Untold nutrition

Nutr Cancer. 2014;66(6):1077-82. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2014.927687. Epub 2014 Jul 18.


Nutrition is generally investigated, and findings interpreted, in reference to the activities of individual nutrients. Nutrient composition of foods, food labeling, food fortification, and nutrient recommendations are mostly founded on this assumption, a practice commonly known as reductionism. While such information on specifics is important and occasionally useful in practice, it ignores the coordinated, integrated and virtually symphonic nutrient activity (wholism) that occurs in vivo. With reductionism providing the framework, public confusion abounds and huge monetary and social costs are incurred. Two examples are briefly presented to illustrate, the long time misunderstandings (1) about saturated and total fat as causes of cancer and heart disease and (2) the emergence of the nutrient supplement industry. A new definition of the science of nutrition is urgently needed.

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / analysis
  • Dietary Proteins / analysis
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Food Labeling
  • Heart Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Micronutrients / analysis
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Micronutrients