Reader doubts hand-wash­ing wis­dom

Connecticut Post - - ADVICE/GAMES - Keith Roach, M.D.

Dear Dr. Roach: In your re­cent an­swer re­gard­ing proper hand-wash­ing, you stated, “These germs are not killed by the gel and need to be washed off the hands with warm, soapy wa­ter for at least 20 sec­onds.”

My ques­tion is why “warm” wa­ter is nec­es­sary. For the tem­per­a­ture of the wa­ter to have any ther­a­peu­tic ef­fect, it would have to be too hot to tol­er­ate. The pro­ce­dure of wash­ing one’s hands with wa­ter and soap, me­chan­i­cally, re­moves germs. The tem­per­a­ture is im­ma­te­rial. Aside from com­fort, is there any rea­son to use warm wa­ter?

D.G.

An­swer: Warm wa­ter is bet­ter able to dis­solve par­ti­cles on the hands. The tem­per­a­ture is not de­signed to kill the bac­te­ria.

How­ever, it turns out that wash­ing your hands with any tem­per­a­ture wa­ter (cold, warm or hot) is just as ef­fec­tive, at least in terms of get­ting rid of bac­te­ria. Wash­ing in too-hot wa­ter can cause ir­ri­ta­tion to the skin, but you can use what­ever tem­per­a­ture you like, for at least 20 sec­onds. I thank D.G. for ques­tion­ing con­ven­tional wis­dom.

Dear Dr. Roach: As a veg­e­tar­ian, I de­cided to take a B com­plex vi­ta­min pill three times per week. These pills con­tain very large amounts of var­i­ous vi­ta­mins, e.g. 6,667 per­cent of thi­amine, 1,176 per­cent of ri­boflavin, 125 per­cent of niacin, 250 per­cent of vi­ta­min B-12, etc. Do veg­e­tar­i­ans need these vi­ta­mins in a pill form? Do these amounts do me more harm than good, keep­ing in mind that I take only one pill three times per week?

K.S.

An­swer: Be­ing a veg­e­tar­ian of­ten is an ex­cel­lent choice for health; how­ever, peo­ple who are strictly ve­gan will not get ad­e­quate vi­ta­min B-12 with­out tak­ing sup­ple­ments. Veg­eta­bles are good sources of other B vi­ta­mins, so just the B-12 is needed. More than 100 per­cent of the B-12 is not harm­ful. If you no­tice your urine is yel­low/green, that’s your body just get­ting rid of the ex­cess of the other B vi­ta­mins in the tablet, es­pe­cially the thi­amine.

The B-12 dose you’re tak­ing is fine for three times a week. Many veg­e­tar­i­ans take larger amounts, but it is not usu­ally nec­es­sary.

Read­ers may email ques­tions to: ToYourGoodHealth@med .cor­nell.edu or mail ques­tions to 628 Vir­ginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803.

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