The Tragedy of Professional Ignorance and Bias

Barbara Morris, R.Ph., Editor

Barbara Morris, R.Ph., Editor

On a website for pharmacists I  read an article titled “Is Too Much of a Multivitamin a Bad Thing?” The premise of the article was that everyone gets enough vitamin C and other nutrients in the diet. Not taken into consideration, I guess, is the vast amount of nutrient deficient fast and processed foods that are staples in the diet of most children and adults. Also not taken into consideration is research that shows the importance of higher doses of vitamin C. (The work of Linus Pauling, for example.)

The article began:

“Healthy individuals can easily get enough vitamin C through diet alone. In fact, based on a 2000-calorie diet for healthy adults, half of one 2.5-oz package of Kellogg’s Fruity Snacks provides 100% daily value (DV) of vitamin C. If you ate the entire package, it would provide 200% DV.”

In an attempt to show that supplements can cause harm, the author provides a chart showing how multivitamin overdose affects different parts of the body. Nothing specific — no mention of which supplements or how large an overdose it would take to produce the cited side effects. (See the article at: http://tinyurl.com/zbu39co)

Based on the name “Kellogg’s Fruity Snacks”, my knee jerk reaction was to assume it was worthless junk not fit for human consumption, but because I believe it’s not right to condemn before investigation, I Googled the ingredients in Kellogg’s Fruity Snacks and learned the following about the product:

Ingredients: CORN SYRUP, SUGAR, APPLE PUREE CONCENTRATE, WATER, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, GELATIN, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF CITRIC ACID, MALIC ACID, VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID), NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, RED 40, BLUE 1. (Source: https://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/products/kellogg-fruity-snacks-sours-product.html)

From that description, it is clear the product is mostly sugar, and at the bottom of the list, some vitamin C, flavorings, and food dyes “Red 40 and Blue 1” Clearly, a fresh apple would be a better nutritional choice.

Food dyes have a bad reputation. I needed specific information about Red 40 and Blue 1 and this is what I learned:

  • Blue #1 (E133) and Blue #2 (E132): Banned in Norway, Finland, and France, studies have shown them to cause brain cancer and inhibit nerve-cell development. The colors are found in candy, cereal, soda drinks, sports drinks, and pet food.
  • Red #3 (E127) and Red #40 (E129): While Red #3 was banned [in the U.S.] in 1990 for topical use, it can still be sold on the market in our foods and beverages. Red #40 may contain the carcinogenic contaminant p-Cresidine and is thought to cause tumors of the immune system. In the UK, it is not recommended for children, and is currently banned in many European nations. The dyes are found in fruit cocktails, maraschino cherries, grenadine, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products, and more. : (Source: http://www.rd.com/health/conditions/rainbow-risks-6-artificial-food-colors-you-need-to-know-about/

Education in medical and pharmacy schools focuses on diagnosis, and the use of drugs created by drug companies to mitigate  symptoms of a diagnosis. (The pharmaceutical drug industry could not flourish without doctors and pharmacists serving as unpaid agents of distribution for its products, and no one raises an eyebrow.)

No wonder students graduating from these schools know next to nothing about the role nutrition plays in achieving or maintaining wellness. No wonder they blindly discredit and sneer at information that doesn’t support what they have been taught. It is this abysmal ignorance on the part of credentialed individuals in the health care professions that everyone should be concerned about because what they don’t know jeopardizes public health.

You don’t have to suffer professional bias or ignorance. Educate yourself. You are as intelligent as those with closed minds who obediently refuse to question beyond what they are taught to believe. Read labels, and if you can’t pronounce ingredients, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad. Dig for facts until you have a clear understanding of what you should or should not ingest if you care about your health. It’s not that difficult.

The principle I try to follow to ferret out facts, whether about politics, nutrition or anything else, is Herbert Spencer’s admonition:

“There is a principal
which is proof against all information,
which is proof against all arguments,
which cannot fail to keep man in
everlasting ignorance;
that principal is –
Condemnation prior to investigation”

I rest my case. 

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