Advice Column, Health

Vitamin Antagonists

  • Lynne Brown
  • Category Advice Column, Health

Do you think you eat healthily enough and yet you are still prone to frequent occurrences of infections and other health challenges? Perhaps your nutrient intake and the nutrients your body makes are, to a significant degree, being cancelled out by vitamin antagonists. A vitamin antagonist is essentially the same thing as an antivitamin. It is a substance that blocks or inhibits the chemical action of a vitamin in the body. Processed foods are one of the main causes of vitamin loss in our bodies, with refined white sugar and flour being top of the list of culprits that deplete our vitamin stores. However there are many other vitamin antagonists such as artificial stimulants, drugs and, above all, stress.

Stimulants

Caffeine for example depletes the body of the B vitamins. The high tannin levels in tea can also cause iron depletion if drunk in excess. Alcoholic beverages deplete B vitamins as well as vitamin C from the body. It is also well known that cigarette smokers have lower Vitamin C levels than non-smokers do. A single cigarette can deplete as much as 35 mg of Vitamin C from the body. Calcium & phosphorus are also depleted in cigarette smokers. Our bodies need sustainable energy, not energy artificially boosted by the short-lived highs from these negative stimulants. When one’s metabolism is stimulated artificially many enzymes, vitamins and minerals are used. These artificial stimulants whip up the heartbeat and flow of blood and oxygen to the different parts of the body and brain. It is like throwing benzene on a fire: The fire will burn higher and brighter, but only for a short time, after which it will be completely burned out and the body feels a loss of vitality and energy.

Drugs

Drugs or medicines are serious stress producers in the body. Because vitamin C reacts with any alien substance in the bloodstream, all drugs can be considered to be vitamin C antagonists. Birth control pills are anti-vitamins, especially of riboflavin, B6, B12 and folic acid. Aspirin interferes with digestive processes and can result in stomach bleeding. It may result in especially high losses of Vitamin C and A, folic acid and calcium and potassium. Diuretics are drugs prescribed medically to promote weight reduction, or to relieve pressure of retained fluids. They work by increasing the flow of urine which in turn results in great losses of B and C vitamins and the minerals potassium and magnesium. All laxatives, including the herbal types, are vitamin antagonists. Mineral oil, commonly used as a laxative, absorbs the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K which are then eliminated with the stool together with calcium and phosphorus. Beta blockers, drugs taken mainly for hypertension, decrease nocturnal melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone which basically tells your body to go to sleep, and this probably accounts for some of these agents causing insomnia.Statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) reduce production of an enzyme known as Co-enzyme Q10 which is, ironically, essential for heart health.

Antibiotics suppress the growth of the beneficial or friendly bacteria population in the gastrointestinal tract and consequently the synthesis of vitamin K and may result in yeast infections and gastric problems.Antacids containing aluminium hydroxide can result in bone demineralization due to decreased absorption of phosphates. Anticonvulsants given to epileptics may result in folate, vitamin B12 and D deficiencies. Cortisone is an antagonist of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and blood-thinning medications may destroy vitamin A in the body.

The solution

This has been only a partial listing of a few specific vitamin antagonists or antivitamins. We know that all drugs and medications have side-effects, some of them serious. In many cases these may simply be the result of deficiencies in specific nutrients that these drugs have created in your body. If you’re a coffee or Coke addict or need to be on drugs for a specific health condition then it would be a good idea to supplement with a good quality whole food multivitamin and mineral supplement which should cover most of the bases. Alternatively consult a nutritionally-based health care practitioner to determine deficiencies that your specific medication or lifestyle may be causing and address these accordingly

Stress

Finally the greatest thief of all, robbing the body of nutrients and producing many free radicals, is stress. We might not come face to face with a lion everyday but we do experience numerous everyday stresses. Surgery, accidents, overly exhausting work or exercise, lack of sleep, exposure to extremes of heat or cold and emotions such as fear, hatred, anger, worry and grief, all produce great levels ofstress in the body. The B vitamins, vitamin C as well as proteins and minerals, are all depleted and/or can not be assimilated as a result of stress. And don’t think for a minute that the other vitamins can be properly or fully utilized when the body is under stress—they can’t!

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