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Whoa!  Lay Off the Vitamins!
Posted: 11 June 2013 09:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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mckenzievmd - 11 June 2013 08:44 AM

I’m not sure where your hostility to MacGyver comes from (perhaps a thread I missed?).

I’m not sure either but I think in retrospect my analysis of her personal supplement choices may have come off a bit snarkey which was not my intent. If you took it that way Miriana it wasn’t meant as a personal attack. I was only trying to point out that when it comes to nutrition, a lot of the ideas people accept as fact come from unreliable sources like mass media. If something is repeated enough it becomes fact even if its complete nonsense and that’s what often happens with a lot of these concepts. The media grabs onto a study about mice and saccharine repeats it a hundred times and there you go.. In the mind of the public saccharine is a deadly cancer causing poison.

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Posted: 11 June 2013 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Speaking of Monsanto, did you hear about the wheat that they genetically modified to be immune to Roundup, another of their products?  Well, supposedly they decided to shut down the program for this wheat, and supposedly destroyed all of it. Why? Dunno.  But recently a farmer found this particualr wheat growing in his fields.  Suddenly, some countries have become quite reticent to import our wheat.  They must not realize that there is no known problem with genetically modified foods.

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Posted: 11 June 2013 10:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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TimB - 11 June 2013 09:59 AM

Speaking of Monsanto, did you hear about the wheat that they genetically modified to be immune to Roundup, another of their products?  Well, supposedly they decided to shut down the program for this wheat, and supposedly destroyed all of it. Why? Dunno.  But recently a farmer found this particular wheat growing in his fields.  Suddenly, some countries have become quite reticent to import our wheat.  They must not realize that there is no known problem with genetically modified foods.

What I heard from a radio discussion between two scientists ( one was with Monsanto) was that the reason they stopped producing GMO wheat was apparently because of concern over this very response. While there are some Americans who are fearful of GMO’s apparently other areas of the world like Asia and Europe have a much stronger anti-GMO lobby. As a result many GMO foods are banned in those countries. Since wheat is a huge U.S. export Monsanto had shut down the project so as not to contaminate the wheat gene pool which would potentially harm our exports. In this case some of the seed stock may have blown in the wind and contaminated fields or got mixed in with other stock and ended up out in the wild.

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Posted: 11 June 2013 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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Well, since this wheat has an apparent survival advantage over other strains, it or its hybrids may be in our bread of the future.  I think that I heard that some weeds growing nearby have already picked up a resistance to Roundup, also. Not sure if they got this from the genetically modified wheat or if they developed the resistance the old fashioned way. But not to worry, Monsanto, I expect can produce a more powerful form of Roundup, and if necessary, develop more genetic modifications in our food plants, to overcome the new and improved Roundup. 

Although one might reasonably wonder at what point, genetic modifications could also modify the basic nutritional qualities of our foods. e.g., When does wheat become so modified, that it becomes just another weed?  (But let’s not even consider other potential impacts of Super Roundup on our ecosystem.  Why not? Because Monsanto is rich powerful and in control.  And that is not likely to change, except to the extent that they may become richer, more powerful, and more in control.)

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Posted: 11 June 2013 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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mckenzievmd - 11 June 2013 08:44 AM

So if you are trying to make the argument that vitamin supplements are safe and healthy but that vitamin-fortified foods are unsafe because they are “loaded with chemicals,” that makes no sense.

No, I’m just saying that I don’t see much difference between taking supplements and eating vitamin-fortified foods, addition of hormones to live stock, antibiotics given to livestock, etc. (period, nothing more, nothing less.)  It seems to me the risks are about the same and people pick their poisons.

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Posted: 11 June 2013 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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macgyver - 11 June 2013 09:41 AM
mckenzievmd - 11 June 2013 08:44 AM

I’m not sure where your hostility to MacGyver comes from (perhaps a thread I missed?).

I’m not sure either but I think in retrospect my analysis of her personal supplement choices may have come off a bit snarkey which was not my intent. If you took it that way Miriana it wasn’t meant as a personal attack. I was only trying to point out that when it comes to nutrition, a lot of the ideas people accept as fact come from unreliable sources like mass media. If something is repeated enough it becomes fact even if its complete nonsense and that’s what often happens with a lot of these concepts. The media grabs onto a study about mice and saccharine repeats it a hundred times and there you go.. In the mind of the public saccharine is a deadly cancer causing poison.

I’m glad to hear that wasn’t your intent.  It did read, to me, like that, but I’m glad to hear you didn’t mean it that way.

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Posted: 11 June 2013 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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TimB - 11 June 2013 11:20 AM

Well, since this wheat has an apparent survival advantage over other strains, it or its hybrids may be in our bread of the future.  I think that I heard that some weeds growing nearby have already picked up a resistance to Roundup, also. Not sure if they got this from the genetically modified wheat or if they developed the resistance the old fashioned way. But not to worry, Monsanto, I expect can produce a more powerful form of Roundup, and if necessary, develop more genetic modifications in our food plants, to overcome the new and improved Roundup. 

Although one might reasonably wonder at what point, genetic modifications could also modify the basic nutritional qualities of our foods. e.g., When does wheat become so modified, that it becomes just another weed?  (But let’s not even consider other potential impacts of Super Roundup on our ecosystem.  Why not? Because Monsanto is rich powerful and in control.  And that is not likely to change, except to the extent that they may become richer, more powerful, and more in control.)

More powerful weed killer and what do you (not you personally, but people in general) think this does to humans?  Seems to me, the Roundup is more dangerous than supplements.  I seriously doubt that the poison doesn’t get into our foods, yet some people are less afraid of weed killers on/in their foods and more afraid of supplements- one is designed to kill and the other is not.  I don’t know, but it seems like a crazy mixed up world we live in.  It just doesn’t make any sense to me, that people aren’t afraid of poisons, such as weed killers and pesticides, on/in their foods, but yet afraid of other things.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Yeah, I know.  Using such poisons is suppose to increase food harvests and get more “cha-ching!”, but in the long run it seems to me this causes more harm than good, esp in matters of people’s health.  When I was growing up, all I had to do was go out to my grandmother’s garden and just wash the dirt off the vegetable, which I often ate raw, without any care about herbicides and pesticides because my grandparents didn’t use chemicals to grow their gardens and did very well.  They used things like ladybugs and other natural stuff, as well as weeded by hand.  It was all natural, without the use of poisons.  Now, we can’t even legally drink raw milk, which I grew up on also, for fear of TB or something like that.  I don’t know.  I think the fears have changed greatly since I was a child and I’m not sure they are much different, except in what is fear and don’t fear.  Oh I did have to worry about copperheads in the garden, but other than that, there were no poisons in the garden.

[ Edited: 11 June 2013 05:06 PM by Mriana ]
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Posted: 11 June 2013 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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Mriana - 11 June 2013 05:04 PM

They used things like ladybugs and other natural stuff, as well as weeded by hand.  It was all natural, without the use of poisons.  Now, we can’t even legally drink raw milk, which I grew up on also, for fear of TB or something like that.  I don’t know.  I think the fears have changed greatly since I was a child and I’m not sure they are much different, except in what is fear and don’t fear.  Oh I did have to worry about copperheads in the garden, but other than that, there were no poisons in the garden.

On the other hand, I know people who bathed their veggie gardens and fruit trees with pesticides so they could get ‘perfect’ fruit.  They believed that since the recommended amount left some of the foods with insect damage, if they ramped up the dose, they would get more perfect foods. A farm would never do that. They have a set amount of spray to use, and set times to use it, which the home gardener may not necessarily follow. As for the ‘raw milk’ issue, it is because we know more about the dangers of raw milk today, which is why we Pasteurize. The reason Odwalla ended up with their E. coli O157:H7, causing several deaths of children, and many more illnesses, was because their juice was ‘natural’ without pasteurization. They now pasteurize their juices.

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Posted: 11 June 2013 10:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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asanta - 11 June 2013 07:00 PM
Mriana - 11 June 2013 05:04 PM

They used things like ladybugs and other natural stuff, as well as weeded by hand.  It was all natural, without the use of poisons.  Now, we can’t even legally drink raw milk, which I grew up on also, for fear of TB or something like that.  I don’t know.  I think the fears have changed greatly since I was a child and I’m not sure they are much different, except in what is fear and don’t fear.  Oh I did have to worry about copperheads in the garden, but other than that, there were no poisons in the garden.

On the other hand, I know people who bathed their veggie gardens and fruit trees with pesticides so they could get ‘perfect’ fruit.  They believed that since the recommended amount left some of the foods with insect damage, if they ramped up the dose, they would get more perfect foods. A farm would never do that. They have a set amount of spray to use, and set times to use it, which the home gardener may not necessarily follow. As for the ‘raw milk’ issue, it is because we know more about the dangers of raw milk today, which is why we Pasteurize. The reason Odwalla ended up with their E. coli O157:H7, causing several deaths of children, and many more illnesses, was because their juice was ‘natural’ without pasteurization. They now pasteurize their juices.

OK so I guess I was just lucky or my grandfather knew how to handle raw milk or something. He had a process of cleaning the cow’s utters before he milked her and then he’d either make butter or put it in the fridge right away.  Whatever the case, I didn’t grow up with as much stuff in the food my grandparents fed me off their land and I spent most summers, all summer long with them.  My grandmother also canned a lot of it too, so we’d eat it when we saw them on winter holidays too.  So it was either “luck” or they knew what they were doing.  I go with the second thought- they knew what they were doing, but then again, cow manure “made good fertilizer” too.  So I should have gotten E. Coli, but somehow didn’t.  I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just curious how some people got sick from it and some didn’t.  Why some people got ergot poisoning and some didn’t.  etc etc etc Maybe it’s all in how it was handled and knowledge of what to look for or something.  My grandparents must of knew something or I’d be dead, but I can’t tell you their secret, because I don’t know it and they never told me, before they died.  My grandmother was 94 when she died and my grandfather killed himself at 75, so it’s hard to say.

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Posted: 12 June 2013 03:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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McKenzieVMD-

“Chemicals” is one of those nonsense words based on the naturalistic fallacy, used to imply something is bad for you because of how it is manufactured or where it comes from regardless of any actual evidence about health effects.

I haven’t seen anuoye here use the word chemicals in a bad connotation for the most part. I referred to chemicals as the artificially added vitamins in cereal, bread and milk. Also to the substances in multi-vitamins which I take because I think they are beneficial.

It makes no sense to claim taking vitamin supplements is good for you and then rant about dangerous “chemicals” in foods because they are fortified with the same vitamins.

I didn’t see that rant anywhere.  People may have ranted about pesticides or Hormones or GMFs. I didn’t see anyone rant about fortified foods.

The “chemicals” are the same in both cases, and the real question is whether they have meaningful health effects, good or bad, either eaten in food or taken as supplements.

Well, I would give Kellogs or General Mills a call and ask them. Do you really think they would waste millions and millions of dollars adding supplemental
chemical fortifications to their products like cereal and GP Flour for decades and decades now if they thought it didn’t have a benefit?
I just ate a bowl of cereal with milk.  Both the cereal and the milk were artificially fortified with nutrients. Should I quit those too?
It’s the same thing as multi-supplements, I agree. 
Should I follow your path McKenzie and give up meat too.  Live the lifestyle you want me to live?
Given the lack of any exclusivity on either side of this argument,I would say it seems you’re more interested in telling people how to live, than any real interest in health or well being.
Edit:  Or some are just too overzealous at debunking things they don’t understand, or don’t like for whatever reason.

[ Edited: 12 June 2013 03:51 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 12 June 2013 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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Speaking of Kellogg’s, did you know that J H Kellogg, physician of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and co-creator of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, advocated having only 2 plain meals a day, as he asserted that this would decrease sexual impulses.  He believed that masturbation had worse effects on society than wars, famine or plagues.  He advocated circumcision of young boys without anesthesia, and the application of carbolic acid to the clitoris of young girls as methods to inhibit masturbatory impulses. 

Now, if someone can bring this tangential thought, back into the realm of the topic of this thread, I applaud your creativity.

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Posted: 12 June 2013 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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VYAZMA - 12 June 2013 03:42 AM

McKenzieVMD-

“Chemicals” is one of those nonsense words based on the naturalistic fallacy, used to imply something is bad for you because of how it is manufactured or where it comes from regardless of any actual evidence about health effects.

I haven’t seen anuoye here use the word chemicals in a bad connotation for the most part. I referred to chemicals as the artificially added vitamins in cereal, bread and milk. Also to the substances in multi-vitamins which I take because I think they are beneficial.

It makes no sense to claim taking vitamin supplements is good for you and then rant about dangerous “chemicals” in foods because they are fortified with the same vitamins.

I didn’t see that rant anywhere.  People may have ranted about pesticides or Hormones or GMFs. I didn’t see anyone rant about fortified foods.

The “chemicals” are the same in both cases, and the real question is whether they have meaningful health effects, good or bad, either eaten in food or taken as supplements.

Well, I would give Kellogs or General Mills a call and ask them. Do you really think they would waste millions and millions of dollars adding supplemental
chemical fortifications to their products like cereal and GP Flour for decades and decades now if they thought it didn’t have a benefit?
I just ate a bowl of cereal with milk.  Both the cereal and the milk were artificially fortified with nutrients. Should I quit those too?
It’s the same thing as multi-supplements, I agree. 
Should I follow your path McKenzie and give up meat too.  Live the lifestyle you want me to live?
Given the lack of any exclusivity on either side of this argument,I would say it seems you’re more interested in telling people how to live, than any real interest in health or well being.
Edit:  Or some are just too overzealous at debunking things they don’t understand, or don’t like for whatever reason.

Vyazma, Mckenzies remarks were in response to Mirianas post (Posted: 10 June 2013 07:13 PM) that did indeed use the word chemical in that fashion and rant about it.

Kellogs and General Mills would certainly put vitamins and supplements in their food without good evidence that there was a benefit since their main goal is to increase sales. Lots and lots of food companies do far worse putting complete non-sense additives in their foods because the public has been convinced that they are beneficial ( antioxidants for example).

To clarify once again though, neither mckenzie nor I are saying your should avoid vitamins altogether. A certain amount of these substances is essential for good health. What we are both saying I believe is that no one should be going out of their way to take extra since many of the food items we eat have plenty of these substances in them either naturally or through additives. Taking more does little good as far as we know and could potentially be harmful.

Neither of us is telling you how to live. We may be suggesting a better wa for you to evaluate the choices you make but you are free to do whatever you please.

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Posted: 12 June 2013 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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Given the lack of any exclusivity on either side of this argument,I would say it seems you’re more interested in telling people how to live, than any real interest in health or well being.
Edit:  Or some are just too overzealous at debunking things they don’t understand, or don’t like for whatever reason.

I really don’t understand the tone of hostility here. As MacGyver said, you can eat whatever you like and I honestly don’t care. The subject of the thread is whether or not there is reasonable evidence to support the use of vitamin supplements and what are the relative risks and benefits. Having an opinion on that subject, and providing evidence to support that opinion, isn’t telling you how to live or debunking something I don’t like or understand. If you don’t appreciate reasoned and reasonable critique of beliefs you happen to hold, then I think you’re in the wrong forum.

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Posted: 12 June 2013 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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VYAZMA - 08 June 2013 08:38 AM
Coldheart Tucker - 07 June 2013 05:51 PM

People taking vitamin supplements can have a dramatically increased risk of death.

In October 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn’t. Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer.

These findings weren’t new. Seven previous studies had already shown that, for certain groups, some vitamins increased the risk of cancer and heart disease, and shortened lives.

Much more at the link.  In short, unless you’re taking vitamins for a few specific conditions, you’re screwing yourself.  Possibly fatally.

I take a multivitamin.  When the FDA tells me they are unsafe, I’ll stop taking them.

The FDA will never tell you they’re unsafe, even if they are, because they can’t.  In the 1970s the FDA wanted to control vitamins.  There was such an outcry from vitamin manufacturers, alternative medicine nuts and individual comspiracy theorists regarding government control of vitamins (the bad old government was going to confiscate your vitamins!) that they managed to get a bill passed keeping the FDA from giving out any information about vitamins. So don’t wait around waiting for a warning from the FDA.  Even if it were shown, unequivocally, that vitamins were killing people, legally,  the FDA would not be able to tell you. This is the kind of thing that happens when alternative medicine nuts, manufacturers and individual conspiracy theorists get together and wield power over Congress.

Lois

[ Edited: 12 June 2013 02:53 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 12 June 2013 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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Mriana - 11 June 2013 04:44 PM
mckenzievmd - 11 June 2013 08:44 AM

So if you are trying to make the argument that vitamin supplements are safe and healthy but that vitamin-fortified foods are unsafe because they are “loaded with chemicals,” that makes no sense.

No, I’m just saying that I don’t see much difference between taking supplements and eating vitamin-fortified foods, addition of hormones to live stock, antibiotics given to livestock, etc. (period, nothing more, nothing less.)  It seems to me the risks are about the same and people pick their poisons.


From the New York Times:


OPINION
Don’t Take Your Vitamins


PHILADELPHIA — LAST month, Katy Perry shared her secret to good health with her 37 million followers on Twitter. “I’m all about that supplement & vitamin LYFE!” the pop star wrote, posting a snapshot of herself holding up three large bags of pills. There is one disturbing fact about vitamins, however, that Katy didn’t mention.

Derived from “vita,” meaning life in Latin, vitamins are necessary to convert food into energy. When people don’t get enough vitamins, they suffer diseases like scurvy and rickets. The question isn’t whether people need vitamins. They do. The questions are how much do they need, and do they get enough in foods?

Nutrition experts argue that people need only the recommended daily allowance — the amount of vitamins found in a routine diet. Vitamin manufacturers argue that a regular diet doesn’t contain enough vitamins, and that more is better. Most people assume that, at the very least, excess vitamins can’t do any harm. It turns out, however, that scientists have known for years that large quantities of supplemental vitamins can be quite harmful indeed.

In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, 29,000 Finnish men, all smokers, had been given daily vitamin E, beta carotene, both or a placebo. The study found that those who had taken beta carotene for five to eight years were more likely to die from lung cancer or heart disease.

Two years later the same journal published another study on vitamin supplements. In it, 18,000 people who were at an increased risk of lung cancer because of asbestos exposure or smoking received a combination of vitamin A and beta carotene, or a placebo. Investigators stopped the study when they found that the risk of death from lung cancer for those who took the vitamins was 46 percent higher.

Then, in 2004, a review of 14 randomized trials for the Cochrane Database found that the supplemental vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene, and a mineral, selenium, taken to prevent intestinal cancers, actually increased mortality.

Another review, published in 2005 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that in 19 trials of nearly 136,000 people, supplemental vitamin E increased mortality. Also that year, a study of people with vascular disease or diabetes found that vitamin E increased the risk of heart failure. And in 2011, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association tied vitamin E supplements to an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Finally, last year, a Cochrane review found that “beta carotene and vitamin E seem to increase mortality, and so may higher doses of vitamin A.”

What explains this connection between supplemental vitamins and increased rates of cancer and mortality? The key word is antioxidants.

Antioxidation vs. oxidation has been billed as a contest between good and evil. It takes place in cellular organelles called mitochondria, where the body converts food to energy — a process that requires oxygen (oxidation). One consequence of oxidation is the generation of atomic scavengers called free radicals (evil). Free radicals can damage DNA, cell membranes and the lining of arteries; not surprisingly, they’ve been linked to aging, cancer and heart disease.

To neutralize free radicals, the body makes antioxidants (good). Antioxidants can also be found in fruits and vegetables, specifically in selenium, beta carotene and vitamins A, C and E. Some studies have shown that people who eat more fruits and vegetables have a lower incidence of cancer and heart disease and live longer. The logic is obvious. If fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants, and people who eat fruits and vegetables are healthier, then people who take supplemental antioxidants should also be healthier. It hasn’t worked out that way.

The likely explanation is that free radicals aren’t as evil as advertised. (In fact, people need them to kill bacteria and eliminate new cancer cells.) And when people take large doses of antioxidants in the form of supplemental vitamins, the balance between free radical production and destruction might tip too much in one direction, causing an unnatural state where the immune system is less able to kill harmful invaders. Researchers call this the antioxidant paradox.

Because studies of large doses of supplemental antioxidants haven’t clearly supported their use, respected organizations responsible for the public’s health do not recommend them for otherwise healthy people.

So why don’t we know about this? Why haven’t Food and Drug Administration officials made sure we are aware of the dangers? The answer is, they can’t.

In December 1972, concerned that people were consuming larger and larger quantities of vitamins, the F.D.A. announced a plan to regulate vitamin supplements containing more than 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Vitamin makers would now have to prove that these “megavitamins” were safe before selling them. Not surprisingly, the vitamin industry saw this as a threat, and set out to destroy the bill. In the end, it did far more than that.

Industry executives recruited William Proxmire, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, to introduce a bill preventing the F.D.A. from regulating megavitamins. On Aug. 14, 1974, the hearing began.

Speaking in support of F.D.A. regulation was Marsha Cohen, a lawyer with the Consumers Union. Setting eight cantaloupes in front of her, she said, “You would need to eat eight cantaloupes — a good source of vitamin C — to take in barely 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C. But just these two little pills, easy to swallow, contain the same amount.” She warned that if the legislation passed, “one tablet would contain as much vitamin C as all of these cantaloupes, or even twice, thrice or 20 times that amount. And there would be no protective satiety level.” Ms. Cohen was pointing out the industry’s Achilles’ heel: ingesting large quantities of vitamins is unnatural, the opposite of what manufacturers were promoting.

A little more than a month later, Mr. Proxmire’s bill passed by a vote of 81 to 10. In 1976, it became law. Decades later, Peter Barton Hutt, chief counsel to the F.D.A., wrote that “it was the most humiliating defeat” in the agency’s history.

As a result, consumers don’t know that taking megavitamins could increase their risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten their lives; they don’t know that they have been suffering too much of a good thing for too long.


Paul A. Offit is the chief of the infectious diseases division of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the author of the forthcoming book “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.”

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