Reprinted by permission from the
Fruitarian Network/Australia
Originally appeared in "Lifestyle", Newsletter of the Australian Natural Hygiene Society,
Vol 9, No 3, issued by
Dr. Alec Burton, of "Arcadia Health Center", Arcadia, Sydney
Nutrition is a process, its study is a science, it is not black magic.  The modern food fakir is a quack of the worst kind.  Of all the nutrients in food, few have been isolated, analyzed and synthetically produced in form of a supplement pill.  So we take a few nutriments of the very many... out of their natural context....   concentrate them, put them in pill form and then persuade people that they are needed for god nutrition.
These vitamin sales people play on your fears and cater to your hopes that high level health can be achieved by taking a handful of chemicals!
What is a vitamin?  A vitamin is a nutrient that the human body requires in relatively small amounts.  Vitamins regulate chemical reactions by which the body converts food into energy and constructs living tissue.  There are 13 vitamins, the body has the ability to produce only 5 of them by itself and it may not make these in sufficient quantities to meet its nutritional needs.  Some are aided by important bacteria in the human gut, but vitamins generally must be supplied in our daily diet.
Each vitamin is specific, it cannot replace or function for another.  At the same time the deficiency of one vitamin can certainly interfere with the function of another.  The perpetual lack of one vitamin in an otherwise good diet results in a vitamin deficiency disease.  These disease include Beri Beri, Pellagra, Rickets or Scurvy.  For a substance  to be identified as a vitamin, it must be a necessary component of the diet and prevent a deficiency disease.  Vitamins are very easy to acquire in the reasonable diet and there is certainly no need for the average healthy person to think they need supplements.
Recently, while in Florida, Nelja and I were fascinated by an institution called "A  Health Management Center".  When we entered this business we found nothing but shelves and shelves of pills and powders and supplements of all kinds.  There was no real genuine information on health, there was no food that could be considered nourishing and healthy, it really had nothing whatsoever to do with health, it was merely a front to purvey vitamins to unfortunate and ignorant victims.  There are so many health hustlers out there waiting to sell you some useless product and often the present themselves with deceptive credentials, make false promises and extract millions from their customers who regrettably are often chronic suffers, invalids.
The FDA in the United States has a somewhat mixed reputation and I do not wish to defend it, but I do recall the statement by one commissioner some years ago, when he said:  "The most widespread and expensive type of quackery in the United States today is the promotion of vitamin products, special dietary food and food supplements.  Millions of consumers are being misled concerning the need for such products.  Complicating this problem is a fast and growing 'folklore' or 'mythology' of nutrition, which is being built up by pseudo-scientific literature in books, pamphlets and periodicals.  As a result, millions of people are attempting self-medication for imaginary and real illness with a multitude of more or less irrational food items.  Food quackery today can only be compared to the patent medicine craze which reached its height in the last century."
The justifications for people taking vitamins and food supplements of course is that they have been brain washed by advertisers and the people who have extremely lucrative businesses.  People misunderstand the role of diet and nutrients.  Why do people supplement their diet with these extra nutrients?  Many believe that if some is good, more is better and they also believe that these good things can't hurt, they believe they are taking some type of nutritional insurance.  If a person believes any of these things they are misled.
The basis of good nutrition is relatively simple.  To acquire the necessary amounts of essential nutrients. to maintain high level health, it is necessary to eat a good basic diet and this does not have to be very complicated at all.  A good hygienic diet outlined in any of our publications fulfills all the requirement of a nutritionally sound diet; it is not improved upon by taking a few synthetic or natural chemicals out of their original context.  
People will report that they feel better taking supplements.  In most instances this is merely placebo effect, that is the belief that goes with taking something, which is supposed to have a certain effect, a person believes it and it has a certain effect.  Now, a person may sneer at this explanation, but it has been demonstrated with double blind experimental trials many times, that something like 30% of the responses to supplements and medication is merely placebo effect.
How do we know these things don't do harm?  They certainly, under the circumstances of supplementation have the potential to do a lot of harm.  Because a substance occurs naturally in foods, does not mean that extracted, concentrated and augmented it is harmless.  In fact, there is a a whole book dealing with the subject, "Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods", published by National Research Council.  National Academy of Sciences.  Contained in the book is a chapter dealing with vitamin toxicity.
Many of the adverse effects of vitamin excess are worse when taken by children.  Nearly all of the vitamins have unpleasant side effects, some worse than others.  There is the common practice of people taking large doses of vitamin C to present colds.  And for those of us who subsist on a plant based diet, this may be a real problem, because significant doses of vitamin C can reduce the availability of vitamin B12 for absorption.  This may be quite crucial to a person on a hygienic program.  
"I am a stronger follower of Veganism by principle, not just because of moral and aesthetic reasons.  I truly believe in a Vegetarian lifestyle and I have my faith and hopes in a change of human destiny, thanks to the physical effects and benefits of a healthier diet and its influence on the character of the people.  It will bring about some benefits and improvements to human society."
   -  Albert Einstein
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