Do we need vitamins?
Current View on Vitamins in Light of Recent Literature
Recently there was an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine titled “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements”. In this article the editors discuss the role of vitamins and minerals in groups of adults “with no nutritional deficiencies”. In this first paragraph the authors make the disastrous assumption that in the US all people have no nutritional deficiencies. In a country where most of the foods generally available to the public are GMO based and then stripped of their vital nutrients through industrial processing, nutrient deficiencies are an epidemic. Every time a person picks up and eats a common cake, cookie, cracker, candy, chip or chocolate, he or she filling their bodies with foods lacking vital nutrients.
For example, those crackers that look like fish have zero vitamin c, two percent of FDA recommended magnesium, and lack other very important nutrients such as fiber. Many of our foods are devoid of nutritional value just like these crackers and yet people feed it to every age group. The authors fail in their editorial by assuming the common US diet is nutritional.
In the book “What’s Eating Your Child” by Kelly Dorfman, it is shown how a magnesium deficiency in children leads to poor nutrition through picky eating and food aversions. Magnesium plays a major role in a person’s (especially a child’s) taste and smell mechanism. A deficiency of this vital mineral causes the sensors in our taste buds and nose not to work correctly. Food smells awful and tastes bland. This leads to picky eating and food aversion further compounding nutritional deficiencies.
The second failure of this editorial comes from the assumption that the FDA knows what the proper recommendations are for each vitamin and mineral. Vitamin D3 has been shown over and over to reduce overall mortality from all causes substantially, yet the FDA has no clue what the proper amount is. In the age of sun screens and lack of sun exposure during crucial and safe times of the day, the US has developed an epidemic of vitamin D3 deficiency which needs to supplemented.
There are other nutrients found in extracts and herbs which work synergistically with many vitamins and minerals. For example, elderberry works best with higher doses of vitamin C and zinc. These three nutrients help protect against the common cold virus and influenzas. Other nutrients such as beta glucans found in mushrooms help to modulate our immune system to be ready to combat viruses, bacteria and even cancer cells. These too need sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals not calculable by traditional skewed FDA recommendations.
The only way this editorial would be true is if the population being tested was practicing a plant-based diet utilizing whole non-GMO foods with minimal processing. Only then would I agree that supplementation may not be necessary. A non-GMO plant based diet would deliver ample amounts vitamins and minerals and what was not needed is naturally discarded by our bodily functions. Until our country embraces this logic, we will need to supplement our nutritionally delinquent diet.
Dr. Matt Ferenc FACOEP, ABAARM
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