Killer Vitamins

They’re gonna git ya’.
They’re gonna git ya’.

It seems like every week we're getting more mixed messages from food scientists and the media at large: Coffee will kill you; coffee is full of antioxidants. A glass of wine a day will help you live longer, but not if it gives you breast cancer first. Alibi food reviewer Maren Tarro wrote an excellent editorial on the topic in this week's issue.

Now gastrologists (no, it's not a word—but it should be) are saying vitamins may be bad for you (vitamins!). Actually, they started saying it about a month ago. But it’s all part of an emerging public sentiment about what and the way we eat.

This most recent research was foreshadowed in Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, released this spring. Pollan argues that science is so obsessed with extracting the health benefits of certain foods and injecting them into pills and "nutrition" bars that it may be bypassing the reasons those ingredients are healthy in the first place. By taking them out of the context of the food they come in, he says, we miss the point. The vitamin C in an orange is good for you when it's in an orange, but when you ingest it on its own, you may be lacking something else the orange provided that you're unaware of.

In other words, an orange is good for you. The vitamins within it, while standing on their own, may not be.

What I’m curious about is if any of this research will affect people’s eating habits. Are you going to stop taking your vitamins?