In class today, I was asked what I knew about vitamin supplements and whether it was a good idea to take them or not. To follow up on that conversation, I thought I would post a link to an article that addresses this question directly. This article, by Paul Offit, was published by the Atlantic magazine July 19 of this year and deals with some of the same material from his newest book, Do You Believe in Magic?
Vitamines are certainly required for healthy living, something reflected by their very name (vitamin = vital amine). The question is, how much of each of these do we need to add above and and beyond what we get from a well-balanced diet? It has been proposed that excessive doses of certain vitamins could be a panacea leading to elimination of many of life’s ailments. From the Atlantic article…
In 1970, [Nobel Prize winning scientist, Linus] Pauling published Vitamin C and the Common Cold, urging the public to take 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C every day (about 50 times the recommended daily allowance). Pauling believed that the common cold would soon be a historical footnote. “It will take decades to eradicate the common cold completely,” he wrote, “but it can, I believe, be controlled entirely in the United States and some other countries within a few years. I look forward to witnessing this step toward a better world.” Pauling’s book became an instant best seller.
These pronouncements would have amounted to nothing coming from many other people, but Pauling was not just any other person. There’s a chance his pair of Nobel Prizes may have held some weight in people’s minds.