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Vitamins: Why You Should Pay Attention To the Label

ABC’s of Vitamins: What They Are And Why You Should Pay Attention To the Medical Advisory on the Label

Don’t take ‘em if you don’t need ‘em

 

 

Early this year, we noticed that people at work and even at home were getting sick a lot. “There’s a virus going around,” “it’s the weather” and “di ka kasi nag-Berocca (it’s because you didn’t take Berocca)” are just some of the common responses we’ve heard about the so-called flu plaguing just about everybody, ourselves included (as of this writing, at least three people in our team have been struck by a virus). But what piqued our interest is why people think the absence of Berocca in our diet or not taking vitamins was the cause of our sickness.

 

Do vitamins really work? Because my toddler son’s pediatrician disagrees; “no approved therapeutic claims diba?” we were told. Then again, another doctor (my son’s dentist) believes in the power of Healthy Options and probiotics. Meanwhile in a recent trip to a different doctor (for myself this time), I was prescribed antibiotics to treat my persistent cough and was told to take vitamin C once a day for 20 days and probiotics for five days to perhaps boost my immunity. I asked, “but I thought no approved therapeutic claims?” to which the doctor responded, “you need it.”

 

Via emojipedia

 

This then leaves us consumers confused on whether we need vitamins or not, what to take and if they truly work.

 

“Vitamins are organic compounds needed in small quantities to sustain life.”

 

The Lowdown

While many vitamins come from food, sometimes our bodies don’t produce enough of them or none at all.

 

Vitamins

Deficiency may cause…

Natural sources

A a.k.a retinol—also present in most anti-aging products today—retinal and four carotenoids, including beta caroteneNight-blindness and an eye disorder that results in a dry corneaLiver, cod liver oil, carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, butter, kale, spinach, pumpkin, collard greens, some cheeses, egg, apricot, cantaloupe melon and milk
DRickets and osteomalacia, or softening of the bonesExposure to healthy sunlight causes vitamin D production in skin. Also found in fatty fish, eggs, beef liver and mushrooms
EDeficiency is uncommon but may cause hemolytic anemia in newborns (a condition where blood cells are destroyed and removed from the blood too early)Kiwi fruit, almonds, avocado, eggs, milk, nuts, leafy green vegetables, unheated vegetable oils, wheat germ, and whole grains
KUnusual susceptibility to bleedingLeafy green vegetables, avocado, kiwi fruit, parsely
C a.k.a ascorbic acid—another popular vitamin added to skincare productsMegaloblastic anemia, a condition where bone marrow produces unusually large, and  immature red blood cellsCertain fruits as well as liver have the highest vitamin C contents. Note: cooking destroys vitamin C
B a.k.a thiamineBeriberi or a disease that causes inflammation of the nerves and in severe cases, heart failureYeast, pork, cereal grains, sunflower seeds, brown rice, whole-grain rye, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, oranges, liver and eggs
B2 a.k.a riboflavinAriboflavinosis characterized by sores around the mouthAsparagus, bananas, persimmons, okra, chard, cottage cheese, milk, yogurt, meat, eggs, fish and green beans
B3 a.k.a niacin, niacinamidePellagra characterized by diarrhea, dermatitis and dementiaLiver, heart, kidney, chicken, beef, tuna, salmon, milk, eggs, avocados, dates, tomatoes, leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, asparagus, nuts, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms and brewer’s yeast
B5 a.k.a pantothenic acidParesthesia, or “pins and needles.”Meats, whole grains, broccoli, avocados, royal jelly, and fish ovaries
B6 a.k.a pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, pyridoxalAnemia, peripheral neuropathy, or damage to parts of the nervous system other than the brain and spinal cordMeats, bananas, whole grains, vegetables and nuts. Note: drying, freezing and canning can reduce vitamin content
B7 a.k.a biotin—now commonly used in beauty supplements and haircare productsDermatitis or enteritis (inflammation of the intestine)Egg yolk, liver, some vegetables
B9 a.k.a folic acidLinked to birth defects if deficient during pregnancyLeafy vegetables, legumes, liver, baker’s yeast, some fortified grain products and sunflower seeds
B12Megaloblastic anemiaFish, shellfish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and dairy products

Source: Medical News Today

 

Per the experts, food is the best source of these vitamins but some people are advised to take supplements in case of deficiencies. It’s also important to stay within the recommended dosage because as in life, too much of something can be a bad thing. Read: you can actually OD on vitamins. Plus, they can interact negatively with some medications, too, so don’t play doctor and check in with your physician or a healthcare provider before mixing it in with your drugs.

 

So When Should You Take Vitamins?

Once you’ve been prescribed vitamins, take note of the prescription and ask when the best time is to take your pills. According to studies, efficacy is affected by when and how a person consumes his or her vitamins. For instance, vitamin B is best taken right after waking up—yes, on an empty stomach—as it helps with better absorption of the vitamin. Meanwhile, the water-soluble vitamin C is not stored in the body so people deficient in this vitamin are recommended to take it daily and in small doses per Medical News Today. Fat-soluble vitamins, meaning vitamins absorbed and stored in the body easily, can be acquired from food so no need to take them as supplements.

 

No Approved Therapeutic Claims

Or as the DOH puts it:

 

“Mahalgang paalala: Ang (name of product) ay hindi gamot at hindi dapat gamiting panggamot sa anumang uri ng sakit.”

 

“By definition, a vitamin is essential,” says dietician Andy Bellatti, MS, RD to the Insider. But they should primarily come from food because it’s natural and come with beneficial substances like fiber and phytonutrients. That synergy between vitamins and nutrients is something supplements can’t replace according to Bellatti. But there are cases when supplements are needed, case in point: vegans are advised to take B12 because it can only be found in animal-based food. What about the one-pill-does-all multivitamins then? Research suggests that there are “no substantial health benefits” from taking them. So if you’re popping pills because you sometimes like going on a junk food fest or binge-drink, know that a multivitamin doesn’t erase those foods’ negative qualities, i.e., excess sugar, unhealthy fat, etc. Interestingly enough, Insider adds that “starting a vitamin C supplement once you already have a cold won’t do anything.” So “if you do have a cold, stay hydrated and get enough rest. Don’t go to work and pound Emergen-C,” concludes Bellatti.

 

We’re still a little confused as physicians have different points of view on vitamins. But if there’s anything to take away from what we’ve learned from doctors and the world wide web, its eat healthy, don’t self-medicate and vitamin supplements like Berocca are not for everybody. Stop prescribing it to your friends unless your a doctor.

 

Via emojipedia

 

 

Art Alexandra Lara

About The Author

Cat lady turned mom. Thoroughly domesticated.

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