This is something I stumbled across looking again at the UK Family Food Survey (as one does!) just last night: It is commonly quoted that there are 13 vitamins and 16 minerals, which are essential for the body to maintain health. Deficiency in some essential nutrients can be life threatening. I say commonly quoted as not even these numbers are absolutes. The notion that there are 13 vitamins is widely accepted (A, C, D, E, K and 8 B vitamins). The number of minerals can vary, with some more unusual trace minerals included in some lists, but you won’t ever be accused of being wrong quoting 16. One of the ones on the list of 16 is also debated, however – fluoride. This is a mineral now commonly present in drinking water and yet I share a reasonably widely held view that it is not one that humans should be consuming (check out Barry Groves on this: http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/fluoride_book.html). Fluoride has been put in the water in recent years to counteract dental caries (tooth decay). The cause of the tooth decay has been acknowledged to be sugar. So, instead of stopping sugar consumption we encourage it and pollute the drinking supply: another incredible public health decision. The USA and UK set RDA – Recommended Dietary Allowances – for some (not all) of these nutrients. How they think some are optional I don’t know! Also, remember what Sally Fallon Morell said? Why am I only allowed a certain level of nutrition?
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