Whole Food Vitamins: A Closer Look at Supplements Made from Real Food Sources
Food & Nutrition
Whole Food Vitamins: A Closer Look at Supplements Made from Real Food Sources
Lindsey Toth, MS, RD • April 3, 2019

When it comes to getting your daily dose of the vitamins and minerals you need to thrive, experts agree that getting them from real foods is best. But faced with a modern diet, that isn’t always feasible, and food-form supplements can help.

Some studies indicate that supplements derived from real food sources may be absorbed by the body nearly twice as well as their synthetic counterparts.1 And with that in mind, here’s a rundown of our best real food vitamins, plus a closer look at their ingredients and the health benefits they can deliver.

Real Food Vitamin K-2

There are several forms of Vitamin K. The primary forms are vitamin K-1 and vitamin K-2 (also known as menaquinones). And to make matters just a little more confusing when it comes to choosing a vitamin K-2 supplement, there are multiple forms of vitamin K-2. Of these compounds, menaquinone-7 (MK-7) is the most biologically active form in human physiology. 2

This fat-soluble vitamin is especially useful in promoting calcium transport, which helps boost bone health and heart health by making sure calcium is reaching the skeletal system and not overloading the vascular system, which may lead to calcification.2 Food sources of vitamin K-2 include animal sources, fermented dairy and fermented soybeans.2 The daily Adequate Intake (AI) of vitamin K-2 for adults is 120 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women.3

If you’re looking to add a real food vitamin K-2 supplement to your daily routine, try Swanson Real Food Vitamin K-2 – Maximum Strength. These once-daily softgels deliver 200 mcg of vitamin K-2 sourced from non-GMO natto (fermented soy) for bone and cardio support.

Real Food Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a group of fat-soluble vitamins with a particular set of antioxidant capabilities. The naturally-sourced form of vitamin E is commonly called d-alpha-tocopheryl, which can be found nuts and seeds, hazelnuts, peanuts and almonds, as well as some vegetable oils including safflower oil and corn oil.4 Vitamin E is essential because it helps boost heart health while helping to neutralize free radicals within the body.5 The daily recommended amount of vitamin E for adults is at least 15 mg (22.4 IU) and the tolerable upper intake level (UL) is 1,000mg or 1,500 IU.6

Swanson Premium Real Food E from Non-GMO Sunflower Oil delivers everything you need from a real food-sourced vitamin E supplement. These once-a-day softgels contain a generous 400 IU of vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopheryl) sourced from non-GMO sunflower seed oil.

Nutrients sourced from wholesome real foods—shop now

Real Food B-Complex

Incorporating B vitamins into your diet or wellness regimen is an exceptional way to boost health in a number of ways, and this is especially true with B complex vitamins.

The B-vitamin complex consists of eight B vitamins including:

Getting all of your B-complex vitamins from diet alone requires eating a wide variety of foods, which makes supplementation a convenient option. This is especially true when it comes to individuals who follow vegetarian or vegan diets since B12 is almost exclusively found in animal sources.7

The health benefits of taking B-complex vitamins are wide-ranging and include support for decreased stress, a healthy mood, energy, heart health, athletic performance, skin and hair health, antioxidant support, metabolic health and much more.8, 9 When selecting a B-complex vitamin, it’s important to keep in mind the recommended daily intake (RDI) or adequate intake (AI) of each of these vitamins, which are as follows:

Daily B Vitamin Intakes

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 1.1 mg for women, 1.2 mg for men (RDI)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 1.1 mg for women, 1.3 mg for men (RDI)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 14 mg for women, 16 mg for men (RDI)
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 5 mg for women and men (AI)
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): 1.3 mg for women and men (RDI)
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin): 30 mcg for women and men (AI)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate): 400 mcg for women and men (RDI)
  • B12 (Cobalamin): 2.4 mcg for women and men (RDI)

You can get your daily dose of the entire family of energizing, stress busting B vitamins sourced from organic quinoa sprouts in Swanson Ultra Real Food B-Complex. This B-complex supplement is great for heart health, energy production, healthy metabolism, antioxidant support, skin and hair health, athletic performance and more, and it’s vegan-friendly, non-GMO and gluten-free.

Real Food Niacin

If you’re looking for a heart health vitamin, Niacin (vitamin B3) is getting a lot of attention, and for good reason. This water-soluble vitamin is utilized throughout the body and is essential to more than 400 enzymatic reactions. Its heart-healthy benefits include helping maintain healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range, inhibiting triglyceride synthesis, and boosting antioxidant defenses against oxidative stress to the heart and arteries.10

Niacin also plays a vital role in supporting brain function, skin health and joint comfort.10 Niacin can be found in foods like chicken, tuna, beef, salmon, holy basil and peanuts. The recommended daily allowances for niacin are 16 mg for men and 14 mg for women.11

Swanson Ultra Real Food Niacin delivers 20 mg of niacin, more than enough to cover your daily recommended dosage and it’s derived from holy basil extract. This real food-sourced niacin supplement promotes heart health, healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range, free radical neutralization and more and is non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

Nutrients sourced from wholesome real foods—shop now

Real Food Multivitamins for Men & Women

Traditional Western diets aren’t always on par with our nutritional needs, and multivitamins are a great way to help fill in those nutritional gaps. If you’re looking for a food-form vitamin to boost daily intakes of your essentials, real food multivitamins can help. We’ve created multis for both men and women, featuring vitamins, minerals and herbs specifically chosen with the unique health needs of men and women in mind, and they’re sourced from wholesome real foods.

Swanson Ultra Real Food Men’s Daily features a trio of herbs for prostate and bladder health and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. This non-GMO, vegan-friendly and gluten-free formula is an excellent way to boost immunity, antioxidant function, male vitality, stress reduction and more. This blend features ingredients sourced from pumpkin seed extract, quinoa sprouts, algae and more.

Swanson Ultra Real Food Multi Women’s Daily features a trio of herbs for women and a wealth of vitamins and minerals from the absolute best real food sources. This formula supports healthy hair, skin and nails, immune function, bone health, urinary tract health and delivers a powerful dose of antioxidants. It’s a non-GMO, gluten-free and vegan-friendly real food women’s multi that features ingredients sourced from organic food sources like cranberry concentrate, turmeric root extract, quinoa sprouts, kelp and more.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like The Science Behind Your Supplement—Real Food Protein and The Science Behind Your Pill—Real Food Vitamins. Also, be sure to sign up for Swanson Health Emails to get expert advice and our best promotions delivered straight to your inbox.

Lindsey Bristol, Swanson Health Products

About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health Products

Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for pie. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food.

Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.


1 Human Plasma and Tissue Alpha-Tocopherol Concentrations in Response to Supplementation with Deuterated Natural and Synthetic Vitamin E. PubMed.gov https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9537614

2 The Role of Vitamin K Status in Cardiovascular Health: Evidence from Observational and Clinical Studies. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5585988/#CR1

3 Vitamin K Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/#h2

4 Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

5 Vitamin E Consumption and the Risk of Coronary Disease in Women. PubMed.gov https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8479463?dopt=Abstract

6 Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Consumers. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/

7 Vitamin B-Complex. Michigan Medicine University of Michigan. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2922005

8 B-Complex Vitamins: Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-b-complex#benefits

9 Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Consumers. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/#h3

10 9 Science-Based Benefits of Niacin (Vitamin B3). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/niacin-benefits#section3

11 Niacin Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Niacin-HealthProfessional/

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.