The International Herald Tribune presents an interesting piece on the value of vitamin pills. Adequate vitamin intake is the foundation of good nutrition, and nearly every person who restricts calories in some way is advised to take a multi-vitamin pill or supplement. The article questions whether the vitamins found in a pill are as effective as those in food?
“What you can buy in a bottle doesn’t come close to providing you with the wealth of benefits that come automatically when those nutrients are present in the form of food,” said Linda Van Horn, a research nutritionist at Northwestern University in Chicago.
The argument is controversial and much of the content in the article relates to the efficacy of large doses of vitamins. The question is asked: if fruit and vegetables contain large amounts of healthful nutrients – couldn’t they be extracted out into a concentrated pill?
“It’s a very plausible hypothesis,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “However, when submitted to rigorous testing, it has not held up.” She called it “an oversimplified view.”
It’s astonishing that even with all the advances in medical science and technology – we still seem to be at a complete loss when it comes to understanding nutrition. Every scientist that presents a theory will always find another researcher presenting a contrasting view.
However, one theme seems to come through from this article – food in it’s whole, un-manipulated and various forms – is the greatest supplement of all. Personally, I’m not sure if this is correct. Vitamins are like an insurance policy – you pay your premiums never knowing if you’ll get your moneys worth. Is it possible to eat a nutritionally correct diet (for YOUR body and lifestyle) without any form of supplementation?