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A Few “Pills” A Day May Keep The Doctor Away: A Look At Some Essential Supplements You Should Be Taking

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

With health and fitness being all the rage these days, it’s no secret that in addition to keeping mentally and physically fit; it’s also imperative that we exercise our nutritional options by eating foods that are good for us.

While we all know what they are, many of us (except for us staunch vegetarians) may not like the taste, or may simply not have the time (after a long, hard day of work) to prepare them.

Let’s face it folks, it a lot easier to grab a coffee and a donut (otherwise know as the breakfast of champions) that we can snarf down on the way to work than try to feast on a fruit cup or stir a bowl of yogurt. But let’s be real, while there’s no shortage of calories in our “favorite” foods, there’s probably very little nutritional value, if any….which means not only are we putting our figures at risk, but are also compromising our health by depriving our bodies of the essential nutrients it so desperately needs.

That’s the “bad” news, but in this society of instant gratification with pills to ease virtually everything that ails us, vitamins and nutritional supplements are fast fixes to food (and dietary) fiascos.

Still, professionals point out that even with natural nutrients, too much of a good thing may be potentially harmful. It’s important to understand what you are putting into your body and why.

Vitamins: Vitamins are not sources of energy, but rather organic micronutrients that are responsible and necessary for energy metabolism, cell production, bone formation, and general good health. Vitamins may be classified under two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins (including vitamin C, the B vitamins, biotin, folate, and panothenic acid, are uses by the body rapidly, with excess amounts eliminated via urine. Fat-soluble vitamins (including vitamins A, D, E, and K) take longer for the body to use and can be stored in your liver and body fat, with the potential of turning toxic, which is why you should carefully monitor your intake. So, what are safe levels and amounts? Well, unless otherwise advised, your ideal daily intake should be based on the Recommended Daily Allowances For (healthy) Men and Women established by the National Academy of Sciences---National Research Council.

Here are just a few, with the Daily Recommended Allowance, and their effects.

Vitamin A: 4,000 IU. Helps foster good eyesight, healthy skin, bones, and teeth. It also protects against heart disease, bolsters immunity, and helps reduce wrinkles and age spots.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 1.1 mg. Helps maintain proper functioning of the nervous system, heart and muscles. It also helps improve mood and mental attitude and battles motion sickness.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 1.1mg. Fosters healthy skin, nails, hair and improves vision and alleviates eye fatigue.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin): Under age 50: 1.3mg. 50 and over: 1.5 mg. Helps promote healthy skin and facilitates digestion, lowers high blood pressure, bolsters energy, and soothes canker sores.

Vitamin B6: 14mg. Stimulates new cell growth; helps control blood sugar, boosts immunity, strengthens nerve function and memory and can also help reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Vitamin B12: 2. 4-mg. Boosts production of red blood cells; stimulates a healthy nervous system; increases energy, improves concentration, memory and balance.

Biotin: 30 mcg. Relieves muscle pains; soothes skin conditions (including eczema and dermatitis); and may prevent hair from turning gray

Vitamin C: 75 mg. Boosts collagen production, which is essential for healthy blood vessels, bones, teeth, gums, and skin. Also helps lower blood cholesterol and bolster the immune system.

Choline: 425 mg. Helps in the distribution of nerve impulses to improve memory; preserves liver health, and helps prevent heart disease by eradicating excess levels of homocysteine from the blood.

Vitamin D: 50 and younger 200 IU, Between 51 and 70, 400 IU, 70 and over 600 IU. Helps stimulate calcium absorption and utilization, which means strong and healthy bones and teeth.

Vitamin E: 30 IU. Helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease; bolsters immunity, helps in the creation of red blood cells, muscles and tissues; and reduces signs of sun damage.

Folate (Folic Acid): Improves skin quality, enhances concentration and mood, helps in digestion, helps prevent against certain birth defects; and guards against heart attack and stroke.

Vitamin K: 65 mcg. Fosters proper blood clotting; and helps sustain healthy bones and heal fractures.

Pantothenic Acid: 5 mg. Very important for normal cell development and growth; helps transpose sugar and fat into energy, assists with the healing process (of wounds), and alleviates fatigue.

Minerals: Minerals are also micronutrients, but the main difference between minerals and vitamins is that most minerals are inorganic (not produced by animal or vegetable). However, minerals are essential in the activation of hormones and enzymes, as well as, in the formation of tissues and bones. There are more than 22 identified minerals, with the most essential outlined below.

Calcium: 1,000-1,500 mg. Building and maintenance of strong, healthy teeth and bones.

Chromium: 120 mcg. Regulates blood sugar levels; prevents and reduces high blood pressure, assists with the building of strong muscles and minimizes fat storage.

Copper: 2 mg. Help with the absorption of iron and increases energy levels.

Iodine: 150 mcg. Helps keep the thyroid gland in balance, and as a result, bolsters energy and controls weight. Also builds healthy hair, skin, nails and teeth.

Iron: 15 mg pre-menopause. 10 mg post-menopause. Carries oxygen to muscles to help guard against fatigue. Boosts resistance to illness and disease; promotes a healthy complexion.

Magnesium: 320 mg. Stimulates a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. It also fights depression; nurtures healthy teeth; prevents kidney stones and gallstones; and alleviates indigestion.

Manganese: 2 mg. Combats fatigue; enhances memory; helps in muscle reflexes ; and reduces irritability.

Potassium: 2,000 mg. Helps maintain proper muscle function; reduces aches and pains after exercise; boosts concentration and clarity by sending oxygen to the brain; and assists with lowering blood pressure.

Phosphorus: 1,000 mg. Helps with growth and repair of cells; elevates energy levels; stimulates healthy gums and teeth; and reduces arthritis pain.

Selenium: 70 mg. Slows down the aging process and the hardening of tissues; minimizes hot flashes, and can guard against certain types of cancer.

Zinc: 12 mg. Bolsters the immune system; helps in maintaining proper muscle contraction, enhances mental alertness; increases and improves sexual function; lowers cholesterol deposits.


Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > A Few “Pills” A Day May Keep The Doctor Away: A Look At Some Essential Supplements You Should Be Taking

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