Vitamins – What the Heck are they really?

The word Vitamin is bantered around so freely these days that I would bet that the majority of you really don’t know what a vitamin really is, aside from something you need to have in your bodies.

Vitamins are various fat-soluble or water-soluble organic substances essential in minute amounts for normal growth and activity of the body and obtained naturally from plant and animal foods. In essence, they really are food and are used by the body as co-enzymes to make the body run properly, healthily and efficiently. Some vitamins are automatically synthesized by the body, for example vitamin D, while others have to be taken into the body by the foods we eat.

Vitamins have very diverse functions in the body, some act as hormones, others act to make other enzymes workable, still others act to grow the body, while some do their part to prevent illnesses. To summarize, vitamins are essential and the human body cannot live and survive without them.

Some History:

Going back thousands of years many cultures understood that certain foods were important to maintain health, though the concept of the vitamin was unknown at this point. For example the ancient Egyptians knew that feeding liver to a patient would help cure night blindness, however, they certainly didn’t understand the the Vitamin A in liver was the solution.

When the European sailors were exploring the new world via lengthy ocean voyages, many suffered from scurvy, again due to lack of vitamins found in fruits and vegetables.Eventually in 1749 a Scottish doctor James Lind realized and discovered that the lack of citrus fruits were causing scurvy and he recommended fresh lemons and limes, which eradicated the problem. still The concept of the vitamin was still unknown. Interestingly, Lind was ridiculed by the medical establishment at the time. (Sound familiar?)

The first vitamin was finally recognized in the late 1800’s and called Vitamin A which was a cure for Rickets. Note that this was ultimately changed to Vitamin D.

Suffice it to say, much is known about the importance of vitamins these days.

Vitamins are classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble. In humans there are 13 vitamins: 4 fat-soluble (A, D, E, and K) and 9 water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C). Water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in water and, in general, are readily excreted from the body, to the degree that urinary output is a strong predictor of vitamin consumption  Because they are not readily stored, consistent daily intake is important Many types of water-soluble vitamins are synthesized by bacteria. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of fats (Yes folks, despite what you might hear or for those on diets, fats are essential parts of the food you eat for healthy bodies.) Because they are more likely to accumulate in the body, they are more likely to lead to to much of these vitamins than are water-soluble vitamins.However, the fat soluble vitamins have to be taken in very large amounts to be dangerous, and most of us never do that to this extent.

There are many Doctors who will tell you that taking daily vitamins are not necessary as all vitamins should be readily available by a good healthy diet. Unfortunately, this is plain incorrect as the commercial food industry, through their production, use of chemicals, lack of crop rotation, genetic engineering  and storage techniques have succeeded destroying these vitamins that were once part of the food. Therefore, taking daily vitamins is not only very important for people with Fibromyalgia, but for everybody. In fact, it is a must for people of all ages!

Now that we established the importance of Vitamins, it is important to understand that not all vitamins are created equal. In other words, you must be careful where you purchase your vitamins as many are produced with fillers. This is done to make the pill or capsule large enough for the consumer to believe that they are actually purchasing and taking something that is worth the money they pay. In reality the amounts of vitamins we need might seem like a large number (vitamin C 500 milligrams), but are actually a really small amount. For you Americans, 500 milligrams is actually 1/64 of an ounce. Thus fillers are used. Many times, these fillers are the same fillers in foods which are not very healthy.

Most commercial vitamins use fillers such as coal tar, sand, dirt, and soap to bind the vitamins together.

Some fillers are made of unhealthy or even toxic materials. For instance, medical professionals have warned patients away from hydrogenated oils for years because they are linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, yet hydrogenated soybean oil is a common filler in gel cap vitamins. Artificial flavoring and coloring may also be added to vitamins, including chemicals derived from coal tar, according to an article by Mike Adams of Natural News. If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you may also be dismayed to know that many gel-cap vitamins contain animal products from pigs and cows.

If you have food allergies or sensitivities, you may be vigilant about your diet yet not realize that your vitamin pills could be filled with common food allergens. Lactose, corn starch, various sugars, whey, soy and yeast have all been used as fillers in some vitamins, and all of these are known allergens. According to Chet Day’s Health & Beyond website, as many as 7 percent of the U.S. population shows allergic reactions to one or more of these fillers.

Here is a “cool” trick to see if your Vitamins are filled with fillers:

Step 1

Take a glass and put 3 inches or so of white vinegar in it. Drop one of your vitamins in the glass. Come back after 20 minutes. Here are your items to check.

Step 2

If the vitamin capsule/tablet (and its contents) has not dissolved in the vinegar, it is not dissolving in your stomach either. It is really passing through your body on its way to the sewer system. There have been doctors who have seen x-rays of a well-known multi-vitamin in its original form in the intestinal tract, and you can still read the label.

Next: More detailed info about individual Vitamins!

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