July 2013 – Are Vitamins Necessary?

Due to the recent media coverage on the harmful effects of vitamins, I thought this would be a perfect time to share some of what I wrote in my book, The Do’s and Don’ts of Hypoglycemia: An Everyday Guide to Low Blood Sugar. In the chapter, Are Vitamins Necessary?, I share some dos and don’ts that I hope will help you make an informed decision.  I also recommend you read the article, Why You Should Not Stop Taking Your Vitamins by Dr. Mark Hyman which I just posted on Facebook.

Click Here to read article by Dr. Mark Hyman

For every published article you read recommending the use of vitamins, be assured you will find a contrary view that discards them as nonessential.

The American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association claim that if one consumes food from the four basic food groups and obtains the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), then the use of vitamins is unnecessary. But who always eats a balanced diet?  Both associations feel that most Americans can and should get all the  nutrients they need to be healthy from food rather than supplements. I don’t think any advocate of supplements would disagree. However, what most Americans CAN and SHOULD do are not necessarily what they ARE doing. In fact, due to certain circumstances, which I’ll soon discuss, most Americans are nutritionally STARVED!! How? Read on.

Many of you have asked the question, “Do I need vitamins?” only to be told to just eat balanced meals. According to television commercials, one would tend to believe that a balanced meal consists of a hamburger, French fries and a coke. Most of us are on a merry-go-round. Not the one for fun, but a merry go-round of life; one that leaves us too busy and tired to get off and catch our breath. Many of us are faced with job and financial insecurities, family and marital difficulties, sickness, casualties and even death. It’s no wonder that little time is spent on learning about the effects of poor dietary habits. Consequently, the diet of the 21st Century often consists of fast foods, heavily fried, sugar-laden, canned, frozen or leftover meals. Here lies just one of the many reasons why most people do not get sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals in their diets.

Let’s take into consideration some of the other vitamin “robbers”:

  • air pollution
  • alcohol
  • caffeine (coffee and soft drinks)
  • food additives, preservatives and food coloring
  • food processing
  • medication (diet pills, diuretics, laxatives)
  • Menstruation
  • soil depletion
  • stress (mental or physical)
  • tobacco

Examine the above list and review your dietary habits to see if you are eating a variety of fresh foods. Does your list include fresh vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and fiber? What cooking methods do you use? Do you broil, steam or bake? How do you store your foods, particularly fruits and vegetables? All of these factors play a role in determining the amount of vitamins and minerals one actually consumes.  So now, where does all this leave the hypoglycemic? Every book I’ve read on hypoglycemia and every doctor I’ve worked with over the past 30+ years recommends vitamin and mineral supplementation for hypoglycemics.  Vitamin therapy—in conjunction with proper diet, exercise and reduction of stress—has a positive, supportive and therapeutic effect in the treatment of hypoglycemia.

However, before you swallow that capsule, pill or liquid, read the following do’s and don’ts.

 

Do be informed and seek professional advice before starting any long-term, extensive vitamin therapy.

Do inform your physician if you are taking vitamins, especially if you are under that doctor’s care for a particular disease or condition and/or are taking medication. Some vitamins and medications don’t mix well and destroy or weaken each other’s effects.

Do check out the reputation of the vitamin store where you purchase your vitamins, especially if you’re purchasing them without professional guidance. Ask questions about the vitamin or vitamins you are considering, such as: What is the vitamin supposed to do? Should you expect sideeffects? How long should you take the vitamin? Is there any literature available on the product?

Do double-check the dosage you are to take, the time of day it should be taken and any other instructions.

Do check vitamin interaction. Avoid taking vitamins with alcohol or medication.

Do make sure the vitamins you purchase haven’t been tampered with. Check that the label hasn’t been broken.

Do throw out any bottle whose label you are unable to read because of fading or damage.

Do make sure the vitamins you purchase are not made with any fillers. There should be NO sugar, corn, wheat or starch.

Do keep all vitamins in a cool place, and keep them out of reach of children.

Do take vitamins with meals, unless otherwise directed.

Do remember to take your vitamins with you on vacation and business trips. This is usually a time of increasing stress, strong activity and change of diet, and therefore not a good time to discontinue any program you are on.

DO stop taking vitamins if you suspect them to be a cause of nausea, diarrhea, constipation, etc. You can introduce them at a later date, always one at a time. If there is still a reaction, STOP immediately.

 

Don’t double up on or take vitamins indiscriminately! They can be just as harmful as medicine if taken without knowledge and caution.

Don’t follow anyone else’s vitamin program. You should have your own. REMEMBER: everyone is a unique individual with different needs. This individuality includes vitamin therapy of any kind, and therefore should be supervised by a professional.

Don’t run out and get the “vitamin of the month.” Educate yourself before experimenting.

Don’t stop any medication abruptly because you start taking vitamins. Seek professional advice about combining the two.

Don’t stock up on vitamins. Your needs may change. Buy vitamins as you need them.

 

Here’s to your health,

Roberta

 

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