It was with some amusement that I read Sally Fallon's article, "In Praise of Animal Fats" (WDDTY vol 8 no 5). Ms Fallon provides a considerably distorted view of the biological functions and importance of vitamin A, or retinol, and pro vitamin A, or
Commenting on salted butter, Leonard Mervyn in Thorsons Complete Guide to Vitamins and Minerals says that butter is a "good source of fat soluble vitamins but negligible quantities of water soluble vitamins are present" and that butter provides 750 micrograms of vitamin A and 470 micrograms of beta carotene per 100 grams. Therefore, in order to balance the lack of water soluble vitamins in butter, one must add now excessive calories from foods rich in these nutrients. Eating of unbalanced foods creates an unbalanced diet.
Fallon suggests that beta carotene is poorly converted to retinol and only mentions conversion in the gastrointestinal tract under the action of bile salts. She says that "you have to eat an awful lot of vegetables and fruits to obtain even the daily minimal requirements of vitamin A, assuming optimal conversion." In fact, the figures prove that you have to eat an awful lot of butter to match the vitamin A potential of some plant foods.
Furthermore, it is highly erroneous to equate one biomolecule with another in the manner in which Fallon does. One molecule can never equate to another. Indeed, in the case of retinol and carotenes, they have discrete and opposite functions.
While beta carotene may be poorly metabolized by those with dysfunctional intestines or liver, it is easy to ingest huge doses of beta carotene by juicing carrots or taking supplements, whereas it is difficult and unhealthy to ingest similar doses from dairy or meat sources. The peroxidation of fat in meats and dairy foods, unhealthy in itself, also contributes to damaging vitamin A content of foods, and to the production of free radicals during metabolism. John Coleman, independent health researcher, natural health advisor (e-mail address supplied).