As the decades-old debate over the value of vitamin tablets continues to rage, a study testing the cancer-preventing antioxidant effects of fruit and vegetables could help to shed some light on the puzzle. Researchers from the Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research studied the dietary intake of 43 healthy non-smokers for a month. Each was randomly assigned to one of the three groups: those given 600 grams of fresh fruit and vegetables a day (the fruveg group); those given a daily pill containing the vitamins and minerals in 600 grams of fruit and veggies (the supplement group); and a third group given placebo. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found both the fruveg and supplement groups has less oxidative damage than the placebo group—and the fruvegs had significantly less than those in the supplement group. In other words, antioxidant protection against chronic disease was more likely to be achieved from fresh food than from synthetic sources…Besides, supplements were designed to correct deficiencies or treat illnesses in people with poor diets. Another more sinister phenomenon, however, is being recognized—what Harvard University researchers refer to as suboptimal nutrition…According to a 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this condition occurs when nutrition is sufficient to prevent symptoms of deficiency but insufficient to reduce the risk of disease.
—Fay Burstin, The Courier-Mail, 3/12/05