What are vitamins?
Vitamins are found in minute quantities, in all natural foods. Vitamins are essential to a normal, functioning body and are essential to life. Our body is not able to manufacture vitamins by itself and relies on a natural diet or supplements for its supply. (1)
A lot of people think that vitamins can replace food but that is not true. Vitamins rely on the body ingesting food as that is when the body absorbs the vitamins from the food. Consider that the body is a car, and vitamins would be the spark plugs you will get the idea of the part vitamins play in the function of the body. We depend upon vitamins to support our enzyme system, energising and regulating our metabolism and helping us to function at a high level of performance; which let’s face it, we need in this workaday world where life is lived at a million miles an hour!
Compared to other nutrients, vitamins are miniscule in amount, but a deficiency in one vitamin can endanger the whole body.
What are nutrients?
Nutrients are more than just vitamins, they are the carbohydrates, protein (made up of amino acids) fat, minerals, and water; they are the absorbable parts of food and are necessary for energy, organ function, ability to utilize our food and cell growth.(1)
Nutrients work through the digestive system which breaks down the food we eat so that it may be absorbed through the walls of the digestive tract and enter the bloodstream. You can see from this that the digestive system and its good health is essential to a healthy body. If the digestive system is malfunctioning due to consuming only refined foods, or drugs and alcohol, this could prove disastrous for the body creating many deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. (1)
Drugs and Alcohol…
Whilst alcohol is actually classed as a food and not a drug, it can have severe effects on the nutrients in the body. Alcohol and drugs actively deplete the body of vitamins B1, B2, B6, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin K, zinc, magnesium and potassium. When we look at the problems these deficiencies create in the body, it is easy to see why people who do drugs or alcohol really struggle physically. Some of these deficiencies i.e. vitamin C, can result in bleeding gums, aching joints and muscles, fatigue… or vitamin B1 where serious deficiency is (usually associated with chronic alcoholism), causes confusion and ataxia as a result of abnormalities of the brain and central nervous system, or magnesium deficiency associated with cardiovascular, skeletal and gastrointestinal problems. Potassium deficiency also results in major problems with the digestive system as well rapid heart rhythm, irregular heart rhythm and muscle weakness. (2)
We can see that the body takes a bit of a beating with both the drugs/alcohol and the very serious deficiencies that occur, as does the person themselves. Due to the damage that can be done to the digestive system by drugs and alcohol, it may well be difficult to eat foods that will replenish, though food on it’s own will not give enough nutrients back to the body on their own so as well as addiction and deficiency we may well be dealing with malnutrition as well. How unconfrontable is it to have to deal with withdrawal from drug or alcohol use, the symptoms of which are compounded by vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition. But there is a solution…
Help is at hand…
In order to bring your body back from this serious depletion of nutrients and it is essential to be on a high protein diet, full of the nutrients mentioned earlier, whilst taking supplements in order to boost your diet enough to replenish your vitamins and minerals to the level that the body can operate again. Following this dietary support, will decrease your taste for alcohol and craving for drugs as your body is getting the nutrition it needs. It is also important that we take good quality supplements in capsule form, (tablets have many additives which can themselves create problems). (1)
For dietary tips on what foods to eat to replenish your nutrition in the body take our FREE Vitamin Deficiency Test which is evaluated by our qualified nutritionist. You can also read our blogs on Food cravings as well as essentials for a healthy lifestyle to help with foods that encourage a healthy lifestyle.
By Nancy Grier – G&G Vitamins.
(1) Earl Mindell’s New Vitamin Bible 1988 (available from Amazon)
(2) Dr. Derek Shrimpton and Professor David Richardson HFMA* (Vitamins and Minerals an overview of benefits and safety. 2003)
* HFMA is Health Food Manufacturers Association UK