Khloe Kardashian made a splash on social media last week when she Instagrammed a picture of more than a dozen ziplock bags she lugged to Armenia, stuffed full of the vitamins and supplements she'd take on each day of her glam family trip.
She's only one of many celebs who have popularized what seems to be a "300 pills per day" regimen as a cornerstone of their good health.
Celebs are not the only ones pushing the swallow-em-all lifestyle. We have shops and corporate chains purveying a limitless selection of potions, elixirs, remedies and pills. We're pelted with advertising every day that promises healthfulness if only we'll ingest a cocktail of As, Bs, Cs and Es or run out and buy the next can't-miss discovery that's guaranteed to keep us looking younger and feeling great.
Khloe K. noted that the dozens of caplets she downs each day were recommended by a nutritionist. What works for her, though, won't necessarily work for you or me.
Much more than another new wonder-pill, the public needs good, accurate information and better education about vitamins and supplements.
Vitamins, which are organic compounds essential in small amounts for normal metabolism, are necessary for proper daily function of our bodies. With the exception of vitamin D, which can be absorbed in every cell, our bodies are not able to synthesize vitamins on their own; to be beneficial, they must be ingested in the diet.
Here's what I know: When it comes to vitamins, the rule of thumb is always less is more.
In general, vitamins are divided into two classes, fat soluble and water soluble.
Vitamins A, D, E and K fall into the first group, which means they can be stored in the body. Taking high doses of these vitamins -- especially vitamin A -- over a long period of time can result in toxic levels in the body, which can lead to drowsiness, vomiting, impaired eyesight, muscle and bone pain, hair loss and liver damage.
Some water soluble vitamins, including vitamins B and C, can also cause adverse effects in excess. Vitamin B6, for example, has been linked to nerve damage at high doses. Remember this the next time you walk through the vitamin aisle.
If you are planning on taking high-dose vitamins, you should not do so without consulting your physician, to be aware of potential side effects or interactions.
Some people -- including those with chronic bowel disease (Crohn's disease), vegetarians, pregnant women and the elderly may benefit from supplementation but if you have a balanced diet, eat healthy, unprocessed food and organic produce and get adequate exercise and sleep, you probably do not need to take any vitamins.
Dr. Samadi's Personalized Vitamin Regimen
Every individual's needs are different. I'll tell you about some of mine.
I spend a lot of time in the operating room and often, get too little sun, so my Vitamin D levels used to run low.
For a long time, I was always feeling tired, and then I checked my blood test. I learned that a good level of Vitamin D in the blood is between 30 and 50 nanograms per milliliter so I take 2,000 IU of Vitamin D everyday, and I feel so much better.
I take 5,000 mcg of biotin for my hair and 500 mg of L-Arginine, which is similar to Viagra.
For my heart I take 1,400 mg of fish oil, and some zinc to protect my prostate and I am ready to start my day.
Vitamin E used to be on my list, but I scratched that after the publication of data that showed it can raise a man's risk of prostate cancer.
This is my regimen, but keep in mind the list is totally different from what would be helpful to another person.
Older folks who are showing symptoms of Alzheimer's might check their level of Vitamin B12 since a deficiency of it can lead to fogginess. Pregnant women need to take Folic Acid to help their baby prevent neurological disorders.
Bottom line: Some vitamins are necessary if you are not getting your full complement through your diet. Vitamins play an essential role in keeping the body healthy, but too many vitamins could have an adverse effect and actually be quite harmful.
Natural Ways to get Vitamins
This alphabetical mnemonic lists some essentials that would be far more valuable to remember and do each day than swallowing bagfuls of pills.
Active………………..exercise three times per week.
Breakfast………………………………...never skip it.
Coffee.………………………..drink 3-4 cups per day.
Diet………….unprocessed meat, no sugar, no flour.
Early to bed………...…………..get 7 hours of sleep.
Fiber……….at least 3 portions of fruits and veggies.
Green tea……………………………...2 cups per day.
H2O………………………….drink 5 glasses per day.
Input of organics………….it's really much healthier