Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

We are not lacking vitamins. We lack common sense.

Stop the Deputy Minister of Health and the Knesset from signing into law all kinds of supplements to the supposed staples of food in Israel

Because I studied medicine, I know that physicians know and understand nothing about food and diet. There are exceptions, but they confirm the rule. It’s not that they are stupid. It’s simply not their cup of tea and they are not schooled about it. Just like most writers are allergic to math and most mathematicians are allergic to writing anything outside a formula.

But now the Ministry of Health has outdone the doctors. Not inhibited by too much knowledge, it recommends legislation to require food manufacturers to ‘enrich’ milk and dairy products with Vitamin D, salt with Iodine and flour with Folic acid, Iron, and Vitamin B12. They found that 22.6 percent of the population suffers from iron deficiency, 5.5 percent from B12 deficiency and 12 percent from folic acid deficiency.

The first sin here is easy to see for people who know their stuff. Alcoholics get so many calories from their beverages that they don’t eat. One of the first symptoms of alcoholism is memory loss from brain damage that is caused by a vitamin B deficiency because they don’t eat enough bread. So, beer companies in Amsterdam were so ‘helpful’ to suggest that they’d supplement B to their beers. This was rejected by the medical profession because it’d make that alcoholic drinks would get an image of healthy.

The first thing that any Health Ministry in 2019 in the Western world needs to do is to discourage the consumption of stuff that is roasted (cancer), salted (high blood pressure), sugar-rich (diabetes, obesity, and heart and blood vessel disease), and fiber-poor (too many illnesses to mention).

So, it should be a crime to add vitamins to milk, white flour, and salt!

Then we should look at the suggested supplements one-by-one.

Without supplementing, Vitamin D lacks in everyone’s diet. It dissolves well in fat so it was often put in fatty milk. But if added to anything, it should be to olive oil or peanut butter. Those have health-promoting fats.

Adding vitamins to milk not only promotes the wrong (milk) fats. There are whole sections of the Israeli population that don’t eat dairy products. Either they are oversensitive to cow milk (lactose-intolerant) or they separate milk and meat (Jewish Law) and eat meat products at every meal. And then not to speak of the 10% of the Israeli population that is vegan. To put vital nutrients in Israel only in milk products is simply criminal.

Vitamin B 12 is only found in stuff from animals. Humans are the only animals who need to retrieve it from other animals. Intestinal bacteria produce it. It’s available to all who eat from the ground. Humans rinse away their bowel movement, wash food taken from the earth and eat from clean plates. Therefore, vegetarians need to take B12 supplements.

Many people everywhere are deficient in Folic acid or Folate. We get it from greens (foliage!). Eat your greens!

Not-kosher meat is an excellent source of Iron. Most Israelis will not eat any. The kosher slaughtering removes much of the blood: Iron. Calcium (milk) prevents the absorption of Iron in the intestines, so milk soon after meat is not kosher. Still, meat is expensive and many Israelis eat little of it. Almost 20% is vegetarian, many of them teenage girls who need extra Iron. Iron from pills and greens is more-poorly absorbed than animal-Iron. This is protective as Iron is quickly poisonous. But it makes that adding Iron to diets may do little to correct the problem. Everyone needs to follow their GP’s individual advice.

If B12, Folate, and Iron should be added to flour, then only to whole flours, not to health-wrecking white flour. Israel urgently should stop subsidizing the price of white bread and start giving subsidies for breads that are made with at least 50% whole flour.

Iodine is also a metal but different from Iron in that it gets more easily absorbed and so, more quickly can lead to big health problems. Yet, to add it to salt, which is consumed on average 10 times as much as is healthy, again, gives the wrong signal. Maybe, it could be added to tap water.

Together with another mineral, Magnesium, which is lacking in many Israeli greens. They are irrigated with desalinated wastewater or seawater. The filtering removes Magnesium. The Health Ministry works with old figures that may not yet show this.

Together with dent-protecting Floride? Remember that can of worms? Israel banned Floride from the tap 5 years ago.

This should remind us, last but not least, of a monumental ethical problem, that the Health Ministry Commission tries to sidestep here. Can a government add chemicals to food and water because they decide for the population that that is healthy? It so would force people who eat well to take medication they don’t need. And where lies the limit of government interference? Maybe, tranquilizers should be added to tap water to make everyone calmer? And too little Iron makes people slower, more docile. This is certainly not an issue a caretaking cabinet could decide.

In other words: Nothing medical should be added to any food or drink. (Possible exception: Magnesium because it was first removed.) And certainly not to stuff responsible for and pivotal in bad eating.

Instead, start subsidizing foods that help our health. And the authorities should inform the public that everyone should take Vitamin D on their own account. Vegetarians should know to take B12. Young women regularly should have their doc check their Iron and Folate, especially before they could get pregnant. And our GPs should once a year check our blood pressure, Vitamin D, Iodine, Folic acid, Iron, and Magnesium. (Our bodies store enough Vitamin B12 for 5 years so that doesn’t need regular testing.)

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * NEW: To see other blog posts by him, his overspill blog you can reach by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture at the head of every post. There you may find precursors to later TOI blog posts, addition or corrections of published TOI blog posts, blog posts the TOI will not carry and some thoughts that are too short to be a TOI blog post. Also, the TOI only allows for one blog post per blogger per 24 hours. Sometimes, he has more to say than that. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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