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- Antioxidants and Free Radicals
- Building Bone Density
- CoQ10 - Q&A
- Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails
- Inflammation and Health
- Omega-3
- Vitamins
- Vitamins and Supplements For Your Age


What are Vitamins?
Vitamins are organic substances that combine with proteins in the human body to form enzymes, which help regulate body processes.

The body needs 13 vitamins to function properly: Vitamin A, 8 different kinds of Vitamin B (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, B12, folacin, and biotin), Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K.

While the body can produce small quantities of Vitamins D and K, your diet must provide the body with sufficient amounts of all 13 vitamins in order to maintain health.

What are the benefits and setbacks of taking vitamin supplements?


  • Vitamins can correct overt deficiencies, so that diseases caused by vitamin or mineral deficiencies, like scurvy (Vitamin C), pellagra (Niacin) or beriberi (Vitamin B1) occurs only rarely.
  • Habitual dieters, strict vegetarians, the elderly, and others with low nutritional status often do not consume all the recommended requirements every day and vitamins can provide needed supplements.
  • Vitamins can reduce disease risks, such as providing calcium to those with intolerance to lactose or with milk allergies.
  • Vitamins support increased nutritional needs, such as increased folate needs for women of childbearing age, pregnant women and breast feeding women.
  • Vitamins can provide much-needed supplements for people with diseases or taking drugs that alter nutrient metabolism or appetite, etc.

Risks and Problems:

  • Toxicity can result from too high levels of a substance and is difficult to recognize in adults. The extent and severity of this problem is unclear.
  • Misinformation, such as the suggestion that vitamins can prevent, treat or cure symptoms of disease, can lead to situations where people do not seek needed medical attention. This can also lead to people taking potentially dangerous mega-doses without medical supervision.
  • It is unknown how to formulate the “ideal supplement,” so people can never truly meet all of their body’s needs with supplements.
  • A false sense of security can lead to irresponsible eating, justified because the vitamin supplement will "meet all nutritional needs."

If you do decide to take vitamin supplements:

  • Do not take mega-doses. These can provide dangerously high levels and potentially lead to toxicity.
  • Try to take a single, balanced vitamin-mineral supplement. Vitamins are usually available in pill, liquid or chewable pill form.
  • Generic brands are equivalent to advertised brands; they cost less because stores do not have to advertise their generic brands.


Should I take a daily multivitamin pill?

If you are concerned that you are not getting the minimum dietary recommendations from your diet, despite your best efforts, then yes.

How can I know if I’m getting enough iron?

Iron deficiency is when your body iron stores are depleted. Anemia is severe depletion, which results in low hemoglobin concentration. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue, weakness, headaches, pallor and poor resistance to cold temperatures. If your diet has no restrictions, and you are feeling reasonably energetic and well, you probably do not need iron supplements. You can get a check-up with a doctor if you are concerned about this.

What about antioxidant supplements?

Free-radicals are unstable molecules generated by the normal chemical processes in our bodies. They can cause damage to DNA, damage cell structure and disrupt a cell’s cancer-preventing functions. Antioxidants are substances that slow down this production of free-radicals, and may help prevent cell and tissue damage that leads to degenerative diseases.
Beta carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E are all antioxidants being studied for their roles in preventing cancer and heart disease.
Too little is known about the consequences of antioxidant supplements (for example, they may stimulate free-radical production, rather than slow it down) for us to recommend taking them. Instead, we recommend eating generous servings (at least 5 a day) of green, yellow and orange vegetables, citrus fruits, tomatoes and berries. Vitamin E can also be found in whole grains, wheat germ and nuts.

What about calcium supplements?

If you are under 50 years old, you should get at least 1000 mg of calcium a day. The best sources of calcium are dietary, such as dairy products, tofu and broccoli. If you decide to take calcium supplements, they should be taken with meals so your body can absorb them better. Do not take more than 500 mg at a time (i.e. take two doses per day if the total is more than 500 mg). Ask your pharmacist if there is any chance of calcium supplements interacting with other medications you are taking, such as thyroid hormones, tetracycline or corticosteroids.

Do I need to take any specific vitamins if I am a vegetarian?

If you eat dairy, chicken or fish, there is little to worry about. If you are vegan, there is a chance that you may have a deficiency of Vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B12, and D, Calcium, Iron and Zinc. In addition, complementary proteins should be eaten to ensure a full complement of amino acids.

What are good dietary sources of vitamins and minerals?

  • Vitamin A: liver, kidney, cheese, cream, egg yolks
  • Beta carotene: dark green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots, spinach, broccoli)
  • Thiamin (B1): Yeast, wheat germ, pasta, cereals, fortified breads and cereals, peanuts, soybeans, fish, dried beans and peas.
  • Riboflavin (B2): Milk, yogurt, eggs, lean meats, nuts, legumes (peas, dried beans, soy products), green leafy vegetables.
  • Niacin (B3): Eggs, poultry, fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts, whole grains
  • Vitamin B6: Nuts, chicken, fish, kidney, liver, pork, eggs
  • Vitamin B12: Milk products, eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, liver
  • Folacin: Dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, legumes, whole grains, pork, poultry, shellfish
  • Vitamin C: citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, tomatoes
  • Vitamin D: Fortified milk and cereal, butter and margarine, cheese, oysters, fish, sunlight
  • Vitamin E: Vegetable oils (especially corn, soybean, and safflower), margarine, wheat germ, nuts, green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin K: Dark green leafy vegetables, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, cereals, soybeans, liver, potatoes, chick peas

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