A lot of readers demand to know things I’m in no mood to discuss.
Two admirable individuals ask why they haven’t heard much about Vitamin D, our most plentiful nutrient. That’s easy: It’s free. The companies that profit most from Vitamin D are those that lure us to sunny climes in midwinter, offering to dry up our cold, soggy blues. Or fly us there.
There’s a healthy logic in waving your mammaries at drunks during Spring Break! Or visiting Key West, or Granny in Lake Havasu City, or what’s left of the Big Easy. Retirees heading for the Sunbelt don’t need canasta tournaments to justify the move.
Few sell Vitamin D to us up north. Bottling it is a minuscule business—maybe half-a-billion dollars—compared with marketing sunscreens and osteoporosis pills that might make your jaw fall off.
To get a substance approved for therapeutic applications, you need to conduct big clinical studies with controls and lots of subjects, as this article from the Financial Times explains. Pharmaceutical companies have every reason not to pay for expensive testing that might establish an inexpensive—even free—rival for their products against a stunning range of medical problems. Governments don’t seem to like the idea either.
I also wonder if our way of dealing with illness reflects our society’s obsession with control. We go to doctors to get simple things that make us feel in control of our problems: pills. Writing prescriptions helps those harried professionals feel in control, too. Take two pieces of paper and don’t call me.
Consider Lyme disease, which defies easy testing, diagnosis, and treatment. It’s a dangerous condition that’s out of control, spreading relentlessly through North America. With no brand medicine to counter Lyme, it is more profitable—perhaps even comforting—to worry about restless legs syndrome. There are pills for that.
If I could only think of a kicker....