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4 Vitamins That Can Save Your Life

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 08:09 AM

Trying to keep up with the latest studies on health can make your head spin, but one thing is certain: to come up short on basic nutrients is playing Russian roulette with your well being. And while many of the "new" supplements you may have read about are worth considering, don't forget these four basic vitamins that will keep you in great shape for many years to come.

1. Vitamin D
The "sunshine" vitamin impacts all areas of our health, and is hailed as a "miracle" vitamin by some experts. It reduces the risk of several cancers, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and a host of other ailments.

A study by cancer prevention specialists at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California found that high amounts of vitamin D could slash colorectal cancer rates by two-thirds. A European study found that high levels of vitamin D cut the odds of colon cancer by almost 40 percent.

Researchers at Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom reviewed 28 studies and found that middle-aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D lowered their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 33 percent, their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 55 percent, and their chances of metabolic syndrome by 51 percent when compared to those with low levels of the vitamin.

Other studies have found vitamin D lowers the chance of multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's disease. The "miracle" vitamin also promotes weight loss, lowers the risk of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, protects memory, reduces depression and hip fractures in the elderly, and lowers overall mortality.

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, between 50 and 75 percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin D. The National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements recommends 200 IU of vitamin D each day for adults under the age of 50. Adults age 50 to 70 should get 400 IU daily and adults 71 and older should have an intake of 600 IU each day.

ABC News suggests five ways to get more vitamin D:

• 15 minutes of sun three times a week
• Fatty fish and cod liver oil
• Fortified dairy products
• Multivitamins
• Vitamin D supplements
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2. Vitamin C
Safe and effective, vitamin C provides a long list of benefits, including protection against cardiovascular disease, eye disease, deficiencies of the immune system, and even aging skin. "Higher blood levels of vitamin C may be the ideal nutrition marker for overall health," says researcher Mark Moyad, M.D., MPH, of the University of Michigan. "The more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting our health, from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health, and cancer," he told WebMD.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that vitamin C might protect against stroke and heart attack as well as help prevent atherosclerosis, and recent research by the Linus Pauling Institute found evidence that vitamin C helps prevent heart disease and cancer. Other studies have found the vitamin lowers the risk of diabetes.

According to some experts, ascorbate is the most absorbable form of vitamin C, and they recommend either calcium or magnesium ascorbate forms.

The RDA for vitamin C is 60 mg daily, but many experts advise taking more. "The ideal dosage may be higher than the recommended dietary allowance," Moyad said. He suggests taking 500 milligrams each day in addition to eating five servings of fruits and vegetables. Those high in vitamin C include sweet red peppers, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, cantalope, spinach, and citrus.
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3. Vitamin E
A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E boosts immunity and helps neutralize free radicals that damage cells and lead to many illnesses including Alzheimer's, cancer, and diabetes. Vitamin E is composed of eight subtypes: four tocopherols and four tocotrienols.

A recent study found that high levels of vitamin E in the blood reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in old age, and a study at Cornell University and Brigham and Women's Hospital discovered that regular use of vitamin E lowers the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Several large studies have suggested that vitamin E reduces the risk of heart attack in both men and women. Experts believe vitamin E lowers the risk of stroke and coronary artery disease by reducing cholesterol and plaque buildup, and a recent study found that tocotrienols can prevent nerve cells from dying following a stroke — at least in mice.

Studies have shown that tocotrienols can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells by as much as 50 percent.

Vitamin E is found in whole grains, nuts, vegetable oils, liver, egg yolk, and avocado. The RDA is 30 IU, but Dr. Russell Blaylock, author of The Blaylock Wellness Report, recommends 1,000 IU of natural mixed tocopherols daily.

People who take blood thinners should consult with their physician before taking vitamin E supplements because the nutrient can act as an anti-coagulant and possibly increase the risk of bleeding.
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4. B vitamins
Low levels of several of the B vitamins appear to be related to high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is associated many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's.

• B-6. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association linked taking B vitamins with a 56 percent reduced risk of lung cancer — as long as you refrain from smoking. According to scientists, vitamin B-6 is involved in 100 chemical reactions in your body every single minute. Clinical studies have shown B-6 is useful in treating atherosclerosis, ADHD, depression, edema, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, and autism. Pyridoxal-5-phosphate or P-5-P, is the activated form of vitamin B-6 that the body uses best, and some experts recommend that B-6 supplements contain P-5-P.

B-6 is found in many foods including meat, beans, and fortified cereals. The RDA for men and women ages 19 to 50 is 1.3 mg daily, and 1.7 mg for men and women over the age of 50. B-6 is found in wheat bran, seeds, beans, and beef. If taken as a supplement, it should be taken with other B vitamins. B-6 works with vitamins B-12 and folic acid to reduce the risk of heart disease by inhibiting homocysteine.

• B-12. The prevalence of B-12 deficiencies increase with age, and could be due, in part, to the widespread use of gastric acid-blocking medications. Vegetarians are also at risk of deficiency because the vitamin is found mainly in animal products, including meat, milk, milk products, and eggs. B-12 protects the nervous system, and permanent damage, such as dementia, blindness, and deafness can be the result of chronic deficiency. The RDA is 2.4 mcg daily for adults.

• Folate. Folate is the natural form of the vitamin, and folic acid is the synthetic form found in supplements and added to fortified foods. A deficiency of folate can lead to birth defects. Some research suggests that folate might slow the effects of aging on the brain. Folate can be found in green leafy vegetables and dried beans and peas. Since 1996, folate has been added to enriched breads, flours, cereals, rice, and other grain products. The RDA for adults is 400 mcg daily.

© HealthDay

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Trying to keep up with the latest studies on health can make your head spin, but one thing is for sure: to come up short on basic nutrients is playing Russian roulette with your health.
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Tuesday, 27 July 2010 08:09 AM
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