Advantages and Disadvantages of Vitamin Supplements
Nowadays, taking vitamin supplements that are available over the counter is something that people seem to be doing without actually knowing the real effects of doing so. Undoubtedly, the body requires vitamin supplements but there are advantages and disadvantages to the taking of them and it is high time that you knew the benefits and the disadvantages of doing so, more so if you are taking them in the form of pills.
It is absolutely necessary for the human body to have micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) for its normal and healthy growth during the growing stages and to maintain health at later ages. These micronutrients come to us in the food that we take and in some cases from supplements. Unless specifically prescribed by the physician, taking vitamin supplements across the counter might turn out to be more harmful than beneficial.
Advantages of Vitamin Supplements
The body is protected from disease and illness by the vitamins and the minerals that we consume and if the consumption is less than the normal requirements, then we suffer from what is known as vitamin deficiency which can lead to the development of specific diseases. Each kind of vitamin deficiency leads to a different sort of illness, for example Vitamin “A” deficiency leads to night blindness and dry skin and deficiency in Vitamin “B1” can cause numbness and loss of sensation in the extremities. Taking vitamin supplements give us a kind of immunization against these illnesses. A sort of “insurance”, especially for those people who lack a balanced healthy diet.
There are some vitamins that are “water soluble”, i.e., they are capable of being dissolved in the watery fluids of the human digestive system and as such are liable to be flushed out by the excretory system of the body leading. It is the fat-soluble vitamins like A, E and K that are stored in the tissues of the body that can lead to certain other types of diseases.
A short list of the vitamins that is needed and the diseases they lead to due to their deficiency is given below.
Vitamin A : Night blindness and dry skin. Found in vegetables, eggs, whole milk, butter, and liver. The vitamin is also known as Retinol.
Vitamin B1 : Also known as Thiamine. One of the reasons that leads to vitamin B1 deficiency is excess of alcohol. The deficiency of this vitamin leads to loss of sensation, a sense of numbness or tingling or shooting pain in the extremities especially the legs and also to beriberi, commonly a wasting of the muscles leading to paralysis. Vitamin B1 can be obtained by taking food such as vegetables, fruits, bran, whole grain, nuts, cereals and fish.
Vitamin B2 : Or Riboflavin. Leads to ulcers in the mouth, dimness of vision and cracked lips. Vegetables, liver, milk and eggs are rich in this vitamin.
Vitamin B3 : Diarrhoea, general weakness, sores in the mouth and a burning sensation in the tongue, weight loss and roughness of the skin are caused by vitamin B3 deficiency. Taking foods like vegetables, meat and fish, whole grains and cereals can combat this deficiency.
Vitamin B6 : Depression, nausea, soreness of the mouth and dizziness are caused by lack of vitamin B6 in regular food. Taking vegetables, bran and meat can be helpful in relieving these symptoms.
Vitamin B12 : Symptoms are general debility, shortness of breath and numbness and tingling of the extremities, the hands and the feet. Mostly this vitamin is found in fish meat and milk.
Vitamin C : Bleeding, infected or swollen gums and bruising are the results of deficiency of vitamin C. Though vitamin C deficiency is a very rare occurrence, it can be relieved by taking citrus fruits like orange and fresh vegetables.
Vitamin D : A deformed spine or bow legged formation are the results of lack of vitamin D. The sun’s rays abound in vitamin D and it can also be found in the yolk of eggs and in fish.
Vitamin E : Deficiency in this vitamin is not generally known, but, severe deficiency can affect the central nervous system resulting in ataxia and peripheral neuropathy. It is an important nutrient and can be found in vegetables, nut oils, spinach, wheat germ, whole grains and sunflower seeds.
Folic Acid : Symptoms of this deficiency resemble those of the B1 and B3. Vegetables, nuts, whole wheat and liver should provide the necessary nutrients normally needed. Pregnant women may require supplements.
Vitamin K : Bleeding can be caused by lack of vitamin K. It is found abundantly in vegetables.
Pantothenic Acid: Loss of co-ordination, fatigue and headaches are the symptoms related to the deficiency of this vitamin. Vegetables, potatoes, liver and eggs contain this another form of B vitamin.
Disadvantages of Vitamin Supplements
The disadvantage of taking vitamin supplements are many with cost the leading factor. In reality, preparing a well balanced, nutritious and healthy meal is by far less expensive than taking supplements. There is also the attendant danger of overdosing. You cannot overdose yourself by eating foods that contain vitamins. In addition, you may be getting enough water soluble vitamins from the food that you eat and the additional vitamins that you take are, in addition to causing the side effects of overdosing, only going to be flushed out of your system. They simply will not be absorbed. A loss to time, effort and money. Overdoses of the fat-soluble kind are the real culprits. The results of overdoses are many. For example, an overdose of vitamin A could cause ringing in the ears, blurred vision, hair loss and a host of other effects.
Some of the effects of overdosing of some specific vitamins are given below:
Vitamin A : Ringing in the ears, blurred vision, loss of hair, nausea, menstrual irregularities, skin rash and even irritability, apathy and stupor.
Vitamin B3 : Faintness, peptic ulcer, hyperglycemia, dizziness, gout etc.
Vitamin B6 : Numbness in hands and feet, walking problems, sense of position and vibration and even problems with memory and depression.
Vitamin D : Deafness, nausea, loss of appetite, weak bones, hypertension and high cholesterol.
Vitamin E : Muscular weakness, hypertension, tenderness of the breast and slow healing of wounds.
Taking vitamins alone, like taking vitamin B alone is more detrimental than taking it in combination with other vitamins. That is why, taking Multi-vitamins is recommended but also under the physicians supervision.
The People Who May Benefit From Taking Multi-Vitamins
A casual look at the list of foods that contain certain vitamins will show that they are the vegetables that contain the most number of vitamins. As such a diet rich in vegetables should give all the necessary nutrients that the body requires. This can be supplemented by nuts, liver, eggs, milk, fish, whole wheat should be sufficient for the normal needs of a healthy body. They are also rich in fibre and anti-oxidants. But there are people who would benefit from taking “Multivitamins” and they include
- Those adults and children who lack whole food groups,
- Those people who are getting less than 1,600 calories each day,
- Pregnant and lactating women,
- Those suffering from lack of appetite,
- Those with digestive illness,
- Those who have suffered a major illness or a major injury and
- Those who are too busy(making money) to eat properly.
On the whole it is advisable to seek the opinion of a physician or a nutritionist before embarking on a vitamin supplement taking spree.