You may be surprised to learn that what’s often believed to be common knowledge about vitamins, is actually a myth!
A Nielsen study that was conducted in 2009, found that more than half of the Malaysian population take dietary supplements. Have you ever stopped to think if supplements are absolutely necessary? Have you wondered if you can get enough vitamins just from eating fruits and vegetables? Perhaps you’ve heard that too much of a specific vitamin can be harmful and you’re wondering if that’s true?
Here’s where you get to clear up the myths and discover the facts about the vitamins your body needs.
Myth: I can store dietary supplements all together, in the same place
Vitamins in the form of capsules are also known as dietary supplements. These are usually conveniently available in bottles that come with a tight seal and silica gel, which is used to control humidity and prevent damage. However, this does not mean that you can store supplements anywhere. They need to be stored in a dry, dark place and at a steady temperature. Your kitchen cabinet, for instance, is ideal. Then, there are some vitamins, such as fish oil and probiotics, which should be stored in cooler temperatures such as in your fridge. Never place your supplements on a microwave or in a kitchen cabinet close to an oven. To ensure that you are storing your supplements and vitamins correctly, always check the label for storage instructions.
Myth: I can have an unhealthy diet and all I need to do is eat multivitamins
Unfortunately, this is not true. A multivitamin does not make up for an unhealthy diet. Multivitamins may contain a variety of vitamins, compared to dietary supplements in the form of capsules, which contain specific vitamins such as C or A. However, when you compare multivitamins to natural food sources, you’ll find that natural food sources provide a much wider range of nutrition. So, it is best if you go natural and consume the real deal.
Myth: I’m pregnant! I should start taking folic acid
Folic acid, which is from vitamin B9, is recommended for women who are planning to have a baby. Folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects. Ideally, a woman should consume 400 microgrammes of folic acid daily, for one month before conception and not after because it might be too late to prevent birth defects by then. As most pregnancies are unplanned women who are sexually active and are planning to have a baby in the future, should consume 400 microgrammes of folic acid daily.
Myth: I live in a sunny climate so I get all the vitamin D I need from natural sunlight.
The sun is an abundant source of vitamin D and indeed, it is good news for us Malaysians who have the privilege of enjoying sunshine all year long! However, many Malaysians tend to shy away from direct sunlight due to the heat. Some people also fear they will end up with tanned, dark-toned skin. This affects the amount of vitamin D you can get from the sun. Other lifestyle choices such as staying in the office all day and the clothing you wear can also affect the amount of vitamin D your skin absorbs. To receive an adequate amount of vitamin D, aim to expose your skin to the sun for about 10 to 15 minutes. This should be done between 9am and 12pm or in the late evening as damaging UV rays are at a minimum at these times. Do this at least two to three times a week.
Myth: There is no limit to the amount of vitamin C I should take
Vitamin C is an important vitamin and antioxidant which can help to maintain your body’s immunity. It also contributes to the formation of collagen in your skin. This vitamin can be found in many fruits and vegetables including oranges, lemons and kiwi. Generally, vitamin C is safe when you absorb it by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. However, if you are consuming vitamin C supplements, be aware of the recommended dosage. WebMD states that the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is 90 miligrammes for men and 75 miligrammes for women. Consuming high amounts of vitamin C — above 2000 miligrammes — can cause diarrhea and kidney stones.
Myth: I need lots of vitamin A for eye health
Vitamin A plays an important role in your overall health, especially eye health. However, an excessive intake of vitamin A can be toxic. High amounts of vitamin A in your body can lead to dizziness, blurred vision, hair loss and even liver damage. The recommended dietary dose of vitamin A for adults is 900 microgrammes for men and 700 microgrammes for women. Vitamin A can be found in fish, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Unless recommended by a healthcare professional, consuming vitamin A supplements everyday may lead to excess and toxicity. To stay safe, try as much as possible to obtain your dose of vitamin A from natural food sources.
Myth: Vitamin supplements are safe and won’t affect my prescription medications
There are a number of vitamins which can interact with medication and cause problems. For example, if you are consuming blood-thinning medications, you should be aware that vitamins like K and C can promote blood clotting. While ingesting low levels of these vitamins might be harmless, high amounts can interact with your medication and cause your body to form blood clots. If you are consuming prescription medication, speak to your healthcare provider about possible vitamin and drug interactions.
Myth: I should take vitamin supplements for weight loss
Countless supplements are being sold to consumers for the purpose of weight loss. These supplements are available online and sold in pharmacies and other stores. The worst part is that some of these supplements may not be certified and manufactured by a trusted company. Hence, consuming them can be detrimental to your health.
If you want to try supplements that promote weight loss always speak to your doctor first. In any case these supplements generally come with instructions that tell you to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly. If this is the case, why not focus on the last two and lead a healthy lifestyle instead? After all, this is the safe, effective method recommended by healthcare professionals when it comes to shedding extra pounds and achieving your ideal weight.
Vitamins are important for your body to function well. You can easily obtain the recommended daily dose of vitamins from a healthy diet. If vitamin deficiency is your concern, be sure to speak to your doctor about how you can improve your lifestyle and diet to ensure that you are obtaining the right amount of vitamins. Remember, an excessive intake of vitamins can result in a host of health problems.