Articles: a dose of vitamin “Doh!”

Several years ago, a TV commercial for over- the- counter cold medicine characterized advocates of vitamin C to boost the immune system as “C Freaks.” How ironic that people who recognize their body’s biological need for nutrients get mocked rather than peddlers of artificially- dyed alcohol- spiked sugar! At least the old folk remedy of whiskey and honey (about which I’ve previously posted) is antibacterial, antiviral and contains beneficial enzymes.

It’s certainly not the 1st time I’ve heard anyone scoff at the notion that vitamins are helpful. Claims about the nutritional content of fruits and vegetables seem to be debunked because of misinterpreted personal experience and/or flawed data from scientific and medical studies.

Among the essential nutrients your body needs to properly develop and efficiently function, are vitamins. Unfortunately, doctors are undereducated about nutrition and therefore unable to sufficiently advise patients about their diets.

Supplementing meals with tablets and tinctures– assuming they’re in a digestible form that can even be absorbed (i.e. not coated with shellac)– isn’t necessarily bad. But without understanding which are lacking and how much is needed, it’s possible to suffer side effects of a deficiency or an overdose.

The controversy stems from ignorance of this fact: there are two categories into which vitamins fall– water- soluble and fat- soluble. Excess water- soluble vitamins get flushed out in urine once the body reaches its maximum capacity at the time of their absorption. Therefore, it’s necessary to continually replenish these. Excess fat- soluble vitamins are stored for days, weeks, or even months once the body reaches its maximum capacity at the time of their absorption.

Eating/ drinking something nutrient- rich at the 1st sign of a cold or flu may temporarily help but won’t have any long-term impact– neither will a mega dosage– if you’re ingesting vitamins B or C because they’re water- soluble. This leads people to believe those vitamins don’t really boost the immune system.

Similarly, many people discard the remaining liquid after cooking vegetables thinking they’re already getting all possible nutrients by eating the solid portion.

The other side of the proverbial coin is that recognition of a potential deficiency prompts people to take a random multi-vitamin without considering they may already be fully stocked with fat- soluble vitamins, A, D, E, or K.

This method is also problematic for people with digestive and/or blood sugar conditions. Since vitamins don’t exist independently of the foods in which they naturally develop, the substrates/ ingredients used to artificially manufacture nutrients are usually allergen- derived (e.g. wheat, dairy, soy, corn), which subjects all products made in the same facility to cross-contact.

Moreover, artificial vitamins contain binders, fillers (both of which may contain allergens, such as beef, egg) and various other additives, such as dye and artificial sweeteners.

Nearly every information source– experts and articles alike– insists it makes no difference to your body whether a vitamin is naturally or artificially derived.

However, it’s worth noting that researchers of Mast Cell Disorder (newly recognized and barely understood) have discovered a significant misnomer! Folate, one of the 8 B vitamins, is mostly found in leafy greens, which are easily perishable. Folic Acid– used interchangeably due to the perception that form doesn’t matter– is the synthetic version added to “enriched” foods to prevent birth defects.

Individuals with a genetic mutation to MTHFR cannot metabolize Folic Acid. But since they tend to be folate deficient, climate/ seasonal changes present a challenge. This begs the question: how many other synthetic forms of nutrients do we have yet to discover are unable to be metabolized (for any reason)?

Genetic mutation notwithstanding, though the solution is as multifaceted as the problem, fortunately, it’s relatively simple.

Step 1: Eat as much raw produce as possible. This is best for fiber, anyway.

Step 2: When steaming veggies, save the remaining broth. This can be used to flavor boiled grains (e.g. rice, couscous, quinoa, teff) or to intensify the flavor of soup while avoiding additives of bullion (e.g. MSG, sodium, dextrose). It’s also budget- friendly.

Step 3: Store (label and date) veggie broth in the freezer for later use, especially during seasons when hot meals are comforting and off-season produce has been imported and thus sprayed/ gassed to preserve and prematurely ripen it. (Incidentally, Kale is hearty, nutrient- rich and a cold weather crop, which makes it ideal for freezing.)

Step 4: Consult a nutritionist. If you’re willing to make primary care physicals, dental checkups and well- woman exams a priority, why neglect an evaluation of the most fundamental, primary function of your body?

Harvard’s list of vitamins, benefits, and recommended dosages

User-friendly database of food nutrient value

What’s in food according to the USDA (FAQs)

Overview of Mast Cell Disorders

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