Does taking supplements replace the need for a varied and balanced diet?

No. As the name suggests, food supplements are only intended to ‘supplement’ people’s diets and not replace healthy foods.  Indeed, the regulation of food supplements makes clear that food supplements are not intended to replace a varied and balanced diet and food supplements packaging is required to carry a statement to this effect.

Although UK dietary surveys show that many people do not meet dietary recommendations, everyone should aim to eat as varied and balanced a diet as possible to provide their nutritional needs, avoiding too many processed, fatty and sugary foods. Supplements should only be used to top up any nutrient shortfalls in people’s diets and ensure they still achieve Recommended Intake Guidelines.

Although the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements) can be supplied by supplements, there are components of food which cannot be replaced by supplements, including the macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat and protein; and fibre (non-starch polysaccharides).

Further information on eating a healthy and balanced diet can be found on the NHS Choices website.