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. . . ON FILM

Winter, 2007

The Truth About Vitamins:

The Truth About Vitaminsa British documentary that discusses the safety and effectiveness of vitamin supplements.


one star

Reviewed by Ricardo van Sertima

Following on the heels of my previous review, "You Are What You Eat" hosted by Gillian McKeith, this documentary proves an interesting contrast.

Gillian McKeith's program reveals a street's eye view of the unhealthy and downright toxic diets on which some Britons subsist. With no punches pulled she shows them the truth about what their food choices are doing to their bodies and devises an eight week nutritional makeover. Far different is "The Truth About Vitamins" which purports to be an unbiased, fact searching look into. . . well. . . the truth about vitamins.

From the outset, the narrator's tone makes it quite clear that although Britons spend approximately three hundred million pounds a year on vitamins and supplements, this documentary is going to set them straight on the foolhardiness of their expenditures. Focusing solely on the three antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, its approach smacks of a pharmaceutical company's exposure of the natural health industry. It speaks of toxic loads of the above vitamins and the danger they pose to an individual's health; yet to the best of my research I haven't found cases of anyone dying from ingestion of these vitamins.

Meanwhile doctors are prescribing that people take an aspirin a day as a preventative measure against heart problems. Aspirin is known to cause gastrointestinal (GI) complications. Two nationwide Spanish studies showed there were 15.3 GI related deaths per 100,000 NSAID/aspirin users in 2001 and that up to one third of the deaths were attributed to low dose aspirin use. This drug is as widely available over the counter as vitamins are- if not more so - since it can be found in convenience stores, supermarkets and virtually every pharmacy.

At the beginning of the documentary a proponent of natural health is interviewed very briefly and he simply states that eating healthy and taking vitamin supplements will benefit us all. It really is that simple. People's diets and lives are in crisis. Witness "You Are What You Eat" and read the news. Poor diets and stress are the new norm. Medication is not the answer and neither is "The Truth About Vitamins".

Eat well; eat whole, organic foods when possible; be active and supplement wisely. If you require guidance about which supplements are best for your body, consult with a licensed naturopathic doctor (N.D.). You can also invest in some good books on the subject. I recommend Prescription for Nutritional Healingand A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions.

Avoid this documentary as it gives you basically no information but will stress you out about your healthy supplementation. The rating is one star because there are a few seconds here and there of positive information, but you won't have missed much if you don't see this documentary. Watch You Are What You Eat. . . now that is time well spent.

"The Truth About Vitamins" is a BBC Horizon documentary that was aired on on September 16, 2006. A transcript and other information about the program is available at the BBC website.


Ricardo van Sertima has a BA in Theatre from the University of Ottawa. He is also a Certified Holistic Nutritionist having studied at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Currently he is a staff Nutritionist and Supplements Consultant at Rainbow Natural Foods.

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