Vitamins: Myth vs Fact

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Do you take a daily vitamin? If you have kids, do you give them a daily vitamin? Even your pets?  

The word vitamin is thrown around all the time, but just what are vitamins?!

They are a group of organic compounds that are essential for normal growth and nutrition in the human body. There are two groups of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins- A, D, E, and K dissolve in fat. Since these vitamins are stored in the body, extremely large amounts of them can potentially be toxic. Water soluble vitamins on the other hand- B and C, dissolve in water and are excreted in urine, therefore aren’t stored in the body and the body needs B and C vitamins replenished each day.

Vitamins are a popular topic and surrounding the topic of vitamins are a lot of misconceptions!

Let’s tackle a few of the most popular ones:

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“I only need vitamins when I’m sick.”

Ever feel a cold coming on, get a stuffy nose, sore throat, feel miserable, and people say, “drink orange juice!” Why? Because it’s rich in vitamin C! While vitamins do help boost the immune system, especially vitamin C, it’s more important to regularly nourish your body with vitamins to strengthen the immune system rather than loading up on the vitamins trying to fight a virus off after it already hits!

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“The more the better.”

More is better, yes in some cases, not when it comes to vitamins though! The body only needs vitamins and minerals in small amounts, it’s not advantageous to take more than the recommended dose, in fact, it can even be harmful. Fat soluble vitamins for example, such as vitamin A, in large excess can lead to dizziness, nausea, headaches, even death in extreme cases. High amounts of vitamin D, another fat soluble vitamin, can lead to nausea, vomiting, constipation, and kidney damage. While yes, water soluble vitamins aren’t stored in the body, but megadoses can be harmful. Vitamin C for example, the recommended daily amount is 65-90 milligrams, the upper limit is 2,000 milligrams a day. A megadose of vitamin C can cause symptoms such as: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, heart burn, abdominal cramps, headache, and insomnia.   

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“I get everything I need from food.”

If you eat a very healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, then yes you probably get a good number of essential vitamins and minerals. But, did you know that still a wide variety of these nutrients are hard to come by through modern diets alone? This is due to many environmental factors, not least of all is the nutrient depletion in today’s soil and water. In addition, the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis also attack our body’s nutrient supply. This has led to a wide variety of health deficiencies in which vitamin supplementation has been recommended. Also, a lot of people are deficient in vitamin D, especially during the winter months. It is also worth noting that those following specific diets such as vegan or vegetarian, need to be sure they’re getting appropriate amounts of B12, D, along with omega’s, from sources other than meat, or consider taking a good vitamin.

It’s always good to talk to your doctor before starting any new vitamins or supplements.