Vitamins essential to complete diet
Are you taking a dietary supplement that contains a vitamin that is not really a vitamin? Vitamin terminology using obsolete names or just creative license is a common marketing gimmick.
Before vitamins were discovered, scientists thought that the body only required the "macronutrients" protein, carbohydrate, fat and water.
Around the beginning of the 20th century, nutrition scientists started to recognize that there are other food chemicals that the body needs in micro amounts.
Some of these "micronutrients" were discovered to be vitamins that could miraculously cure some of the common diseases of the time.
Horrible ailments like pellagra, beriberi, and scurvy turned out to be due to vitamin deficiencies. During the process of identifying and isolating each vitamin, a number of other substances were called vitamins that later proved not to be.
Question: What is a vitamin?
Answer: Vitamins are chemical compounds other than macronutrients or minerals that are essential in very tiny amounts and necessary for normal body functions. An inadequate supply of a vitamin leads to specific deficiency problems.
Q: What are the known vitamins?
A: Throughout history, more than 50 different vitamin terms have been used.
Research and experience have shown that only 13 vitamins are known to be required for humans. These vitamins include A, B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, C, D, E, K, niacin, folic acid, biotin, and pantothenic acid.
Obsolete vitamin names are sometimes still used for marketing purposes. Consequently, the term "vitamin" doesn't always refer to a real vitamin that is essential for normal health and growth.
Q: What are some of the bogus vitamins?
A: The bioflavinoids found in citrus fruits are sometimes called "vitamin P," however, these clearly are not vitamins.
Sometimes fatty acids are referred to as vitamin F, but these also are not vitamins.
Both "vitamin B-15" and "vitamin B-17" are phony vitamins, apparently created for marketing purposes. According to Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, formulations of B-15 are "possibly unsafe," "potentially carcinogenic" and "can cause oxalate stones and other kidney problems." The so-called vitamin B-17 is a substance that releases hydrogen cyanide (a potent toxin) in the body.
Perhaps the most bizarre phony vitamin is "vitamin O." It is just water fizzed with oxygen.
If your bottle of vitamins lists any of these obsolete or bogus vitamin terms, consider finding a brand that sells you real vitamins.
, Ph.D., C.N.S. and Joannie Dobbs
, Ph.D., C.N.S. are
nutritionists in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, UH-Manoa. Dr. Dobbs also works with the University Health Services and prepares the nutritional analyses marked with an asterisk in this section. See also: Health Events