Science told us that vitamins are good. The polluted environment and the stress of modern living result in more free radicals than evolution has prepared us for; supplementing is fine. I swallowed it – literally! Science tells us that supposedly “natural” supplements are also just out of molecules and that I am an esoteric mystic if I look into any childish natural stuff.

It turned out that what we bought as vitamin E was for a long while pure alpha-tocopherol, not the mix of tocopherols from a natural diet. The cheap stuff still is pure alpha, and you buy it in many products without even being aware of it: It is the E307 food additive. Moreover, these voluntary and involuntary supplement doses of alpha-E deplete our body’s reserves of the gamma form. Gamma tocopherol (E308), not the alpha form, scavenges reactive nitrogen species, e.g. quenches peroxynitrite, a free radical. It performs some unique actions. Taking the supposedly “same or better than natural” form ensures that we do not get those benefits! Yes, the damn tree huggers with their crystal necklaces and Tarot cards had it right all along! Eat healthy and avoid the “chemical” stuff.

Similar with vitamin D: What we bought for a long while is D2 (ergo-calciferol). D2 is useful for certain fungi! Evolution of higher life forms turned to D3 (chole-calciferol). D3 can only be biologically synthesized via ultraviolet B light in the small wave length range from 296 to 309 nanometers. Such light is so energetic that it leads to genetic damage, often resulting in malignant melanoma (read: skin cancer). D3 is so important for us that we must take this risk of radiation damage although we could easily be protected from all that UV radiation (deep black skin does exactly that). Evolution could have shaped us to favor eating (or living in symbiosis with) certain fungi instead or use a similar chemistry in order to produce D2 internally, if D2 were what we needed. Instead, evolution made my ancestors’ skin white after they left Africa. Such is all the data I need for knowing that it is D3 that is important – no randomized controlled double blind reputed researcher established university peer review needed at all! Why? Because evolution = natural!

There are many such examples: Deep see fish oil versus farmed fish (unsaturated omega oils), vine ripened fruit versus supply-chain-supermarket-shelf ripened ones, … every time the tree huggers got it right simply by avoiding naïve trust into technological “advances” and staying natural.

For a techno evangelist on a mission (read: science blogger), “natural” is often just a red flag indicating quackery. For a scientist, natural may mean something along the lines of “what we have been evolved with via co-evolution involving many very complex systems that we still merely start to comprehend”, something that I have argued before in the context of microwaves and nanotechnology, and also nanotechnology and GMO food.