Is too much of a good thing bad for us? This notion has been known and used since biblical times, and even made its way in Shakespeare’s work! When it comes vitamins, this is certainly a true statement, as taking vitamins inaccurately, not only can be bad for you, it can actually be toxic! To explain how this could happen, it’s important to understand how your body digests and processes vitamins, do vitamins ingested actually go to where they are needed? Does your body eliminate most of the vitamins you take? Or only the excess that is not required?
Considering that the value of the vitamins market was valued at nearly $48 M in 2021, it is only natural that you find yourself inundated by information, often contradicting, with the latest ‘scientifically proven’ discovery about ‘the’ vitamin must have for great skin, improved immunity, or greater stamina. But it is really important to understand how your body uses vitamins in order to filter the real from the media hype.
Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for the normal functioning of the human body. They play critical roles in maintaining good health, including supporting growth and development, maintaining strong bones and muscles, and boosting the immune system. There are 13 essential vitamins, classified into two groups: water-soluble vitamins (such as Vitamin B and Vitamin C) and fat-soluble vitamins (such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K). The form of the vitamins is very important to the way they are absorbed.
The main difference between vitamins from food and vitamin supplements is their source and the way they are processed by the body. Vitamins from food come from natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fortified foods. These vitamins are usually accompanied by other important nutrients, such as fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals, which work together to support good health. Additionally, the body is able to absorb and utilize vitamins from food more effectively than from supplements because the vitamins are in a natural form that is easily recognized and utilized by the body.
Vitamin supplements, on the other hand, are concentrated sources of individual vitamins that are taken in pill form. Not all vitamin supplements are made the same way. There can be differences in the manufacturing process, the source of the vitamins, and the form in which the vitamins are provided. Some factors that can impact the quality and effectiveness of vitamin supplements include the manufacturing process, the source of the vitamins, and the form of the vitamins.
Some companies use high-quality, pure ingredients, while others may use lower-quality ingredients or contaminants. The source of the vitamins is really important, as vitamins can be derived from natural or synthetic sources. Natural vitamins are sourced from foods, while synthetic vitamins are made in a laboratory. Vitamins can also be provided in a variety of forms, including pills, capsules, liquids, and powders. Some forms of vitamins may be more easily absorbed by the body than others.
Vitamins interact with each other in a variety of ways in the body. Some vitamins work together in a synergistic manner to support health and metabolism, while others may interact in a manner that reduces the effectiveness of one or both vitamins. Certain vitamins work together to support health and metabolism. For example, vitamin C helps the body absorb iron from plant-based sources, and vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium for strong bones. Whilst some vitamins can interfere with the absorption or utilization of other vitamins. For example, high doses of vitamin C can interfere with the absorption of iron, and excessive doses of vitamin E can interfere with the blood-thinning effects of anticoagulant medications. Also, some vitamins compete with each other for absorption in the gut. For example, high doses of calcium can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc, and other minerals.
Once consumed, vitamins are absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to the cells where they are needed. The body uses vitamins to perform a variety of functions, such as helping to convert food into energy, repairing tissue, and producing hormones and neurotransmitters. The body typically releases excess vitamins through urine. Water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin B and Vitamin C, are not stored in the body in large amounts, so any excess is rapidly eliminated in the urine. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K, are stored in the body’s fatty tissues and the liver, and can accumulate to toxic levels if consumed in excess over an extended period of time.
This can lead to various health problems, some of which can be very serious, referred to as vitamin toxicity.
Symptoms of vitamin toxicity can vary depending on the specific vitamin, but can include skin problems, liver damage, birth defects, and other health problems. Water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin B and Vitamin C, are not stored in the body in large amounts, so toxicity from these vitamins is less common. However, high doses of water-soluble vitamins can still cause health problems, such as upset stomach, diarrhoea, and nerve damage.
Taking vitamins is essential for a healthy body function, but it is important to establish the body’s needs in order to meet those needs without overloading the body with surplus nutrients that may cause health problems. Undergoing certain tests to find out if there are any deficiencies is important to know which vitamins to take and how much. As it is vital to ensure that the source of these vitamins is a reputable source that only uses high quality ingredients in the manufacturing process.
Taking those important steps before adding vitamins to your daily routine will help ensure you achieve and maintain good health without burdening your body with unnecessary supplements which are surplus to your requirements. A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods is typically the best way to ensure that you get the right quantity of vitamins and minerals, and it’s always best to talk to a doctor or a registered dietitian before starting a supplement regimen to determine the right amount and type of vitamin supplement needed.