Multivitamin drinks and supplements are bad for your health
Multivitamin drinks and supplements usage could be the greatest health risk you are putting yourself into with no idea. As world health problems get worse and worse, we increasingly turn to over-the-counter supplements and those found in food store supermarkets as part of the solution. We want syrups and pills we can pop that make us think we feel less lethargic or less stressed, or that make our children smarter or our bones less brittle. And the supplements industry is only too happy to convince us they have the answer to all that and much more.
Our bodies use 13 vitamins. Twelve are found largely in meat products and one is found largely in fruit and vegetables, so anyone telling you to eat fruit and vegetables to get vitamins has well and truly got the wrong end of the stick. Four of the vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are fat-soluble and nine (the eight B vitamins and vitamin C) are water-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water, are distributed throughout our largely water-based body and are generally excreted in our urine if we consume too much of them. This doesn’t mean that overconsumption is harmless, however consistently high levels can result in some nasty disease outcomes.
If we take a look at vitamin C for example, Vitamin C is probably the celebrity of vitamins. Besides being an anti-oxidant, the main role of vitamin C is to aid in the formation of collagen. Collagen, a fibrous, elongated protein, is what our skin, muscles and connective tissues are made of. Since we’re about 25 to 35 per cent collagen, we are constantly making and repairing the collagen. We can still make collagen without vitamin C, but it’s rather an unstable product. And this is why the symptoms of scurvy all relate to the breakdown of collagen. Vitamin C is present in just about every food except pasteurised milk (because the heat destroys the vitamin) and we store very large amounts of it in our bodies. An adult male stores about 1800 milligrams of vitamin C and would use 10 to 30 milligrams in a day, which is why it takes about two months for scurvy to appear. So logically speaking, our diet needs to be extraordinarily lacking in vitamin C for us to become deficient in vitamin C.
The average vitamin C tablet contains 500 milligrams of vitamin C, that’s enough to sustain an adult male for a month. Just like the rest of the water-soluble vitamins, any excess vitamin C we consume swiftly ends up in our urine.
Vitamin A is critical to our survival, so we’re very good at getting all we need from our food supply. It’s only found in foods of animal origin, this means that vegans and vegetarians are at significantly higher risk of suffering from vitamin A deficiency if they don’t eat enough orange vegetables e.g carrot
Folate supplements, significantly prevents neural tube defects. But folate only prevents neural tube defects if taken between the 21st and 27th day of pregnancy, a time when most women don’t realize they’re pregnant. This means that unless the mother was planning to become pregnant, she’s unlikely to have been taking folate supplements at that crucial time. Due to this, governments have adopted public health policy of fortifying grain products with folic acid.
High levels of vitamin A from supplements and even skin care products (with vitamin C) have been strongly associated with birth defects, osteoporosis and the possibility of increased cancer risk. Unless prescribed by a doctor, buying vitamin supplements is a waste of money and health risk in most cases.