... or so EU food supplementation legislation suggests.
There is a growing amount of evidence to show that vitamin and mineral deficiency is a growing problem among the population of the EU. In the UK alone, 3.6 million people are now clinically described as suffering from malnutrition, a condition which costs the NHS £7.3 billion annually. With further estimates suggesting that up to 6% of the population in Britain now suffer from serious vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it comes as something of an absurdity that the EU has, since the turn of this century, made a distinct move to make those badly-needed vitamins and minerals more difficult to acquire.
As part of a legal harmonisation across our growing European ‘superstate’, the nutritional content of our foods, mineral and vitamin supplements are now controlled by a plethora of legislation.
In 2005 the British government forced through parliament the EU’s Food Supplements Directive outlawing an estimated 5,000 vitamin and mineral supplements and making it illegal for any shopkeeper to stock them.
The EU Food Supplements Directive
Although the Food Supplements Directive (FSD) could be seen as an attempt to draw a clear line between what should be considered as natural sources of nutrients and that which should be considered to be pharmaceutical in nature, it effectively bans the use of a great number of proven natural vitamins and minerals while ‘dumbing down’ others.
Currently the FSD relies on a ‘positive list’ of supplements that it has drawn up which largely comprise of synthetic vitamins and inorganic minerals, and anything not on that list is effectively banned. While there does exist a derogated list of more natural vitamins and minerals which are in the ‘pending tray’ so to speak, it is feared that many of these may be outlawed and end up on the banned list by 2009.
These are just a very few of the large number of vitamins and minerals excluded from the FSD ‘positive list’.
Boron - all forms - required for absorbtion of calcium
Vitamin E - the naturally occurring tocopherols and tocotrienols - these are antioxidants which protect against damage by free radicals associated with cancer and other degenerative diseases
Calcium - in 23 food forms - good for bones, teeth and cell function
Chromium - in 17 forms - for balancing blood sugar levels in diabetics
Magnesium - in 30 forms - for healthy bones and teeth
Potassium - in 21 forms - good for maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart beat
Silica - all forms - working in conjunction with boron, calcium and other minerals it maintains the wellbeing of bones, arteries, connective tissue, hair, skin and nails
Selenium - in 14 forms - an antioxidant which is important for heart function and a health immune response
The FSD not only dictates what nutrients can be added into food supplements, but it also dictates the maximum allowable dosages. It is these Maximum Permitted Levels (MPLs) that have been arrived at on a risk assessment basis that is unnecessarily restrictive, drawing a line that is too low and only allowing dosages which are very often too small to be of any real benefit to the recipient. For instance, the MPL for beta-carotene is being set so low that it is less than you would consume in two carrots! If the authorities believe that dosages higher than this are harmful then should there not be a limit on the number of carrots we eat (ie two) or any other food in which these ‘capped’ supplements are naturally found in abundance? Since when has taking vitamins and nutrients in doses large or small been harmful to man? Below is a diagram showing relative mortality risks. As you can see death by nutrients is virtually nil.
A partial answer to the seeming irrationality of the FSD provisions appears to come from the...
The Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation
This piece of legislation in its most positive light, appears to straighten out the business of erroneous medicinal claims made by manufacturers of supplements. Subtending from this will be two types of claim which can be made: generic claims and disease reduction (and childrens’ health) claims. These claims have to be approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and in the case of the disease reduction claims, very expensive and onerous data requirements are required making the granting of a claim out of reach for many small to medium-sized manufacturers which would include very many of the pioneering natural health businesses. It is feared that these key producers of highly beneficial alternative and effective homeopathic products would be put out of business, clearing the way for the large multi-nationals and drug cartels to further dominate while producing dumbed down supplements, no doubt at maximum profit for what will be ineffectual products. And, of course, if you decide to double or triple the dosage in order to get some benefit from their low-strength concoctions you only end up giving them more profit!
When one looks at this side of the legislation the contradictions of what has been stated above take on a rather unsavoury nature and in my view clarify a lot of what the EU is really all about - centralised control by mega-corporations under the auspices of a totalitarian regime!
The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH)
The ANH which represents these smaller and alternative producers of natural health foods and supplements has been lobbying the European authorities on this very issue for several years. It is currently urging the EU to reconsider key elements of this legislation and the EU's trend to allow centuries-old natural remedies in effective dosages to become only available through a doctor's prescription. This will only allow further concentration the monopoly of big pharma and state regulate people's rights to choose nutrients that will keep them healthy.
I urge you to support ANHs work and also by writing to your MEP expressing your concern over the diminishing ability of our choice to live a healthy life.
For more information go to: http://www.alliance-natural-health.org/
and watch the presentation below by Dr Robert Verkerk, Executive Director of the Alliance for Natural Health.