Can you live off vitamins instead of food?

Your body needs them in small amounts to ensure optimal health, but they don't make up most of the food you need to survive. For that you need the right mix of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. According to the study, nutrients consumed through supplements do not improve health and longevity as effectively as those consumed through food. While eating the right nutrients in the right amounts from food was associated with a longer life, the same was not true for nutrients in supplements, says study co-author Fang Zhang, associate professor of epidemiology at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

If you refer to vitamins as supplements, multivitamins contain very little energy. A morbidly obese man fasted water for more than a year taking only multivitamins for weight loss and felt fine. Some populations need supplements for a variety of reasons, making them unable to meet their dietary vitamin and mineral needs. Researchers found that getting enough vitamin A, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, and copper was associated with a lower risk of dying prematurely, but only when those nutrients came from food.

The researchers found that people who took vitamin D supplements but who were not vitamin D deficient also had a higher risk of dying during the study period, but the supplements did not seem to increase the risk of death in people who lacked vitamin D. Unfortunately, most Australians do not consume a diet that, in theory, meets their nutritional needs and, therefore, probably do not consume key vitamins and minerals. For example, vitamin E occurs naturally in 8 different forms in foods, while a supplement only contains 1 to 2 forms. Some studies have shown that vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk of death and illness, while others have not.

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