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Supplements: when they're better than food
About the author: 

Most doctors are of the view that vitamins and other supplements are a waste of money, and that we can get all our nutritional needs from the food we eat

Most doctors are of the view that vitamins and other supplements are a waste of money, and that we can get all our nutritional needs from the food we eat.

Theoretically that's right, but several things have to be in place before that also works in practice. For one, the food has to be free of contaminants, and at the very least should be organic, and the soil in which the food is grown has to be rich. But it's a fact recognized since the early years of the last century that our soil is depleted from intensive farming. The goodness just isn't getting into our foods.

One example of this is fish - and especially fatty fish such as swordfish and salmon - which can protect against coronary heart disease. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but unfortunately they also contain high levels of mercury, thanks to our polluted oceans and waterways.

So do the omega-3 supplements have the same protective effect, but without exposing people to the risk of mercury poisoning? Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital tested five different fish oil supplements, which contained levels of mercury that were 'non-detectable' to 'negligible', and were certainly far lower than levels found in fish they examined.

The protective qualities are the same, but without the risk. So the next time your doctor advises you to stop taking the supplements, tell him to 'Go fish'.

(Source: Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, 2003; 127: 1603-05).


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