Vitamin Supplements: Should We Take Them?

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Vitamins are important organic molecules that are necessary for the normal growth, development and function of cells. A deficiency of any of the 13 essential vitamins can lead to serious health problems. Because of this heavy emphasis placed on their necessity, and a sudden boom in the media in the mid-1900s regarding exaggerated benefits (including being said to cure cancer), vitamin supplements have become commonplace. 

In 2017, a survey of 3500 people, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that 70% used supplements daily (either multivitamin or individual vitamin). However, most people do not, in fact, need any supplements, and can get most of their required vitamins and minerals from their regular diets. Research has even shown that excess intake could lead to health problems, like increasing the risk of kidney stones. Therefore, if you believe you may be suffering from a vitamin or mineral deficiency, we recommend you consult an Internal medicine specialist in Islamabad, or one more accessible to you, before you consider supplements.

Below we will discuss some of the potential risks associated with commonly taken vitamin supplements, problems that could arise because of the deficiency of these compounds, and natural sources of these compounds that you can add to your regular diet. 

Niacin

This B vitamin aids in maintaining healthy skin and nerves, but in excess niacin can lead to spontaneous itching, rashes, tingling, and nausea. It can even cause liver toxicity in high doses, leading to blurred vision and jaundice.

A deficiency of this vitamin leads to a disease called pellagra, with symptoms that include inflamed skin, rashes, mouth sores, and various neurological conditions such as depression and dementia.

Foods high in niacin include chicken, beef, green peas, and avocado.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps in the formation of healthy bones, teeth, membranes and skin. However, an excess intake of vitamin A has been shown to cause abnormal intercranial and skeletal development in infants. Other more common symptoms include hair loss, fever, abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. In older adults, it has been shown to increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone loss.

A deficiency of vitamin A can result in impaired vision, and may worsen one’s innate immunity.

Foods rich in vitamin A include dairy products, fish, beef liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, and lettuce.

Vitamin D

Made directly in skin cells after contact with sunlight, via a series of conversions starting with cholesterol, this vitamin is responsible maintaining appropriate levels of calcium and phosphates in the body by regulating their uptake. Unfortunately, excess vitamin D from supplements can lead to excess calcium levels and hence, vascular and tissue calcification, and kidney stones.

A deficiency may arise due to low exposure to sunlight, which can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Though a few walks out in the sun can provide you with your required vitamin D, foods that can be used in the case that you may not be able to do so include mackerel, salmon, cheese, and soy milk.

We may have only touched upon a few of the vitamins here, but there are risks associated with the excess intake of the others as well, and supplements should not be taken without consideration of these risks. If you feel like you may be suffering from symptoms related to a deficiency, or you have problems that you believe stem from excess consumption of supplements, you should consult a physician immediately. We recommend an Internal medicine specialist in Lahore, who may be able to help you get your diet and health in proper shape.

Vitamin Supplements: Should We Take Them?

Vitamins are important organic molecules that are necessary for the normal growth, development and function of cells. A deficiency of any of the 13 essential vitamins can lead to serious health problems. Because of this heavy emphasis placed on their necessity, and a sudden boom in the media in the mid-1900s regarding exaggerated benefits (including being said to cure cancer), vitamin supplements have become commonplace. 

In 2017, a survey of 3500 people, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that 70% used supplements daily (either multivitamin or individual vitamin). However, most people do not, in fact, need any supplements, and can get most of their required vitamins and minerals from their regular diets. Research has even shown that excess intake could lead to health problems, like increasing the risk of kidney stones. Therefore, if you believe you may be suffering from a vitamin or mineral deficiency, we recommend you consult an Internal medicine specialist in Islamabad, or one more accessible to you, before you consider supplements.

Below we will discuss some of the potential risks associated with commonly taken vitamin supplements, problems that could arise because of the deficiency of these compounds, and natural sources of these compounds that you can add to your regular diet. 

Niacin

This B vitamin aids in maintaining healthy skin and nerves, but in excess niacin can lead to spontaneous itching, rashes, tingling, and nausea. It can even cause liver toxicity in high doses, leading to blurred vision and jaundice.

A deficiency of this vitamin leads to a disease called pellagra, with symptoms that include inflamed skin, rashes, mouth sores, and various neurological conditions such as depression and dementia.

Foods high in niacin include chicken, beef, green peas, and avocado.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps in the formation of healthy bones, teeth, membranes and skin. However, an excess intake of vitamin A has been shown to cause abnormal intercranial and skeletal development in infants. Other more common symptoms include hair loss, fever, abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. In older adults, it has been shown to increase the risk of osteoporosis and bone loss.

A deficiency of vitamin A can result in impaired vision, and may worsen one’s innate immunity.

Foods rich in vitamin A include dairy products, fish, beef liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, and lettuce.

Vitamin D

Made directly in skin cells after contact with sunlight, via a series of conversions starting with cholesterol, this vitamin is responsible maintaining appropriate levels of calcium and phosphates in the body by regulating their uptake. Unfortunately, excess vitamin D from supplements can lead to excess calcium levels and hence, vascular and tissue calcification, and kidney stones.

A deficiency may arise due to low exposure to sunlight, which can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Though a few walks out in the sun can provide you with your required vitamin D, foods that can be used in the case that you may not be able to do so include mackerel, salmon, cheese, and soy milk.

We may have only touched upon a few of the vitamins here, but there are risks associated with the excess intake of the others as well, and supplements should not be taken without consideration of these risks. If you feel like you may be suffering from symptoms related to a deficiency, or you have problems that you believe stem from excess consumption of supplements, you should consult a physician immediately. We recommend an Internal medicine specialist in Lahore, who may be able to help you get your diet and health in proper shape.