Thursday, April 22, 2010

Optimal values

If a little of this or that is good, then more must be better for me, right? No, but unfortunately, many of us think this way. Still others with some knowledge of how things are in a biological or physiological or medical context understand that a plateau of effect is often reached whereby a given compound or nutrient is no longer effective. But often ignored is the adverse effect of taking in too much of that substance. Hence, there is an inverse bell curve, as shown below, that most probably explains the effects of most substances we each encounter whether at the dining table or elsewhere in the environment.

Allow me to provide a short example. Athletes who take oxygen from the sidelines ostensibly to "recover." A higher intake of oxygen will actually saturate the hemoglobin in the red blood cells and hinder exchange of carbon dioxide transfer from peripheral tissues. Sure, breathing pure oxygen reduces respiration rate - less huffing and puffing after scoring that touchdown - but has little value in allowing the muscles to recover.

Thus, as has been so often said - everything in moderation.

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