You might have read the story that states vitamins do nothing – in fact, they might reduce lifespan – at least in the older woman in the study. Here’s one link to the story – it’s not hard to find more.
The new reports speculated on the doses of some of the vitamins being too high and having untoward consequences.
Could be true, but there are 2 other reasons that the reports I read didn’t cover:
Supplements can replace healthy eating
Supplements, as well as cheap processed food that touts its health benefits, can trick us into eating poor quality food because of a focus solely on the ‘nutrients’. Hey, let’s eat like crap then take a pill! Or this prepackaged, chemical-laden, overly processed food-like product has vitamin C – it says so on the label – it must be good!
It’s been maybe 6 months since I’ve attempted to get my nutrition from pills, and I am more careful about what I eat. For instance, I try to get my Omega-3 through high-quality canned tuna that minimally processes the fish to leave most of the Omega-3 in the can, or sardines. While not the biggest fan of sardines, I found a good one I like a lot and have it at least a couple of times a week.
You don’t really know what’s in those bottles
Everything you put in your body has behind it a ‘chain of trust’. This chain consists of everyone who touches it before it goes down your throat. Being a bit on the paranoid side myself, I believe the best way to be sure I am getting what I think I’m getting is to make that chain of trust as short as possible.
When I go to my farmer’s market, I can talk to the farmers. In this world, it is less likely that you will be screwed by someone who you talk to regularly – it’s so much easier to screw over people at a distance – you don’t feel as bad when your victim is faceless.
I have to establish trust in this relationship when the farmer tells me that his eggs and squash are organic, but if it isn’t, he’s a sociopath that is lying to my face. Possible, but statistically unlikely.
If I buy my eggs at Whole Foods, that chain of trust gets a lot longer. The vegetables and eggs are raised by faceless farmers far away, they are trucked a great distance to warehouses, then distributed to stores. Along the way, someone sticks a sticker on the squash that says ‘organic’ or puts the eggs in a package that states that. There are many more opportunities for sociopaths to stick that organic label on conventional foods and double my price while hitting me with a dose of pesticides I didn’t know were there.
Yes – I’m sure the store has safeguards in place to prevent someone from labeling conventional veggies as organic. And I’m sure they work – most of the time.
Take it to the next level and you have a processed product in a box – or a supplement. Look at the label with its 50 or more ingredients. A good percentage of them sat in shipping containers as powders or liquids, having been produced at scores of different factories, they themselves sometimes the product of a long chain of processes and people.
Along the way, you just need one sociopath to add one ingredient that appears to be one thing but actually is another, and now you not only don’t know what you’re ingesting, you don’t know if it will harm you long-term or even short-term.
The chances that the farmer I get my food from is a sociopath is small, but is, statistically possible.
The chances that there is one sociopath somewhere in the chain of trust that provides me my supplements (or my processed food)? It’s statistically higher.
What kind of people would do such a thing?
My personal feeling on vitamins is that they might be good for you, despite the research, but I can’t be sure they are what they say they are because, as you would probably agree, there’s a lot of sociopaths out there.