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Vitaminology 101 Ten Truths

Diana W. Wright, PhD, RD
April 3, 2020

Nutrition myths abound and the tall tales about vitamins are some of the most outrageous. Claims are made offering them as prevention and/or cures of health issues ranging from obesity and infertility to hair loss and even the chronic diseases of aging. To be sure, we are still learning about the complete role of vitamins in our health.  However, the basic facts about vitamins remain unchanged.  Let’s take a look at Ten Truths about this important part of a healthy diet!

 

  • Vitamins are an essential part of a healthy diet.  They are required for normal growth and maintenance of good health. In other words, you just can’t live without ‘em!

 

  • Vitamins do not provide energy (Calories).  While some vitamins are important in helping us extract and utilize energy from carbohydrate, protein and fat (the nutrients which do provide us with energy), in and of themselves, they are not a source of energy.  

 

  • The13 known vitamins are divided between two basic categories; fat soluble and water soluble. The fat soluble are vitamins A, D, E and K. The water soluble include Vitamins B-1, B-2, B-3, B-6, B-12, C, Folic Acid, Pantothenic Acid and Biotin. Any others you may encounter for sale are not vitamins-in other words you CAN live without ‘em!

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  • No new vitamins have been identified for decades and it is highly unlikely that new vitamins will be discovered. In fact, there has been debate about whether or not vitamin D truly meets the requirements to be a vitamin!

 

  • Some vitamins act as antioxidants. These help protect us from the negative effects of the oxygen, ironically the same element upon which our very lives depend.  

 

  • The dose makes the poison! Some vitamins can cause illness if consumed in excess of needs.  Most important to know is that nearly all cases of vitamin overdose come from an excessive intake of vitamin supplements, not from foods!

 

  • The RDA is the amount of a nutrient that you need to prevent deficiency. There is a large safety factor built into all RDA’s (except of course, for energy/Calories as we seem quite capable of overindulging in Calorie intake without prompting!)

 

  • The % Daily Value (% DV)  listed on the Nutrition Facts Panel of a packaged food is based on the RDA (so there is a safety factor built into these numbers as well)

 

  • And .…while meeting your RDA for a vitamin will prevent deficiency, it may not be enough to reduce risk of certain diseases.

 

  • AND……drum roll…….. THE VERY MOST IMPORTANT POINT……

 

  • 5-A Day (or more!!!) of fruits and veggies is a great way to meet your daily vitamin needs whatever they might be. Not only are whole foods tastier, safer and much more eye appealing than supplements, they are much more fun to eat!

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