Facts about Vitamins - The Benefits of Multivitamins
Facts about Vitamins - Everybody knows that it's important to get enough vitamins. Unfortunately there is no exact science of the facts about vitamins for determining just how much of any given vitamin, mineral, or essential nutrient anybody needs at any given time.
Your age, your genetics, the varying combinations of the foods you eat and the times you eat them all interact with disease conditions to determine how much of various nutrients you need. Your needs aren't exactly the same as anybody else"s. Your needs aren't even exactly the same each and every day. It's one of the basic facts about vitamins that a daily multivitamin is extremely important to ensure good health.
Severe deficiencies of vitamins or minerals are relatively rare in healthy, young people. Slight deficiencies of certain ingredients, however, are fairly common. Vitamin B-12 is a common nutritional deficiency in people over 60 years of age. Calcium, chromium, folic acid (folate), magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and zinc are frequently deficient among people of all ages, (a little unknown facts about vitamins.)
Just a little deficiency can create big problems in your health over the long run. Many individuals drink juices that provide several vitamins at once. Insufficient intake of vitamin D and calcium raise your risk of developing osteoporosis. Not getting enough folic acid and vitamin B6 increases your risk of heart disease.
Certain illnesses put a severe strain on the body's stores of vitamins. Antioxidant vitamins are depleted by diabetes. Ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis, and Crohn's disease can rob the body of vitamins D, E, and K.
One of the more somber facts about vitamins is that HIV depletes virtually every vitamin and mineral, as do smoking cigarettes and drinking excessive alcohol. And just because you don't have HIV doesn't mean you're safe. The much more common HPV, human papillomavirus, the cause of cervical cancer and genital warts, diverts vitamin A and beta-carotene from almost every tissue in the body.
(It's also worth noting, for addition facts about vitamins, that taking that scientists at the University of Washington have discovered that taking just a small, 5000 IU dose vitamin A every day can make transmitting HPV to another person as much as 99% less likely.)
If you're taking any kind of prescription drug to stay healthy, you almost certainly need a nutritional supplement. Statin drugs for lowering cholesterol interfere with the production coenzyme Q10. The "water pill" Lasix (furosemide) that's given to almost anyone who's ever had a heart attack flushes away B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. It's just one of the fundamental facts about vitamins that hundreds of prescription drugs interfere with the body's absorption, use, or storage of vitamins and deprive the body of their benefits.
There is evidence that multivitamins can help correct many specific conditions. The B vitamins enhance men's fertility. Folic acid is important for expectant mothers. Multivitamins may soothe the pain of arthritis, eliminate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), boost mental function, cut down on antisocial behavior in children, and generally improve well being. Whether you're healthy or you're sick, chances are you can benefit from a daily multivitamin.
Vitamin enthusiasts often promote "megadose" therapies with common vitamins. A megadose is an intake of a vitamin in an amount greatly above the amount the body needs for normal function. Megadoses can be 5, 10, or even 20 or 30 times the recommended daily allowance.
Sometimes a megadose of a water-soluble vitamin just for a day or two actually helps prevent disease, as is the case with taking up to 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day or two can help keep you from catching cold. Sometimes a megadose of vitamins under professional supervision can correct a chronic deficiency disease such as pernicious anemia or certain conditions of the bone.
Most of us, however, only need vitamins at the level of nutritional needs. For generally healthy people, vitamins are a safe and effective "added insurance" against developing chronic conditions.
Here are some important facts about vitamins to keep in mind:
Your nutritional supplement shouldn't contain more of a nutrient than your body can absorb. It's one of the incontrovertible facts about vitamins that more isn't necessarily better. For instance, your digestive tract can't absorb a day's worth of calcium from a single tablet. Two tablets a day with a smaller dosage would be necessary.
Another of the key facts about vitamins is that large doses of antioxidant vitamins, such as 10,000 mg of vitamin C or 3,000 IU of vitamin E every day, can alter the way your body responds to vitamins in general.
If you abruptly stop taking a megadose of antioxidant vitamins, your body will act as if you were nutritionally deficient. There is a famous case of a man from Sweden who drank 10 glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice every day for three months while he was on vacation in Florida. When he got back to Sweden, he promptly developed the vitamin C deficiency disease scurvy.
It is never a good idea to take megadoses of antioxidant vitamins over a period of weeks or months unless you are treating a specific health condition that requires them. And one implication of the facts about vitamins is that it's also important not to emphasize one antioxidant over another.
Now that you know that moderation can be a good thing, what can you expect from taking a supplement?
It's not too much to expect your supplement to:
Assist your digestive function.
Boost brain function.
Give you added energy.
Help with weight management and sugar control
Increase your immune resistance, and
Shift hormonal balances in ways that slow down the process of aging.
Should you take a multivitamin or a lot of single vitamins?
The best way to get your "vitamin insurance" is to take a multivitamin formula. Formulas balance individual ingredients. Some additional facts about vitamins, is you won't be getting your zinc without copper or your folic acid without vitamin B-6. There may be advantages to taking certain nutrients at a higher dosage, but there can be drawbacks, too. Taking a balanced formula takes the guesswork out of your nutritional plan.
You aren't going to be able to get all that from a single vitamin, mineral, herb, phytochemical, amino acid, or any other specialty chemical. You need a balanced blend of about 70 nutrients. Don't run to the health food store and buy one bottle of 70 supplements. Find the single supplement that gives you all the nutrients you need in a convenient daily dose.
But even if the label says the product contains every nutrient you need, and even if the label is truthful, you need vitamins made the right way. As a consultant to natural product manufacturers, this contributing editor has seen just about every possible application and misapplication of good manufacturing practices to the making of vitamin capsules.
Here's what you need from your vitamin maker:
Vitamin manufacturers who really know the facts about vitamins know that blending vitamins isn't like blending cake mix. You can't just stir the mixture from side to side. Your vitamins need to be made by a process in which they are blended vertically as well as horizontally. If your manufacturer can't tell you how they do this, you should try another brand.
It is a basic fact about vitamins that it isn't enough for a vitamin to get into your stomach. It has to make the trip all the way to your bloodstream. Coating vitamins with a thin shell to keep them from being broken down by the acid in the stomach allows them to last long enough to reach your colon, where they can be absorbed. If your vitamins aren't enteric-coated, you need to be very sure to take them with food (to dilute the stomach acid they'll be exposed to), or you need to find another brand.
And finally, your vitamins and phytochemicals need to be fresh, never exposed to radiation, heat, sunlight, or humidity. And I would add to that list, bugs.
One of the peculiarities of supplements containing the antioxidant curcumin is that curcumin is so potent that it stands up to radiation. If a bug was to get trapped in the bottle and then the bottle of curcumin was to be radiated for 'freshness,' the bug would survive. It would live on the antioxidant power of the curcumin. There just wouldn't be any antioxidant power left for you!
If a very healthy moth flies out of your vitamin bottle when you open it, be sure to take your supplement back to the store for a refund. Or better yet, rely on manufacturers who implement carefully considered good manufacturing practices under stringent sanitary conditions to make formulas with complete vitamin nutrition.
A Trustworthy Comprehensive Product
One company that produces such a product to pharmaceutical GMP compliance is Xtend-Life Natural Products from New Zealand, which far exceed U.S. FDA requirements for nutritional supplements. Their flagship product, Total Balance,
contains over 70 nutrients including vitamins A, B, C, D, E, as well as many other vitamins, minerals, herbal extracts, amino acids specialty nutrients and enzymes.
We here at The-Vitamin-and-Supplement-Guide.com have been taking Total Balance for the past 3 years with excellent results.