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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, March 1, 2018

Norwegian Government's Dietary Advice has No Scientific Basis

Commentary by Dag Viljen Poleszynski, PhD

(OMNS Mar 1 2018) The Norwegian government has given more or less the same dietary advice to the population since WW2 and has never based their advice on science, nor stimulated a free, open debate on the premises for such advice. One reason for this monolithic stance is as follows: The government has established "expert groups" based on the advice of The Nutrition Department at The University of Oslo (UiO), where the directors and key staff have had the same view of nutrition since before WW2. The Ministry of health and The Directorate of health employ certified nutritionists and medical doctors to fill key positions. The University of Oslo has dominated expert groups established by the government, including providing directors and members to the State Nutrition Board. The people who formulate and oversee nutrition and health guidelines for the government have been recruited from the same academic circles for decades.

Directors of Health and State Nutrition Board

The government's health and nutrition policy was first formulated under the leadership of Karl Evang, who became Norway's first director of health in 1945, was chairman of The State Nutrition Board 1946-1962, and shunned everything that had to do with "alternative" medicine. [1] The director was a staunch believer in "established science" and never made concessions on any objections to his anti-alternative policy. Evang's successor was another "hardliner," Ragnar Nicholaysen, who served as its director until 1972. Nicholaysen was succeeded by vice chairman Kåre Ragnar Norum, who held the position until 1989.[2] Norum served as a member of the Nutrition Board from 1971 until 1998. Norum directly helped formulate the Norwegian government's nutritional policy for a period of more than 27 years and indirectly for at least 40 years. During the period of Norum's reign the succeeding collaborators had little background in nutrition and shared similar outdated views on nutrition and health. [3,4]

The State Nutrition Board has remained a staunch critic of "dangerous milk fat," still warns against "high cholesterol" and remains active in the public nutrition debate. [5,6,7] It has contributed actively to the "party line" in public debates on nutrition and health, including contributing to key textbooks used by all schools educating health professionals in Norway. Needless to say, these persons have recruited or recommended a number of like-minded persons to official and academic positions all over Norway, and their "disciples" still hold influential positions in government agencies and expert groups formulating Norwegian health and nutrition policies. [3,4] People from the same group direct and evaluate studies in health and nutrition, write textbooks used to educate all health occupations in nutrition all over the country, and feature prominently in public debates, in Nordic expert groups and in international groups, such as the Nordic Council, WHO and other UN bodies. With recent progress in nutrition science, I believe the time has come for a change in the Nutrition Board and the advice it gives to the public.

Alternative views of excellent nutrition

Government agencies should recruit a variety of knowledgeable individuals with experience in nutrition, not just those who have followed the "party line." Persons with new or alternative ideas should be given a chance to discuss their ideas with the Nutrition Board.

Health and nutrition guidelines should not be "one-sided" and should be based on the extensive world-wide nutrition literature. This should not be related to whether the government in power has been more or less conservative (right wing) or adhering to social democratic ideology (left wing). Politicians without a science education need to rely on the Nutrition Board, but they also need to promote open discussion among the Nutrition Board members. That means including experts who have experience with the latest research on fat, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals. Several important issues need to be addressed:

  1. The official dietary advice should include reflections on how our evolutionary past has shaped our dietary and life style needs. For instance, there should be discussion of how evolution has shaped our hormone system, immune system, digestion and gut micro flora, and how "old genes having met a new environment" affects us. [8,9,10]
  2. Human biochemical and anatomical individuality should be recognized to allow for individuals that differ in their dietary needs. [11,12] Studies demonstrating large variations in individual nutrient needs due to genetic polymorphisms should be taken into consideration in the most recent guidelines. [13,14]
  3. The field of Orthomolecular Medicine should be recognized, if not emphasized, in the official discussion of nutrient needs. The term "orthomolecular" means using natural molecules from food to prevent and reverse disease. It advocates eating an excellent diet and taking supplements of essential nutrients where these are not adequately supplied by the modern diet. For example, immigrants from different cultures can be advised to use cod liver oil as ethnic Norwegians do, and to cut down on their excessive sugar consumption.
  4. The need for vitamins, minerals, trace elements and semi-essential nutrients should be thoroughly discussed, because in the "modern" diet they are inadequately supplied. For example, supplemental vitamin D3 is currently recommended during winter months, but the doses advised are inadequate. Many recent studies show the benefits of adequate doses of vitamin D from sun exposure during the summer and supplements during the winter (adults, 2,000-10,000 IU/day) for a wide range of body functions, and for improving overall health. [15-18] Pregnant women are currently only advised to take folic acid, and the elderly are given advice to consider adding vitamin B12 supplements to their diet. But advice on the importance of many other essential nutrients (vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C and E) would help. For example, people not eating the recommended amount of fatty fish might consider taking supplements of omega-3 long-chained fatty acids. These points should be expanded so the latest information on all of the essential and semi-essential nutrients should be made available to the public.
  5. Megavitamin therapy should have a place in government recommendations. Mega-vitamin C is now known to be effective to combat the common cold, influenza and other viruses, as well as cancer and heart disease. [19] Intravenous vitamin C is currently used in hospital Emergency Departments to treat severe shock because it lowers the risk of organ failure by up to 90% or more. [20] Although it is important for official "expert groups" to make sure the public understands which essential nutrients may be toxic at high doses (vitamin A, iron, selenium), it is clear that for many vitamins (B vitamins, vitamins C, D, E), doses of 10-fold higher than the RDA are safe and may be effective in preventing progressive diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. [21]
  6. The advice on macronutrients should be changed to advise a much lower intake of calories as carbohydrates (say, 5-20%), 15-30% as protein and 55-75% fat. Saturated fats are now known to be a minor factor for most people in circulatory diseases, [22] in contrast with sugar, which now thought to be implicated as a major factor in artery and heart disease. [23] Instead of indicating a risk of cardiac disease, high blood cholesterol is now known to be a consequence of cardiac disease, so for most individuals there is little advantage in controlling it. [24]
  7. Information about and taking into account the meal pattern and food selection during Paleolithic times should be provided to the public. Skipping breakfast may actually be beneficial, in contrast to government advice. [25]
  8. The current knowledge about the potential benefits of a ketogenic diet in preventing or curing illness, obesity or variations in blood sugar, should be made available to the public. [26] The fact that ketones yield more ATP than glucose for the brain [27] is important and may help guide the advice about the proportion of fats in the diet. A concern about "diabetic-like keto-acidosis" is generally misplaced with high-fat diets that include an excellent selection of vegetables and fruits.
  9. The possible benefit from intermittent or prolonged fasting periods should be discussed, and recommended to the public. [28] Comments from government experts on such issues, if presented with the latest research, could greatly help everyone, including cancer patients, and pre-diabetic individuals with metabolic syndrome.
  10. Government advice to counter cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity could be greatly improved by mentioning the above suggestions and advice about the use of excellent nutrition to prevent progressive diseases. They should continue their recommendation to exercise more regularly. The general advice mentioned above, keeping the sugar intake below 20% of total energy is not very radical, but will nevertheless require a big change of habits for some people. The advice on salt reduction, first to about 6 g/d and then to 5 g/d, may actually be ill advised. [29] The advice from the Nutrition Board should emphasize documenting the problems with the so-called modern diet. Such measures will lower the risk of obesity, high blood pressure and brain stroke. The advice should emphasize the fact that the main culprit in high blood pressure and heart disease is now known to be sugar and other refined carbohydrates, not salt or fat.

"While the grass grows, the cow dies"

This old saying captures the current sad state of affairs in official health and nutrition policies. Recent progress in the science of nutrition has changed the rationale for an excellent diet, so that we now understand why more and more people are afflicted by cancer, autoimmune disease, allergies, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, morbid obesity, etc. Too many console themselves with the possibility that the pharmaceutical industry will come up with new drugs that may help us out of this predicament - instead of looking carefully into what we eat to understand why we get sick, and how we can improve health with a diet that includes adequate amounts of essential nutrients.

(Dag Viljen Poleszynski, PhD, is the editor of Helsemagasinet [Health Magazine ] and has translated and published a number of OMNS releases in Norwegian.)

The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of all members of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service Editorial Board. OMNS allows equal time for dissenting viewpoints. Manuscripts may be submitted to the Editor at the email address further below.


1. Poleszynski DV. Ern‘ringspolitikkens edderkoppnett [The nutrition policy cobweb]. Helsemagasinet 2017; 8 (4): 52-7. .

2. Norsk biografisk leksikon [Norwegian Biographic Dictionary]. Kaare R. Norum. Downloaded February 19, 2018.

3. Christian Drevon. Downloaded February 22, 2018.

4. Jan Ivar Pedersen. Downloaded February 22, 2018.

5. Nasjonalt råd for ern‘ring [National Nutritional Council]. Kostråd for å fremme folkehelsen og forebygge kroniske sykdommer. Metodologi og vitenskapelig kunnskapsgrunnlag [Dietary advice to promote public health and prevent chronic disease. Methodology and scientific knowledge base.] Helsedirektoratet, Oslo, januar 2011 [Report, Directorate of Health, January 2011].

6. Nasjonalt råd for ern‘ring [National Nutritional Council]. Kostråd om fett - en oppdatering og vurdering av kunnskapsgrunnlaget. Rapport 05/17, Helsedirektoratet, Oslo [Dietary advice on fat - an update of the knowledge base. Report, Directorate of Health].

7. Nasjonalt råd for ern‘ring [National Nutritional Council]. Strategi for reduksjon av saltinntaket i befolkningen. [Strategy for reduction of the salt consumption in the population.] Rapport IS-0339, Helsedirektoratet, Oslo, oktober 2011 [Report, Directorate of Health, October 2011].

8. Cordain L. Evolutionary Aspects of Diet: Old Genes, New Fuels. In: Simopoulos AP (ed): Nutrition and Fitness: Evolutionary Aspects, Children's Health, Programs and Policies. World Rev Nutr Diet. Basel, Karger, 1997, vol 81, pp 26-37.

9. Bellisario A. Evolutionary origins of obesity. Obesity Reviews 2008; 9: 165-180. .

10. Brand-Miller JC, Griffin HJ, Colagiuri S. The Carnivore Connection Hypothesis: Revisited. Journal of Obesity 2012, Volume 12, Article ID 258624, 9 pp. doi:10.1155/2012/258624.

11. Sir Archibald Edward Garrod. Downloaded February 22, 2018.

12. Williams RJ. Biochemical Individuality. The Basis for the Genetotrophic Concept. McGraw-Hill Education, (1998) ISBN-13: 978-0879838935

13. Ames B. High-dose vitamin therapy stimulates variant enzymes with decreased coenzyme binding affinity (increased Km): relevance to genetic disease and polymorphisms. Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 75 (4): 616-58.

14.Walsh WJ. Biochemical Individuality and Nutrition. Walsh Research Institute. Downloaded February 20, 2018.

15. Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med 2007 Jul 19; 357(3): 266-81.

16. Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Gordon CM, Hanley DA, Heaney RP, Murad MH, Weaver CM. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 2011 Jul; 96(7): 1911-30.

17. Pludowski P, Holick MF, Pilz S, Wagner CL, Hollis BW, Grant WB, Shoenfeld Y, Lerchbaum E, Llewellyn DJ, Kienreich K, Soni M. Vitamin D effects on musculoskeletal health, immunity, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, fertility, pregnancy, dementia and mortality- a review of recent evidence. Autoimmun Rev. 2013 Aug; 12(10): 976-89.

18. Wimalawansa SJ. Non-musculoskeletal benefits of vitamin D. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2018 Jan; 175: 60-1.

19. Levy TE. Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, & Toxins. Livon Books. ASIN: B018OESKJG, 2002.

20. Marik PE, Khangoora V, Rivera R, Hooper MH, Catravas J. Hydrocortisone, Vitamin C and Thiamine for the Treatment of Severe Sepsis and Septic Shock: A Retrospective Before-After Study, CHEST 2017, 151(6): 1229-38.

21. Saul AW (ed.). The Orthomolecular Treatment of Chronic Disease. Basic Health Publications, Inc., Laguna Beach, California 2014. ISBN 978-1-59120-392-6

22. Malhotra A, Redberg RF, Meier P. Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from health lifestyle interventions. Br J Sports Med 2017; 51 (15): 1111-2.

23. DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC, O'Keefe JH. The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis 2016; 58 (5): 464-72.

24. Ravnskov U. The Cholesterol Myths. Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol cause Heart Disease. New Trends Publishing, Inc., Washington, DC, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-0967089706

25. Kealey T. Breakfast is a Dangerous Meal. 4th Estate, Harper Collins Pubs. London 2016. ISBN-13: 978-0008172343

26. Mercola J. Fat for fuel. Hay House, Inc., Carlsbad, California 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1401953775

27. Cahill GF, Veech RL. Ketoacids? Good Medicine? Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc 2003; 114: 149-63.

28. Zot CV. Periodic fasting. 2015. Christian Vlad Zot. ISBN-13: 978-1511552455.

29. Dinicolantonio J. The Salt Fix. Why the Experts Got it All Wrong and How Eating More Might Save Your Life. Little, Brown Book Group, London 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0451496966

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