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Published on November 02, 2011

Food Facts

November 2, 2011

Should you supplement? The Pros and Cons of Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Do you need to take a vitamin and mineral supplement? This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on many factors including your age, sex, and possible familiar risk for certain illness. Scientists know that certain vitamins and minerals can help prevent assorted ills. However, what is not known is whether the benefit of these vitamins and minerals ar the result of a single nutrient or combinations of nutrients or other factors.

Before you consider taking a supplement, first examine your lifestyle habits such as diet, your drinking habits and whether or not you smoke. You should be eating five to seven servings of fruits and vegetable, six or more servings of whole grains, and minimal (or no) amounts of alcohol and caffeine which can rob your body of certain nutrients. Next, discuss your plans with your healthcare professional who understands your individual needs. The following guide is a summary of what is currently known about the health benefits and risks of the major nutrients.

The Nutrient Food Sources

Beta-Carotene (precursor to Vitamin A)
(rec. amt. 5000 IU) Leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe may boost immune function, and ward off cancer and heart disease.
Possible Risks: Is toxic at dosages above 50,000 IU. Symptoms can include nausea, headache, vomiting, blurred vision, and joint pain. Is believed safe up to 10,000 IU daily.

Vitamin C
*(DV 60 mg) Citrus foods like oranges, broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers and leafy greens.May lessen damage by free-radicals thus lowering cancer and possibly heart disease risk.
Possible Risks: Dosages of 10,000 mg can cause diarrhea and erosion of tooth enamel. Is believed safe up to 1000 mg daily.

Vitamin D
*(DV 400 IU) Vitamin D fortified milk. Your body also manufactures vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight.May halt osteoporosis.
Possible Risks: Dosages of 5000 IU daily can damage kidneys and heart. Is believed safe up to 1000 IU daily.

Folic Acid
(DV 400 mcg) Leafy greens, legumes, citrus fruits, enriched breads and cereals.Can lower the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy. May reduce risk of cervical cancer and heart disease.
Possible Risks: Dosages above 1000 mcg. can mask vitamin B12 deficiency. Is believed safe up to 2000 mcg. daily. Believed safe up to 1000 IU daily.

Vitamin E
(DV 400 IU) Vegetable oil, margarine and nuts.Helps protect the body against damage by free radicals, reducing heart disease and cancer risk.
Possible Risks: Believed safe up to 1000 IU daily.

*(DV 1000 mg) Dairy products, leafy greens, tofu, legumes.May offer protection against osteoporosis.
Possible Risks: High dosages can cause nausea, constipation, lethargy, abdominal pain, and possibly urinary stones. Believed safe up to 1500 mg. daily.

(DV 18 mg) Meat, eggs, fortified cereals, breads, rice and pasta. Prevents anemia.
Possible Risks: Dosages exceeding 100 mg. can interfere with calcium and zinc absorption which can lead to irregular heartbeat and liver disease. Believed safe up to 20-50 mg. daily.

* Daily Value-Reference values established by the Food and Drug Administration to help consumers construct a daily diet.



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