How to Get the Vitamins You Need

  1. A healthy diet is the first and most important step. While multivitamins can certainly help, they should not be a replacement for fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and healthy oils. Keep your diet low in terms of eating red meat and unhealthy fats.
  2. Use a good-quality daily multivitamin. Quality multivitamins are an excellent and inexpensive way to give your body the added boost it needs.
  3. Remember your vitamin D supplements as these can help lower the risk of colon and breast cancer. Try to get between 800 and 1,000 IU’s of this vitamin each day. For most people, this means taking a supplement in addition to their multivitamin. Some individuals may require up to 2,000 IU’s a day in order to maintain adequate blood levels of vitamin D. This is especially true for those with darker skin, those who live in the northern states during winter, and those who are not outside in sunlight very much. Remember to talk to your doctor about supplements.
  4. Generally, individuals should stay away from the mega multivitamins and supplements. Vitamin D may be an exception though, depending on if you fall into a risk group or not.
  5. Don’t be fooled. Stay away from vitamin and supplements that promise quick cures or super-duper results. These are often seen on late night television and on the internet. Just avoid them and eat a good diet and take a quality multivitamin. That is all you need to do.

Personal Healthy Guide to Vitamins & Minerals

There is little dispute among the medical and scientific professional communities that the very best way to meet our bodies’ daily nutritional needs is through a healthy diet. Unfortunately, the typical North American diet does not provide all of the vitamins and minerals, in sufficient amounts, for optimal body performance. Even in people who would be considered healthy by most accounts, the incorporation of vitamin and mineral supplements as part of a healthy lifestyle can provide benefits. Doing so can ensure we don’t suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which can lead to certain diseases.

The trouble is, once we make the decision to incorporate vitamins and minerals into our daily routines, it can be confusing to determine what to take and how much. The following guidelines are meant to help healthy people determine the optimum amounts of each that should be consumed daily. The first category to be discussed are vitamins. From there, we will discuss the optimal.

Folic acid

Although the Food and Drug Administration mandated that certain grain products be fortified with folic acid, a measure that has helped to reduce the deficiency of this B vitamin in the United States, the amounts consumed this way are not sufficient. Folic acid is instrumental in the prevention of conditions such as heart disease. It is recommended that women of childbearing age should take folic acid before conception and throughout their pregnancies to reduce the chances of their children being born with neural tube defections such as hydrocephalus and spina bifida.


Iodine deficiency is a concern more in developing countries and less so in the Western world. Typical use of iodized salt and moderate consumption of seafood and sea vegetation such as nori usually provides sufficient levels of iodine. People who stay away from these foods should supplement their iodine intake and those with thyroid conditions should consult their physicians before taking iodine supplements and doing so can be counter-indicated.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A (or beta-carotene) is present in most multivitamins. Caution should be taken by smokers, as synthetic beta-carotene has been shown to put smokers at increased risk for lung cancer. Natural beta-carotene, however, has been shown to aid in the prevention of some cancers.

B Vitamins

The typical Western contains adequate levels of thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. These B vitamins are added to some flour products from which the naturally occurring B vitamins have been removed during processing.


Biotin is produced in the intestines in sufficient amounts when in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Vitamin B12

Many elderly people suffer from a deficiency in this vitamin, as do people who follow a vegan diet (a diet that does not include any animal-based products, including dairy and eggs). People who habitually take antacids may also experience a deficiency in this vitamin. Vitamin B12 has been shown to control levels of homocysteine in the blood, which has been shown to reduce the likelihood of some diseases, including hardening of the arteries. In addition, supplementation of B12 may bolster the bones against possible fracture.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is probably one of the most commonly known vitamins. Associated with the prevention and treatment of a cold, vitamin C is common in the Western diet. Although sever deficiency is rare in Western countries, about 6 percent of healthy adults are lacking in this vitamin to some degree. College students and smokers also typically exhibit a mild level of vitamin C deficiency, which may have to do with the less-than-optimal diet followed by college students and the ability of a smoker’s body to absorb the vitamin.

Vitamin D

Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D is obtained both through diet and from exposure to sunlight. Because sunlight is a primary source of this vitamin, people who live in climates that have long winters (and therefore short sunlight hours during much of the year) often suffer from a deficiency and would benefit from supplementation. Vegans and elderly people are also prone to deficiency in vitamin D. The risks of vitamin D include bone loss and the risk of fracture. Note that very high levels of vitamin D can be very dangerous. Never take more than 2,000 IU per day unless advised by your medical professional.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has long been valued by the cosmetic industry for its restorative properties, but there are other benefits, too. Diabetics are advised to take vitamin E because it boosts the action of insulin to improve the metabolism of blood glucose. This vitamin has also been shown to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in smokers, although it has not been shown to have the same impact on other kinds of cancers.

Vitamin K

Severe deficiency is rare in healthy adults, but moderately low levels has been associated with an increased risk of getting osteoporosis



Although calcium is readily available from many common foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt, many American (women especially) do not consume enough of these foods to get adequate levels of calcium. For optimal bone health, it is recommended that adequate amounts of calcium are consumed throughout one’s life. This will help to reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.


Perhaps one of the lesser-known minerals, chromium deficiency is less understood in Western society. Lack of chromium in the system can lead to anomalies with blood sugar and cholesterol levels. These problems are particularly acute in the elderly. Symptoms of chromium deficiency include glucose intolerance, weight loss and mental confusion. Severe deficiency can lead to neuropathy, or damage of the nerves.


Although there is evidence that many Americans suffer from a deficit in this vitamin, those who do suffer from insufficient levels of copper do not present any obvious symptoms. It has been shown, however, that those who take copper supplements generally experience bone loss less frequently than others. Note: Those who take zinc supplements should also take copper supplements. Zinc can negatively affect the body’s ability to absorb copper.

Recommended daily dose: Varies by individual. Should be determined by a physician

Iron deficiency can result in a condition known as anemia, which can cause extreme fatigue, among other symptoms. It is very important, however, that one does not take iron supplements unless he has been diagnosed with already having a deficiency. Unlike other supplements that can be taken as a preventative measure, iron should only be taken to address an existing deficiency. This is because high iron levels in the blood can cause some serious diseases. Girls and women of menstruating age, as well as pregnant women, female athletes and vegetarians (particularly vegans) are those most at risk for iron deficiency.


Up to one-quarter of American adult women may have a dietary deficiency of magnesium. The incidence of this may be even higher in elderly Americans (both men and women). The risks of magnesium deficiency include compromised bone health.


Zinc encourages proper growth in children and has been shown to boost the functioning of the immune system. Higher-than-normal levels of zinc can be dangerous, causing immune system failure.

Other notable nutrients


Potassium deficiencies are rare among healthy Americans. However, some studies have shown that bolstering the amount of potassium in the system can assist the body in preventing high blood pressure and stroke. In addition to supplementation, potassium can be obtained by ensuring that one’s daily diet includes several servings of fruits and vegetables


Classified as non-essential nutrients, flavonoids are valuable to our bodies for their antioxidant properties. Like all antioxidants, flavonoids work to repair cell damage that can lead to some cancers.

A note about supplements

Many people think that because they are derived from natural substances, supplements are safer than prescription drugs. This is not necessarily true. Like drugs, herbal and nutritional supplements can have negative interactions with one another and with any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you are taking. In addition, supplements can cause side effects if taken in the wrong amounts. For these reasons, it is absolutely imperative that one consults a doctor before taking any supplements. Always disclose all medications you are taking – including prescription, over-the-counter and supplements – to any doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional to prevent any negative interactions.

Nutritional and herbal supplements are a good way to fill in the holes where our diets may be lacking. They should not be used as a substitute for healthy eating, however. Optimal healthy relies on a healthy diet, proper sleep, adequate amounts of water and daily exercise. Supplements should be used as just that: supplementation.

What to Eat to Avoid Breast Cancer

More and more research suggests a healthy diet can lower our risk of breast cancer. However, what does “healthy” really mean?

Vi Rieck’s backyard is filled with organically grown fruits and vegetables. She and friend Jane Hill wouldn’t eat them any other way. Both battled breast cancer, and both believe diet played a role.

Vi says, “Once I got cancer, I became very cautious on eating meat. I kind of slid away from those cheeseburgers and patty melts that I love,”

We know the bad guys. Elaine Magee, M.P.H., a registered dietician and author of Tell Me What to Eat to Prevent Breast Cancer, wants us to get better acquainted with the good guys.

Spinach, broccoli and carrots top the list; garlic and onions are close behind. Oranges — even the juice — are Elaine’s fruit of choice. Elaine says we need more oatmeal and whole grain breads, beans and tuna. We should also choose canola and olive oil over corn or safflower oil. Last, but not least, she tells us that flaxseed is the “oat bran” of the new millennium.

What makes these foods so powerful? They’re loaded with plant chemicals, vitamins, minerals and fiber. While far from conclusive, research shows they stimulate the immune system and protect cells from DNA damage.

“It would be ideal if we had a 10- or 20-year clinical study with women, but frankly, we don’t have that kind of time,” says Elaine.

Working these foods into your daily diet is as easy as Elaine’s vegetable bean salad. Add onions and a can of kidney beans to cooked carrots and broccoli. Top it off with vinaigrette made with canola or olive oil, and you’ve worked five of the top 10 foods into one dish.

What does she suggest you drink? Blend vanilla yogurt, apricots, a cup of orange juice, ice and a couple tablespoons of flaxseed. You’ve got yourself a power-packed drink that tastes great.

A half-cup of fruits and vegetables is one serving. If we put away 10 a day, eat fish twice a week and add flaxseed to our food, Elaine’s convinced we’d give our bodies a fighting chance against breast cancer.

You’ll find flaxseed in health food stores. Elaine says grind it up and sprinkle a teaspoon on soups, cereals and smoothies a few times a week.

Labyrinths for Mental Health

Labyrinths are maze-like designs that date back to ancient times. They were thought to be used for religious, as well as healing purposes. Today, as Western medicine is combining with complementary therapies to help patients heal, people are turning back to the labyrinth.

When Donna Rickelman was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, she made a vow. “I decided way early that cancer was going to come along with me, I was not going to go along with the cancer,” says Donna.

A healthy diet is one way she’s managing the disease. A labyrinth is another. Donna says, “I really felt like I was calmer and more centered.”

Chaplain Jeanne Miller-Clark of the South Seminole Hospital in Orlando, Fla., believes these feelings are key to living healthy. “We know we have to care for people’s mind, body and spirit if they’re going to heal completely,” says Jeanne.

As people walk to the center of the labyrinth, they’re encouraged to examine their life. The middle is a place to stop and reflect on the experience. As they follow the same path out, there is time to consider the new thoughts and plan for changes.

Jeanne explains, “It actually takes you out of your normal life and helps you stand back and take a look at what’s staring you straight in the face or weighing on your shoulders.”

While there have been no medical studies proving the labyrinth’s effect, many medical doctors encourage it. Medical oncologist Clarence Brown, M.D., who is also the president/CEO of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando, recommends it to his patients.

“As an adjunct to the treatment that a cancer patient is receiving, it’s perhaps very helpful, certainly not harmful,” says Dr. Brown.

Donna speculates, “I think it’s something that’s inside you that connects with you.” Whatever it is, Donna says it’s helped her find order in life and recommends others give it a try.

Labyrinths are becoming a trend at hospitals nationwide as well as at schools, prisons and nursing homes.

Source: Ivanhoe News

A healthy diet may help improve mental funciton

Eating a healthy diet may help protect against dementia as people age, according to a new study.
Researchers from the National Research Council in Milan, Italy studied more than 1,600 men and women over age 70. Participants were questioned about the types of food they ate and took a test to determine their level of mental function. Researchers then evaluated the diets of the individuals and separated them into groups based on mental function.

After evaluating the data, researchers found that a balanced diet with low levels of saturated fat and cholesterol is linked with a lower risk of mental decline. While they are unsure how a healthy diet protects from mental decline, researchers hypothesize antioxidants play a key role. Potent antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are crucial in clearing up free radicals from the body. Researchers say studies also show omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful. Previous studies have shown the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

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In the current study, researchers also found moderate alcohol intake to be associated with better mental function. Researchers say while it may be that moderate drinking habits and good health generally go together, other research that shows moderate alcohol intake is associated with reduced risk of stroke may also mean it has a positive benefit on cognitive capabilities.

Dementia can occur at any age but is more common after age 65. Researchers emphasize dementia is not a normal part of the aging process. According to the San Francisco Alzheimer’s and Dementia Clinic, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It typically occurs after 65 years of age and affects 4 million adults. Alzheimer’s Disease is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. From onset until death, the disease generally lasts from 3 to 18 years.

SOURCE: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2001;55:1053-1058