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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

Coffee Cup

Would I pay £5 to take a look, indeed I would.

One of the critical bits of wisdom central to a skeptical outlook is the realization that our brains are not objective perceivers of reality. Not even close. What we perceive as reality is constructed in an active process that is rife with assumptions and flaws. Everything you take for granted about what you experience as yourself and the outside world is actively constructed by specific brain processes.


As my correspondent put it, "the public mania for nutritional supplements is baseless."

In general, all our nutritional needs can be supplied by an adequate diet.

Supplements are beneficial for a few specific evidence-based indications; otherwise, they offer no benefits and may even be risky.

Diet supplements are not medicines, but are being used as medicines.

DSHEA* should be repealed.

*Under the 1994 Diet Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), a variety of products such as vitamins, minerals, herbs and botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, organ tissues, and hormones can evade the usual controls if they are sold as diet supplements.




When I was 23 I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, an endocrine disorder that wreaked havoc on my hormones. In addition to being put at a greater risk for heart disease and diabetes I experienced some immediate physical effects, namely irregular periods and severe cystic acne outbreaks (really great for one's confidence when job hunting post graduate school). To regulate my periods I take birth control but for some time I couldn’t get the acne outbreaks to diminish even with a strict diet and exercise regime (cardio is hugely significant for women with PCOS). I heard about a form of chromium which studies showed to be useful for those with altered glucose metabolisms. I haven’t had a severe outbreak since I started ingesting it on a bi-weekly basis.

In addition to chromium I take fish oil but I’ve given up on my multi-vitamin. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence to dismiss vitamins ranging from toxicity to ineffectiveness. I buy it. It makes sense to get what you need from your food. But with the fisheries being depleted (sustainability still an issue but at least its looking better for sardines) and food processing decreasing the chromium content of my foodstuff, I turn to capsules on occasion.

Sounds like interesting case study material. maybe the Big Suppla should spend some of their billions to see if that is replicable.

Commenting on Darwin Meets Job and the linked article's use of the Christchurch earthquake as an example of the meaninglessness of so called 'Acts of God' I've been totally bemused by the tweets of well-wishers on Twitter.

It is very obvious which are the Kiwis and which are foreigners even before you note the names of the posters. The tweets with 'we're praying for you', and 'god bless', and the like contrast so strongly with the many 'Kia kaha - stand strong' tweets by the Kiwis.

To be honest I'm more than bemused - I accept the heartfelt need to express solidarity with Christchurch - but despite the name ChCh is the most secular place I've ever lived in - and Kiwis are probably not in the mood to be thanking anyone, let alone imaginary people, for their plight.

This aspect of the Twitter stream has quietened down now as people start to forget the latest news and as Kiwis use it for coordination - but last night the contrast in nationalities was stark and not a little frustrating.

Well, you will be disgusted by this website blaming gays, lesbians and prostitutes for the Christchurch earthquake. I was.


Ah yes - wingnuts... everywhere has them. NZ produced the banana man Ray Comfort. But then he was sent packing to more accommodating shores.

But ordinary Kiwis seem pretty sensible and secular...

Here's well wishers at a Rugby match - TV3 video.

People in the video instinctively use the Maori expression "Stand Strong" or "Kia Kaha" - it should be adopted by everyone as a secular alternative to religious expressions of support - which while heartfelt are very misplaced, especially so, when applied to 'acts of god' like this earthquake.



Norm's article states: "It makes sense to supplement the diet with essential nutrients if the food in the diet is deficient in those nutrients or if the patient is not able to absorb nutrients normally. There are specific situations where that applies (...)". This relates in part to what I've described.

I started taking chromium because of what I read specifically regarding women with PCOS. Studies show that while it might be useful for someone like me, it has its share of detrimental effects on those with normal glucose levels. I agree that any industry that capitalizes on the myth of magic bullets is problematic but I’m wary of a complete dismissal of supplements because of specific need cases. There is still a lot more to be learned.

So I guess I am not seeing your reason for concern. If anything she is proposing that the supplements be regulated for safe and consistant dosage and restricted to cases where they are needed and effective.

The discussion of nutritional supplements has spauned a google ad for mango extract.

re: supplements

I tried Ginko to improve my memory, but I could never remember to take it.


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