DailyDirt: Take Your Vitamins… Or Not. Who Knows What's Good For You?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

It’s not always simple to know what’s good for your health. We’ve seen that the placebo effect is far more complicated than it seems (or is usually presented) as its effects have grown stronger and stronger over the years across many clinical trials. Doctors themselves aren’t always certain what’s the “best” health advice, and they’re constantly re-evaluating whether current recommendations are actually valid — to develop better recommendations. Here are just a few links on vitamins and some of their (mistaken) benefits.

If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Take Your Vitamins… Or Not. Who Knows What's Good For You?”

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10 Comments
Paraquat (profile) says:

Vitamins D3, B12

In recent years, it’s being found that Vitamin D is more important than previously realized. UV light shining on the skin produces large amounts of vitamin D and theoretically nobody needs to take supplements. However, many people don’t get enough due to the fact that they spend too much time indoors. Plus it’s also true that excessive exposure of your skin to sunlight leads to early skin aging and skin cancer, so you shouldn’t spend your time in a tanning bed.

Thus, taking vitamin D3 (as opposed to D2, which isn’t as beneficial) makes a lot of sense, especially during winter when you are much less likely to be exposed to sunlight. In fact, many medical researchers have concluded that the flu epidemics in winter are the result of less vitamin D being produced in the body at that time of year. Vitamin D apparently plays a big role in helping the immune system.

Just how much vitamin D3 should one take in winter? It used to be that the minimum daily requirement was established at 400 IU, but that is just barely enough to prevent rickets, a dangerous disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. These days, 2000 IU should be considered minimum, or about 5000 IU at the high end. On a sunny day, sunbathing will get you around 20,000 IU per hour (though it may also get you a bad sunburn).

About vitamin B12 – no need to take supplements if you eat meat or fish. But the recent trend to go vegan poses a serious risk of deficiency. There are no plant foods that provide sufficient quantities of B12. If you’re vegan, you’d be well advised to take B12 supplements. A B12 deficiency is serious – it can lead to brain damage.

As it so happens, I’m a person who has to take B12 injections (I do it twice monthly, administering the shots myself). In my case it has nothing to do with diet, but it’s because I’ve had intestinal surgery with the part of the intestine that absorbs B12 removed. Before I started doing the injections, I was developing all the classic symptoms of B12 deficiency – fatigue, depression, nervous system issues. Fortunately, caught it on time to avoid any irreversible damage. But I’m now acutely aware of just how important B12 is, and I tell my vegan friends (though none of them want to listen – they may live to regret it).

Anin says:

Maybe

for 20 years I used to get splitting headaches regularly, every month or two. (Maybe it was migraine, I never really asked a doctor I just assumed it was normal.) At one point I started taking a daily multivitamin, originally Centrum, currently the generic Costco ones. Since then, I have never had those headaches, I can’t remember when I last had one.

It’s not placebo effect, it’s something I realized maybe a year or two after I started, that the headaches had disappeared. My theory – if you are deficit on something the vitamins will help. If you have enough of a vitamin or mineral, odds are extra does little for you. However, with the lesser variety in modern processed food, it probably can’t hurt to have a small dose of everything to ensure you are topped up.

Donald Delgor says:

A misguided sound bite

This sound bite’s headline is misleading at best. It suggests you’d get a balanced account of both the opponents and advocates of vitamin supplements. But in the text body you find almost nothing else but references that supplements are not needed and basically unnecessary or useless. For a more profound examination of the anti-vitamin claims and “evidence” read “2 Big Lies: No Vitamin Benefits & Supplements Are Very Dangerous” by Rolf Hefti. This piece here is mere empty rhetoric…..

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