VITAMIN MYTHS

When checking out the facts about Vitamin B, it is important to differentiate between what information is an actual fact, and what is simply a myth.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about everything, so any information learned on any topic should always be evaluated before deciding whether or not it is true. There are many myths about vitamins and supplements in circulation today. Some vitamins, such as vitamin D, have many myths attributed to their use. Others, such as vitamin A, don’t have any at all. The following sections will break down the myths about specific vitamins.

Vitamin B

A common issue is that the B complex vitamins, including Folic acid will reduce the risk of heart disease in women who are prone to heart problems. This theory has been tested, and is proven to be false. Studies show that women who took B complex vitamins and Folic acid were no less likely to have heart problems than women who didn’t consume these supplements.

Some say that Vitamin B1, which is also called “thiamine”, helps the growth of hair at the roots. You will even hear that the hair will not grow properly without this vitamin. Some issues are even passed around that claim Vitamin B1 assists with the root development of plants as well. This is certainly not the case, as there are no scientific studies to back up such claims. Another version of this issue is that taking Vitamin B1 helps to reduce transplant shock for either people who are receiving new organs, or plants that are being moved.  Again, this isn’t at all the case.

Have you been told that Vitamin B6 is safe for you to consume, even if it is taken above the recommended limit? This is supposedly true, because it is a water-soluble vitamin. However, the myth is also quite false, as excessive B6 in the human body can lead to neuropathy pain, skin lesions, vomiting, and even more health problems. Vitamin B6, like any other vitamin, is best taken within the recommended dosages.  Another issue about Vitamin B6 is that it is an effective treatment for PMS. While double-blind studies were done that initially proved this to be the case, further analysis of those studies have been proven them to be inaccurate.

Vitamin B12 is received by most individuals through the meat. Vegans and vegetarians, however do not get this vitamin from eating meat, for obvious reasons! This fact lends credence to the myth that people need B12 every day in high dosages. In truth, B12 is needed in exceptionally small amounts, only about 2 micrograms a day, as the body can store up years worth of B12 for future use. For this reason, going without this vitamin is not usually problematic as long as it is ingested occasionally in one form or another.

Vitamin C

While Vitamin C is quite good for you, and does help to build the immune system, taking a huge dose of vitamin C will not keep a cold away! Scientists have cured many illnesses, as you know. However, as the old saying goes, there is no cure for the common cold! Vitamin C is no miracle cure for any illness, sadly.  There have never been any scientific studies done that would prove otherwise.

Vitamin D

One very interesting myth about Vitamin D is contained in its moniker! You see, Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin. While it is quite essential to the body, and for this reason is referred to as one, Vitamin D is actually a hormone!

As it is commonly known, Vitamin D is made in the body by sun exposure. This is a true fact, however it is a myth to believe that a sufficient amount of vitamin D can be gained in the body simply by normal day-to-day exposure to the sun. Unless someone spends large amounts of time outdoors, most people do not get enough sunshine in their everyday lives to produce the required amount of vitamin D. Purposely sunning to try and avoid Vitamin D deficiency is definitely not a good idea! In order for your skin to absorb the sun rays, you would have to go out in the sun unprotected by sunscreen. Instead of preventing a deficiency, this could very likely cause skin cancer.

The next myth is that the proper level of Vitamin D can be sufficiently gained through diet. This is incorrect, as the body naturally produces Vitamin D3. Food sold in supermarkets generally contains Vitamin D2 when the label states that the product has Vitamin D.  In fact, in addition to this statement, recent studies show that the amount of Vitamin D listed on the labels of most foods is completely inaccurate more than half of the time!

Another myth regarding Vitamin D is that it should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Regardless of whether or not you are pregnant, it is encouraged that all individuals receive 400 IU of Vitamin D on a daily basis. Babies should receive 210 IU of Vitamin D each day. Since Vitamin D crosses over into the breast milk, it is better to make sure the mother receives 4,000 IU of vitamin D instead of supplementing the child’s diet.

Vitamin E

Perhaps the most commonly believed myth about Vitamin E is that it helps to heal wounds, and can also decrease scars on the skin.  Studies have shown that Vitamin E has no positive effects on scars or wounds, and in fact can even be bad for the skin. Vitamin E has a tendency to prove rather irritating to the skin, and can even cause an allergic reaction. When used on burn scars, for example, Vitamin E has been shown to cause the scars to become more discolored than they were before!

 

FACTS ABOUT VITAMINS

Vitamin A

While most people know that Vitamin A is needed for the body’s good health, they do not realize what happens when the supplement is taken in excess. Too much Vitamin A can actually cause liver damage, damage to the nervous system, yellow skin, hair loss, and bone damage. In pregnant women, excess Vitamin A can cause birth defects to the child.

If you take it in the correct amounts, Vitamin A is not only healthy, but is also known to be essential to most bodily functions. The best way to get enough Vitamin A is through the foods you eat.  This important vitamin can be found naturally in eggs, whole milk, liver, and in fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored.

Vitamin A is absolutely essential because when it is not received by the body in adequate proportions, it can lead to immunity problems and infections. Luckily, this is rather uncommon in developed countries, and usually is only problematic with those who are on strict diets or maintain a high alcohol intake.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is actually a group of four vitamins, vitamin B1 also called thiamine, vitamin B2 also called riboflavin, vitamin B6 also called pyridoxine, and vitamin B12 also called cobalamin. Together, these four vitamins make the B vitamin group.

Most individuals in developed countries get plenty of B vitamins. However, vegetarians sometimes have a deficiency due to their being found primarily in animals. Some medications also affect the way B vitamins are absorbed into the body and can cause a deficiency. A vitamin B deficiency is usually characterized by skin rashes, nerve problems, and anemia.

Although a B vitamin overdose is almost unheard of, when it does occur symptoms include severe burning of any part of the body, itching, or numbness. As with all supplements, it is best to take vitamin B only as recommended.

Vitamin C

Ascorbic Acid, which is another name for Vitamin C, is essential for helping the body absorb iron. When too much Vitamin C is taken, it can cause diarrhea and stomach pain. This is important to keep in mind when someone suggests taking a Vitamin C overload to help cure a cold!

Vitamin C is has been commonly associated with the immune system. What most people do not realize, however, is that there is a whole host of potential problems that can come from a deficiency of Vitamin C. Lesser known problems stemming from a lack of Vitamin C include nosebleeds, general weakness and lassitude, swollen gums, and scurvy.

Vitamin C is found naturally in most fruits and vegetables, and is found in larger portions in raspberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, strawberries, and cabbage. Surprisingly, Vitamin C can also be found in liver. When taken in the form of supplements, Vitamin C is best consumed in liquid form, as the pill form is not always absorbed properly by the body.

 Vitamin D

There are actually two different forms of vitamin D. There is one form that is found in vegetables, and another form found in animals. The form of Vitamin D found in vegetables is called ergocalciferol, while the alternative form is called cholecalciferol. This is the form that is metabolized by the body whenever we expose it to sunlight.

Vitamin D is an essential hormone in the body, and deficiencies are usually found in people who have milk allergies, lactose intolerance, or those who are strict vegetarians.  When not enough Vitamin D is taken into the body, it can cause rickets and osteomalacia, which are both diseases that affect the bone structure.

When too much Vitamin D is consumed, however, it can cause an over- absorption of calcium. This can result in calcification, urinary stones, and problems with the central nervous system. Problems with the central muscle system can show up as well. Vitamin D should be taken only as recommended by your doctor.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in wheat germ, spinach, olives, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. Eating foods that are rich in Vitamin E can help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer, as well as helping to guard against the UV rays of the sun.

Although it is exceptionally rare for people to develop a Vitamin E deficiency, it’s still important to make sure that the recommended daily dose is taken.  A Vitamin E deficiency has been known to cause severe problems with the nervous system.

Too much Vitamin E can cause fatigue, weakness, flu-like symptoms, abdominal pain, internal bleeding, and headaches. These symptoms will increase in severity if the overdose is continued over a period of time.

This article is excerpt from Supplement for Health.

Featured image credited to Ivabalk of Pixabay

 

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