Monday, August 05, 2013

Take Your Vitamins

When I was a tot back in high school, my biology teacher told the class that, if we ate a balanced diet according to the food pyramid, we would never need to take vitamins. Teacher said that the amount of vitamins and minerals we need are pretty much covered in an average and varied diet.

Since I've never liked swallowing those mammoth daily vitamin pills, I've opted for bio teacher's advice. Basically, except for one notable season at band camp, I've steered clear of the All-Gummy-Bear Diet.

My sister just finished a visit here at Chateau Johnson. She comes to every meal with a little baggy full of pills. I mean full of pills -- more than a dozen, three times a day. She claims that the aluminum pots our mom used destroyed her body's ability to absorb vitamins from food. Sis has thyroid problems as well.

She takes two zinc tablets each day to keep from getting the flu.

As she spread the tablets out across her place mat, I asked her what they were for, and there was actually one -- pretty big one, too -- that she couldn't identify. She took it anyway.

Sis says she is going to start taking Alzheimer's medication when she turns 60, even if she shows no signs of the illness. Just in case.

Geez, I don't know about all this. I ate from those same aluminum pans, and I feel pretty doggone good. I get tired after a long day's work, but isn't that how I'm supposed to feel? As for getting Alzheimer's, I think I'll wait for the symptoms. What if taking Alzheimer's medicine when you don't need it makes you remember too many things that you'd rather forget?

I'm no doctor, and I don't know what Sis's doctor has told her regarding the fistfuls of vitamins and minerals she takes in pill form. It does seem alarming to me, though. Isn't zinc something we should only imbibe in tiny amounts? And, why take it in the middle of the summer? Heir caught a bad cold a month ago, but it wasn't the flu.

In case you're wondering, I did mention my biology teacher to Sis, suggesting gently that she ought to look closely at her ingestion of pills. Seems to me she needs one pill that she isn't getting -- the medication that would eradicate fear.

Do you take vitamins? Is there a good rationale for it? I haven't ever met an American with scurvy ... even the ones who eat Big Macs every day.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I take Vitamin D because here in the Great White North we don't get enough sun, especially if we're inside working on a computer all day. I take Vitamin C if I feel a cold coming on because it boosts the immune system. Other than that, no I don't take vitamins.

As Dr. Sheldon Cooper says on The Big Bang Theory, taking vitamins usually just results in expensive urine. Our bodies can only absorb so many, so if we take excess, we just pee them out again.

Anonymous said...

I think you are correct in your thinking your sister is overdoing the vitamins. I take Vitamin D prescribed by the doc after blood tests revealed my level was quite low. And occasionally B12 as I'm a veggie who doesn't partake of much dairy.


Christa said...

I read once that back in the day when sailors used to get scurvy, it could be prevented just by eating one orange or other piece of fresh fruit every... three months? Longer?
I take a fish oil suppplement with vitamin D, not every day but more like once a week or whenever I remember, because it's supposed to be good for heart problems and stress/anxiety, both of which run in my family. I think the vitamin D helps my anxiety a lot, especially since I don't get out in the sun that much (and when I do I just burn...)

I do think a lot of people overdo it though... and most daily vitamins are like horse pills-- yuck, forget that!

Anne said...

I do not take vitamins. I try to eat my fruits and vegetables and my excellent proteins, and I try to stay away from the food that sucks my health away (which as I get older, become more legion)and sometimes, if I feel a cold coming on, I am talked into taking zinc of vitamin C, but mostly I do not take them because they are Boring. So far, so good. No scurvy. And there's enough sun around to take care of the vitamin D.

Anonymous said...

Some vitamins just pass through you -- those are the water soluble ones. Some you store up (A,D,E & K)--those are the fat soluble ones. It is as dangerous to get too much of the fat soluble ones as too little. The ones that just go through you just make "expensive urine" as you said. But don't take vitamin C and calcium at the same time, as they counteract each other, and it wastes both of them.
And, yes, I have seen a case of scurvy. It was a seventeen year old boy, raised on an "Indian Reservation" (as we called them at the time) who claimed he had never heard the word "vitamin" and was completely unfamiliar with the concept. He was eating nothing but Coca-Cola and potato chips. Luckily, my next patient had cancelled, so I spent the time with him, explaining about getting a variety of foods, and laughing a lot -- because they tell me the way to get through to a teen is to get them laughing. I hope it helped -- I never saw him again because the "Indian Clinic" I was working in shut down. After he left, the MD from the other half of the clinic came over and said that this young man wasn't going to live to see twenty because his triglyceride level was so high he was going to have a heart attack.

click here said...

Well, with minerals, its impossible to get some minerals, like selenium without using supplement. With selenium, there is no selenium in soils, so we really need to use selenium supplement, no other choices.

Anne Johnson said...

If selenium is not in the soil, and not in any food, then how could we possibly need it to be healthy? Just speaking for myself, I'll pass on the selenium. It sounds like something that leaks from a nuclear reactor, which, living in New Jersey, I do actually get in my soil.