Over the years, there have been huge amounts of medical and health care advice that’s been flat out wrong. It’s not just a matter of medical science getting better, though that’s part of it. It’s also that science and medical reporting in the United States, and other places in the world, is absolutely terrible. Journalists who don’t understand the science are trying to summarize the findings in a simple way. Mistakes can happen.
One of the biggest, and most long lasting, bits of health advice that turned out wrong is the health properties of vitamins. Not that vitamins aren’t important. Of course they are. The human body needs a certain amount of vitamins and nutrients in order to keep working.
However, the human body only needs a certain amount. Any vitamins that are in excess of what the human body needs gets processed out. This is why your urine will often turn funny colors or smell odd after taking vitamins. That’s your body processing the vitamins out.
The vitamin craze can be traced back to Linus Pauling. He was a chemist of some notability, having won a Nobel prize and gained quite a bit of fame. He was also the United State’s first real celebrity doctor. When he gave health advice, people listened.
Unfortunately, near the end of his life he became somewhat obsessed with the idea of immortality. No one wants to die, after all. To that end, he promoted vitamin megadoses.
Dr. Pauling was a good doctor, and a smart man. And it’s true that there are some diseases and problems that can be treated with a change in diet and vitamin supplements. However, the real truth is that vitamin megadoses and vitamin C supplements have been proven to do absolutely nothing. The science is solid, so it’s health advice that simply turned out to be wrong.