Could this really be the end of an argument?

The Good Life Letter 

13th May 2018

Hold on to your hats folks as today’s topic is likely to be a bit of a roller coaster!

For a number of years I have struggled with the dilemma of a healthy diet in respect of food Vs vitamin supplements. In that time I have altered my view based upon the research and evidence I found, I know many of you have been on this journey with me.

But now I feel confident that I do finally understand what part each can play in our diet, and also why even fresh food might not fit the bill and why we are wrong to think of supplements as a poorer option – read on and you will discover that not all supplements are equal.

So to begin with let me outline my basic principles.

It's my belief that nature is an enormous medicine chest. By knowing more about what plants, meats, fats and vegetables can do for your health; you can make better informed choices about how you look after yourself.

Most importantly of all for food junkies like myself... you can eat delicious, comforting, life affirming food and STILL be healthy, happy and free of guilt.

Food is good. We should love it and celebrate it. And we should treat natural whole foods as the essential building blocks for protecting us against modern diseases.

But the days of believing that food alone will provide all of the essential elements we need for a healthy life are sadly behind us.

Now I know that many of you will disagree with that last statement and will no doubt already be putting finger to keyboard to tell me how I’ve got it wrong, and that provided the food is sourced locally, seasonally and freshly all will be well.

Just to prove how convoluted a topic this is... I agree with you too!

However, not everyone can achieve the aim of always eating the very best and have to resort to other forms of supply and that means that a number of issues come into play, these are the reasons why I feel that food alone is not the answer anymore;

  • Because the modern farming preference for high yields over nutritional quality has driven down the nutrient levels in our food.

  • Because heavy industrial farming has depleted the level of active nutrients in the soil.

  • Because plants have been bred to withstand pests and disease and last during long overseas journeys. But it's the elements that make plants decompose faster and make them attractive to pests that also make them healthy.

  • Because the combined effect of work and life stresses, long term usage of prescription medications and a diet skewed in favour of sugar and processed fats has lead to health states which need targeted support to rectify them, rather than a general tune up.

  • And finally, because modern transportation methods mean that food is carted half way across the globe, and then shoved on a supermarket shelf for WEEKS before you get to eat it.

I absolutely agree with all these statements. There's no doubt in my mind that the nutritional levels of our common foods are lower than they have been in the past.

This is how to naturally balance your diet and use nature to support your health

All is not as it seems

The Guardian recently published a piece which made for grim reading.

In it they claimed that up to one third of all food that we buy is not what we think it is – cheese that has never been near a cow, ham that derives from a variety of species and a herbal slimming tea that was just glucose mixed with a prescription drug (at thirteen times the legal dose!)

Even simple vegetables are not safe from the growing levels of food fraud.

The BBC reported in an online article from February last year that an Italian gang had been jailed for selling organic produce which had been liberally treated with pesticides – which is an increasingly common problem.

Food fraud it seems is everywhere - saffron which is just stained dried grass, black pepper which is less than 10% pure and even cinnamon which is an entirely different plant species all together.

Then there’s the pre-prepared salad market...

...oh dear! Bags of ‘washed’ rocket and watercress that contains not only heavy metal impurities but also several leaves from weed species as well.

The possibility to be duped are endless and so it is no wonder that so many of us take to a supplement to make sure we really are getting our daily requirement of essential nutrients.

But guess what?

The fraudsters are way in front of you once again – let me tell you about the grim reality of the modern vitamin trade.

The great alphabet swindle

When you choose your pot of multivitamins with added minerals I bet, like me, you scan the label list for vitamins A to K, hunt for a bit of calcium, magnesium and a few trace elements like zinc and iodine... plus if there are a few specials in there like selenium you tend to think it has to be a premium product.

The problem is that not all vitamins are the same.

I had a happy image that the contents of my multivitamin dose were harnessed from nature but the reality is that most of them are derivatives of petrochemicals or hydrogenated sugars – and that’s not quite so palatable is it?

Want to avoid the petrochemical risk – choose really honest vitamins here

Of course even those which claim to be natural need to be closely examined as there are many things that could be considered to be of nature, hemlock for instance but you wouldn’t want to be necking that on a daily basis would you?

So, here we are in the classic modern commercial pincer movement.

Our doctors and health advisors tell us to improve our diets and use appropriate supplements to address any deficiencies but when we do the food we choose isn’t real and the supplements are also telling big fat porkies!

Of course in amongst this world of fantasy food are some chaps making a nice little earner and not caring one jot about what they may be doing to people.

Supermarkets, health stores and the internet are awash with deals for daily supplements but I think it is time to ask yourselves two really important questions.

One, do you need to take a supplement? And two, what are you going to do to make sure that the supplement you choose to take is not going to harm you?

Vitamin supplementation – it’s not for everyone

Let’s be absolutely clear about this, if you have a full and varied diet the chances are that you are getting everything you need to live a long and healthy life.

By sourcing food locally and seasonally you will be getting the most fresh, nutrient rich and ethically sustainable produce possible.

I have always, and will continue to challenge the concept that absolutely everyone needs to take a vitamin shot every day.

But the fact is that there are circumstances when we do need a boost, or where the effects of surgery, long term illness or intolerances leave us vulnerable and that is when I whole-heartedly endorse using the correct supplement.

But we all need to be aware of how the vitamin industry works.

You see the legislation says that a vitamin is a vitamin however it is produced, so there is no need for the producer to tell you that they have cooked up their supplement in a laboratory from a bucket of petroleum sludge.

Just have a look at this list below to see where your vitamins may be legally sourced from;

Vitamin               Natural Source        Legal Source Option
Vitamin A            Carrots                       Methanol, benzene and petroleum esters 
Vitamin B1-6      Rice bran & yeast    Cold Tar, formaldehyde and oil derivatives
Vitamin C            Citrus Fruit                Glucose with acetone
Vitamin D            Yeast                          Animal brains and animal fats
Vitamin E             Rice & vegetables  Refined oils
Vitamin K            Cabbage & kale       Cold Tar using nickel to extract
Doesn’t make for great reading does it, but bear in mind these are all entirely legal – there is no sleight of hand and no fraud.

All of these sources are deemed to be OK with European and UK legislation and the products are stacked on the shelves in your supermarket right now.

If you think that this is wrong, and you want your vitamins with natural provenance you have to read this

Yours, as always



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