Why Prenatal Vitamins (Or Any Vitamin Supplement) Are Unnecessary And A Risk To Health.

Yes I said it! I will say it again, Prenatal Vitamins Supplements are unnecessary. The doctors who are paid commission on what they prescribe to patients tell all pregnant women that they are at risk for not taking prenatal vitamins because of them being susceptible to being vitamin deficient with a growing being inside of them taking all of their nutrients but this is false. What the majority, including scientists, fail to discern in this day and age is the “magnitudes of benefits we get from multiple complexities of whole food’s nutrients. “In order to thrive, our bodies require optimum levels of nutrients, naturally occurring in food and not maximum levels of nutrients that are chemically isolated or synthetically produced by the industry.” (Holmekler) Food is our medicine. In a money-hungry society we are rarely told to halt the consumption of soda, chips, fast-food, grease and oil cooked foods, colored and artificially as well as highly processed foods especially during pregnancy. Pregnant women are given false expectations that if they take prenatal vitamins everyday they are exempt from eating healthy.  We have to snap out of this mind-set.

Before I share Holmekler’s article “Vitamin Poisoning: Are We Destroying Our Health with Hi-Potency Synthetic Vitamins?”, I would like to add that I am a soon to be mother and am 21-weeks pregnant I have not taken prenatal vitamins except for a few days in my first trimester. I stopped taking them because they would irritate my sensitive digestive system and no I do not mean nausea and “morning sickness”. I personally feel that me and my baby do not need them we do not show signs of any vitamin deficiency and maintain a healthy diet that includes a variety of whole foods. I would like to alleviate the image that someone is a bad mother because they choose not to take synthetic prenatal vitamins.

 

“Vitamins are readily available and sold in many different formulations, they’re also added to common foods such as dairy, cereals, nutritional shakes and baking flour. We were taught to believe that vitamin supplements are beneficial and indeed under certain circumstances, such as with immuno deficiency diseases, vitamin supplementation regiments have shown to be helpful in relieving symptoms similar to drug administration. What we haven’t been told is that in large dosages, as commonly prescribed by physicians or recommended by vitamin manufacturers, vitamins can become overwhelmingly toxic and the same vitamin treatment that potentially benefit sick individuals may actually devastate healthy individuals. To understand how vitamin poisoning occurs, we need to examine the three following issues: first, why so many of us become vitamin junkies? Second, how this very compulsive public need to shove in megadosages of vitamins has been exploited by the vitamin industry? And third, what are the real effects of vitamin supplementation on our cells, tissues and overall health?

The need to take vitamin supplements

“There is a widely held perception that human diseases are largely caused by vitamin deficiencies and therefore, supplementation with megadosages of vitamins can be beneficial in preventing disease. This view is not fully supported by medical evidence, nonetheless it is still propagated and has been explored by commercial interests such as for example, the inclusion of vitamin C in cold remedies, the addition of vitamin A and D to milk products, the enrichment of oils and margarines with vitamin E, the addition of vitamins to nutritional shakes and the non-regulated sales of vitamin A and E supplements.

“There are plenty of articles that encourage megadosage vitamin treatment. Generally speaking, virtually all available information on vitamin supplementation (as provided by supplement companies) attack the minimum recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamins as too low. Regardless to the undeniable evidence that the human body is not programmed to utilize vitamins in maximum potencies, but rather in optimum potencies (sometimes below the minimum RDA), the industry wants you to believe that high potencies of vitamins yield better results.

“We have been told repeatedly that vitamin overload such as with vitamin C or vitamin E isn’t just beneficial in preventing the common cold, but also effective in killing cancer cells, chelating heavy metals, curing blood sugar disorders and counteracting aging. Our society has been trained to think in military terms when dealing with health issues. We habitually use terms such as “fighting illness”, or “burning fat”. It is perhaps understandable that there is a widely held perception that high potency vitamins are more powerful with a stronger capacity to “kill” disease than low potency vitamins. Most people today truly believe that high potency vitamins are superior to low potency vitamins regardless to how they’re made – whether they’re synthetically produced from chemicals or naturally extracted from food sources. Consequently, we have been becoming addicts to vitamin megadosages and the vast majority of us are not even aware of this. As you’ll soon see, vitamin abuse is a serious issue that requires very close attention.

Can we do well without using vitamin supplements?

“Apparently, in today’s world it’s virtually impossible to do well without nutritional supplements. Supplementation often presents the only practical means to grant an adequate intake of nutrients. Due to soil depletion, industrial food processing, storage conditions and often low accessibility to fresh nutrient-dense food, it becomes imperative to supplement our diet with vitamins and other essential nutrients which are missing in our food. And the people who need supplementation most, are those under an increased oxidative stress including people routinely engaged in intense physical training, people with immuno-deficiency diseases, and the elderly. Antioxidant nutrients have shown to help lower the metabolic stress caused by exercise or disease and thus protect cells and tissues from oxidative damage.

“Nonetheless, we need to know how to make the right choices. Not all nutritional supplements are as beneficial as claimed and an excess of any substance including vitamins can be potentially as harmful as its deficiency. We’ll continue with this soon, but for now let’s examine the theory behind the usage of synthetic vitamins.

The orthomolecular theory

“There is a growing school of nutritionists called orthomolecularists who argue that there is no difference between a “synthetic” and a “natural” vitamin molecule. According to this theory, biologically identical (bioidentical) molecules are indistinguishable from those synthesized by plants or animals. The orthomolecular theory (ortho-right) claims that we must support our bodies with the “right molecules” that are required to sustain life and that receptors on the surface of animal cells control the uptake of individual molecules regardless of how or why these molecules appear in the blood stream… Though lacking scientific substantiation, this theory has been adapted by medical authorities who recommend synthetic vitamin supplements, containing large concentrations of isolated vitamin molecules to serve as alternative medicine.

“Millions of people today are taking vitamin supplements as the only means to prevent nutritional deficiencies, believing that it actually compensates for poor eating habits and bad diets. The highest pound-to-pound vitamin consumers are fitness advocates, athletes, the sick and the elderly, who have been told that their vitamin requirements are higher than normal and therefore require larger dosages. What remains largely overlooked is one single fact: there is no evidence that people who take vitamin supplements are doing better than those who don’t. In fact, there are some indications that vitamin supplementation may actually shorten life span and may even increase cancer probability, such as in the case of synthetic vitamin E and beta carotene. As you’ll soon see, the evidence shows that vitamin supplements can become toxic to the body in the following circumstances:

– if they’re synthetically produced

– if taken in overly high unnatural dosages.

Poisonous vitamins

“Up until recently, it has been commonly assumed that only fat soluble vitamins can potentially become toxic. Since fat soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K can be stored by the body and accumulate in overly high toxic levels when taken in large dosages, it has been recommended to be cautious with their intake, a recommendation which nevertheless has been ignored by vitamin manufacturers who keep selling formulas with high contents of fat soluble vitamins.

“Vitamin poisoning is not a simple problem. The issue involves lots of misinformation and misunderstanding. The information provided by vitamin manufacturers do not always reveal the truth, certainly not the whole truth. People today are easily fooled to believe that it’s worth popping pills that can yield hundreds of times greater vitamin concentration than real food. What the public hasn’t been fully aware of is that the human species evolved to beneficially utilize nutrients only as they naturally occur in food and not in any other way.

“The early human diet was largely vegetarian, humans have adapted to utilize nutrients and vitamins from plant sources in the safest, most efficient way and at exactly the right concentrations needed for the body’s metabolic needs. Human biology is undoubtedly vegetarian-oriented. We all carry an inherent enzymatic capacity to convert complex plant nutrients into bioactive compounds, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, all of which are utilized by the body through a tightly feedback control. This is how we evolved to be. We can safely utilize natural plant carotenes into vitamin A, we can safely optimize our vitamin D from germs and seeds as well as through exposure to UV sunlight and we can safely utilize vitamin E from eating raw nuts and seeds, without any risk of toxicity.

“However, as great as our capacity to utilize natural nutrients from food is, we are lacking the capacity to properly utilize synthetic nutrients derived from chemical processing. The human body can’t regulate the absorption of synthetic vitamins, neither can it optimize their levels. Here is what likely occurs when synthetic vitamins are administered. The highly bioactive, chemically processed vitamin molecules bypass the body’s natural enzymatic pathways, giving the body the signal that its vitamin pool is fully loaded. After synthetic vitamin administration, the body is tricked to believe that it doesn’t need to utilize more of the same nutrients from food. Consequently, the enzymes that normally utilize complex plant nutrients into vitamin molecules are inhibited and the body is losing its ability to fully assimilate food’s nutrients, as well as the capacity to regulate and optimize healthy vitamin concentrations. In reality, synthetic vitamins are received by the body as drugs and like all drugs, they can potentially disrupt normal metabolic functions often with devastating side effects.

(Side Effects Listed on http://www.organicconsumers.org)

REFERENCES

Gomez-Cabrera MC, Domenech E, Romagnoli M, Arduini A, Borras C, Pallardo FV, Sastre J, and Vina, J. Oral administration of vitamin C decreases muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and hampers training-induced adaptations in endurance performance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):142-9.

Berger TM, Polidori MC, Dabbagh A, et al. Antioxidant activity of vitamin C in iron-overloaded human plasma. J Biol Chem 1997;272:15656-60.

Burton GW, Traber, MG, Acuff RV, Walters DN, Kayden H, Hughes L, Ingold, KU. (1998). Human plasma and tissue alpha-tocopherol concentrations in response to supplementation with deuterated natural and synthetic vitamin E. Am J Clin Nutr 67, 669-684.

Childs A, Jacobs C, Kaminski T, Halliwell B, Leeuwenhurgh C. Supplementation with vitamin C and N-acetvl-cysteine increases oxidative stress in humans after an acute muscle injury induced by eccentric exercise. Free Radic Biol Med 2001;31:745-53.

Coombes JS, Powers SK, Rowell B, et al. Effects of vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid on skeletal muscle contractile properties. J Appl Physiol 200 1;90: 1424-30.

Close GL, Ashton T, Cable T, et al. Ascorbic acid supplementation does not attenuate post-exercise muscle soreness following muscle-damaging exercise but may delay the recovery process. Br J Nutr 2006;95 :976-81.

Davies KJ, Packer L, Brooks GA. Biochemical adaptation of mitochondria, muscle, and whole-animal respiration to endurance training. Arch Biochem Biophys 1981;209:539-54.

Facts about Vitamin A and Carotenoids, from the National Institates of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements.

Gomez-Cabrera MC, Borras C, Pallardo FV, Sastre J, Ji LL, Vina J. Decreasing xanthine oxidase-mediated oxidative stress prevents useful cellular adaptations to exercise in rats. J Physiol 2005;567:113-20.

Hathcock JN, Shao A, Vieth R, Heaney R (January 2007). “Risk assessment for vitamin D”. Am J Clin Nutr 85(1): 6-18.

Huang HY, & Appel LJ. (2003). Supplementation of diets with alpha-tocopherol reduces serum concentrations of gamma- and delta-tocopherol in humans. Journal of Nutrition, 133, 3137-3140.

Levy. AP, Gerstein, HC, Miller-Lotan, R, Ratner, R, McQueen, M, Lonn, E, & Pogue, J. (2004). The effect of vitamin E supplementation on cardiovascular risk in diabetic individuals with different haptoglobin phenotypes. Diabetes Care, 27, 2767.

Malm C, Svensson M, Sjoberg B, Ekhorn B. Supplementation with ubiquinone-10 causes cellular damage during intense exercise. Acta Physiol Scand 1996;157:51 1-2.

Miller, ER 3rd, Pastor-Barriuso, B, Dalal, D, Riemersma, RA, Appel, LJ, & Guallar, E. (2004). Meta-Analysis: High-Dosage Vitamin E Supplementation May Increase All-Cause Mortality. Annals of Internal Medicine, 142.

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