OK, you know what? Fuck supplements. That’s right. Fuck supplements.
Large-scale study after large-scale study has shown that shotgunning single vitamins and minerals across a general population does either no good or is actively harmful. Vitamin C, E, A, folic acid, etc… and now calcium. I suspect that vitamin D supplementation may meet the same fate. Fibre additives are not the same as naturally occurring fibre, so don’t kid yourself about that high-fibre cookie with added inulin — you’re just turning yourself into a gassy balloon as your bifidobacteria population explodes, fairly literally, in your intestines.
Nature is still smarter than we are. The world — and our physiology — is still more complex than we like to think.
There are hundreds — thousands — of chemical compounds in our food that we need, and that probably work synergistically. Just because we’ve isolated a few doesn’t mean that:
- those are the ones we actually need
- we can, in fact, absorb and use them properly in supplement form
- that they should be supplemented in isolation
- that they should be supplemented in large doses
- that everyone, regardless of individual medical, nutritional, and/or physiological status, should consume them
- that we’ve gotten the molecular format right. (Remember that little whoopsie with the wrong form of vitamin E? Or the mixup between folic acid and folate? Retinol and beta-carotene? Wait, was that a righty or a lefty molecule again? Dammit I can’t keep all these tocopherols straight.)
We evolved to be outside, moving around, consuming a varied diet of other highly evolved organisms who secrete and produce thousands of their own chemical compounds — a diet looks nothing like the rubbish that most folks shovel in now and/or that food companies label as “food”. We evolved being dirty. We evolved being hungry. We evolved as scavenging omnivores who ate darn near everything we could chew or fit in our gobs. (Some of these attempts were obviously more successful than others.)
And you know what? If you’re an average person in North America (and here I use the general “you”), the garbage you consume far outweighs any tiny potential benefit that a single vitamin/mineral supplement could hope to give you. And seriously guys, vitamin water? C’mon.
You probably eat:
- too much sugar
- too much sodium
- too much processed food
- too many artificially created and industrially processed fats
- too many industrially added chemicals
- too few fruits and vegetables — especially the chemical powerhouses like dark leafy greens and dark coloured berries
- too little of the right fats (fatphobes, I see you yanking the egg yolks out)
You also probably:
- sleep too little
- move and use your body infrequently
- have too much stress
- consume too much caffeine, booze, and/or carbonated drinks
- rely on mass-market pharmaceuticals to hide valid symptoms of physiological distress rather than attempting to solve the underlying problem
- play, laugh, and love too little; work, worry, and grouch too much
If you are not this average person who does these things, of course, I salute you. You probably feel great. And no surprise.
So here’s my new stand: Fuck supplements.
There are a few that still seem to work and won’t give us cancer. There are some that one can take if one has a deficiency.
But really, most of the time you’re just creating expensive pee for yourself.
Remember HMB? Remember chromium? Remember ecdysterone? Those of you taking CLA, read the label — it’s probably soy derived rather than the naturally occurring CLA in animals.
Remember every magic saviour vitamin? Hey, folks with a cold virus, how are those vitamin C tablets treating you? Not doing jack shit, I’ll bet.
BTW if you are interested in the role of calcium in heart disease in general, check this out. Can’t wait for the pharm companies to give us a calcium-lowering drug.