A Supplementary Diet

The cover article (“The Supplement Cocktail,” India Currents, March 2013)laments the lack of adequate Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for food supplements and so-called nutraceutical supplements. However, since these supplements are made from natural or unpatentable ingredients, no company can afford to invest millions of dollars in controlled clinical trials to prove their safety and effectiveness. Therefore, any FDA regulation that treats these supplements like drugs could effectively shut down much of the supplement industry.

Moreover, FDA approval is an imperfect bureaucratic process that provides no guarantee of safety. Studies show that over 100,000 Americans die each year from adverse reactions to FDA approved drugs that were prescribed by a doctor and used as directed. Thus, although any death caused by a supplement is a tragedy, let us not fall prey to Joseph Stalin’s perverse logic that “a single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is a statistic.”

The author’s advice to supplement users to consult a doctor is also somewhat impractical.

Most American doctors learn very little about nutrition in medical school or during their medical practice. More importantly, they are not trained to think in terms of dietary causes or remedies when diagnosing or treating a disease. Therefore, it may be better to consult a good diet and nutrition counselor for expert advice.

Ultimately, the best approach is for everybody to get more educated about their own health and nutrition. However, since expert opinions about diet and supplements vary widely, it is better to be conservative in the use of any supplement. Ideally, people should get all their nutrition from natural and minimally processed foods, using supplements only as a last resort.

For example, if you are vegetarian, and you can’t get enough vitamin B-12 or omega-3 fatty acids from your diet, consider taking B-12 pills or fish oil capsules. Or if you are dark-skinned, and can’t get enough exposure to sun in winter, consider taking vitamin D3 pills. As a further precaution, don’t take very large doses of vitamins, and avoid pills that contain additional supplements you don’t need.

Vijay Gupta, Cupertino, CA

A Greener Goal

Sujatha Ramprasad’s article, (“Greener Gifts, Please!,” India Currents, March 2013)  resonated with me.

I, too, struggle with burden-value vs. image-value vs. utility-value of a gift.

Over the years I have slimmed down my gift options to: checks, food, email/letter and recently, hand-made crafts.

I stock up on desi-style check-in-envelopes and repurpose fabric scraps and greeting cards into usable gifts (baggies, bookmarks, gift tags)

I didn’t grow up with trash bins, but have three in my condo. I can’t do without them. I throw out more trash than my mom did, but much less than my neighbors.

Sujatha inspires us to be more conscious consumers. Minimizing the footprint of stuff one has or causes others to have is dharmic, it is a noble enterprise.

Mala Setty, Long Beach, CA

Music for Life, Love and Joy

Teed Rockwell has written an excellent, objective and scholarly article (“Islam and Music,” India Currents, March 2013).

Music has crossed borders, inspired diverse nations and spread the message of peace and love for centuries.

Yes the Koran and many top Islamic scholars have nothing against music. The art flourished for generations in many Muslim countries. In Pakistan, despite Talibanization of the country there are lovers and creators of music who rise above the politics of murder, and believe in the message of life, and not death. Sadly, now many of the Pakistani musicians flourish in India than in their own country.

It’s sad that these Kashmiri girls had to give up their calling. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has a very old tradition of patronizing music, literature, and other fine arts but now our people are being deprived of these art forms by those not competent to judge the finer things of life.

Of course, opposition to music is also old. During the rule of the Mughal king Aurangzeb—a devout Muslim—music was banned. The story goes that once Aurangzeb saw a funeral procession passing by and asked who had died. The reply was: “It is music, Sir.”

Aurangzeb’s response: “Bury it so deep that it will not come out ever.”

Do Muslims who have enriched our lives through the Arts deserve a fatwa by heartless, soulless and mindless bigots whose interpretation of religion and life is not for the living? It is simply not acceptable.

Yatindra Bhatnagar, San Leandro, CA

Changing Habits

Ragini Tharoor Srinvasan’s article on cursive writing was a nice read. (“Signs of Our Time,” India Currents, March 2013). I definitely think the “touch era” is irreversibly changing habits that are there for a reason.
Rangaprabhu Parthasarathy, online

Stick To What You Do Best

On Kalpana Mohan’s article, (“A Guru Minus a Halo,” India Currents, March 2013) I guess some writers are good at writing and not at talking. I had a similar experience listening to the musician A.R. Rahman “talk” at a gathering, a few months back.

He felt at a loss for words and so started crooning instead, which was more enjoyable than his “talking.”

I remember reading a quote by the famous mathematician G.H. Hardy, “The function of a mathematician is to do something, to prove new theorems, to add to mathematics, and not to talk about what he or other mathematicians have done.”

Sumana, online

Regarding Kalpana Mohan’s article, (“A Guru Minus a Halo,” India Currents, March 2013) sometimes, it is best to leave things in ones imagination. In the mind, they remain unfettered and appropriately embellished. The moment that figment is grounded with reality, the accoutrements vanish.

I am reminded of the time I was eager to take my wife to the village where we would spend our summer vacations. I had fond memories of the frolicking, the river banks, and the lush paddy fields. Upon reaching the locale, the river banks were slushy, the paddy fields were hot and filthy. I wish I had not taken my wife there. I probably would still be describing the bucolic environs of the village to her today!

Prakash, online