America is prone to all manner of food fads. New diets come and go with eye-popping rapidity and this or that food becomes the new magic food that everyone latches on to, before it is replaced by something else. Kale is now the latest miracle food to be dethroned. The problem is that people go overboard with the big new fad and overdo it, rather than taking everything in moderation
The US has a massive industry devoted to encouraging people to take nutritional supplements of various kinds. Perhaps the longest-lasting fad is that of taking vitamin supplements, sometimes in large doses, in the belief that it will promote general good health and even prevent things like colds. But there is very little evidence to support this belief.
Catherine Price says that while we do need vitamins to ward off some illnesses, in some cases, large doses of these supplements can be harmful.
“Most of the things we take vitamins for don’t have much evidence behind them,” she says. “There isn’t convincing [research] showing that multivitamins will do much beyond healing serious deficiency diseases.”
“Vitamin C has not been shown to ward off colds,” Price says. In her view, the only magic being performed by Airborne is the miracle of the placebo effect. “If you truly believe that Vitamin C will prevent you from being sick, then it might prevent you from being sick. But there is no substantial scientific evidence.”
Price doesn’t deny the power of nutritional vitamins — she notes that Vitamin C will cure scurvy, and a few squirts of Vitamin A can work miracles for the nutritionally blind.
There are 13 vitamins in all. Four of them (A, D, E, and K) are fat soluble while the remaining nine (C and the 8 kinds of B vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) are water soluble. Price says that we can get what we need from eating a normal balanced diet and should not need supplements.
UPDATE: A friend of mine who happens to be a vegan and thus is well-informed about vegetables and diets in general takes issue with the link in the post that casts a skeptical eye on kale as a miracle food and has sent me links to other articles that cast doubt on the doubts raised about kale. You can see the counter-arguments here, here, and here.
As you can see from these posts (see the corrections at the ends of them), there has been some back-and-forth as to what was originally claimed.
This is common in science, especially in those areas where definitive conclusions are hard to draw and the food-health link is one such area. Claims are made, then challenged, then modified, and so on, until a consensus emerges. But sometimes the issue remains unresolved for a long time.