Which Vitamins NOT to Take

By AM Northwest Staff

Many vitamin supplements can boost your health but did you know that too much of some of the most common vitamins can actually be dangerous?

We had pharmacist and health educator Ronda Gates on the show to tell us more.

Here were some of her tips:

When we eat, our body gets the calories we need through the combination of fat, carbohydrate and protein in our foods. However, the body needs more than that. It craves dozens of vitamins and minerals—the micronutrients our body needs to digest, absorb and metabolize those calories so we can grow, heal injuries, fight disease and drive the thousands of chemical reactions that are taking place in the body every second.

A lot of research has identified the amounts of these vitamins and minerals we need every day to have good health. They are called the Recommended Dietary Allowances, or RDAs.

Until the 1900s, vitamins were obtained solely through food intake. But more recently, as scientists continue to discover the role these nutrients play in our health, savvy marketers have developed products widely promoted to give us energy, repel disease, reverse aging and more. Many of us, recognizing the critical importance of vitamins have jumped on the supplement bandwagon.

As information about nutrition (a relatively new science) emerges, there are often conflicting stories about the value of vitamins. One day we read we must have beta carotene for good eye health, that vitamin C can prevent colds and antioxidants are required for good heart health. Soon we read about studies that reverse those beliefs.

Who are we to believe?

Essentially we need to remember that vitamins, in the form of pills, are supplements. That means they should be used to supplement our diet if it is not healthy on most days. Next it’s important to realize that vitamins, in the form of a pill, with few exceptions, have never been shown to be better than getting them from their original source—healthy foods. Additionally, when it comes to vitamins, they can be too much of a good thing. They interact not only with your diet, but with the prescriptions and other over the counter pills you take every day. Chances are a basic multi-vitamin is good insurance. If you are a woman you must supplement your diet with calcium and vitamin D. Because we live in the Pacific NW, where a majority of days can be cloudy, supplementation with vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin makes sense. More than thirty studies that enrolled more than 10,000 people have repeatedly shown that Vitamin C doesn’t prevent colds. But other studies reveal vitamin C is useful in enhancing the absorption of iron—something of interest to menstruating women with low blood levels of iron. There’s growing evidence that fish oils, from safe, deep water sources, may be one supplement we all need to prevent depression, improve heart health and protect us against many of the diseases of aging.

There’s no end to the pros and cons of supplementation. Essentially, if the promises made seem too good to be true, they are. If you are on any prescription drug, you need to check with your pharmacist to find out if vitamins interact with that drug. Don’t spend a lot of money on supplements. When you use them, stick to products labeled by reputable companies that assure the dose of each pill is standardized and the source of the vitamin or mineral is safe.

Over and over again, studies reveal that the best way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs is not from supplements. It’s from the fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains readily available in your local supermarket. Eat well and exercise regularly so your body can optimally process and use those foods to help you live long and live well.

For more about vitamins and mineral supplementation visit click here.

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