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What do you know about your vitamins and supplements?

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When should you take them, how much should you take, what foods can you find them in, what are the effects of deficiency? We try to answer these questions in this page.

Vitamins and supplements are vital to maintain a healthy body, skin, teeth, eyes, weight, system function, sanity and a lot more. Knowing what they do will help you decide what you need and what you do not need. Sometimes, taking too much of a particular supplement such as iron, may be more harmful than beneficial. Use this page as a guide – however, this page is not intended to substitute for recommendations from your physician.

Start of your vitamins and supplements regimen on the right foot, get all the information you can!

Calcium is needed by the body for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction, blood vessel expansion, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and for sending messages through the nervous system. It is the most abundant mineral in the human body. It also helps to support the structure of the bone and teeth, which is where 99% of calcium is stored.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Most Americans are not meeting the recommended intake for calcium. As a matter of fact most Americans do not meet the recommended intake for most other vitamins and supplements!

Research suggests that calcium derived from dairy products, may help to regulate body fat.

Research also suggests that increased calcium intake may lower blood pressure and the risk of hypertension.

What do you know about your vitamins and supplements?

You should add calcium to your daily intake of vitamins and supplements. Talk to your physician to find out how much!

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate which is found in supplements and fortified foods.

Folate helps in the production and maintenance of new cells and is most essential during periods of rapid cell division and growth such as infancy and pregnancy. It is also necessary to make DNA, RNA and helps prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Folate is needed by everyone, both children and adults to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia.

Folate can be found in Leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans and peas. In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published regulations requiring the addition of folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice, and other grain products. So in the U.S. these foods are also a good source of folate.

Iron is an essential component of many proteins and enzymes that maintain good health. It follows to make up the proteins that are involved in oxygen transport. It is also vital for the management of cell growth and cell differentiation.

If you are deficient in iron, you will experience fatigue, probably occasional dizziness and decreased immunity. This is because deficiency of iron limits oxygen delivery to cells. However, if you take iron in excess, you are at risk of iron poisoning and even death. Follow your physician’s guidelines when taking iron supplements.

Iron can be found in red meats, fish, poultry, lentils and beans.

Iron supplementation is required when one is iron deficient, and cannot regain normal iron levels with diet alone. The reason one would use iron supplements is to supply sufficient iron to the body in order to restore normal storage levels of iron and to replenish hemoglobin deficits.

Magnesium helps the body to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps the bones strong, helps the body to produce energy, helps in the process of breaking down proteins and keeps the heart rhythm constant. It is needed by every cell of the body because of the above mentioned reasons and because it is used in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.

Magnesium can be found in green vegetables, nuts, seeds, water and some whole grains. Signs of magnesium deficiency include confusion, disorientation, loss of appetite, depression, muscle contractions, muscle cramps, numbness, abnormal heart rhythms, tingling, coronary spasm and seizure. Researchers say that magnesium may play an important role in regulating blood pressure.

Selenium occurs in staple foods such as corn, wheat, and soybean as selenomethionine.

Vitamin A It is important to eat foods that provide vitamin A regularly or get it in any other form of viatmins and supplements that you can. This is because Vitamin A plays an important role in vision, reproduction, cell division and differentiation, bone growth. It comes from a family of fat-soluble vitamins with retinol being the most active and usable form of Vitamin A. It has even been suggested by researchers that a higher intake of vitamin A is associated with a lower risk of cancer. Preformed vitamin A can be found in whole eggs, whole milk and liver. Other foods in the U.S. have been fortified with Vitamin A such as most fat free milk and dried nonfat milk solids and fortified breakfast cereals.

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is needed by over 100 enzymes contained in our bodies, which are involved in the break-down of proteins. It is also pertinent for red blood cell metabolism and for the efficient functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. Amongst other vitamins and supplemnts, the body also needs Vitamin B6 to make hemoglobin, which is a component of the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues. Deficiency in Vitamin B6 can result in a form of anemia which is similar to anemia suffered due to iron deficiency. Vitamin B6 can be found in fortified cereals, beans, meat, poultry, fish, and some fruits and vegetables

Vitamin B12 contains the metal cobalt. It makes up a very necessary element of daily vitamins and supplements. This is because it aids in the maintenance of healthy nerve and red blood cells. It is also necessary for making DNA. Vitamin B12 can be found in foods such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other milk products. Fortified breakfast cereals also contain Vitamin B12 and is a particularly valuable source of vitamin B12 and other vitamins for vegetarians. NOTE: Vegetarians do not get enough of these vitamins without the use of supplements.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is found in fortified foods such as cereals and milk. Ultra voilet (UV) rays from the sun is also a significant source of vitamin D because UV rays from sunlight trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin.

The major function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. By promoting calcium absorption, vitamin D helps to form and maintain strong bones. Without vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or even result in rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, two forms of skeletal diseases that weaken bones. When discussing vitamins and supplements with your primary physician, ask about vitamin D.