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What about vitamins?

Are they really a safety net? In general I rarely suggest people take supplemental vitamins and almost never suggest multi vitamins. In a mostly dehydrated and malnourished population, digesting multivitamins is very hard on the body, not supportive. People who feel bad find themselves looking for energy, strength and some version of health in a bottle of multivitamins. Most multivitamins are loaded with B-vitamins and lots of filler. That filler is then marketed as “the” magical part of the multi-vitamin. Some work from the premise that bigger is better, or that age distinction marketing somehow makes those little micro amounts of gingko for brain health useful or the over dose of calcium for women’s bones magically digestible, in spite of all the fiber that will absorb the calcium long before the bones ever see it. Many of those supplements offer great target labeling with sub therapeutic doses or massive over doses. Many multivitamins are indigestible in the body that consumes the current American diet of high fat, processed carbs and no functional fiber from fruits and vegetables or beans and legumes. In general people would benefit greatly by taking minerals for hydrating the cells and specific nutrients for better absorption and eating better. That would allow for adapting for individual needs. Vitamin D is one of those nutrients that does wonders for hormone and immune function. It works best when managed with methodical lower doses rather than the massive pharmaceutical high dose. It takes months or years to get cells to change and absorption to be impacted. Consumption does not equal absorption. That’s happening in the cells and generally unmeasured except for monitoring outcome, not always blood work. Vitamin D being above 35 and below 95 helps body functions work better. Too little or too much impacts the system in a negative way. Absorption depends on kidney function and even gallbladder function (or lack thereof). Even how much sunscreen one uses impacts Vitamin D absorption. Vitamin A is another great vitamin that can support immune function when flu season is upon us. Most multi vitamins offer it in Beta carotene form. We know from many studies that beta carotene must be converted to usable vitamin A and we also know that smokers or x-smokers should not take beta carotene supplements. It appears to increase cancer risk. Foods with beta carotene does not seem to carry the same risk. Vitamin A is toxic if too much is taken so be mindful. Common supplement doses are 5000IU. Zinc is a great support mineral that works also for immune function. It’s another one that too much is bad and too little is bad. 15-50mg is a common supplement dose. The rest should be made up in food. Over 100mg and the immune system is suppressed which is opposite of what you want generally. Vitamin C also a great immune support. No study supports the common myth that it keeps you from getting a cold but it clearly supports faster recover from a cold. There are many versions of vitamin C. Synthetic ascorbic acid is the cheapest, natural ascorbic acid can be expensive, it’s made from foods. Buffered C is made from minerals. Rose hips supports health but studies show it blocks vitamin c. It is a bioflavonoid. Vitamin C is water soluble but too much can wreak havoc on the liver health. B vitamins, while also water soluble, also have overdosing potential. I see a lot of people that take so much b-12 that they have the same memory impairment as too little. When folic acid levels are low it can look like vitamin B12 is low. B- 6 when over dosed can make your muscles and nerves feel twitchy and can actually lead to slight nerve damage. On the plus side it can repair nerve damage if taken correctly. I hope you can see that the mega multi vitamin might not be the best safety net. Please consider knowing more about the supplements you are taking and why. Especially with mega dose/ingredient products or things that have the kitchen sick on the label in micro doses often for marketing not for health. Minerals can be taken without foods. Vitamins must bind with the foods to get the desired benefit. Know your body needs and realize that these products and labels are built for a broad generalization of people. And that just might not include you and your health needs. As always make choices that matter. Diane Pinazza RRT, ND Herban Resource Center LLC 405-324-7545

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