Vitamins and Minerals Supplementation

nullScience studies have highlighted a range of health benefits from vitamin and mineral supplementation. Low levels of vitamin B5 have been linked to symptoms of arthritis, and vitamin B3 (niacin) has been shown to improve joint flexibility and to reduce joint inflammation. Many people with arthritis also have severe calcium deficiencies. The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation touts boron supplements to help relieve rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, which afflict 20 million people in the United States alone.

Research has shown vitamins E and C and beta-carotene to be key to eye health, and numerous epidemiological studies have linked vitamin E and beta-carotene to reduced incidence of heart disease. The Journal of Nutrition has reported studies showing that multivitamins can reduce myocardial infarction. Nine randomized controlled trials found that chromium supplements enhance insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar control in diabetics. And the list of other potential health benefits goes on and on.

Some vitamins and minerals, such as selenium and vitamins C and E, play the role of antioxidants in the human body and act synergistically to become our front-line defense against cancer and heart disease. The fact that not even the recommended daily dosage can be attained by a regular diet leads to the need for antioxidant supplementation. Antioxidants tend to work as a team that protects against disease associated with oxidative stress.

Many medical experts are beginning to speak out in the strongest possible terms about the benefits of supplementation. We now have a substantial body of data showing that if everyone took a few supplements every day, they could significantly lower their risk of a multitude of serious diseases. It was clear to us that vitamin and mineral deficits in our diets put us at risk for cancer, heart disease, and a range of other health problems. All adults should take one multivitamin daily.

By 2004, the Council for Responsible Nutrition in Washington, D.C., was issuing statements urging consumers to make regular multivitamin use a foundation for the protection of good health and the prevention of disease. In particular, the group cited vitamin supplements as bestowing these health benefits: a strengthened immune system, protection against cataracts, improved cognitive function, and building and maintaining strong bones.

Consumer confidence in the idea that our diets can satisfy all of our nutritional needs has plummeted as scientific evidence for the diet deficit accumulates. Surveys in 1994 found 70 percent of all women in the U.S. believed their diets were adequate for vitamin and mineral intake; but by the year 2000, that confidence percentage was down to just 46 percent of those surveyed.

The fact that only one-third of us regularly use supplements when two-thirds of us are aware of the need to be using then demonstrates the existence of a gap that can only be overcome with proper nutritional education. With all this evidence that our diets alone are no longer sufficient to give us the vitamins and minerals our bodies need, how can we afford NOT to use supplementation to help make up the diet deficit? Your health and well-being of those you love and who depend upon you may hinge on your answer to this question.

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