There are Vitamins and there are “Vitamins”
You may have heard the latest health related "news" where a small group of doctors are saying "vitamins do nothing, they may be harmful, don't buy them".
I put "news" in quotations because I've not heard a thing from the meta-study involved that was new, surprising, or even different from things we tell people daily. And yet, unlike that group of doctors, sometimes I encourage some people to use vitamins. That is because, simply stated, there are “vitamins” and there are vitamins. Not all vitamins are created equal. Some are just plain created.
Here’s the thing, almost all vitamins sold in North America are laboratory made. If you can take a substance and force a molecule of it to hold the shape of a naturally occurring vitamin, you get to call that new molecule, and sell that new molecule as, a vitamin. If these molecules are made from organic material (not as in: grown organically, but as in: it contains carbon) - as most vitamins are – they get to be sold as “natural vitamins”. I mean after all, at some point in its distant past it had something in it that came from nature so apparently that’s good enough.
However, is that tenuous connection to some form of organic material really enough to be considered safe? To be considered helpful? I know one thing; those are not vitamins I use.
The doctors in question mentioned 2 studies showing that high doses of single vitamin may be harmful in very specific situations. Yup, more old news. Those studies are the reason we don’t recommended crazy high doses of beta carotene to smokers.
The doctors also state that some studies show certain vitamins don’t prevent certain diseases. They were never meant to! Vitamins may not stop certain diseases, but we do know being vitamin deficient can certainly cause some conditions. Vitamins (from foods) are meant to fill gaps in our nutrition, not act like a drug.
(The doctors admitted that there are studies showing benefits from taking vitamins but they quickly skimmed over those studies and moved on.)
The problem with meta-studies is that it’s easy to make the final data say exactly what you want it to say. If I decided to do a meta-study (meaning I don’t actually DO anything myself, I just poke around and find a group of other studies on a certain topic and tally up the results) I could look at 100 studies and pick the top 10 that are closest to what I want the results to say. Do those results mean anything at the end of the day? Or would my results just be a whole lot of “so what?”
There are some things the doctors say I do agree with however. They say, “well nourished adults” don’t require vitamins. Yup, we've said that for years.
They also say people should eat more vegetables, eat less trans-fat, and exercise more. Well Duh! That’s news? And how many years must one go to school to figure that out?
However, how many of us do that every single day? Busy lives, expense, poor soil, and the difficulty in finding fresh, local, organic foods (you know, Real Food) and being a “well nourished adult” who exercises daily isn’t always easy.
Bottom line? Eat more veggies, eat healthy fats, exercise more, laugh more, and when you haven’t done that perfectly for a few days (months? years?) take a real vitamin made from real food so you have the nutrition available to try again tomorrow.
Mona Sims CNPA