I’ve been taking vitamins for years. In recent years, it’s been the WalMart Clone of Centrum Silver (Now With 50% More Vim!) for those of us over fifty. According to the container, they contain one zillion percent of the Daily Adult Required-by-the-United-States-of-America Gubmint-Dosage of Vitamins A, B, C, D, R, Q, and L (and I think there are some others). There’s also Niacin, Anacin, Iron, Bronze, Brawndo, Analids, and Thalidomide, I think. I’d go get the bottle and look, but I have gout and it hurts to walk.
Anyway, while I was gulping down the big gray caplet this morning, I had a most disturbing thought: If someone asked me to define the word vitamin, I would not be able to do so in any meaningful way. I’m going to go out on a limb here and theorize that I’m not the only one, but maybe I am. What I mean to say is that, for all practical purposes, although I’ve been taking vitamins, hearing about vitamins, watching commercials for vitamins and probably tripping over vitamins in the yard, I don’t know what a vitamin is.
Okay, I know that they’re essential to life as we know it, and that certain vitamins have certain jobs. Vitamin C is in citrus fruits, and it seems to ward off colds. Vitamin B has something to do with brain function. Vitamin L takes care of your liver, or at least it stands to reason that it should, because it begins with L, and Vitamin P has something to do with the urinary tract, I think.
But I don’t know what a vitamin looks like (or at least I didn’t until I looked them up,) and, really, what they do. Are vitamins liquid, solid, or gaseous? And what, specifically, do they do? I mean, do they go and give pep talks to the cells? Do they have a glue-like consistency, and go into your organs and patch things up? Are they like little strips of duct-tape doing… well… what can’t you do with duct tape? (See Fig 1)
It’s sort of embarrassing to get to this point in my life and not know what a vitamin actually is. It makes me wonder how many other everyday things I just take for granted without really knowing what they are.
Of course, I’ve now done a bit of research, which consisted primarily of googling “Vitamins” and then seeing if I could find pictures of them. Apparently, some vitamins look oddly like the Flintstones.
And that brings me to another mystery: Why does the Flintstones Vitamin brand still exist? It seems relatively obvious that they’re marketed for children, right? Well, the Flintstones were a modern stone-age family… from the… town of Bedrock… they’re a page right out of his-to-ree! “The Flintstones” debuted fifty years ago, and was a “Honeymooners” rip-off, never intended for children in the first place. Ask your hip, 21st Century 7-year-old if he ever even heard of Fred Flintstone. No, really. Go ask. I have no idea what he might say. I’ll wait here.
I am glad I realized that I had the opportunity today to learn something about vitamins, and to pass that new-found knowledge on to you. And, hey, you kids — Be cool. Stay in school.