Vitamin wars: Saving us from what exactly?
November 23rd 2007, 12:45 | Bryan Hubbard
Just how dangerous are the vitamin supplements we buy at the health shop?
To give you a clue, they're not as dangerous as perfume, which kills two Americans every year, and they're certainly nowhere near as fatal as dishwasher detergent, which wipes three Americans off the face of the globe annually.
And they don't even come close to pharmaceutical drugs, which kill anything from 106,000 to 140,000 Americans every year, and that's according to the most conservative figures possible.
No, the annual fatality rate associated with B-complex, niacin, vitamins A, D and E is - zero.
So why are the European Union and the Codex committee trying to restrict our access to some nutritionals, or reducing the potency levels to an ineffective level - in the name of public safety and wellbeing?
It was the turn of Codex the other week to hold its annual conference. More than any other group, Codex is setting an agenda on standards, safe upper limits and availability of all nutritional products that is likely to be adopted by governing bodies around the globe.
Inspired by Codex's guidance, the EU is likely to set the maximum permitted 'safe' dose of beta-carotene at a level that equates to two carrots, while selenium's is likely to be the equivalent of that found in two brazil nuts.
Codex is also looking to replace the governmental RDA (recommended daily allowance) with the NRV, or Nutrient Reference Value. This one-size-fits-all approach doesn't take into account individuals, their ages and their varying health issues, nor the fact that our nutritional needs are not being met by food that is being grown in depleted and nutrient-poor soil.
One observer at the latest Codex meeting was Dr Rob Verkerk, scientific director to the Alliance for Natural Health, the consumer watchdog group. He describes the Codex/EU activities as "a passport system for big business."
Can he possibly be right, we muse. And why are grown men spending years trying to control an industry that harms nobody, and may well benefit many thousands?
Do you know?