Sunday, August 1, 2010

Take Your Vitamins, Especially When Dieting


Since my blood type is the kind everyone can accept, something especially needed in emergency rooms, I consider it my civic duty to donate blood. It's something I've done for decades, often giving the maximum allowed of 6 donations per year (once every 8 weeks). In those 100+ visits to the blood center, only once have they turned me away from giving blood and that story is why I believe so much in taking vitamins. That one-time denial happened around the end of 2001 or the beginning of 2002. You'll see in a moment why I can remember the date.

You know the routine if you've ever given blood: they ask you some questions, get a few drops of blood to check your iron level, draw the blood, then give you cookies. The cookies are definitely the best part. My iron level was never a problem and on most occasions the nurse would comment about how my iron level was very good. Then on one trip to the blood center they took my iron measurement twice before determining that it was just high enough for me to give blood. A fluke I thought at the time, but eight weeks later the level was even less and they wouldn't take my blood.

I felt fine, nothing had changed in my diet or lifestyle in the months prior to this problem. I was getting a little older, having just turned 50 at the end of 2001, but that's not really old. My first thought was of something being seriously wrong. You start thinking cancer when your iron level goes from fine to anemic in a few months. Fortunately, I had a second thought that provided the answer to this mystery.

My supply of multi-vitamins had run out shortly before my 50th birthday. Rather than being in denial about my advancing age, I decided to buy the Silver version of my multi-vitamin, the one for people over 50. Maybe it's different now, but the Silver version back then didn't have iron. With the iron portion of the multi-vitamin gone, I went from healthy iron levels to anemic in less than half a year.

Periodically I'll see a story in the news about how vitamins don't really help the typical person and it's just money being pissed down the drain. What an erroneous viewpoint and a disservice to the general public. With multi-vitamins available at less than a dime a day, they should be part of everyone's daily routine. That's a cheap price to pay for health insurance and definitely an ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure.

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