Hidden Dangers in Vitamins?

From childhood, many of us have been taught to take our vitamins. Recently, new studies have shown that these vitamins we consume in an attempt to boost our immune systems and remain generally healthy may not be benefitting us at all. In fact, according to a recent Consumer Report, they may be quite harmful.

It may seem like loading up on as many vitamin supplements as possible every day could only cause your body benefits. Taking lots of calcium supplements must lead to super strong bones and taking a lot of vitamin C increases immunity, right? Wrong. Although our body does tend to flush out excesses of vitamins, it puts a strain on our system to do so. Some vitamins, such as iron and vitamin E are dangerous if you take too much of them and can result in diseases or, in extreme cases, even death. Taking too much calcium, for example, can lead to kidney stones.

As long as you are maintaining a healthy, well-rounded diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and meat (or dairy and meat substitutes), you should be getting the amount of nutrition you need from your food, without needing to take vitamin supplements, this recent study tells us. What this means is that you must consume the right foods, with the right vitamins in them every single day. For some of us, that is a challenge, especially with food allergies or moral dietary restrictions. I’m not saying you should take a vitamin and drink a glass of water and call that your meal, but as an additional bit of nutrition, vitamins can be helpful. That is what “supplement” means: to complete or enhance something else.

Don’t get me wrong. Taking too much of a vitamin is a bad thing; that is the nature of the phrase “too much:” it states that it is more than the allowable amount. Although studies might not show that taking a multivitamin makes a person particularly more healthy than a person who doesn’t take a multivitamin, I know that for myself, I get sick less often when I know I have been taking my vitamins. Perhaps it’s a placebo effect, but it works.

The Consumer Report which explains the new findings of dangerous vitamins focuses many of its points on supplements made to encourage weight loss or sexual performance etc., rather than vitamins specifically, implying that multi-vitamins and calcium supplements are not truly as dangerous as they are writing. Their statement that in the past five years the FDA discovered over 900 cases of people choking to death on supplements was particularly weak. People choke on things all the time; it is not necessarily a reflection on that object. This point severely weakened the argument, in my opinion; such a grasping attempt to find things wrong with vitamins tempts me to disregard the entire study.

As was stated multiple times in the Consumer Report, check with your doctor before making any rash decisions about supplements. Be wary of weight-loss pills and be aware that taking too much vitamin D can cause vomiting, weight loss, muscular issues and diarrhea, for example, but don’t run around telling everybody their daily multivitamin is going to send them straight to the grave either. Personally, I’m going to keep taking my vitamins; I just won’t take too much.

Posted by on Aug 23, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments