The Vitamin Concept

January 16, 2014 — 2 Comments


Some people say vitamins are a waste of money and healthy people don’t need vitamins to stay healthy. Other people say you can prevent certain cancers and cardio vascular disease with specific supplements regardless of your health. These groups hold two polar opposite views and nothing will make them agree. They are worse than democrats and republicans. They will even read the same study and come to two different conclusion. Even if the facts are undeniably against their cause they will claim that the study was a poorly designed and had weak evidence. So where does that leave us, the general public? Here’s what I say after 20 years of looking this stuff up, reading news letters, listening to lectures and trying to provide my patients with the best information possible.

A multivitamin will extend your life if you are malnourished, (references for all will be provided in the book). Vitamin D3 will extend your life if your levels are low. Vitamin C will help a wound heal if you’re deficient in vitamin C. Zinc increased the survival rate of children in third world countries, but only because they were deficient in zinc and that made them susceptible to pneumonia, other infections and severe diarrhea. Calcium will strengthen your bones if you are deficient in calcium, but does nothing to reduce fractures if you are well nourished. Iron will give you energy only if you are deficient in iron, otherwise it harms you. It’s the same concept with selenium, zinc, silver and all the other metals. The list goes on and on. In general it seems that whoever came up with the minimum daily requirements for vitamins got it right.  The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is the amount needed to prevent disease.  deficiency equals disease and vitamins have the amazing power to restore your health and keep you healthy if you have a poor diet or malabsorption problems.

However, we have to be careful not to think that if a little is good, then a lot is really good. That is a dangerous misconception. For example, if we get too much sugar in our system is that good?  After all LOW sugar is bad really bad.  People go into seizures and die when their blood sugars get too low. But high blood sugar is also really bad.  There has to be a perfect middle range.

Is that how it is with vitamins and minerals?  That is the way it is with food, water, oxygen, and sunshine. Is that a law of nature?  Possibly.

Some researchers have now come up with safe upper limits to vitamins. In a future blog and in my book I will discuss vitamins and minerals that can harm you if not taken properly. I will also tell you which vitamin deficiencies are the most common here in the USA and which deficiencies mimics normal signs of aging, but can be reversed with vitamins.


2 responses to The Vitamin Concept


    I am constantly amazed by the number of individuals who come into our little community pharmacy asking about a certain vitamin or mineral. They said “my friend told me….” and want to know if they should take it also. In genereal, our response is on the level of exactly what you described in this blog. “Have you discussed this with your doctor and based on your symptoms have you been told that you may be deficient in this particular element”

    Thank you for discussing this important issue!


    Thanks Steve: It’s a hard concept to get, but vitamins only work when you are deficient in them….generally speaking. I know people are out there looking for that “magic bullet” but it comes in various forms for everyone. Helping them find their magic bullet is time consuming and requires research. It definitely can not be done effectively in a busy store. If anyone doubts your words of wisdom….send them my way and I’ll explain it to them and/or help them find their magic bullet. 🙂

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