Home > Science > The sicko experiment: part 1

The sicko experiment: part 1

January 18, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Besides a bout of mono and a pneumothorax, I was perfectly healthy throughout high school and college. I’d have days where I felt sick, but it would never keep me from going about work or school, and these would pass in a day or two. Last year I got sick three times. I called into work on a few different occassions (something I hate to do). Fortunately, as bad as these illnesses were, they passed within a few days. After I was sick the third time, I started taking a multivitamin, and didn’t get sick again for a whole year. Since I bought the multivitamins in bulk, they lasted me for quite a while, but I ran out a couple months back. Coincidentally this was right before flu season. Being the lazy person that I am, I never bothered to get another bottle, a few weeks after that I got sick. It was the most sick I’ve ever been as an adult, even though it was just a normal flu. I missed a bunch of days of work then, but I recovered and recuperated. Just before Christmas it happened again, and I was out of work for a week and a half. Despite the symptoms not being as severe as my first illness, they lasted much longer. Again, I recovered and recuperated.

Yesterday I woke up with a sore throat and bought a bottle of multivitamins on the way home from work later. Will the vitamins keep me from becoming ill? It’s impossible to tell. Even if I don’t get sick this is the prime example of correlation not equaling causation. I got 200 doses for $5 bucks; I’m willing to try it out, especially since vitamins are something that my body needs anyway.

Right? Granted, if I ate “right” I would be getting all the vitamins and minerals I would need from my meals, but unless McDonalds started making a new kind of nutrietn laden Big Mac, I’m afraid this isn’t always the case. But do I really need all of this crap, and, if so, how badly do I need it? Here’s the list of vitamins and minerals I get in my multivitamins

Vitamin A, C, D, E, and K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and B12, Folic Acid, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Potassium, and Lycopene.

That’s quite the laundry list of ingredients. I don’t recognize a lot of them. I think one is a villain of the X-men, and Chromium? Isn’t that radioactive? What does this crap do?

I’m glad you asked. Because I’m going to find out, and tell you all about it. We’ll start out with just the vitamins today. Not vitamin B6 or B12, though, just the normal vitamins. This is so that I can be lazy about looking stuff up, and also to build suspense…tune in next week, kids, same blog time, same blog channel.

Vitamin A

This is good for eyesight. When ingested it forms the metabolite retinal, which is the basic chemical needed for vision. Without vitamin A, you would go blind. I would call that a pretty necessary vitamin. Retinal can also be oxidized to form retonic acid to aid in gene transcription. Again, this is very important. However, too much vitamin A is toxic and can lead hair loss, jaundice, and a whole slew of other not fun stuff. The toxic level is about 4,000 IU(this stands for international units, and is different depending on which substance it’s referring to)/kg of body weight. My pills only have 3,500 IU total. I think I’m pretty safe from overdose.
Vitamin C

A lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, and as cool as pirates are, I still want nothing to do with scurvy. One of the main roles of vitamin C in the body is the production of collagen. Collagen is a primary protein in the healing of wounds, it is also important bone formation and connective tissue. Basically your body starts to fall apart. Without vitamin C you start to bleed from your eyes, so I consider it pretty important as well. Unlike vitamin A, there’s no known toxic limit on vitamin C, so you can load up on it. The worst you’ll probably get is an upset stomach.

Vitamin D

This plays a role in all of the organ functions, but is primarily important for bone growth. It aids with calcium absorption in the intestines and kidneys, and increases calcium in our blood flow. Without it, we would get weak, thin bones which lead to osteoporosis and rickets.

Vitamin E

This helps out the absorption of vitamin A and prevents tissue breakdown. It has also been linked to preventing heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, though no solid evidence has been produced. Seems like a pretty meh vitamin to me.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is primarily used in blood clotting. This is something that we don’t normally deal with because we’re not out there injuring ourselves every day. When deficient it causes anemia, bruising and bloody gums and nosebleeds. According to “the literature” I should normally have no problem getting my recommended dosage just from a normal diet, which is good because the multivitamin only has 25% of the recommended dosage.

That’s all for now. Next up Thiamin, Riboflavin and Niacin!

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Categories: Science
  1. Dan
    January 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Mmm, delicious riboflavin!

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