I don’t know about anybody else but I think that I was sick from school on the day that they taught us all that we needed to take these capsule, pill, tablet things called vitamins. My entire life, I have felt as though there was some common agreed upon time and place where everybody decided that we don’t have enough of some vitamins so we should all take bunches of vitamins just in case. At some point it became common knowledge that we should all throw back five hundred percent of our necessary daily value of Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin all of the alphabet letters etc.

And just in case we need to adjust our levels of all of the ingredients that we are made of; vitamins and minerals are also individualized into mega-doses.

There are also a million brands and delivery methods of these potent pellets of human health turbo shots.

So I ask you, when did taking vitamins become a thing?

It has simply never crossed my mind to ask myself, ” Hm? I sure do hope that I am getting enough Riboflavin!?” and “I wonder if I’m low on Manganese?”.

If there wasn’t a class about vitamins and minerals that I missed then why do we all find it so supplemental to supplement ourselves?

The back of the bottles all have these percent daily value charts that come from these lovely places;

  1. National Research Council (NRC). Recommended dietary allowances, 7th ed. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences; 1968.
  2. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Food labeling; mandatory status of nutrition labeling and nutrient content revision; format of nutrition label. Final rule. Fed Regist. 1993;58:2079-2205.
  3. National Research Council (NRC). Recommended dietary allowances, 10th ed. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1989.
  4. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Food labeling: Reference Daily Intakes, Part II; Final rule. Fed Regist. 1995;60:67164-67175.

The above sources look pretty legitimate. Are they the ones in charge of the vitamins?

Well, being that there are all of these supplements out there; here is the beginning of a series on vitamin folklore, questions and answers.

Origin

As with most “things”, vitamin and mineral supplements have a wacky origin.

There are only 13 human vitamins: A, C, D, E, K, and then 8 B vitamins. But there’s something like 85,000 dietary supplements.

The term vitamin originated from “vitamine,” a word first used in 1911 by the Polish scientist Cashmir Funk to describe a human compound that was thought to have a nitrogen-containing component known as an amine to designate a group of compounds considered vital for life. Vital-amine.

Long after it was discovered that vitamin C deficiency caused scurvy, vitamin C was the first vitamin to be artificially synthesized in 1935.

Apparently, a man named Linus Paulding, who was so smart that Albert Einstein couldn’t even keep up; wrote a book about a giant dose of vitamin C conquering the common cold.

Paulding’s claims were all the rage and sales of the miracle vitamin exploded.

This was all well and good until several studies proved him wrong.

At the University of Toronto, researchers administered vitamin C or placebo to 3,500 volunteers. Again, vitamin C didn’t prevent colds, even in those receiving as much as 2,000 milligrams a day. In 2002, researchers in the Netherlands administered multivitamins or placebo to more than 600 volunteers. Again, no difference. At least 15 studies have now shown that vitamin C doesn’t treat the common cold. As a consequence, neither the FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Dietetic Association, the Center for Human Nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, nor the Department of Health and Human Services recommend supplemental vitamin C for the prevention or treatment of colds.

But it was too late, the vitamin boom had begun.