Monday, January 24, 2011
Vitamins: What You Need to Know
A.If you are making a conscious attempt to live a healthy lifestyle, you are bound to come across conflicting information about the virtues of vitamins. Now that most of us have reached the age where our vitamin pills no longer resemble cartoon characters, it is difficult to know where to turn for reliable information.
Vitamins are organic substances, which are essential to the proper growth and performance of the human body. You receive many of the most important vitamins and nutrients by following a healthy eating plan. About 20 years ago, few doctors in the U.S. recommended taking vitamin pills or nutritional supplements.
That thinking has changed.
Today, even the American Medical Association recommends everyone take daily vitamins for health and wellness. Health reports on nutrients and supplements frequently provide heavy doses of conflicting information. Just reading these stories is enough to make your head spin. And if you think that is confusing, just wait until you stop into your local health food store or vitamin emporium. You will be overwhelmed by rows and rows of products, each one promising to be the Holy Grail of vitamins!
To help you know your vitamin A from a hole in your diet, here is a little basic information about some of the most common vitamins and nutrients you may want to supplement, along with some you can probably do without (at least in supplement form). A good general rule: Children and adults will most likely benefit from taking a daily multivitamin. Nothing replaces eating healthy foods, but taking a multivitamin provides added insurance that you're getting the necessary vitamins and micronutrients.
Now that we've established the taking of vitamins and supplements may be beneficial for your individual needs I need to issue this warning: Be careful not to take them in excess!
“Vitamins taken in excess work like drugs,” nutritionist Susan Burke. “Also, unless you have a vitamin deficiency it is important to realize that taking vitamin supplements is not going to cure anything."
It is very important to consult your personal physician before taking vitamins or supplements.
What You May Need
There are vitamins and minerals you may want to supplement to meet your individual needs. Most of these vitamins fall under the category of water-soluble vitamins. This group of vitamins includes the B vitamins and vitamin C. As the name implies, this group of vitamins dissolves in water. They are carried through the body in your bloodstream. With the exception of Vitamin B12, the body does not store water-soluble vitamins. After you use what you need, your kidneys flush out excess water-soluble vitamins in your urine. Water-soluble vitamins you may want to supplement include.
Folate (folic acid): Folate supplements are generally recommended for all women of child-bearing age because it helps prevent birth defects. Extra folate may be helpful for other types of people though, because there is increasing evidence that it can lower your risk for heart disease and colon cancer. Folate deficiency may also lead to anemia
Vitamin B12: This vitamin is essential for healthy nerves. Vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause anemia and memory loss, as well as increase your risk for heart disease and strokes. Many people may want to take B12 supplements, especially vegetarians and elderly people.
Vitamin C: As most people already know, vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, and it helps bolster your immune system. While extremely high doses of vitamin C can cause diarrhea or kidney stones, many people could stand to take vitamin C supplements, especially smokers. Yet another reason smoking is unhealthy (as if you needed more) is that it depletes the body’s natural supply of vitamin C.
Though not technically vitamins, here are some minerals, amino acids and other substances you might consider taking in supplement form:
Omega-3 fatty acids: Though your best bet is to include plenty of fish in your diet, many people also take fish oil supplements. Among other benefits, these supplements can help prevent heart disease.
Calcium: This mineral is useful for strengthening your bones and teeth, and getting adequate amounts of calcium in your diet will help prevent osteoporosis. While your best bet is to get calcium from milk and dairy products, it can be difficult to get enough calcium from your diet alone. Doctors often recommend taking calcium supplements, though there has been some disagreement in the medical community about how much calcium your body needs.
Iron: This mineral is important to the function of your red blood cells. Iron deficiencies are a very common problem, especially for women. However, getting too much iron is thought to increase the risk of heart disease in men, so please use caution.
Zinc: This mineral is essential for tissue growth and healing. Doctors may recommend zinc supplements, especially to elderly people.
What You May Want to Avoid
According to Burke, people should not overload on fat-soluble vitamins. This group of vitamins includes: vitamins A, D, E and K. As the name implies, fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and are carried through the body by fat molecules. Since these vitamins are often stored in body fat, taking supplements of fat-soluble vitamins is risky, unless prescribed by your doctor.
Vitamin A (also called Retinol): Vitamin A is important for good vision. It also bolsters your immune system, has an impact on reproduction and impacts numerous other bodily functions. Vitamin A is present in many foods, including fortified milk, eggs, cheese, liver and leafy green vegetables. High doses of vitamin A can be very toxic though. Excess vitamin A can cause bone fractures, hair loss, nausea, blurred vision and other problems
Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps increase your body's absorption of phosphorous and calcium. Your body receives Vitamin D through fortified milk, cheese, fatty fish and exposure to sunlight.
It should be noted that you do need increasing amounts of Vitamin D as you get older. People living in the upper regions of the Northern Hemisphere are also susceptible to Vitamin D deficiencies due to lack of sunlight. Many doctors do recommend vitamin D supplements to patients over 50, but overloading on vitamin D can be toxic.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and there is scientific evidence to support the fact that it helps reduce your risk for cancer and heart disease. Your best bet is to get vitamin E from green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, vegetable oils, wheat germ and whole-grain foods.
Vitamin K: Vitamin K produces many proteins that allow your blood to clot. You should get enough vitamin K by eating green leafy vegetables, dairy products, liver and cabbage. Excess vitamin K can interfere with anti-clotting medications.
Any personal health questions or problems mental or physical or before starting any diet or exercise program.Please consult your physician !
Wishing You Great Health!
Glen Edward Mitchell
Any questions? Ask Glen
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- Glen Edward Mitchell
- Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States
- Is the Founder of Fitness Builders 4 Life,the WorkOut GEM,G350,G180, G90, Eat 4 Life, Clean, Lean & Mean & Ask Glen. The mission of the Fitness Builders is to provide the community with health education and to empower people to change unhealthy lifestyles thereby increasing life expectancy. By educating the community on healthier lifestyle practices it is the intent of Fitness Builders to reduce the ravages of obesity, heart disease, cancer and other lifestyle or self inflicted diseases. Glen is also a AMA Certified Nutrition Specialist and a ACE, ACSM, NASM Certified Personal Trainer has 30+ years in Sports, Exercise Science and Nutritional Food Management, Learning and Mentoring Men and Women on a more Mental & Physical Healthy Life Style consisting of a low fat, low salt, Low carbohydrate, high protein, organic nutrition which also includes moderate exercise and mental awareness. Stay Informed, Live long and be Mentally and Physically Healthy! Any questions? Ask Glen!