Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Great Vitamin Battle

Not long ago, my mom and I were in a Vitamin Shoppe waiting for a third person (who shall remain nameless) to make a purchase. It turns out that you really can't trust the two of us in that kind of store. The longer we spent there, the noisier and more disruptive we became. It started out small with giggling about the names of protein powders and muscle builders and moved on to jokes about complexion softeners and urine conditioners (urine conditioner?!). By the time we reached the shelf of royal bee jelly (good for smelly feet, allergies, and male satisfaction!) we were practically rolling on the floor.

The United States seems to be a nation of quick fixers, people who want an easy way to get result NOW! The vitamin fascination plays into this just perfectly. Perhaps that is why, even in this economy, the vitamin business continues to thrive. However, Slate's new article on the subject douses some serious water on the efficacy of many vitamins and supplements. It seems that many compounds originally thought to be beneficial either do not have the good outcome, or, even worse, they have an unexpected downside. This is not to say that all vitamins are pointless, and they are careful to note a few well-respected examples (like pre-natal vitamins). On the whole it seems that my freshman biology teacher was right: Pills are not a shortcut to healthy diet.

1 comment:

Mark. said...

On a related note, this article on the NYT on antiaging therapy is interesting: