Vitamins- Differences, Needs and Supplements

Here are a few ideas and answers on some of the most well known vitamins.....

As consumers, we need to be careful about over consumption of fat soluble vitamins.
Fat soluble vitamins are not as easily excreted in the urine or removed from the body as easily as water soluble vitamins. Almost anything we drink can be broken down into H2O… and many foods have water as a by-product from the digestive process. Fat, or lipids, is a very different story. Most individuals tend to try and limit their fat intake in our diet and so if we get fat soluble vitamins through food consumption, but we do not eat enough fat to ‘process’ or consume them then we could not only have the problems of poor absorption – which can cause symptoms of deficiency- but also problems with toxicity as well. Some can be stored in the body in small amounts (mostly in the liver and other fatty tissues.) These vitamins are able to be stored for longer periods of time increasing the chance of toxicity when these vitamins are consumed in excessive amounts. Water soluble vitamins leave the body more quickly and are very little are stored for future use.

A carotenoid is a pigment and the pigment materials that are found in fruits and vegetables- usually the colors range from yellow to orange to red (they can only be found in plant products and some fungus and bacteria- not in animal products with the exception of egg yolks and butter). I think one of the easiest ways to tell if a fruit or vegetable has plenty of carotenoids is to simply look at its color…. Although some green vegetables are high in carotenoids as well. Some examples of high carotenoid foods are asparagus, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, tomatoes and corn.

Vitamin D functions primarily as a hormone- not simply as a vitamin. As a hormone, vitamin D is used to regulate calcium in the blood and the cells of the body as well as bone metabolism. It helps to regulate the absorption of consumed calcium and phosphorus from the intestines and how much calcium is deposited into the bones. My first answer to the question of who needs vitamin D is everyone! My physician told me that anyone she tests tends to be low and needs to take a supplement (we do live in Maine however, which can be a risk factor due to location.) A few risk factors that help a human being to be low in this vitamin/hormone are: skin color (dark skin can block sun exposure), season (northern climates in winter get less direct sun exposure and fewer hours of it), time of day (less direct sun exposure) and age (the ability to get/process vitamin D through the skin becomes more difficult with age.) If you wear sunscreen over 8 SPF than you are also at risk and individuals who spent little time in the sun are very much at risk as most of the vitamin D that our body uses is absorbed through the skin and not from diet.

Vitamin E has a few benefits that are fairly important. As an antioxidant, vitamin E helps form barriers between target molecules and other compounds wishing to ‘steal’ the electrons of the target molecule. The antioxidant will stand between the two compounds and willingly give up some of its electrons or hydrogens to the compound attempting to commit theft and protect the target molecule. Free radicals is the name for some of these compounds that steal electrons. Free radicals have ‘free reign’ when the body doesn’t have enough resources like vitamin E to protect cells. When a free radical steals electrons from other cells, the cell’s DNA is altered and the cell is unable to work the way that it is intended to do so. The cell could be injured or it could simply die. While exposure to free radicals is an essential part of life, exposure to huge amounts is not and doesn’t tend to be healthy.

Individuals who are more likely to have higher physical activity than the general population need a few higher amounts of some vitamins. One of them is vitamin B-6 as this vitamin is needed to process glycogen and protein for full metabolism… and people who engage in more physical activity are more likely to need more protein for energy. Thiamin is also needed in higher quantities for people with higher physical expediency because it helps to break carbohydrates down into energy and also certain amino acids. Folate is especially important for pregnant woman as their body needs the folate, but not enough folate can cause birth defects such as neural tube deficits (and for just general knowledge to women in this class who do not know… when you get your blood work done for your pregnancy and you are told that it is off and you might have a neural tube problem with your fetus…. Take a deep breath and smile- more than 90% of these results are wrong and having a due date that is one or two days off can give you a false positive… as well as a few other things. Yes make sure you are getting what you need especially if you are trying to get pregnant, but don’t stress for days over your blood test until it is confirmed by ultrasound. There is no reason to suffer that way. : )

There are a few reasons that individuals need to take supplements or multi-vitamin pills... but for the most part, the average person gets everything that they need from their diet. That of course depends on whether they are eating a good diet. In the end, I think that one thing I have learned is that the phrase ‘everything in moderation’ is really true. You can have too much of a good thing… and a virtue can become a vice if focused on too intensely. Vitamins and minerals appear to be the same way. One line that really stuck out to me during my readings was that dietary supplements might be necessary if you "don't eat well or consume less than 1,600 calories a day". Supplements can help with not eating well by adding missing nutrients, but I don’t think that supplements can give us good amounts of some things like fiber nor can supplements usually taste good. I would rather enjoy broccoli with a little bit of Ranch than whole foods in a pill. I think that would be so much more enjoyable. : )

What do you think? How do you eat?

1 comment:

  1. http://biopsychiatry.com/misc/vitamin-supplements.html