For some time, many professionals insisted that supplemental vitamins were not warranted if people merely ate healthy diets. However, today we have growing evidence that taking a daily multi-vitamin makes good sense for most adults.
Scientists have found substantial evidence that supplemental vitamins ward off a number of chronic diseases. Also, the minimum daily requirements of several vitamins are believed to be higher than previously determined.
The following summary focuses on vitamins with newly discovered roles in fighting disease, such as a variety of cancers, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.
Vitamin A stimulates the production of white blood cells, helps create and repair bone, sustains the health of cells lining the body’s interior surfaces, and regulates cell growth and reproduction. Intake of up to 10,000 IU of vitamin A is thought to be safe.
Vitamins B6, B12, and Folic Acid: One of the breakthroughs was the discovery that too little folic acid is connected to birth defects. Getting enough folic acid – 400 micrograms daily – is not that easy from your diet. That is why the USFDA requires it be added to many enriched bread, rice and grain products. Another astounding discovery about folic acid and other B vitamins is that they may help fight certain types of cancer as well as heart disease. High levels of a protein breakdown called homocysteine has been found in clogged arteries of stroke victims. Vitamins B12 and B6 as well as folic acid play vital roles in decreasing homocysteine levels.
Vitamin C has also been an issue of controversy. However, it does play an important role in fighting harmful infections, and is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals that harm the body. Vitamin C helps make collagen, needed for healthy teeth, bones, gums and blood vessels. The recommended intake of Vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Evidence indicates that 200 to 300 mg a day appears to be an optimal intake.
Vitamin D, — recently determined to be needed in higher amounts than first believed — may be associated with a higher risk of bone fractures when deficiencies occur. Studies also indicate a possible association between low vitamin D intake and increased risks of cancers, including prostate, colon, breast and other cancers. People living in the northern tier of States, probably are not getting enough of this vitamin. Very few foods contain vitamin D in sufficient quantities.
Vitamin E is another vitamin being examined for its ability to prevent heart attacks. The common drugs such as beta blockers, aspirin, and ACE inhibitors may mask the effects of vitamin E. Scientists are still in the midst of discovering all that Vitamin E has to offer. Evidence indicates that at least 400 IU may be needed for optimum health.
The logical conclusion is that multi-vitamin supplements will not make up for bad diets – but they can provide nutritional safety nets.