Dec 11, 2014

The Deal with Vitamins - Potential Negatives

Vitamins are great.  It's an easy way to supplement your diet and ensure you're getting enough vitamins.  Right?

Sorta.

There's a catch, though.  Unless your diet is totally lacking in fruits and vegetables, you're probably getting some portion of your daily dose.  So you really just need a supplement.  But for some reason, vitamins all seem to overdo it, with a dosage of at least 100% and sometimes as high as 2 or 3 hundred!

Let's Talk Types


Vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble.  If you overdose on water soluble - no problem!  You'll just pee out the excess.  But if you overdose on fat soluble, it'll build up within your body and, depending on the level of overdose, could lead to harmful side effects.  Examples of fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K (more information here).

When I checked my multis, it turned out they contained an excess of a couple of these fat soluble vitamins, so I quit taking them and instead chose supplements of the specific things I knew I was low on: Calcium, Iron, Potassium, and Folic Acid.


A while back, Sister2 recommended that we all start taking Folic Acid, as it can help prevent some birth defects.  Gotta be prepared for accidental pregnancies, don't ye know!  And when I checked my current vitamins, it was already included, so I didn't have to worry about it until I quit taking them.

It took a while to find a Folic Acid supplement that wasn't mixed up with a multi, so I was excited when I finally did!  I didn't even bother to read the label because it was a water soluble, so it'd be safe, right?  More on that.

The Ridiculousness of Vitamin Manufacturers: Example - Folic Acid



Here's my current Folic Acid supplements.  The container looks great, right?  It tells you what they do, how many are in there, and the amount per pill, even though that information is pretty meaningless to the average human being.

What I never bothered to check until last night is this (sorry for the blurry photo).


In case you can't read it, it says not to exceed a daily dosage of 250%.  Laughable, right?  If I'm low on Folic Acid with my normal diet, how on earth would I exceed 250%?  But then, I read the nutrition information (more blurriness - I'm terrible).


Yes, you read that right.  200%.  Why on earth?!  The supplement company is basically assuming you get none of this in your daily diet, because if you're not supposed to exceed 250% and they're giving you 200%, that's only a 50% margin of safety.  Do you get less than 50% of your daily Folic Acid?

I have no idea, either.  But I'd like to think I can eat whatever I want without danger of my vitamin taking me to potential harmful side effect land.  By supplying such a ridiculous dosage, this supplement company is basically saying, "Eff your safety.  You want vitamins?  I'll give you a vitamin punch to the gut."

So I'm a little soured on supplements just now.  I still think they can be useful, but I also think the supplement companies give very little shit about the actual benefits of their product and are more concerned with marketing.  "Oh, 100% is good?  We'll give you 200%!"

With that in mind, I'm going to be a lot more careful picking out which supplements I buy, and I'm never going to take anything that gives me over 100% of what I need daily, water soluble or not.  That's just ridiculous.

Oh, and no, I won't be tossing these into the trash, even though I kind of want to, right now.  But I will be cutting them in half.  Because, you know, frugality.

What supplements do you take?  Do you get enraged by ridiculous nutrition labels?


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4 comments:

  1. I don't take anything, but thats just because I really hate taking anything. I probably need at least a calcium supplement.

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  2. I do get upset that they have to go overboard on it! Like why would someone need SO much?! I take D and a mulch-vitamin and then biotin. I also have to give myself shots of vitamin B every two weeks because my body does not absorb it. Rude.

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  3. You are right to be leery of vitamins. The supplement business is a billion dollar industry, generally unregulated and makes a lot of claims that aren't true. There's also research that suggests your body just likes the real thing better. In other words, your body metabolizes the nutrients in real food better than nutrients in pill form. If possible, eat real food.

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    Replies
    1. Well, I guess that's the problem. A lot of us don't have great dietary habits. There's such a prevalence of cheap, easy to make or obtain, food that has very little nutritional value. So knowing that we should eat something to fill our dietary needs is one thing. It's another to actually do it. I still think vitamins have a place as a supplement, but I'm also starting to realize you have to choose carefully and do your own research since the supplement companies won't be honest with you. And I'm definitely making an effort to keep improving my diet. Maybe one day I won't feel like I need supplements anymore!

      "Leery" is a great word!

      Delete

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