The food we eat seems to have a more protective effect than supplements, especially when it comes to living longer and avoiding heart disease.
The key nutrients are vitamin A and magnesium that together improve longevity, and vitamins A and K and zinc, which help protect us from heart disease, say researchers from Tufts University.
They looked at the diets and health of more than 27,000 people aged 20 and older, whose nutritional intake was measured along with the way they were getting their nutrients.
Although the researchers accepted that supplements play an important role in topping-up nutritional levels, food seemed to have the more protective effect.
The research threw up one anomaly: taking more than 1000 mg of calcium a day increases the risk of cancer. As calcium-rich foods include seeds, beans and leafy greens, it seems there's something wrong with the findings.
The researchers almost admit as much: their study didn't take into account the potency or quality of the supplements being taken, and so didn't measure the real value of 'serious', or nutraceutical, supplements.