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Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

More About Vitamins

July 7, 2011

Tags: food, beta-carotene, cancer, carrot, Colbin – Annemarie, food – organic, fructose, heart disease, honey, megadoses vitamins, More About Vitamins, Nurses’ Study, nutrition, obesity, Pauling – Linus, soil depletion, sugar, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin delivery system, vitamins

Glad that we are getting an interesting discussion going here … if only I didn’t have a day job – or several ...

We can agree on several things, namely

1. that food is not as good anymore than it was. We certainly have depleted soils in some agricultural areas. BUT the main problem with food today is not that we can’t get good food (we can, if we grow our own, and if we buy mostly organic); the problem is that, as a nation, we usually choose the wrong food. Hence the obesity epidemic, and heart disease, cancer, and so on. One could actually make a point that we can get much better food today than fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago.

Well, I wanted to agree with my ardent critic – but then thought the better of it. Let’s see the next point:

2. that vitamins are no substitute for food: totally agreed.
3. that we can get “better brands” of vitamins, and that they will be the real thing. Here I disagree. I wrote yesterday that the sudden overload in vitamins is detrimental for the body. And there have been several studies in the last few years that seem to corroborate this. In those studies (The Nurses’ Study is a famous example), they first look what people eat. They find that those who have the highest intake say, of vitamin A, judged by food diaries, have the least cancer. So far so good. In a follow-up study they give vitamin A (or no vitamin A) to people. And then the outcome is: More cancer in the vitamin arm than in the arm where people eat normal food. Now, such studies have been done for vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin E. It seems to prove that vitamins are not the same in food as in the bottle. Notwithstanding that they are chemically the same. The difference lies in the delivery system: To digest a vitamin, to use it in your metabolism, you need many more chemicals that are not present in the vitamin bottle, but come in whole foods. As my friend Annemarie Colbin once said: If you pop a vitamin A pill in the morning, your body is searching for the rest of the carrot the whole day ….

Honey? I have never recommended honey much – you are right that it is mostly sugar, and fructose at that. Therefore one should use it only sparingly. Apart from that most of our honeys have been heated and made worthless.

And Linus Pauling? Great scientist. But I can’t follow him into his vitamin fixation. Some people are convinced that vitamins will save their lives. Some are not – it probably is not useful to discuss it forever. Why some arguments seem true to us, and others not, is highly individual. For me, one man who made it to 93 is no proof that he did everything right regarding nutrition. Without his mega-doses of vitamin C, perhaps he would have made it to 107??

Nothing will get me away from good, whole, fresh foods!
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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