- Dietary Supplements:- Nutritionists have always stressed that our diet is the best source of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, and fiber, and that food and nutrients in their natural form are best adapted to the human digestive system.
- In contrast, supplements contain only one isolated form of a nutrient, which lacks the energy, fiber, and other dietary components that provide proper nutritional balance.
- The most common supplements are multivitamins. Few studies have looked at their effects since most research addresses specific nutrients rather than the group of them.
- There is some evidence, however, that daily use of multivitamins is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and certain types of cancer, as well as illness from infection.
- Multivitamins are especially important for women of childbearing years, people who regularly consume one or two alcoholic drinks per day, those who do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and the elderly.
- But popping a pill can’t erase the effects of a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, or obesity, and a multivitamin cant replace healthy food; food contains important components such as fiber, plant chemicals, and essential fatty acids.
- Folic acid can prevent neural tube birth defects such as Spina Bifida. This defect occurs when the neural tube of the fetus fails to close, which can result in death or serious damage to the spinal cord.
- Folic acid can prevent half of these defects if women take it before conception. So it is wise for women who could become pregnant to take a supplement containing 400micrograms of folic acid daily.
- Research shows that people with a higher level of the amino acid homocysteine have a higher risk of heart disease; those who consume more folacin, or folic acid from a supplement, have lower homocysteine levels.
- Low blood levels of B12 are more common in older people because of stomach acid, which often decreases with age, is needed for B12 absorption. Low levels of this nutrients are associated with higher homocysteine levels
- The type of B12 found in supplements does not require gastric acid for absorption, so taking a multivitamin or B-complex containing at least 25 mcg of B12 will ensure an adequate intake for most.
- Many people don’t realize what vitamin D is just an important as calcium for healthy bones. Our two main sources are sun exposure and fortified milk. But people who live in northerly climates may not get sufficient sun exposure, and many adults do not drink milk. Also, As you age your body becomes less efficient at producing the vitamin from sunlight.
- There is evidence that a significant number of people over 50 are vitamin D-deficient, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and fracture. Most people would benefit from taking a multivitamin that contained 400 IU of vitamin D; those over 70 who get little sunshine should take 600 IU daily. Because vitamin Did fat soluble, take it with the fattiest meal of the day for best absorption.
- Higher doses of vitamin A can cause liver damage, skin problems, fatigue, and other symptoms. Taken before or during pregnancy, it can cause serious birth defects.
- High doses of vitamin D can result in calcium deposits in the heart and blood vessels, upset calcium metabolism, and lead to bone loss. Taken over an extended period, very large amounts of both vitamins can be fatal.
- Excessive zinc and several trace minerals have effects ranging from nausea and diarrhea to death if taken in doses that allow buildup in body tissues.
- Supplements won’t make up for a bad diet. Eat a varied diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and quality protein foods every day.
- Don’t go overboard. While there is no need to worry about the amounts of nutrients in multivitamins. people planning to take therapeutic doses of single nutrients should consult a doctor, dietitian, pharmacist, or someone else knowledgeable in nutrition.
- Beware of the latest cure-all products. Some dietary supplements are heavily marketed without a whole lot of science to back up their claims. There are no magic bullets.
- Anyone undergoing cancer treatment must discuss vitamin supplementation with their physician.
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