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We can't rely on pills to provide us our nutrients because we don't absorb the nutrients from the pills as effectively. Presumably this is because pills are lacking components that are required for certain reactions to take place.

Why can't we just create a pill that does have all the necessary components?

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    $\begingroup$ I think your premises are wrong. I don't know of any food that is recommended in place of a pill, because it is supposedly better. $\endgroup$ – Nick Alexander Sep 4 '14 at 4:21
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Why can't we just create a pill that does have all the necessary components?

I'm assuming you mean micronutrients (vitamins & minerals). A day's worth of macronutrients (energy and building-block providing chemicals - proteins, fats, sugars) are already very abundant and dense - a pill containing a day's worth would be the size of an egg.

Otherwise, we do. There are vitamin/mineral pills which have a very high absorbancy rate (usually those chelated or chemically bonded to various amino acids [words ending in -nate on the label]).

The big problem is that while the vitamins and minerals may satisfy your bare biochemical needs, that is all they do. They will not satisfy a hunger instinct (proteins and fats do that), and there are untold millions of compounds in the untold thousands of plants and products humans can pick up from the market. These compounds usually do not do much, but some are beneficial to our health.

So while multivitamins exist which provide you with a very efficient method of absorbing most of your vitamins and minerals, it's always recommended to get them directly from food since food will provide macronutrients (thus satisfying your hunger), the micronutrients you're curious about, and many potential beneficial compounds which are not necessary.

If you are still interested, Soylent Shakes are an attempt to provide all the micro- and macronutrients the body needs in an easier-to-consume form without all the messy cooking or multivitamin pills. Keep in mind the long-term effects of sticking to such a diet are more or less unknown, but it's as close as we can likely get to an "all-in-one" meal.

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  • $\begingroup$ > I'm assuming you mean micronutrients - Yes, I do. $\endgroup$ – user6035 Sep 7 '14 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ So does that mean you could eat an diet that isn't nutritious but that fulfills your macronutrient demands, take a multivitamin (satisfying the micronutrient demand), and that would be perfectly healthy? (you said the micronutrients that aren't in vitamins but are in food aren't necessary. could you expand a bit on this?) $\endgroup$ – user6035 Sep 7 '14 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ Ps: thanks for introducing my to Soylent. VERY interesting. I definitely have to research it some more, but I had no clue this existed and it seems to be a huge step forward for humanity if is indeed healthy. $\endgroup$ – user6035 Sep 7 '14 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @user6035 - Yes, you could eat an artificial diet of macronutrients and micronutrients that would satisfy your biochemical needs. It would probably be "healthy" in that you would probably continue to live without issues you weren't already predisposed to. How other chemicals and compounds contribute to our health are unknown (think antioxidants), but have the potential to contribute significantly. However, please consult medical professionals for further info if you intend to pursue this. Due to genetic variation your body might have greater or lesser needs than the recommendations. $\endgroup$ – MCM Sep 7 '14 at 23:56
  • $\begingroup$ Ah ok. Great point about antioxidants. That example cleared up for me what you mean about other chemicals and compounds. I'll continue to investigate before moving forward! $\endgroup$ – user6035 Sep 8 '14 at 0:05

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