Ridiculous vitamin pills?

June 21, 2005

In (Danish) Morning-TV they laugh about the Americans’ enriched foods. But American researchers take vitamins serious.

Now, the TV News channel TV2’s nutrition expert, Orla Zinck, has once again been on morning TV. He had returned from the United States, bringing some of the American’s ridiculous, vitamin-enriched foods. There is of course plenty of healthy food.

The light ironic tone remained. You could understand, for example, that all you get from taking extra vitamin C is severe diarrhea. You have to stay permanently in the toilet. It’s not true, but it sounds funny. And when you ridicule what you oppose, you make it sound like you’re right ….

Elsewhere in the world it is taken a little more seriously. Below follows what is thought at one of the world’s most recognized universities, Harvard University in the USA. Harvard has an official website on vitamins: www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins.html. It is intended for e.g. doctors, who can probably assess the seriousness a little better than the majority of Danish Morning TV’s viewers.

The website opens with a statement: “If you eat healthy, do you need to take vitamins? Not many years ago, most experts would have answered emphatically “No”. Today there is solid documentation that a daily vitamin pill makes sense for most adults”.

But what new has happened? asks the article. Yes, it has been discovered that vitamins do not just prevent deficiency diseases such as scurvy and beriberi. Several of them are also likely to prevent heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and other chronic diseases – if you get more than what is needed to avoid deficiency disease! The Harvard website concentrates on this new knowledge.

One section is about the B vitamin folic acid. It appears that folic acid not only prevents atherosclerosis and heart disease, but also cancer (in the colon and breast). Apparently it also negates the greatly increased breast cancer risk that women get from alcohol in even moderate amounts.

In the US, many foods are fortified with folic acid, but the article supports that you also take supplements so that you reach at least 400 micrograms per day. “Vitamin supplements are becoming more and more important”, it says.

Vitamin B12 is recommended in a daily dose of 6 micrograms, so far more than is normally recommended. It is mentioned that many elderly people have a B12 deficiency and, as a result, impaired memory. They may be disoriented and perhaps hallucinating in addition to having sensory disturbances in the feet. Sometimes people mistakenly think they have Alzheimer’s.

Regarding vitamin C, it is said that a pattern is emerging regarding the effect, and “as more knowledge is gained, an intake of 2-300 mg per day seems to be a goal worth striving for” , is it called. This is 3-4 times as much as Danes get in their diet and twice as much as in a regular diet, supplemented with a multivitamin pill.

Vitamin E is recommended in a dose of 400 units – or more – per day. It is 20 times as much as in the diet or in a multivitamin pill. This will very conceivably prevent heart disease, it is said.

Regarding vitamin D, it is mentioned that the optimal intake is 25 micrograms (1,000 units) per day. That is five times what is in a “full daily dose” vitamin pill. The purpose is to prevent the tendency to fall, osteoporosis and presumably cancer.

Through Danish TV2’s Morning TV, you get the impression that only uninformed people take vitamin pills, and it was made into something that was a bit laughable in the broadcast.

But the experts from one of the world’s leading universities, from which a stream of vitamin research emanates, think there is nothing to laugh about.

By: Vitality Council

1. (Danish) Good Morning TV, 16 June 2005.
2. Harvard University, USA; official website about vitamins: