7 Myths & Facts About Vitamins & Their Effect On Your Immune System
There have been serious debates around the effect of vitamins and dietary supplements on the immune system during recent years. While previously people used to take these substances in pharmacies only by doctor’s prescription, the internet made them much affordable and readily available. There are numerous myths about dietary supplements people believe in. But many of such beliefs are fallacies entailed by the lack but mostly by an oversupply of information about their potential effects. Here are the most common myths and controversial statements regarding vitamins and dietary supplements.
1. Vitamins and dietary supplements are the same as medicines
First of all, it is necessary to distinguish between dietary supplements and medicines. Medicines are clinically tested substances with a proven sustainable effect that are designed to treat a certain disease. Meanwhile, dietary supplements are not intended to treat or cure anything. In fact, they should be taken by generally healthy people as a support to food and other health-improving actions. Their use is often entailed by unproven beliefs.
For example, some researchers find a certain vitamin in vegetables. They may think or try to insist to others that extracting the vitamin and selling it in a medical form is the same as eating a vegetable. However, vitamins in food are contained in the most digestible form whereas extraction and further operation is an artificial process that often turns the vitamins into a less digestible form or destroys them, making a supplement useless. Moreover, the effects of dietary supplements are not proven clinically and may be unstable. Therefore, those who take vitamins, in fact, have to believe that they will get some utility and will not harm their organism.
2. Quality control of supplements is as strict as that of medicines
Unfortunately, the quality control of dietary supplements is much worse than quality control of medicines. To launch a medicine, numerous tests confirming the required level of quality and declared effect should be conducted. Meanwhile, production of supplements does not meet such barriers. So, when you buy a pack of supplements you can only rely on the producer’s fairness and hope that a producer wants to stay long in the market and cares about their reputation.
In the US, there are several watchdog organisations such as ConsumerLab.com and US Pharmacopeia which test whether supplements are produced properly and contain the declared doses of active substances listed on the label. However, this is all about the control. None of these organisations guarantee that you will get an expected health-improving effect.
3. Vitamins are harmless, and the more vitamins you get, the better
Some naïve supplement consumers do not have full information and believe that the more vitamins they take, the better it will be for their body. However, all vitamins are contained in the human body in certain proportions so that the level of each substance should be within the reference value, not more and not less. When it is below the norm, it is a deficit that should be compensated. However, an excess may be just as dangerous. While an overabundance of vitamin C is relatively harmless since its excess is excreted from the body, an overabundance of other vitamins such as A, B and D is fraught with serious consequences including even cancer. Therefore, it is necessary to know the levels of vitamins and other necessary substances in your body and only make up the deficits.
4. Vitamins will necessarily make you healthier
The next fallacy is connected with the belief that taking vitamins will definitely bring the promised effect. It is true only to some extent because the digestibility of dietary supplements is individual. You may have serious digestive problems so that only a little portion of a contained dose will be digested or some supplements such as probiotics are broken down in the stomach acid. Resulting in only small amounts of the vitamin reaching the bloodstream to be effective, the rest being lost or passed.
Therefore, it may be necessary to consult a nutritionist to develop a plan and doses of taking supplements. This will give you better chances to get the right effect from consuming vitamins.
5. All people need dietary supplements
There are debates on whether all people need supplements. Representatives of evidence-based medicine find no support to this standpoint and claim that supplements should be taken only in case of serious deficits. Meanwhile, there are numerous cases when individuals were cured from serious diseases only by taking huge doses of particular supplements. Although this evidence is not stable, it should not be totally ignored. Thus, the need for supplements as well as their combination and doses are individual and should be determined by a practitioner.
6. You can receive all necessary vitamins from food
On the other hand, there is an argument in favour of taking some supplements. Those who insist that all vitamins and microelements can be obtained from food, often ignore the fact that industrial methods of food preparation kill many useful substances in products. Modern agriculture aims to receive the maximum possible yield without accounting for the quality of products. This depletes soils so that cereal, fruit and vegetables do not contain as many vitamins as they should.
Moreover, products grown on nutritious substrates instead of natural soils contain virtually no vitamins. Therefore, the statement on food sufficiency as a source of all necessary vitamins and minerals is applicable to the best organic food which is only a small share of all grown food. Such organic food may not be affordable for most people.
7. You can receive all necessary vitamins from medicines and supplements
Along with that, the opposite viewpoint is not true as well. As has been said, vitamins and minerals artificially extracted from food products are not the same as vitamins contained in properly grown food. Vitamins and minerals in the most digestible forms should be taken from natural products. To ensure this, the food ratio should be diverse and balanced. Modern life forces us to compromise and receive fewer vitamins. This deficit can be comprehensively reimbursed by dietary supplements.
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