October 23, 2018

Winnipeg
0° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Opinion

CBC documentary examines confusion over need for nutritional supplements

Sound science or slick snake oil?

Other than a vitamin D supplement, aimed at offsetting the lack of direct sunlight encountered by astronauts in space, NASA crews are kept on a simple and sensible diet while aloft.

CBC

Other than a vitamin D supplement, aimed at offsetting the lack of direct sunlight encountered by astronauts in space, NASA crews are kept on a simple and sensible diet while aloft.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2015 (1099 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After all the science, all the research and all the miles and hours spent seeking expert opinions from physicians and scientists, it pretty much comes down to this: You should listen to your mother.

Filmmaker Bryce Sage’s new documentary, The Curious Case of Vitamins and Me (which premières Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC’s The Nature of Things), seeks to cut through the clutter and often-bogus claims that make the topics of nutrition, vitamins and supplements so confusing for even the most health-conscious of consumers.

It’s an interesting project that offers in-depth answers to some of the most common questions that ordinary folks have about their diets and their health.

Sage, a self-described former fat person who now pays near-obsessive attention to diet and exercise, travels extensively around North America in a quest to gather information that will separate the truth from the bogus when it comes to vitamins’ role in a healthy lifestyle.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 60 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 60 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2015 (1099 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After all the science, all the research and all the miles and hours spent seeking expert opinions from physicians and scientists, it pretty much comes down to this: You should listen to your mother.

Filmmaker Bryce Sage’s new documentary, The Curious Case of Vitamins and Me (which premières Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC’s The Nature of Things), seeks to cut through the clutter and often-bogus claims that make the topics of nutrition, vitamins and supplements so confusing for even the most health-conscious of consumers.

It’s an interesting project that offers in-depth answers to some of the most common questions that ordinary folks have about their diets and their health.

Sage, a self-described former fat person who now pays near-obsessive attention to diet and exercise, travels extensively around North America in a quest to gather information that will separate the truth from the bogus when it comes to vitamins’ role in a healthy lifestyle.

Despite a few awkward production choices that make some of his on-camera segments feel rather staged and clunky, Sage works hard at making the science-heavy portions of his documentary as accessible and entertaining as possible.

His journey begins in San Francisco, where he meets with anthropologist Katharine Milton, whose ongoing study of primates offers an intriguing perspective on why the bodies of humans and other anthropoids function differently from those of other animal species when it comes to vitamins.

Sage’s next stop is Washington, D.C., where he questions a U.S. government expert about the reasons for, and accuracy of, the nutritional-content information that’s printed on food packaging. Armed with this new knowledge and a nutrition textbook, he heads to a grocery store, seeking to fill his cart with all the elements of a healthy, balanced diet.

He’s accompanied by nutrition expert Dr. David Katz, who points out significant differences between naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and those added during the controversial process of "fortification" of processed foods.

To escape the processed-foods trap, Sage returns to California, where organic farmer Jake Daigle explains that the nutrient content of old-fashioned fruits and veggies has actually decreased — sometimes by as much as 10 to 30 per cent — as producers have pushed for higher-yield versions of their cash crops.

Which, of course, brings Sage back to the question of whether vitamin supplements have become an essential part of the modern-day diet. On that issue, what the filmmaker finds is a level of disagreement among food-focused researchers — some think supplements are useful, while others are inclined to view them as a waste of consumers’ money.

"Those who take multivitamins are not any healthier than those who don’t," offers vitamin/nutrition skeptic Dr. Paul Offit. "Now, they’re not any less healthy, so I don’t think that multivitamins hurt you. But there’s no evidence that they help you; I suspect it just makes for a lot of expensive urine."

A scientist at NASA’s Houston headquarters seems to support Offit’s suspicions, pointing out that other than a vitamin D supplement, aimed at offsetting the lack of direct sunlight encountered by astronauts in space, NASA crews are kept on a simple and sensible diet while aloft.

"What we recommend to crews is essentially what your mother told you," says Scott Smith, NASA’s manager for nutrition biochemistry. "More fruits and vegetables, (and) everything in moderation."

It’s hardly an earth-shaking nutritional revelation, but it helps to point Sage toward a conclusion that should bring comfort to those who’ve become overwhelmed by the marketing claims and dubious science that have turned grocery shopping into an exercise in misinformation management.

"A balanced diet is still the best way to get your vitamins," he says. "It’s what Mom recommended, and what Mother Nature intended."

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @BradOswald

 

Brad Oswald

Brad Oswald
Perspectives Editor

After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us