accredited dietitian and director of Nutrition Plus clinics in Melbourne. The process of chewing also triggers digestive enzymes in your mouth, stomach and pancreas. These enzymes and stomach acids are critical to some nutrients being
properly utilised by your body. For example, vitamin B12 requires gastric acid in order to be fully absorbed.
So simply swallowing a supplement might not stimulate enough of that acid to ensure you absorb it well.
In short, food provides vitamins in the best biologically available form. And it provides those nutrients in the right amounts and combined with other beneficial nutrients, says Catherine Saxelby, dietitian, nutrition expert, author and founder of website Foodwatch (foodwatch.com.au).
By contrast, if not used carefully, supplements can cause nutrient imbalances in your body, particularly if you mistakenly presume that if a little is good, a lot must be better. Yet according to Saxelby, Though many Australians take supplements to ensure they don’t experience nutritional deficiencies (which are unlikely in a country like Australia), even on a depleted diet, this may not be an immediate problem. For example, our livers store enough vitamin B12 to last three to five years while vitamin C reserves can last for 30 days.
Likewise certain supplement-based nutrients Photo Gallery
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