Friday, 27 July 2012

Everything you wanted to know about vitamins but afraid to ask

Vitamins are suppose to be essential for the Human body they are organic compounds that are required by organisms. They occur naturally in foods which cant be manufactured by the body it self (with the exception of L-ascorbic acid, vitimin C though not enough for our daily requirements). Early studies proved that vitamins were needed to prevent certain diseases. Scurvy was a illness people were deficient in vitamin C, certain forms of blindness and growth deformities were caused by the lack of vitamin A. Rickets or the softening of bones and dental deformities was the result of a deficiency in vitamin D or calcium and phosphate.
Linus Carl Pauling awarded twice for the Nobel prize in different fields, which gave him scientific credibility when he claimed that vitamins could not only prevent deficiency diseases they could prevent other diseases not related to vitamins.

Cancer, heart disease and the processes in aging could be theoretically reduced by the excessive intake of vitamins. During this time Pauling's message seem to offer comfort of preventing diseases by the simple idea of taking multi vitamins in pill form. The idea seemed to be an organic and natural compared with the pharmaceutical approach of a band aid. 10 mili grams of vitamin C would prevent Scurvy, the theory would suggest many oranges over 250 times the recommended daily allowance would prevent colds and flu symptoms.
vitamin nutritionists would like to think that taking supplements have many benefits

Vitamin A –
Promotes healthy cell growth; used in cell division and specialization throughout the body; and helps regulate the immune system. Poisonous if taken to excess.
B Complex – a combination of most or all of the B Vitamins. General uses: converting foods into energy; growth; metabolism.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) –
Uses: helps supports the normal function of the nervous system, muscles and heart.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) –
Uses: red blood cell and antibody production; respiration; and regulating human growth and reproduction. Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) -  Uses:  normal growth; metabolism of fat and sugar to energyVitamin B17 (Laetrile or Amygdalin) –
An extract of many seeds, nuts, etc, especially almonds. Claimed to be a cancer cure. Claimed by opponents to be poisonous because it includes an arsenic compound.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)  –
Humans are the only animals unable to store Vitamin C. Lack of this vitamin causes scurvy, a potentially fatal disease. It is used in forming collagen, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels and in maintaining bones and teeth, and in the absorption of iron. 
Vitamin D – 
Is made in the body by exposure to UV rays (sunlight).
Uses: promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorous that are vital in forming and maintaining strong bones. It may also be involved in regulating cell growth and maintaining a healthy immune system. 
Vitamin E –
Uses: as a powerful source of antioxidants; is involved in immune system function; DNA repair; the protection of blood cells, the nervous system, muscles and the retinas.
Omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fish oil supplements have piqued great interest. Studies suggest that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acid from foods such as cold-water fish, plant and nut oils, and English walnuts are strongly linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer's. However, thorough studies comparing omega-3s to placebo are needed to prove this memory benefit from supplements. 

Orthomolecular medicine coined by Linus Pauling is finding the right molecules in the right amount, could provide the optimum health. This have been described as food faddism or quackery by critics.
Certain forms of over the counter vitamins have different absorption rates with the body it hard capsules offer 20% while other offer 40% gels give 50% while in liquid form is 80% better the best is isotonix giving 90% is absorbed into the body.

It is uncertain that Orthomolecular medicine has prevented all the diseases that the vitamins are said to be beneficial for. No extensive research on the whole range of vitamins has led to this conclusion. though studies on vitamin C disproved the theory of preventing a cold. And Beta Carotene tests on subjects was to prevent lung cancer. 1500 Test subjects were given the equivalent of 6 carrots in one pill form. Dr Demetrius Albanes of the Us National Cancer institute found smokers who are most likely to develop lung cancer, were in fact 18% worse off when taking the vitamin that was to prevent the cancer. A study found that a Swedish diet rich in vitamin A (oily fish dairy products and vitamin supplements). Professor Hakan Melhus of Uppsala University Hospital found many cases of bone fracture. Cross referencing those cases with the dietary intake of vitamin A. The results was that their diet was a direct factor of osteoporosis a common killer in Sweden. Long term consumption of low doses of vitamin A (twice the daily dose) have a dramatic effect of 10% reduction in bone density.

Considering the negative effects of high dose of vitamins and the fact that over the counter pill forms of vitamins are expensive, I wonder if it is worth the risk of a unproven theory of Lingus Pauling. A normal diet with vegetables, fish, meat and dairy foods seems like a better way forward. Pill vitamin supplements in any of its forms may be the small weight that tips the scales, this could lead to an unhealthy diet. Pills in my opinion are for lazy people who can't be bothered to cook. With this in mind then the fussy eaters or the lazy cooks are mostly likely to suffer. The only time to indulge in vitamins is when pregnant ladies are encouraged to take folic acid to prevent birth defects. I will still look at Orthomolecular medicine with a skeptics eye though now I'll make sure I eat foods with each vitamin is checked so I am not deficient in anything.

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