Vitamin supplements

I’m responding to the above article in the DM today regarding the dangers of vitamin supplements. This is another bad piece of journalism that takes the writers problem and one other man that died and suddenly denounces vitamins as toxic. The trials on glucosamine are sound – trust me I’ve looked over hundreds of them and it is safe to take so please do not worry. We do not know why the man mentioned died – it could be for a number of factors, not just glucosamine and he could have been at risk of other diseases anyway.

Taking the average person with the average diet, we are mostly left as a nation with deficiencies in many vitamins and minerals. This can be easily proved with blood tests. Ok so you cant test for glucosamine deficiency (because it doesnt exist!) but you can test for: Vit B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and folate, iron, Vit C, Vit E, Selenium, Vit A, Vit D, Calcium, magnesium, zinc, CoQ10, potassium, sodium, essential fatty acids etc. Some of these cannot be tested for on the NHS, but the point I’m making is nearly everyone I see has some deficiency. I need B12 injections and that’s with a good diet.

What is important is that too many people are self prescribing and become dependant on supplements. Some patients I see will bring with them for example ginko biloba because a friend told them “it helped the brain” or ginseng because another friend said it was great. This does not mean that you need them. Supplements should be given only if there is a deficiency – that is proved either by clinical symptoms or a blood test. If you are taking more than four or five a day then get someone to sort them out for you – you may be taking too many or wasting your money.

Herbs do have side effects and should be taken with advice and the fat soluable vitamins, A,D and E should not be taken in high doses. Water soluble vitamins are excreted through the urine so can be taken in higher doses more safely

I dip in and out of taking supplements. At the moment I’m taking Lamberts Premtis and extra magesium – that’s two supplements a day. Often I go for months and take none and when under stress take Vitamin B100mg.

So certainly be cautious but do not worry about this article.

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