Ayurveda and Vitamins
The concept of vitamins is another example of scientific reductionism. Modern science commits the mistake of characterizing whole foods by the health effects of specific nutrients. This has led to a multi-billion dollar nutrient supplement industry driven by huge profits. And nobody is sure whether these supplements have any positive impact whatsoever on our nutritional landscape.
Studies reveal that the supplements are harmful.
Ayurveda, on the other hand, is holistic and talks about totality. There is no mention of vitamins in Ayurveda.
The Ayurvedic diet is based on the principle of six tastes. Rather than looking at nutritional labels for x amount of vitamin A and y amount of vitamin B, the six tastes naturally guide us toward proper nutrition. If our meal comprises six tastes, we will automatically get all the desired vitamins, among other nutrients.
A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins. They are not soluble but a part of the fat itself. So if we consume fats like dairy, nuts, meat, fish, etc., we naturally get these vitamins. All these foods are oily and sweet, and hence kapha is increasing. So kapha foods will give us fatty vitamins.
While bitter, astringent, and sour vegetables, fruits, etc., will give us the watery vitamin B and C.Similarly pungent and bitter Ayurvedic kitchen spices like turmeric and cumin help the liver better absorb nutrients. Boiled and cooked green leafy vegetables, instead of raw salads, help in better absorption.
A Vata-type personality is naturally prone to vitamin deficiency disorders, particularly fatty vitamins. The concept of deficiency is a myth, as the body can generate what it needs if given suitable raw materials. So either the metabolism or the raw materials (whole food) are deficient. There can be no vitamin deficiency per se.
We try to cover up deficiencies with vitamin supplements, but it stresses our detoxifying organs – the liver and kidneys. At the same time, we inhibit the body’s natural ability to generate its vitamins.
Ayurvedic herbs like Triphala can be an excellent substitute for vitamin supplements. It helps absorb vitamins from foods and converts the inactive vitamins to the active form.
The take-home message is that be mindful about including all six tastes in your meals, and you can safely forget about vitamins.