Can Vitamins Harm?

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I am a big proponent of vitamins. I have long believed that we need supplemental vitamins to ensure optimal health.

Would it be better if we could get all of our vitamins and minerals and nutrients out of our daily food? Of course it would be. But most of us do not eat a healthy, well balanced diet.

Even if you do eat a healthy, well balanced diet, you can still benefit from supplemental vitamins.

I have a Master’s Degree in Nutrition. I eat a well balanced and healthy diet. I know about nutrition. But I still feel that I can benefit from supplemental vitamins.

Most vitamins are water soluble. This means that they will be excreted in your urine if there is too much in your body.

Supplementing with vitamins can have a multitude of benefits. Omega-3-fatty acids, found in fish oil, flax seeds, and other types of seeds, can reduce systemic inflammation. It can take the edge off of aches and pains throughout your body. It can function like a natural ibuprofen. It can also reduce the risks of heart disease, decrease blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.

B-complex vitamins are chock full of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants get rid of free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals are negatively charged particles that are produced in our bodies from eating processed foods, from stress, from exercise, and from many other causes.

Calcium with magnesium can help to build strong bones and keep them strong and dense. A good calcium supplement can help to prevent osteoporosis and the Dowager’s hump that can accompany it.

I believe that one of the best benefits from taking vitamins is that they get rid of free radicals. Free radicals have been associated with cancer and tumor formation, that is, systems breaking down. Free radicals basically cause the body to break down at a faster rate than it would otherwise. A good multi-vitamin can actually slow down the aging process and help you age more slowly and more gracefully. A leading theory on the cause of aging is free radical based. Free radicals can attach to all different types of molecules and cells throughout the body and disrupt and breakdown molecules and the systems they are part of. This will cause the body to breakdown more quickly over the years. The more free radicals present, the more inflammation and irritation (and eventually pain) they will cause throughout the body.

Thus,the more anti-oxidants you can take into your body, the more free radicals they will get rid of. This will prevent the body from being broken down from the free radicals. This is why it also helps to eat a healthy diet. The more healthy you eat, the less free radicals you will have present in your body. Not only will healthy food such as fresh fruits and vegetables produce less free radicals in your body, they are also full of anti-oxidants. This is one way that a healthy diet will help you live longer and more comfortably.

There have been many studies released, however, that conclude that some vitamins could increase the risk for mortality from different types of illnesses. One study from Finland showed that beta carotene actually increased the risk of dying from lung cancer or heart disease in those who smoke. In another study, chronic high dosages of beta carotene actually increased the risk of lung cancer occurring in those who smoke.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association concluded that vitamin E supplements actually increased the risk of prostate cancer. Last year a Cochrane database review found that beta carotene and vitamin E seem to increase mortality, and so may higher doses of vitamin A.

I feel that these studies are looking to vitamins to solve every health ill. Vitamins will help out, but they are a supplement, and not meant to be a cure for an illness.

Vitamins are not meant to be used as a substitute for exercise. Vitamins are not meant to be a substitute for eating vegetables, or for eating healthy. Vitamins will enhance a healthy lifestyle. Vitamins will take the edge off of aches and pains. Vitamins will help to decrease systemic inflammation. Vitamins will get rid of free radicals and therefore help you to age more gracefully.

Vitamins will help to increase the strength and function of your immune system and therefore reduce your chance of  getting sick. Vitamins can help to prevent the formation of some types of cancers. Vitamins can help your body function at a higher level.

Vitamins will not be a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Vitamins will not magically make you feel good. Vitamins will not get you into shape without exercise.

I feel that those studies were expecting vitamins to prevent, or to decrease the chances of, certain types of cancers. Maybe a B complex vitamin would have decreased the risk of lung cancer and heart disease in those who smoke. No vitamin, or pharmaceutical drug, will reverse the effects of life time of smoking. No vitamin is going to reverse the effects of a lifetime of abusing your body and not exercising and eating poorly.

Vitamins are not miracle pills. There is no miracle pill. The closest thing we have to a miracle pill, or a fountain of youth, is a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and eating right are the only miracle pills or fountain of youth that we have available to us.

You just can’t expect miracles, without hard work. You have to work at it in order to get into shape, eat right, and reap the benefits that comes with a healthy lifestyle: increased energy, less pain, more mobility, more activity, among many others.

The Pain Free Lifestyle program spells out for you how to get into a healthy lifestyle. And, just as importantly, how to maintain that healthy lifestyle. It is the Pain Free Way.

Here is another article that I wrote about the usefulness of vitamins.

Here is another article that I wrote about different types of vitamins and their roles in anti-aging.

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