Multivitamins Are a Waste of Money…?

Yes, this is the title of an editorial of a reputed scientific journal(New Scientist). The article while insisting that it’s a waste of money, further adds that it can even cause harm! This is what led me to have a discussion with my doctor to figure out the right picture. As it turns out, like many media stories, this one is also meant to excite people. One has to be an excellent fine print reader or a professional in the field to get the right picture. My doctor pointed out what’s in fine print in the article and what else the news hides behind the sensational reporting. Here is what my doctor has to say: The findings are okay for those who eat nutritious food and do not have any vitamin deficiency. The studies also do not apply for pregnant women who need supplements. The article also ignores the importance of vitamin supplements for eye sight, preventing 40% of autism and 60% of childhood cancers,18% reduction in non-prostrate cancers for men over 70.

These days sensationalism sells. But I didn’t expect this from a reputed scientific magazine.

Vegetable Oil industry is another case in point. Now-a-days one sees aggressive campaigns in India to promote Olive oil by companies based in Spain and Turkey. The advertisements claim this oil to be a great choice imparting superior health benefits for the heart compared to other oils. Here again there is no conclusive evidence regarding its superior benefits for the heart. An oil which has a much lower smoke point compared to other vegetable oils cannot be an ideal choice for deep-frying. This is because at the smoke point the oil is prone to undergo undesirable chemical changes. At best the extra virgin oil may be a great choice for salad dressing and it’s a perfect dip for your piping hot bread. The free acid content in the virgin oil contributes to its strong flavour. I believe tasting and choosing virgin oil is almost akin to tasting wine in the US.

Recently I asked one doctor innocently which oil he would recommend for cooking. He was honest and admitted that he wished he knew the answers. He said: “Unfortunately, with so many confusing claims and counter claims by oil producers, one doesn’t know with any clarity which one to recommend”.
If doctors are so confused, one can imagine the plight of the laymen.

My take on Oils: As long as one consumes oils in moderation, it really doesn’t matter whether one buys Saffola, Sunflower, Ricebran, Groundnut or Olive oil whichever is cheaper. All these oils are rich in the desirable fats.Coconut Oil and Palm oil are exceptions to this rule and should be minimized or avoided.

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Published in: on January 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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