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What is Better Food or Supplements?

During the last 100 years science achieved the ability to identify, isolate and purify essential vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. This has allowed scientists to uncover the mechanisms by which nutrients sustain life and to quickly and inexpensively treat nutritional deficiencies.

This is very appealing as it directly feeds into the pervasive desire for most Americans to swallow a simple pill that would compensate for their dietary sins. This mindset has contributed in large part to the enormous supplement industry that has evolved over the past hundred years.

There are many striking resemblances to the pharmaceutical industry, the most powerful one being its assertion that just simply swallow this pill for relief and you can continue engaging in the behavior that caused your problem and not be bothered with the important warning signals your body was giving you.

This article is from the Human Nutrition Research Center out of Tufts University. I have been reading JAMA for around 30 years and I believe this study one of the most useful articles I have ever read in there. Clearly on par with the surprising article they published on how flawed the American medical system in 2000. I used this provocative article on my site for a number of years.

The researchers at Tufts have provided us with the unpopular conclusion that the most promising data in the area of nutrition and positive health outcomes relates to the food we eat, not the supplements we take.

Their data suggest that other factors in food or the relative presence of some foods and the absence of other foods are more important than the level of individual nutrients consumed.

Their conclusion is that the is insufficient data to justify an alteration in public health policy from one that emphasizes food and diet to one that emphasizes nutrient supplements.

Amen brother, amen to that.

They are preaching to the choir with me as I have been echoing those exact statements for many years I have seen far too many patients walking into my office with the proverbial shopping bag of supplements in hope that it would help their illness. Many of these patients were paying hundreds of dollars every month for these supplements. Now, don't get me wrong I am not opposed to supplements, but any strategy that places more emphasis on supplements than addressing the causal dietary, emotional and lifestyle factors that most likely caused the problem in the first place is most likely doomed to failure.

JAMA July 20, 2005;294:351-358.

I-newsire.com July 23, 2005

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