“Boosting” the immune system with vitamins can cause health problems

An assortment of pills
An assortment of pills (Photo credit: Ready Made)

In the hope of building their immune systems against diseases, such as COVID-19, many people are consuming Vitamins C and D supplements in excess, which is detrimental to their health.

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health (HSPH), vitamins are organic substances that are generally classified as either fat soluble or water soluble. Examples of fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins ADEK, and water-soluble vitamins are vitamins B and C. Furthermore, Vitamin C or ascorbic acid, easily, “dissolves in water and is delivered to the body’s tissues but is not well stored, so it must be taken daily through food or supplements,” says HSPH.  But the mega dosing of Vitamin C, which is basically the intake of doses higher than the recommended daily allowance of the drug, is never a good option.

As documented by HSPH, when there is an excess intake of Vitamin C, it can switch from being an antioxidant to a tissue damaging substance. In addition to this, it may lead to kidney stones, diarrhoea, and an upset digestive system. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C ranges from 15–75 mg (milligrams) for children, 75 mg for adult women, 90 mg for adult men, and 85–120 mg for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, because of the fear of being infected with COVID-19, some people are never without Vitamin C. “Especially because of COVID-19, I stock up on my vitamins all the time, my family and I rarely run out because it is a must in our household,” says mother of two, Adaline Taylor (not her real name).

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Some examples of food with Vitamin C are citrus fruits like orange, other foods include potatoes, broccoli, and strawberries. Additionally, Vitamin C is very important in controlling infections and healing wounds, it is also powerful antioxidant and is used to “make collagen fibrous protein in connective tissue that is weaved throughout various systems in the body: nervous, immune, bone, cartilage, blood, and others,” added HSPH.

Like Vitamin C, Vitamin D plays an important role in the health of the body. According to HSPH, the vitamin, “is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make which help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both are critical for building bone.” As a fat-soluble vitamin, it reduces cancer cell growth, control infections and reduce inflammation.

There are also two types of Vitamin D supplements – D2 (from plants) and D3 (from animals and naturally in the human body), but both are naturally produced by the sun’s ultraviolet -B (UVB) rays, a good source of the vitamin. However, when people overdose in Vitamin D supplements, there are some health complications like anorexia, weight loss, hardening of the blood vessels and tissues because of the increase in calcium maintains HSPH. The daily RDA for the vitamin is 600 IU (international units) for adults and 800 IU for elderlies.

But food sources rich in the vitamin include, cod liver oil, sword fish, tuna, and some plant milks, says health professionals



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