Vitamins: Don’t piss your money away

Anyone you ask will probably recommend that it wouldn’t hurt for you to take vitamins.  We load up on vitamin C when we are sick and we certainly rummage through our cabinets looking for echinacea when a bout of the cold finds us.  But is it worth all that money if you are just going to urinate it out of your system?  This week I’m taking a look at what makes for a good buy and what can be left in the store on the shelf.

It should come as no surprise that your body needs certain vitamins and minerals to sustain proper function.  You need them for proper function of your eyes, bones, blood, tissues, just to name a few.  Water-soluble vitamins including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, biotin, folic acid, panthothenic acid, C, and niacin are excreted from your body easily, therefore allowing for deficiencies if not eaten through your diet.  You might not make notice of the little deficiencies that come in the form of  retaining water or  feeling tired (because you are deficient in B1 or pantothenic acid).   But you may not want more serious things to happen such as impaired nerve function,neural-tube defects for your baby if you are pregnant, and anemia (deficiencies of B12, folic acid, and B12 &B6).  For these types of reasons, vitamins should be taken more seriously. *

Just like not enough vitamins can be a problem, so can too much vitamins.  While the water-soluble vitamins will leave your body through your urine in excess, (B vitamins, folic acid, and C), the fat-soluble vitamins will stick around making it really difficult to have a deficiency in.  You may be familiar with them; they are vitamins A,D,E, & K.  Problems arise when people start loading up on vitamins with the misconception that somehow more is better.  Not the case here.  If you are taking a multivitamin which is giving you the proper doses of vitamin intake then anything more than that would be putting you at risk for problems.  Symptoms can range from being tired to having abdominal pain and losing your hair; having blurred vision and much worse- liver and kidney damage*.  The Council for Responsible Nutrition says that more than 70% of Americans are taking vitamin supplements whether it be in the form of a pill or some kind of fortification through food.  The usual suspects A, C, and E are noted for being taking in excess.  While vitamin C is excreted through your body (for reasons stated above), vitamins A and E are stored in your body, increasing the chances for getting heart attacks and strokes.  Older people are loading up on vitamins A and D, according to the Vitamin D Council, sometimes taking double of the required amounts in hopes of warding off osteoporosis.  The National Osteoporosis Foundation says that too much vitamin D can cause kidney stones and other kidney problems which can lead to bone loss.  So you can see the importance of how too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. Supplements can contain other things like caffeine and stimulants that you may not be aware that can cause toxicity as well.

The best thing you can do is to get all of your vitamin requirements through proper nutrition.  Keith Ayoob, associate professor in the department of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York agrees, “The best research says to take a complete multivitamin with 100 percent of the [recommended dietary allowance or RDA] and not more,” he said in a 2007 ABC article entitled, Are Too Many Vitamins Bad for Your Health?

Multivitamins make it super easy to get most of your daily requirements.  Look at your multivitamin bottle and check out the percentage of daily value and amount per serving.  Compare it to the FDA’s recommended daily amount and see how your multivitamin adds up:

RDA based on 2000 calorie diet, adults & children 4 and over

Nutrient Unit of Measure Daily Values
Vitamin A International Unit (IU) 5000
Vitamin C milligrams (mg) 60
Calcium milligrams (mg) 1000
Iron milligrams (mg) 18
Vitamin D International Unit (IU) 400
Vitamin E International Unit (IU) 30
Vitamin K micrograms (µg) 80
Thiamin milligrams (mg) 1.5
Riboflavin milligrams (mg) 1.7
Niacin milligrams (mg) 20
Vitamin B6 milligrams (mg) 2.0
Folate micrograms (µg) 400
Vitamin B12 micrograms (µg) 6.0
Biotin micrograms (µg) 300
Pantothenic acid milligrams (mg) 10
Phosphorus milligrams (mg) 1000
Iodine micrograms (µg) 150
Magnesium milligrams (mg) 400
Zinc milligrams (mg) 15
Selenium micrograms (µg) 70
Copper milligrams (mg) 2.0
Manganese milligrams (mg) 2.0
Chromium micrograms (µg) 120
Molybdenum micrograms (µg) 75
Chloride milligrams (mg) 3400

So the next time you are thinking about buying vitamins for your hair or the ones that swear you’ll lose weight if you take them, think twice about the effect it will have on your body.  Are you going to be doing your body a service or are you just going to piss them away?

*Belk, Colleen, and Virginia Borden. Human Biology. San Francisco: Pearson, 2009. Print.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Motrin
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 17:59:12

    It absolutely approve of with the whilom despatch


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