Book Review: Naked Calories
Meet the Caltons – Mira and Jayson. They are two very fascinating individuals who spent 6 years travelling the world researching health and nutrition. Now that they’re back in the US, they are trying to alert the world to the dire epidemic of micronutrient deficiency.
Naked Calories is the first part of their solution to this growing world-wide problem.
To take a quick step back, most people know micronutrients by the names ‘vitamins’ and ‘minerals.’ Although we’ve all heard that vitamins and minerals are important, most of us have spent our lives focusing on macronutrients – such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – and we often forget that our body is extremely complex and requires a wealth of micronutrients. The first part of Naked Calories helpfully reminds us that we really do need sufficient amounts of a lot of vitamins and minerals in order to avoid potentially serious health problems. Even if you think you might be taking in sufficient amounts, there are so many ways in which these essential micronutrients can become depleted, many of them things I know I do often (like not sleeping enough, stressing at work, and having that glass of wine with dinner).
Personally, I became acutely aware of micronutrient deficiencies a few years ago when, during a routine checkup, I found out that my Vitamin D levels were seriously low. Like most people in that situation, I started taking a multivitamin (along with high doses of vitamin D), but I gave little or no consideration to how well the supplements would work.
Naked Calories really opened my eyes to the issue of multivitamins and supplements not necessarily working in all the ways we want them to (although I did regain normal levels of vitamin D 6 months later). The Caltons raise very critical questions, such as “Am I actually absorbing that 1000% RDA of vitamin C my multivitamin claims to have?” and “Are some micronutrients in my multivitamin preventing other micronutrients from being absorbed?” These are just some of the questions the book poses and addresses.
I’ve found from talking to people recently about micronutrients and supplements that people either love supplements or hate them. Some people – one of my friends, in particular – refuse to take vitamin pills. She claims that we absorb very little from vitamin pills and that it’s much better to get all your nutrients from whole foods.
I wholeheartedly agree with her regarding the fact that we should try to eat whole foods whenever possible, but I also think we should take supplements if we’ve got a micronutrient deficiency (like I did with Vitamin D). Naked Calories goes a step further and points out that getting ideal amounts of micronutrients is pretty much impossible from our food alone. We would need to consume over 20,000 calories per day on most diet plans in order to achieve this – something that we are all unlikely to be able to do, even if we wanted to!
At some point, all of this starts to seem a little like a lose-lose situation. On one hand, if you are taking a vitamin supplement, it might not be working as well as it should. On the other hand, if you are not taking any supplements, then you’re definitely missing out on some essential nutrients. That brings me to the best part about this book….
The Caltons actually provide us with a solution. Naked Calories doesn’t describe this solution in great detail, but if you visit their website, you’ll see that Mira and Jayson have actually developed a multivitamin that solves all of the problems they detail in their book, such as absorption issues and competition between micronutrients.
Of course, everything can be improved, and my main gripe with Naked Calories is that I would have liked to have read more about the Calton Project, their 6 year around-the-world trip visiting indigenous populations and learning more about nutrition and health from a variety of cultural perspectives. Perhaps we will hear more about this in their coming books (Naked Calories is the first of a trilogy, and Mira tells me that their second book will be coming out in October).
Have you read Naked Calories or have you tried Nutreince? If so, let me know what you think below.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free for review purposes. I received no other compensation, and this review is based on my own opinion. Note that some links on this page (and throughout this website) are affiliate links.