The Myths About Vitamins
Vitamins are compounds that are needed by the body for good health. The human body cannot synthesize its own vitamins (other than vitamin D in the skin), and so these must come from the diet. There are a lot of myths about vitamins.
Supplements Are EssentialMyth
It is possible to get all the vitamins needed from a balanced and healthy diet, though some people may need extra supplementation. These include pregnant women or women who are planning on getting pregnant, people with certain illnesses, and people who are suffering from a vitamin deficiency. These should be taken only with the advice of a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Natural Things Are Always SafeMyth
Just because something is natural doesn’t make it safe. There are some very dangerous toxins in nature, such as botulinum toxin from bacteria, tetrodotoxin from puffer fish, and batrachotoxins from poison arrow frogs, amongst others. Even vitamins, which are essential for life and health, can be toxic in the wrong amounts (see next myth).
If Small Doses Of Vitamins Are Good, Big Doses Must Be Even Better!Myth
It is important to get the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of all the vitamins, but taking large doses (also known as mega-doses) can be harmful, especially for the fat-soluble vitamins that are stored in the body, but also for some of the water-soluble vitamins too. For example:
- too much vitamin A can cause problems for unborn babies, and can lead to blurred vision, headaches and sickness
- too much vitamin B3 (niacin) can lead to liver problems
- too much vitamin B6 can cause pins and needles and numbness in the feet and hands, and unsteady gait
- too much vitamin C can cause diarrhoea, and can lead to kidney stones
- too much vitamin E can cause blood-clotting problems
Natural Vitamins Are Better Than Synthetic VitaminsHalf a myth, half true
In vitamin supplements, vitamins from natural sources are identical to vitamins from synthetic sources, and are used by the body in exactly the same way. Vitamins in food seem to have more of an effect than vitamins taken as supplements. It’s not completely clear why, but it may be because they work together with all the other parts of the food, such as the other nutrients and fibre. It is better to get as many vitamins as possible from a balanced diet rather than as a supplement.
Expensive or Specialist Vitamin Supplements Are the BestMyth
There are many different combinations of vitamins on the market – vitamins for women, vitamins for dieters, vitamins for the over 50s – and these tend to be expensive. For people who are concerned that their diet doesn’t provide all the required vitamins and minerals, a simple, low-cost multivitamin supplement will be enough.
Extra Vitamins Make Your Hair Thicker And StrongerMyth
Unless hair has become brittle or is falling out as a result of a vitamin deficiency, taking vitamins won’t make it any stronger. The thickness of hair is generally inherited, and so extra vitamins can’t change this either.
Vitamins Can Replace Healthy EatingMyth
Some people belief that they can make a poor diet better by just adding in a vitamin supplement – this is a myth, because a healthy diet is about more than just the recommended daily intake of vitamins. It’s important to east food with the right minerals, with plenty of fibre, low fat protein and whole grains, avoiding too much fat and sugar.