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Full Article

Date: 19 December 2013, Zana Morris

 

An article designed for shock value – leaving us with more questions than answers? ‘Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful – study’ The Independent, 17 December, 2013

It makes me want to see the actual study. The elements I've seen reported in The Independent is shockingly written - what supplements? In what forms, what quality, what combinations, what strengths? Citrate or food forms are rapidly absorbed, many others hardly absorb at all, and low dosages (i.e. the RDA or under) may make hardly any impact. I’m mindful of a friend and her high doses of intravenous, alkaline vitamin C for cancer treatment, vs. ascorbic acid that you get in Holland & Barrett! As for our modern Western diets being sufficient, please don't get me started. There is £800 million a year spent on type 2 diabetes - an avoidable condition and only occurring in later life. This phenomenon coincides with our food having evolved into fat free and sugar laden, in addition to our "natural" fruits which have been so changed over time that they are now excessively sweet. Fat is what holds the fat soluble vitamins, D, E, K, A - you don't get them if there's no fat! Cases of rickets have increased more than 400 per cent since 1996; again, avoidable and believed to be due to D3 deficiency. Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that most of our livestock are now kept indoors for the duration of their lifetimes, away from sunlight, causing our dairy, meat, and eggs to be seriously lacking in the same D3? Another example can be found in the well-established positive role of omega-3 fatty acids in battling cardiovascular disease, as well as the inflammation issues related to an excess of omega 6. Both are found in a 1:1 ratio in wild salmon, but sadly as much as a 17:1 omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in the farmed variety; quite likely to be the only type of salmon found in your local supermarket. Of course you can eat a well-balanced, healthy diet and we massively encourage this, which is why we cover nutrition in all of our gyms. 

But for the paper to use ‘normal western’ in the context of a scientific article without defining what they actually mean by it, is insane! An Irish diet for instance differs from a Mediterranean diet. And furthermore, many people I know are one or a combination of, gluten free, dairy free or vegetarian as we all explore our ideal versions of personal health. Quite simply, we need to see the actual study and follow those who know how to break down that info properly - researchers who will independently analyse a study of this nature to understand where and how the conclusions were drawn. It is important to have transparency going forward in regards to who initiated and paid for the study. This is reminiscent of the 80’s panic that all fats were bad. According to BBC Horizon in 2001, the American government, backed by the American sugar industry threatened WHO with withdrawing any financial support if WHO included sugar in their report as one of the principle causes of the wordwide obesity epidemic. The point was taken out of their report and fats were highlighted falsely as the principle cause. And just as sugar companies rushed forward to fill the gaps left in our newly fat-free food, we should wonder which sectors might benefit from an attack on vitamins and supplements. Certainly pharmaceutical companies would have a lot to lose from the popularity of supplement nutrients. And based on the shockingly poor journalism shown by both The Times and The Independent by reporting in such a bizarrely unprofessional manner, it would seem the pharmaceutical lobby are dominating the press, just as the American sugar industry did during the 80’s and 90’s.

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