Darwin-L Message Log 8:84 (April 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

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<8:84>From geoffm@cogs.susx.ac.uk  Tue Apr 26 05:36:28 1994

Date: Tue, 26 Apr 94 11:37 BST
From: geoffm@cogs.susx.ac.uk (Geoffrey Miller)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Vitamin C

On vitamins and evolution, I'd recommend the following book:

  Eaton, S. B., Shostak, M., & Konner, M. (1988).
   The paleolithic prescription: A program of diet & exercise
   and a design for living. New York: Harper & Row.

  Don't let the goofy title put you off; it's a well-reasoned
analysis of human nutrition based on reconstrucing what
our hominid ancestors probably ate, and thus what our digestive
and physiological systems are adapted for processing.
Their reasoning is perfectly Darwinian: a lot-fat, low-sugar,
high-fiber, high-protein diet is good for us _because_ that's what
we ate until the agricultural and industrial revolutions, not
because there's anything `intrinsically' bad about fat or sugar
across species.
  The authors suggest (p. 131) that "Paleolithic humans generally consumed
over seven times the currently recommended amount of vitamin C",
i.e. at least 500 mg a day compared to the 60 mg recommended by
the US RDA. Even so, 500 mg sounds like a pretty low estimate
for a highly frugivorous hominid species that might have easily eaten
a kilogram of fruit a day.
   Cheers -- Geoffrey Miller, University of Sussex, England

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