An April 13 article by Madison Park on CNN.com led off with the following: "As more than half of U.S. adults are popping vitamins and supplements, the question remains -- has it made Americans healthier?"
The short answer is NO. While the use of vitamins has been steadily increasing in recent decades, there has been no corresponding improvement in health. Just the opposite in fact. Everyone knows that obesity and type 2 diabetes are both on a meteoric rise while cancer and heart disease both continue to take their horrific tolls.
That rise (in vitamin use), from 42% in 1988 to 53% in 2006, has fueled the growth of the supplement industry to a $27 billion behemoth, according to Consumer Reports. The most popular supplements are multivitamins, used by 39% of U.S. adults in 2006. (See link to complete article at the end of this post.)
In addition to the obesity and chronic disease, Americans continue to use prescription drugs in record numbers. What's wrong? We all know down deep inside that we're eating a very unhealthy diet -- and then we're offered offered all these vitamins that we are led to believe will take care of the nutrients that were not getting from our food. WRONG! As the article said...
Some consumers mistakenly view supplements as a way to make up for a poor diet. "It's a Band-Aid approach to think you can eat poorly and just take a vitamin and you'll be equal to another person who eats well and exercises and takes care of their health and gets regular checkups," Avitzur said. "There's no substitute for a healthy lifestyle."
As for evidence that our massive use of vitamins is doing any good, the article reported: "Several epidemiological studies showed there was no significant difference between people who take supplements and those who do not, said Anding, a registered dietitian and director of sports nutrition at Texas Children's Hospital."
Bottom line. As Dr. Campbell and all five of the enlightened physicians featured in our book will tell you, "Our bodies were designed to derive our nutrients from our food." Dr. Campbell often talks about the "symphony" of chemical reactions that take place in the body when you feed it the natural diet for our species -- whole plants in nature's package.
So what, if any, vitamins should we take? From the research we did for our book, I concluded that I would follow the simple advice of Dr. T. Colin Campbell:
- Since plants don't contain B 12, it might be a good idea to take a supplement.
- The body is supposed to get vitamin D from the sun. But, in the winter up north, it might be a good idea to take a supplement. (See related post)
A word of caution. Not only is it very doubtful that our vitamin supplements are doing us any good, there is evidence that some of them are doing some damage. Noting that you can’t always believe what you hear on the evening news, in his book The China Study, Dr. Campbell commented on omega-3's from a 1999 Harvard study: “Contrary to the predominant hypothesis, we found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with omega-3 fats from fish.”
What is the answer? Moving as quickly as you can -- back to the natural diet for our species....a diet that derives the vast majority of its calories from whole plant foods -- still in nature's package. Our 4-Leaf Program may help you get started. From the East Village in Manhattan today; in town for the NYC premiere of "Forks over Knives" – Be well and have a great day…
—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at healthyeatinghealthyworld.com