Why don't the Inuit get scurvy? After all, they traditionally eat a 100% meat-fish diet. Surely we need vitamin C, which is present only in very small quantities in meat, to avoid illness?
This is just one of the dietary paradoxes addressed in an amazing book I'm reading by Gary Taubes, who writes for the highly respected journal Science. In the UK it's called The Diet Delusion, but I believe in the US it's called Good Calories, Bad Calories. I can't recommend it highly enough - it's a truly authoritative work which reviews the science behind current nutritional thinking in a way that I find very satisfying (bearing in mind that I'm a physicist and good science is very important to me!).
I'll be talking about this more over the coming weeks, but let me share with you the answer to the paradox of the Inuit. Vit C, Taubes explains, has a similar composition to glucose and is taken up by the same receptors in the body. When blood sugar is raised by eating carbohydrate, more glucose is present in the bloodstream and this is preferentially taken up by receptors. This in turn means that we need a lot more vitamin C because it is 'fighting' with the glucose to be used.
So if you eat a no-carb diet - for example, pure meat - you need much less vit C and the small amounts in meat are sufficient. Simples! In fact guys, it looks as though one can be completely healthy on a meat-only diet. Yum!