Vitamins & Supplements: Help or Hype? Part 1

The selling of vitamins and supplements, also known as nutraceuticals, is a multibillion dollar industry that has grown by leaps and bounds in the past ten years.

It seems like almost every day, there is some health announcement or other on the six o’clock news saying that new research has come out on the benefits of a particular vitamin or supplement for some medical condition or other.

Our nutritional needs also change as we get older, and we need to be aware of these to adjust our eating strategy, and perhaps even take a vitamin or supplement if we are not getting enough of these essentials in the foods we eat.

But what is help, and what hype? This quick round up gives you the facts you need:

Help-The main sources of critical nutrients for women at reproductive age are calcium, iron, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin A and carotenes.

Hype-Black Cohosh has been touted to help control hot flashes during menopause, but the leading studies have failed to prove this.

Hype-Middle-aged women at risk for heart disease received little benefit from taking vitamins C, E or beta carotene, according to recent research.

Help-If you are a vegetarian you may need to take more Vitamin B12. The B group of vitamins is said to help ward off stress.

Help-Calcium intake can reduce your risk for osteoporosis. You should be consuming at least 1000 milligrams a day. When you take a calcium supplement, make sure that it contains vitamin D also, and magnesium, which is needed to absorb calcium properly. Try to avoid foods high in phosphorous, which can interfere with absorption.

Help-Vitamin D is also a potent immune system modulator, but it is also produced naturally in the body as a result of exposure to sun. Wear sun block, but do make sure you get out in the fresh air. Vitamin D is most commonly found in dairy.

Help-Magnesium can protect against heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.