Updated 22 March 2022

Supplements or Food?  

What’s the Difference? 

Constant chemical reactions run every system in the human body. They control digestion, blood pressure, nerve signals, metabolism, waste removal, muscle contraction, and a whole host of other things. These reactions are so commonplace we are not aware of them unless there is an issue.  

This constant chemical dance depends on sufficient nutrients for optimal functioning. Essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbs, and fats are found in nutritious and varied food sources. The body absorbs and uses the nutrients found in healthy foods better than nutrients contained in compact supplements. 

Here is the catch. Instead of growing and cooking whole foods, many people today (especially those with hectic life schedules) consume heavily processed, low-nutrient foods. As a result, they eat more to acquire the essential nutrients for optimal functioning.  

Overeating low-nutrient food has led to the current obesity and type II diabetes epidemic. In addition, the American diet often restricts the consumption of fatty fish, dark green vegetables, legumes, and other nutrient-packed foods simply because of how they taste. And because we do not like them, they do not provide an emotional reward. 

 

Food Industry 

The food industry is split into two categories: Whole foods and processed foods. At the grocery store, whole foods (fresh produce, meats, and dairy) are placed around the edges of the store, while processed foods are in the aisles.  

Fresh Food

Fresh foods spoil if not consumed within a short amount of time. On the other hand, preservatives (chemicals) are added to processed foods to extend their shelf life. 

Food chemists engineer processed foods to appeal to our sense of reward. The reward value of food is connected to emotional eating or comfort food. If people frequently eat for the reward value or the convenience of the food instead of the nutrition, they end up with nutritional deficiencies. 

 

Supplements vs Food 

Supplements are not food, nor do they often provide macronutrients. Instead, they are a dense portion of the micronutrients contained in food. Supplements are anything (vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids, fish oil, etc.) taken by mouth to supplement the diet. 

Multi-vitamin supplements are popular to fill nutrition gaps. If you consume a regular variety of whole foods, most likely, you will not benefit from taking a vitamin supplement. Working with a medical professional is the best way to know and target your specific nutritional deficiencies. 

In the long term, consuming supplements versus nutritional food to obtain necessary micronutrients puts you on a dangerous path. Why? Because you are more likely to consume too many simple carbs, unhealthy fats, and excess sugar, leading to obesity, type II diabetes, arthritis, and other debilitating conditions. 

 

Vitamin Industry 

The word vitamin is used broadly to include all supplements. A person should not rely on vitamin supplements as their sole micronutrient source. However, there are numerous instances when a supplement greatly enhances overall health and well-being. Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D are just two relevant examples. 

 

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 is required for healthy blood and nerve cells and the reproduction of DNA. Some people do not absorb Vitamin B12 well. Vegetarians and vegans do not consume Vitamin B12 rich foods. Tiredness and weakness are signs of a Vitamin B12 deficiency caused by the reduced number and health of oxygenated red blood cells. 

The National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests adults over age 50 better absorb Vitamin B12 from dietary supplements or fortified foods than from other food sources. This has to do with the reduction of hydrochloric acid in the stomach with age. In the stomach, hydrochloride acid separates Vitamin B12 from its attached protein, allowing it to then be absorbed into the bloodstream. 

 

Vitamin D 

Calcium is absorbed through Vitamin D interaction. Calcium is the basis of strong bones. In addition to bone health, Vitamin D plays intricate roles in muscle movement, nerve messaging, and immune system functioning. 

Vitamin D

Food sources of Vitamin D are fatty fish and fortified foods. Vitamin D is also manufactured by the sun’s ultraviolet light interacting with a protein found in the skin. NIH estimates a quarter of the population is Vitamin D deficient.  

However, too much Vitamin D (from over-supplementation) can cause health problems. The NIH sets the upper limit for Vitamin D intake from all sources at 4,000 IU (international units). 

 

The Supplement Market 

In 2021, Grand View Research valued the global dietary supplement market at $151.9 billion. Due to increasing consumer awareness, changing lifestyles, and hectic work schedules, they forecast the supplement market to continue to grow from 2022 to 2030 at an 8.9% compound annual growth rate. Consumers simply love the high convenience supplements offer to offset their eating choices. 

Though vitamins held the largest share of the market (30.8% of the revenue), botanicals, proteins, and amino acids are expected to have higher growth rates in the forecast period. Energy, weight management, and sports nutrition are all driving the market. 

Supplements

Given the obesity epidemic, consumers are looking to cut calories and restrict food choices. These consumers turn to supplements to provide the necessary nutrients in low-calorie ways. 

In addition, many consumers are turning to botanicals and herbs for preventive health measures and to enhance well-being and functioning. For chronic conditions, consumers are more willing than ever to investigate natural ways to improve their lives without the side effects often associated with pharmaceuticals. 

(Per the Food and Drug Administration, supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.)  

 

Origin Nutraceutical 

If you are looking for one of the best dietary supplement manufacturers in the United States, Origin Nutraceutical is it. We not only know the supplement market and business, but we know customer service is the origin of success! 

Origin Nutraceutical values every customer and contract no matter how big or small. We love answering questions and providing honest, upfront costs and turnaround times.  

We have dedicated supply chains and a deep interest in seeing your brand succeed. Our NSF GMP certification, along with our organic, kosher, and halal certifications, are proof of our commitment to manufacturing the highest-quality supplements at the best prices. 

Origin specializes in manufacturing and packaging supplement powders and capsules. If we do not offer the supplement form you want, we will point you to our associate companies. In addition, our established partners make us a full-service manufacturer. We take your supplement ideas from concept to market. 

In addition to manufacturing supplements, Origin provides packaging options for powder mixes, liquids, pills, capsules, gummies, and tablets. Check out our packaging options here. 

For superior vitamin manufacturing, contact Origin Nutraceutical today! 

 

Origin Nutraceutical

By: Jae O. Haroldsen 

The content of Origin Nutraceutical’s website is for information only, not advice or guarantee of outcome. Information is gathered and shared from reputable sources; however, Origin Nutraceutical is not responsible for errors or omissions in reporting or explanation. No individuals, including those taking Origin Nutraceutical products, should use the information, resources or tools contained within to self-diagnosis or self-treat any health-related condition. Origin Nutraceutical gives no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness or applicability of the content. 

 

Sources: 

Greenberg, Danielle, and John V St Peter. “Sugars and Sweet Taste: Addictive or Rewarding?.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 18,18 9791. 17 Sep. 2021, doi:10.3390/ijerph18189791 

Lentjes, Marleen A H. “The balance between food and dietary supplements in the general population.” The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society vol. 78,1 (2019): 97-109. doi:10.1017/S0029665118002525 

“Vitamin B12 Consumer Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/  

“Vitamin D Consumer Fact Sheet.” National Institute of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/ 

Dietary Supplements Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Ingredient (Vitamins, Minerals), By Form, By Application, By End User, By Distribution Channel, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2022 – 2030. Grand View Research. 2022. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/dietary-supplements-market