Skip to content
pills and fruit on a table has someone is pouring fish oil pills into their hand. Kitchen is green with white tops

Pills vs. Food


Written by Alyssa Paglia, RD

Lately, it seems like we can’t even browse Instagram without seeing dozens of targeted ads for the “latest and greatest” supplements. The US supplement industry was valued at over $50 billion in 2022, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.  This raises an important question: Is it better to get nutrients from pills or food?

Though supplements can be helpful in certain scenarios, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that the majority of your nutritional needs should be met through your diet.

When you consume nutrients in pill form, you’re missing out on some of the most beneficial parts of food, like fiber and polyphenols! Think about it: It’s impossible to fit an entire bag of spinach into a tiny capsule. 

Nutrients present in food are in their most natural form and work synergistically to enhance absorption and bioavailability. Supplements, on the other hand, consist of isolated nutrients that may not be absorbed as effectively.

Many supplements contain ultra-concentrated amounts of nutrients, which means that your body might receive more than it can handle. Depending on whether the excess is excreted or stored, this can lead to what’s jokingly referred to as “expensive pee” – or worse, a potential nutrient toxicity or imbalance.  For example, too much zinc can cause a copper deficiency, and excessive iron can cause gastrointestinal issues and organ damage. You should always consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement, especially because certain supplements can interact with prescription medications.

It is also important to note that the FDA regulates supplements as food, not as drugs. They don’t proactively test the safety or efficacy of new products before they are sold to consumers. They typically only intervene if adverse events are reported.

You may be wondering if it’s ever okay to take supplements.  The answer is yes, but with a few caveats. Supplements can be very helpful for correcting deficiencies or filling gaps in the diet, but they aren’t a replacement for real food.  Food comes first, and supplements are just that – supplemental.  If you do plan to take supplements, consult with your healthcare provider and choose reputable brands.

If you’re concerned that you might be deficient in one or more nutrients, Goode Health can help you fill gaps in your diet without relying on pills. Our superfood blend contains the right amounts of fiber, plant-based protein, polyphenol antioxidants, and Core8 Micronutrients derived from real whole foods. No fillers, capsules, or nonsense!