Vitamins: Do We Need to Take Them or Not?

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Kevin Most

Doctor Kevin Most’s weekly appearance on the show is by far the most professional portion of our program. Today’s conversation focused on something that is part of almost all our daily lives, vitamins. A majority of Americans routinely take a vitamin supplement everyday, but Dr. Most cautions us to take a look at what is in the vitamin and to decide if it’s right for us. There is a ton of information in this podcast, and you can read more from the Doctor below, enjoy!

Chances are you are an individual who is currently taking a Vitamin daily. Why do I say that? Surveys have shown that over 50% of Americans routinely take a vitamin supplement. That may be reassuring to those of you who do take a vitamin right? I mean if one half of Americans take Vitamins it must be the right thing to do.  Well is it?
First a couple of caveats, if you are pregnant, a good prenatal vitamin is key to your health as well as your babies health. That has been shown to be true. New parents need to be careful as Children Vitamins are now made to taste good or look like a candy Gummy Bear. Make sure the jar of Vitamins is not located where a child could get to them. Children will eat them like candy and an overdose can  occur. The overdose is often due to the minerals included in the vitamins, the most common is Iron overdose.  Most other Vitamins the body can handle a high dose, but if a child eats multiple gummy bear vitamins please contact your pediatrician or call the Poison hotline, this should be posted in everyone’s home. 1-800-222-1222 is the poison control hot line.
Before we get to that question. How many of you taking a vitamin, know what is in your Vitamin? What vitamins are included in your daily multivitamin. What are the doses of the Vitamins in that pill or gummy bear?  How did you choose that vitamin?  Saw a commercial on TV? Like the brand? Like the label? Sounded like a good one.  Have you ever walked down the Vitamin aisle in  the grocery store, were you confused?   I hope you were, I am!
The most basic question is do you need a vitamin. I hate to say this but chances are many Americans do need a vitamin. I say that not with any data or facts but more on personal observations. How many of you have Fresh Fruits and Vegetables with each meal?  How many have them with one meal?  French Fries are not vegetables, Fried mushrooms don’t count either.   If we all were to include fresh fruits and vegetables in our daily diet the need for most Vitamins would go away. A good balanced diet with fruits and veggies will provide each of us with the vitamins we need for our health for the most part.
Since most of us do not follow that good healthy diet, a good balanced multivitamin is a good idea.  I say this based on the needs of the body to perform normally. I am not making any comments about Vitamins preventing the common cold, ( Sorry Dr Pauling ) nor am I touting that high doses of any vitamins prevent cancer.  In fact there have been many studies that have shown just the opposite.
So what Vitamins should we all know about , what benefit do they have, where can you get them naturally , what dose should you be looking for and do you need them.
As far as dosing unless you are very Vitamin depleted you don’t need the Mega dose vitamins, look on the package it will have the list of Vitamins and the recommended daily requirement. Some of the Mega vitamins have 20 to 50 times the daily recommended requirements. Some of these Mega vitamins will also upset your stomach. I recommend a gummy bear adult vitamin for those who have had stomach issues with Vitamins.
Vitamin Facts
Your body uses vitamins for a variety of biological processes, including growth, digestion, and nerve function. There are 13 vitamins that the body absolutely needs: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate). 

There are 2 types of Vitamins, some are stored and thus continual use may not be needed, others are not stored and are cleared if not needed.
  • Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body, which doesn’t store large amounts. The kidneys remove those vitamins that are not needed.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body with the use of bile acids, which are fluids used to absorb fat. The body stores these for use as needed. Vitamin D, E , A and K are fat soluble
Vitamin A-  this vitamin plays an important role in vision. Although it is touted as an antioxidant and will protect you from cancer, this has not been proven. This is a vitamin found in sweet potatoes, spinach , eggs, milk.
Vitamin B 6- this is actually a group of vitamins. They are important for our red blood cell production and preventing anemia. This is found in high levels in garbanzo beans. It is also found in chicken, fish and beef.
Vitamin B 12- is also an important vitamin for red blood cell production and preventing anemia. It is also needed for our nervous system function.  This is found in high doses in seafood, especially clams.
Vitamin C- This is the Vitamin Linus Pauling touted as a cure for the common cold and Cancer. He thought the common cold could be eradicated  with Vit C. He was proven wrong many times over. However a recent danish Study has shown that Vit C may lower the risk of heart disease. This is needed in the body for protein metabolism and in our nervous system. Although we all think of Oranges when we think of Vitamin C, Red Peppers have higher concentrations.
Vitamin D- This is a vitamin we all generate on our own when we are exposed to sunlight. It is a very important vitamin as it aids us with our absorption of calcium which is needed for bone growth as well as bone maintenance .  It also appears to play an important role in reducing inflammation. It si currently being studied closely to see if it in fact does help prevent some cancers.  Naturally this can be consumed by eating fatty fish like Salmon. We also get this by drinking Milk or yogurt as these products have been fortified with Vit D
Vitamin E- This vitamin is thought to aid us in blood vessel function and clotting mechanisms for the times you cut yourself.  Sunflower Seeds or almonds are a great natural source of Vitamin E. It was at one time thought to prevent prostate and other cancers, this however in many scientific studies has not been proven to be true.
Folate- This is a B vitamin. It has been proven to decrease the chance of many birth defects and is a vitamin that all pregnant women should be taking. This can be found naturally in spinach , nuts, fruits and green vegetables. It is also now found in many breads and grains.
There is also a long list of minerals that are highly touted and marketed, including other products like Coenzymes and anti oxidants. Many of these make claims of heart disease protective, or cancer blocking. Most of these claims are unfounded. The FDA makes sure that a Vitamin is safe but they do not impact dosing or claims made.
Bottom line, Some individuals  need vitamins due to medical conditions, (pregnancy) , some need them for prevention of future illness (Calcium, Vit D)  Most of us can use a good multivitamin, but more important to eat a good balanced diet with fruits and vegetables.
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