Is there a Paradox in the use of Vitamins?

Do you think taking vitamin supplements improves your health? Well you do if you supplement. But do they really? How do you know what your own bodies vitamin requirements really are? What is vitamin toxicity? What if you take too much of one vitamin and not enough of another? Have you thought about what excess of one vitamin does to the absorption of other nutrients. Most vitamins are synthetically produced in a laboratory. The lab chemically isolates the substance then refines it and adds fillers to form a pill or capsule. How safe are the ingredients in the filler materials or the capsules?

Vitamin C is probably the most supplemented vitamin. It’s really Ascorbic Acid. That’s kind of a scary term isn’t it? How about Vitamin B, well there are actually several Vitamin B’s. B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12. Each has it’s own name as well. And each of those names has a pretty neat looking organic chemical structure. What does your body do with these substances and how much do you need?

Are the vitamins you are taking fat or water soluble? Are they stored in your tissues or are they flushed away, and if they are flushed away (metabolized) does this happen in the Kidneys or the Liver? Perhaps they are all “used up” or change form. Perhaps they leave the body via Sweat, or Urine, or Feces? Perhaps perhaps. Should we be rushing to the local Grocer or Costco type warehouse and stocking up?

Most of us know our diets are not perfect so we take a “multi-vitamin”. Does this improve our health? Can our bodies absorb and utilize these synthetic combinations of vitamins? The sad answer to all these questions is very few of us really know our real need for supplementation. And even fewer of us know how to determine it.

I feel “safe” supplementing Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) which comes in many forms – pure, calcium ascorbate, and sodium ascorbate and is usually in powder, crystal, or pill form. Which is the “Best” one to take? The calcium and the sodium act as buffers because the acidic PH of the pure powder form is really hard on the stomach lining, so if I chose the wrong formula am I doing my body harm? If you have a sensitivity to Aspirin or Ibuprofen or similar pain killers then you definitely want to take a buffered C, and probably with food. Vitamin C is water soluble and quickly excreted from the body. So taking mega-doses probably isn’t a good idea. In fact it might not be a bad idea to break your pill in half and take some in the morning and some in the evening with your meal.

Now you’re beginning to see the problem with supplementation. We (the general public including myself) do not have the necessary education (and unfortunately neither does your average Medical Doctor) to make vitamin recommendations. Before you go out and start supplementing you need to have many blood tests to see if you’re bodies chemistry is out of whack. Then you need to consult a nutrition expert to “fix” your diet, then you can consult a competent nutritional doctor and figure out which supplements might work for you. In Europe many of our vitamins are drugs. You wouldn’t (Or at least I hope you wouldn’t) take prescription drugs without the advice of a physician (Not that all physicians prescribe the “right” drug – they don’t know everything) would you?

So the bottom line is this – if you are going to supplement at least take the time to sit down and visit several websites (Not the ones run by those selling vitamins) about nutrition. Learn about what the vitamins do and what are considered to be the “safe” levels of consumption. Then start slowly and stop if you get an adverse reaction.

Posted by on Jul 15th, 2008 and filed under Nutrition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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