- The truth behind this latest anti-vitamin press campaign
- All supplements are useless – or are they?
- Why this one form of vitamin packs a bigger health punch
Right, the gloves are off.
It’s time for another bit of media-bashing from me!
If you looked at the papers last week-end you’ll have seen articles about a study from the US which says vitamin and mineral supplements are useless for better brain health.
For instance, The Guardian headline looked like this:
’Save your money’: no evidence brain health supplements work, say experts
Strong stuff, eh?
The article says that there is little evidence that supplements can help brain function or mental performance.
Ok, but then they go on to point out that this is only true for “healthy” people.
The article says, “The team note a lack of certain nutrients, such as vitamins B9 and B12, appear to be linked to problems with cognitive function or brain health, and that supplements might prove useful in people with deficiencies.”
So there IS some evidence that if people are lacking in certain vitamins and minerals they could actually do with a top up.
That’s a bit far from “no evidence” isn’t it?
An estimated 20% of the population are deficient in vitamin B12, and we know that magnesium deficiency is a problem, not to mention vitamin D in winter months, or for people who cannot get out and about in the sunshine.
Which adds up to a fair chunk of the population who could do with a boost.
And of course these deficiencies affect our mood and thinking – our brains are part of our body and affected by what we eat and drink – so I’m not really sure what this general sweeping statement is supposed to do.
The media articles like to make a point about us needing to get all our vitamins and minerals from food.
Ok, fine, that’s undoubtedly true.
But is that how most people really live?
How many healthy, active and fit people do you know who don’t have any gut compromises and eat a varied diet of freshly prepared food?
The Mediterranean diet is an ideal solution to our nutritional problem but very few people, even in the Mediterranean, follow a traditional diet these days.
Never mind the issue with mineral depletion in the soil, and farming methods that have steadily lowered the nutritional power of fruit and veg over the decades.
There are other factors that mean people need a nutritional supplement.
For instance, pregnancy, old age and co-morbidities such as diabetes where the commonly used drug, Metformin, causes vitamin B12 deficiency.
What’s more, this latest story is specifically about brain health, and doesn’t mention the many other reasons to take vitamins, nor the evidence that backs this up.
For example, in 2017 a study, published in the British Medical Journal in February this year, showed that daily vitamin D supplements could prevent more than three million people a year falling ill with a cold or chest infection. In fact, it could HALF your chances of getting a respiratory infection.
That study contradicted other previous studies that claimed vitamin D supplements were ineffective.
So the same thing is likely to happen with this story.
It’s the same old news cycle over and over again
I’ve been doing this newsletter for so many years that I can see patterns repeating.
You get newspaper articles going on about a deficiency, for instance vitamin B, magnesium or vitamin D, with scary information what that deficiency can do to your health…
Then the following month we’re told that we don’t need vitamins at all, usually in the same newspaper.
Then we’re told the month after that to eat more of a certain type of food for better health…
And then that food is suddenly not so good for us, according to another load of articles, or it’s environmentally damaging to produce, or contaminated somehow.
It can get exhausting for the public.
Yes of course we’d all love to fix the problem with the perfect diet and lifestyle, but none of us are perfect.
In my case, not even close!
I also question the generalisation implied in this latest spate of anti-vitamin articles…
When they say “supplements” what do they mean precisely? Because, like any other product, there is a huge difference in quality and efficacy between different types of supplement.
Some are genuinely rubbish. They have low bioavailability, are synthetically made and designed to sit for many years on shop shelves.
These types of low quality vitamin are probably useless.
But that doesn’t mean all vitamin supplements are to be avoided.
Why this one form of vitamin packs a bigger health punch
This is why at the Good Life Letter we stock highly bioavailable vitamin supplements, derived from natural sources and foil pouch packed for freshness.
The downside is that they have a short shelf life… but this is because they are natural and actually have an effect.
Take a look for yourself: read about bioavailable vitamins here.
I’d also add as a final note of reassurance that vitamin supplements don’t do any harm; if you already have enough of a particular element of a multi-vitamin then the body gets rid of it simply and easily – especially if it is natural and readily bio-available.
Yours as always,