Sunday, April 26, 2020

Playing Nutritionist

I went to a pharmacy in Damai a few days ago to buy vitamin C supplements, and I ended up having an interesting debate, albeit a short one, with the pharmacist. To be honest, I haven't been taking vitamin C supplements until very recently, and even  then I'm not doing it diligently. I would miss a day or two, and sometimes longer, before suddenly remembering to take them again. I'm just not really serious about vitamin C. 

There was an assortment of different brands and different means of consumption, i.e. some are taken in the form of tablets; others are taken after having been diluted in water and to be consumed as a drink. There are also many different dosages, some are tablets containing a mere 250mg each, whereas others may contain as high as 1500mg each. I wanted the 250mg tablets, i.e. one of the lowest. But the pharmacist was recommending the 1000mg tablets. She said the body needs it.

My wife has been taking vitamin C for the longest. Somebody must've convinced her many years ago that taking vitamin C is absolutely necessary. I suspect it must've been one of those so-called "direct-selling" folks playing doctors or nutritionists. I can still remember when my mother-in-law was still alive, my wife made her take vitamin C supplements too; and each tablet, if I'm not mistaken, had 1500mg of vitamin C in it. I did not know this until one day when I wanted to buy something from the pharmacy, and she told me to buy some vitamin C for her mom. I was surprised to know the dosage. She explained to me that the digestive system of old folks may not be as efficient as young people; she may not get sufficient vitamin C from her diet. Hence the 1500mg vitamin C supplements.

Now I'm not a nutritionist, but I know a little bit about vitamins. There are many different recommendations for what is deemed as the amount of vitamin C required by the body each day, from as low as 40mg (National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad) to as high as 110mg (European Food Safety Authority). You may have noticed that that's way lesser than the 1000mg recommended by the pharmacist; and the 1500mg taken by my late mother-in-law. Since I have plenty of vegetables and fruits in my diet, I did not think that I'm not consuming sufficient vitamin C for my daily requirement. Furthermore, I've also noticed that vitamin C is also present in some of my sports supplements. I'm also drinking Ribena almost daily for my sports activities, and I reckon that I'm getting at least 100mg from Ribena alone.

However, I've noticed that many people, especially from "direct selling" companies, would use the excuse that even if people consume a lot of foods which are sources of vitamin C in their diets, they may not necessarily be able to absorb it into their system. That's why they must take vitamin C supplements. And of course their supplements are the best compared to others because theirs are much more easily absorbed by the body. This is also the same excuse they'd frequently use for any other vitamins or substances required by the body.

I'm a very simple-minded fellow. If indeed my body is unable to absorb sufficient vitamin C from my diet, then I reckon there will be symptoms of deficiency such as bleeding gums or slow-healing wounds, or some other signs which would give rise to negative effects on my health. But if there are no such symptoms of deficiency, then that must mean the body is still getting enough. I'm not trying to play nutritionist here, I'm just applying a bit of simple logic and common sense. Therefore, no amount of persuasion from the pharmacist will make me take 1000mg of vitamin C supplements on a daily basis.

I suspect many of my readers are vitamin C supplements consumers. Before you start bombarding me, let me just say that this post is not intended to ridicule you. If you want to consume 1500mg vitamin C daily, by all means, pray continue. I'm just explaining why I'm not doing it.

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