Fitness Nutrition Forums

Affordable Alternatives to Expensive Supplements

If you are worried about specific nutrients in your diet or think you are not getting enough, there are some basic steps you can take to make sure you are getting enough nutrition everyday!

What is the best and most affordable alternative to buying expensive supplements or multi-vitamins? Healthy food! Fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains supply the most effectively utilized nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy, improve performance and build tissue. Most supplements companies are trying to sell you expensive diet pills, performance enhancers or supplements that are often ineffective, expensive, not meeting quality standards or providing any of the nutrients or claims listed on their labels.

Fresh vegetables, legumes, lean protein sources, healthy fats, whole grains and fiber-rich foods can provide all the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and amino acids your body needs and are better absorbed and used by the body than supplements are. By focusing on a healthy diet you can often achieve whatever health goals you set for yourself, although sometimes this can seem like a challenge. Meeting the recommended nutrient intakes within your daily energy needs is best done by adopting a balanced eating pattern. The FDA only really recommends supplement intake for the following groups of people:

  • People over 50 are recommended to consume vitamin B-12 in its crystalline form, found in fortified foods or supplements
  • Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant are recommended to eat iron-fortified foods, or foods high in heme-iron combined with foods that enhance iron absorption, like vitamin C
  • Women who may become pregnant should focus on consuming adequate synthetic folic acid in addition to food forms of folate
  • Older adults should consider consuming extra vitamin D from vitamin D-fortified foods or supplements

For those who are concerned they are not getting enough of a specific nutrient here are some key essential nutrients and food sources.

Potassium assists in regulating the mineral and fluid balance of your cells and helps muscles contract.

  • Sources: Fruits, vegetables, legumes, meat, nuts and dairy products.

Magnesium Helps your body making energy, protein, and muscle contractions, and is a part of bones.

  • Sources: Whole grains, legumes, nuts and green vegetables.

Calcium builds bone strength, length, tissues, and slows bone loss. Also helps clot your blood, supports nerve function, and muscle contraction.

  • Sources: Green leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified foods, dairy products, and tofu.

Vitamin C helps fight infections, supports immune system and improves wound healing.

  • Sources: Bell peppers, guava, papaya, oranges, broccoli, grapefruit, mangos, cantaloupe, cabbage and collard greens.

Vitamin E helps protect vitamin A, essential fatty acids, and LDL cholesterol from being oxidized.

  • Sources: Vegetable oils, nuts and sunflower seeds, soy, spinach and peanut butter.

Vitamin D assists in calcium absorption, bone growth, and remodeling reduces inflammation and it helps protect against osteoporosis.

  • Sources: Fatty fish, fish oils, sunlight, beef liver, cheese, fortified foods like milk and egg yolks.

Iodine works as part of your thyroid hormones to regulate how your body uses energy.

  • Sources: Saltwater fish, potatoes, iodized salt, and cooked navy beans.

Chromium helps insulin use glucose in your body.

  • Sources: Whole-gains, cheese, peas, eggs and meats.

Copper: serves as a part of many enzymes, helps your body make hemoglobin and connective tissues, as well as playing a part in producing energy in your cells.

  • Sources: Nuts, seeds, organ meats, and seafood.

Iron needed to transport oxygen to every body cell and for healthy brain development and immune function.

  • Sources: Meats, beans, spinach, seeds, and whole wheat foods.

Manganese helps in bone formation, metabolism of energy from foods, and is a part of many enzymes.

  • Sources: Whole-grain products, lentils, pineapple, strawberries, and kale.

Selenium works with Vitamin E as an antioxidant, both protecting cells and supporting immune function.

  • Sources: Seeds, whole-grains, seafood, organ meats, and eggs.

Zinc: helps your body use food, supports enzymatic reactions and promotes cell reproduction and tissue growth and repair.

  • Sources: Whole-grain products, meats, eggs, peas, nuts, and seeds.

Probiotics: help promote healthy bacteria growth in the intestine by either changing or reintroducing new bacteria.

  • Sources: Lactic acid bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria found in yogurt and other fermented dairy products.

Phytonutrients are bioactive chemicals in food that slow the aging process and reduce the risk of many diseases.


  • Beta-carotene: Associated with improving antioxidant defense in cells and neutralizing free radicals
    • Sources: bright yellow/ orange fruits and vegetables like pumpkins, papayas, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, and broccoli.
  • Lycopene: May reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
    • Sources: is found in red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, and guavas.
  • Lutein: May contribute to healthy vision.
    • Sources: Green vegetables like collard greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, egg yolks and kiwi.


  • Anthocynaidins are antioxidants that stop the damage to cells by neutralizing free radicals and support healthy immune and brain function.
    • Sources: Dark colored fruits like blackberries, blueberries, cherries, red grapes, plums, kiwi, strawberries, cranberries, cabbage and eggplant.
  • Flavanols may help with heart health by supporting antioxidant defenses in the cells and stopping the damage of free radicals.
    • Sources: Apples, tea, wine, chocolate, cocoa, grapes and broccoli.
  • Flavanones: Neutralize free radicals to stop damage to cells.
    • Sources: Citrus fruits
  • Proanthocyanidins may help maintain heart and urinary tract health
    • Sources: Apples, cocoa, cranberries, strawberries, wine, and peanuts.


  • α-Linolenic acid (ALA): an omega-3 fatty acid.
    • Sources: Fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
  • Linoleic acid (LA): an omega-6 fatty acid.
    • Sources: Nuts, most vegetable oils, and some whole grains.

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