Myths, a widely held but false belief or idea. They are something we all hear in our daily lives, but where do they come from and why do they often need busting in accordance with the truth? Well, myths are kind of like stereotypes, a major way in which we simplify our social world; since they reduce the amount of processing our brain needs to do. Myths in general are easy to remember and useful shortcuts to remember important information, as long as they are true. Take this for example, We’ve all been told don’t eat & swim! But in truth it is a bit of a myth, eating before swimming doesn’t increase risk of stomach cramps. But a full stomach could make you slightly short of breath when exercising, so there is a little truth in it, albeit not if you are just having fun in the pool on holiday.
Over the summer, we wrote a blog on why taking 1875% of your rda of vitamins could be a good idea and vitamin doses are an area we are passionate about and we felt the need to tackle some common myths. The truth is, as with all things in nutrition and health, it is individual but we need broad rules that can be applied for most people in order to improve their health. The problem with some of the myths as we’ll explore below, is that they were grounded in assumptions and old observations rather than the science of today, which is always evolving and becoming more advanced. So, here goes:
Myth 1: All I need is 100% of my recommended daily allowance
So why is this a myth? Well your RDA of vitamins is defined as the amount of vitamin you need to prevent nutritional deficiencies. This isn’t the same as optimal health, which would ensure your body has an abundant amount of vitamins and minerals to function optimally. Saying all you need is your RDA is the equivalent to saying I only need to eat food once a month. True, eating only once a month would ensure you probably don’t starve, but you would be very thin, weak and certainly not functioning optimally.
The truth is optimal health is a long way from preventing a deficiency and it is a spectrum that is slightly different for everybody. What is clear, is the minimum amount of vitamin we need is our RDA but we should all be looking to increase on that amount for better overall health. Optimally speaking, individual circumstances and environment make a big difference which is why there is little scientific consensus on the optimal level of vitamins and if you want to get serious about vitamins, it is wise to actually take a test to discover the levels in your blood. This will give you a better understanding of what you need to focus on and how much you need to take to get to the levels you seek for optimal health.
Myth 2: The amount of vitamin I need is consistent all the time
We are all the same, all the time. FALSE. We all have good days, bad days, energetic days and tired days. Even throughout the day, we can feel happy and calm in the morning before something at work just stresses us the hell out and ruins our mood. Whilst we’ve all been there, what few of us fail to consider is that these psychological states effect real chemical and hormonal levels in our body, and critically change what our body needs.
Think of it another way. The amount of water you drink isn’t consistent. Go to the gym or for a run and you soon find yourself reaching for a bottle of water or some electrolytes to quench your thirst. That’s because exercising put strain on your body, you sweat and lose water and minerals which then need to be replenished. From a vitamin perspective it is much the same; vitamin requirements fluctuate dependant on the situation we are in, such as if we are stressed, run down, fighting an infection or lacking sleep, the vitamins levels our body needs goes up. So, in times of need the amount of vitamin that is optimal can be much higher. For example, some scientific studies have administered doses of up to 8 grams of vitamin C per day to an individual when experiencing cold and flu to have the maximum impact. That’s an incredible 100x more than your RDA. So, what this suggests is that the best way to approach your vitamins is perhaps have a daily supplement that covers your base needs, but then in times of need, have some additional supplements that will help your body function optimally. Food for thought, for sure and a potentially simple way to help us lead healthier lives.
(Please note, that the people in the study were being medically supervised and we recommend staying within the safe upper limit set by the EU which suggests no more than two grams of vitamin C per day.)