Do You Need A Vitamin  Supplement?

Have you caught your breath after all Tampa's Gasparilla events?  Whether you love or hate the Gasparilla Festivities, they can cause many recent New Year’s resolutions to veer off track.  If you managed to hold strong to those resolutions through the parades and parties, continue to keep yourself in check for the upcoming Super Bowl parties and Valentine celebrations.  Watch out for the extra calories in the tailgating snacks and abundant coolers of beer.  Vow to make Valentines Day a time for romance with your special someone and not just about the special chocolates, fancy meals and fine wines.

February is a great time to circle back and see how you are doing with your 2010 South Tampa health and wellness goals.  Healthy eating decisions and consistent, challenging aerobic activity along with strength training are daily challenges.  Try to stay mindful of your health objectives each day.  It’s a long-term process.  Enjoy the journey!

As I was recently reading the February 2010 Consumer Reports On Health, I noticed an article that caught my attention.  I am often asked whether vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended.  Although there are a few specific supplements needs (see below), recent studies have delivered disappointing results.  The supplements have failed to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart attacks, strokes, type II diabetes and premature death.

“We have yet to see well-conducted research that categorically supports the use of vitamin and mineral supplements,” says Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University School of Medicine.

Major health organizations for cancer, diabetes and heart disease all advise against supplements in favor of a healthful diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.  These foods, unlike pills, contain fiber plus thousands of health-protective substances that seem to work together more powerfully—than any single ingredient can work alone.  Another concern is that some vitamins can be toxic if takenin high doses over a long timeframe. 

Below are some suggestions of when a supplement might make sense, and the recommended dosage:

Vitamin B-12 – over age 50; strict vegetarians.  At least 2.4 mg from diet, supplement or fortified foods.

Calcium – age 50 and older; strict vegetarians.  1,200 mg for those > age 50 and 1,000 mg for adults < age 50.

Vitamin D – age 50 and older; adults with limited sun exposure.  800 to 1,000 IU.

Iron – premenopausal women with heavy periods.  8 mg for ages 9 to 14, 15 mg for ages 14 to 18, 18 mg for ages 19 to 50.

Although there are certain vitamin and mineral supplement needs, clearly eating generous amounts of fruits and vegetables is a high priority.  If you currently take or want to begin taking supplements, take the time to discuss your diet and supplement needs with your physician to help determine your specific requirements and avoid possible prescription/supplement conflicts.  It will be time well spent.  Have a healthy day!

Davis Islands Community News   ●   February 2010
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