The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Deplin, a “medical food,” helps patients taking antidepressants get more out of their medications. The article explained that Deplin is a prescription form of a natural B-vitamin folate, one of the miraculous phytochemicals found in leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts and fruits.
Alarms immediately started going off in my brain when I read “folate,” because I had just that day finished reading a section in Joel Furhman’s book Super Immunity on the dangers of taking folic acid, a synthetic form of folate. In the book Dr. Fuhrman warns of the risks of trying to buy our health through medications rather than earning it through diet and exercise, and he recalls his first pharmacology lecture from med school:
“Make no doubt about it; all drugs are toxic and can even hasten one’s death. They should be used only after careful consideration of the risk-to-benefit ratio, because they all have considerable and serious risks.”
Dr. Joel Fuhrman presents a compelling case (citing sources including the British Medical Journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute) that another synthesized form of folate, folic acid, can substantially increase cancer risk and even death. And yet, despite these risks, the majority of doctors in America continue to tell pregnant women to take folic acid for the health of their babies. Why do they not instead tell women to eat more asparagus (402 mg folate/ 1.5 cup cooked), lentils (358 mg/ cup), and broccoli (337 mg/ 2 cups) to ensure adequate folate?
As of yet there are no known side effects of Deplin, but I think it’s fair to assume that just as we’ve learned years after the fact about the risks from taking folic acid, we might one day learn of similar deadly risks from Deplin. Why do we take such risks?
Good health must be earned. In the era of iPhones and Androids we’re all looking for “an app for that,” but health is not so simple. It’s time for us to stop turning first and foremost to “a drug for that.” Imagine the cost savings, both financially and physically, if we put down the medications and instead picked up a stalk of asparagus.