Are Vitamin Supplements Safe?

Anyone who recently has been reading the major newspapers, surfing for news on the Internet or just watching the news on television likely has been surprised by the claim that “vitamins are deadly.” The Wall Street Journal (October 25, 2011) asks, “Is This the End of Popping Vitamins?” And the Archives of Internal Medicine just published “Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women,” an article that comes to the conclusion that “in older women, several commonly used dietary vitamin and mineral supplements may be associated with increased total mortality risk.” A second study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA) claims that men who take vitamin E are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. What is to be made of such claims? Are they true, false, or something in between? How can the non-expert decide?

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Going WILD with Bitter Melon for Blood Sugar Support

Not long ago, ScienceDailypublished an article entitled, “A Ton of Bitter Melon Produces Sweet Results For Diabetes.” This headline is but one of many recent announcements regarding the benefits of an ancient vegetable that is a culinary treat throughout much of the world. Unfortunately, bitter melon and its many benefits remain unknown to most Americans.

Bitter melon grows in the tropical and subtropical areas of the East Africa, Asia, India, South America and the Caribbean. It is used traditionally as both food and medicine in all of these areas. Momordica charantia goes by many names and is known as bitter melon, bitter gourd, balsam pear, karela, and pare. Most Westerners will identify bitter melon as looking like a pale green or green cucumber with warts. Indian varieties may be whitish to gray-green, as well. Commercial cultivars can range up to a foot or more in length, whereas wild bitter melon varieties may measure only an inch or so, more than making up for their small size with greater bitterness and intense flavor. The gourd becomes more bitter as it ripens. As a food, unripe bitter melon is used fresh in salads, cooked into soups and curries, employed as a flavoring for eggs, meat and so forth.

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Polyphenols-beyond Antioxidants

Several years ago the National Cancer Institute introduced its “5 A Day for Better Health” program to encourage all of us to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Many other scientific bodies similarly have encouraged this practice as a way for us to protect against not just cancer, but also cardiovascular disease, declining mental functioning, reduced memory and other forms of deterioration associated with aging. Initially, it was thought that these benefits come mostly from antioxidant mechanisms and thus vitamins C and E were primarily responsible. However, more recent studies have shown that important aspects of the protection afforded by fruits and vegetables derive from the quantity and the variety of polyphenols, carotenoids and other phytonutrients found in them. These nutrients may be providing benefits that are unrelated to classic antioxidant mechanisms.

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The Special Nutritional Needs of Those Over 55

Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin Part IV

This article is the fourth in the series that began with “Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin.” The focus now shifts to reasons for taking a multivitamin/mineral as we enter the second half of life and, more importantly, the overall approach to nutrition that should inform any anti-aging program. Readers will discover that some, but not all of the gender-specific nutritional needs covered in earlier articles become less meaningful in later life. As individuals approach 60, overall physiology changes in ways that tend to lead to a convergence of nutritional requirements.

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The Special Nutritional Needs of Men

Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin Part III

This article is the third in the series begun with “Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin” and continued with “The Special Nutritional Needs of Women.” Here it is observed again you do not need to believe “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” in order to accept that men and women have different nutritional needs. Men lead in eight of the top ten causes of death in the United States. As it is often remarked, because men are more reluctant than women to seek medical care, when they do so, their illnesses typically have advanced to a more serious degree. It would seem that men, even more than women, would do well to adopt defensive measures to preserve their health. However, men should not depend on the supplements used by their wives or women friends. Some preventative measures are strictly gender-specific. The following suggestions are designed to help men take charge of their health while the ball is still in their court.

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The Special Nutritional Needs of Women

Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin Part II

A previous article, “Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin,” discussed the basics of setting up a daily nutritional foundation by choosing a multivitamin-mineral formulation appropriate for one’s basic needs and expectations. As pointed out, with regard to nutrition it matters whether one is old or young, male or female, an athlete, etc. Also discussed were issues such as determining the quality of a product and improving absorption of nutrients. Setting up a nutritional foundation is always the place to start when considering supplementation. Nevertheless, a foundation is just that, something to build upon.

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Solving the Mystery of the Multivitamin Part I

IN 2009, the centers for disease control reported that fewer than 10 percent of U.S. high school students are eating the combined recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables. Also in 2009, a study was released that found that supplementation with multivitamins during the first years of life may reduce the risk of allergic disease at school age. Two years earlier, an international study lasting 12 months reported that even in well-nourished school-aged children, fortification with multiple micronutrients can result in improvements in verbal learning and memory.

At least on its face, there is a good case to be made for vitamin and mineral supplementation for children and adolescents. Research increasingly is showing that the diet and everyday environmental factors during the first three to five years of life can have important consequences in the areas of mental health, educational performance and the ability to interact socially. Similarly, early nutrition helps to determine whether the child will grow up obese, develop diabetes or suffer from heart disease in later life. In adolescents, nutritional support improves concentration and other aspects of performance and behavior.

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Vitamin D The New Vitamin Revolution

There is a vitamin revolution brewing, and it is important to the health of young and old alike as researchers respond to what has been called the “vitamin D deficiency epidemic.” More than a dozen scientists at leading universities both in the United States and abroad have minced no words about it: many of us need more vitamin D. (See “Cod liver oil, vitamin A toxicity, frequent respiratory infections, and the vitamin D deficiency epidemic.”)1 The issue of deficiency may be especially true of children, yet it is also applicable to adults. Quite surprisingly as far as vitamin D is concerned, the suggested intakes in recent decades have fallen rather wide of the mark. Not only are the recommendations of 400 IU/day as an adequate intake (100 percent of U.S. Daily Value) and 2,000 IU/day as an upper limit too low, but also recommendations may have been more realistic 70 years ago. As detailed below, in a tale of two vitamins, A and D, scientists initially bet on the wrong one.

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Nutritional Needs of Men

You don’t need to believe that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” in order to accept that men and women have different nutritional needs. Men lead in eight of the top ten causes of death in the United States. As is often observed, because men are more reluctant than women to seek medical care, when they do so, their illnesses typically have advanced to a more serious degree. It would seem that men, even more than women, would do well to adopt defensive measures to preserve their health. Women are not only the fairer sex, but when it comes to health, they are in general, also savvier. However, men should not depend on the supplements used by their wives or women friends. Some preventative measures are strictly gender-specific. For example, whereas calcium and iron are good for women, these minerals may not be good supplement choices for men.

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Insulin, the Real Cause of Weight Gain—Discovering Assam Gelugur

No one doubts that obesity is a problem in the United States. According to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in January 2010 analyzing the period 2007–2008, the prevalence of obesity was 32.2 percent among adult men and 35.5 percent among adult women. The age-adjusted prevalence of overweight and obesity combined was 68.0 percent overall; 72.3 percent among men, and 64.1 percent among women. That’s right: in 2008 an estimated 68 percent of Americans were overweight or obese! To put this in perspective, from 1960–2 to 2005–6, the prevalence of obesity increased from 13.4 to 35.1 percent in U.S. adults 20 to 74.7 years of age. Statistics for those overweight were in the same range. Within living memory, the proportion of Americans who are overweight and obese has more than doubled. Quite obviously, there has been no massive shift in genetics in the U.S. in the last 50 years, so what has caused such weight gain?

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