Vitamins and Disease Prevention
By Chris Chenoweth
Do you take a multivitamin every day? Millions of us do. The purpose of a daily multivitamin is to provide supplemental nutritional protection for our body that our daily diet does not provide. However, it does NOT make up for an unhealthy diet.
A multivitamin provides the primary vitamins needed to maintain health, but that is only a small fraction of what we can receive simply by eating a healthy diet. A diet that consists of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in sugar and saturated fat is our best defense against disease and poor health.
There are three possible ways to increase vitamin intake. The first is to make improvements in the diet. The second is to fortify foods with vitamins and the third is to take vitamin supplements. Since most of us do not follow a nutritionally balanced diet, we choose the third option.
You should make sure your multivitamin provides you with 100% of the required amounts of the following vitamins. These vitamins are necessary for the prevention of many diseases and conditions.
Vitamin A is required for night vision and for healthy skin, bones, and teeth. It assists the immune system by regulating cell growth and division. Because of its antioxidant properties, it protects against cancer formation and other diseases. It also helps the digestive and urinary tract and helps slow aging.
Liver, milk, egg-yolk, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables and yellow fruits are high in vitamin A or beta-carotene. Many other foods are fortified with vitamin A including cereals and juices. A number of fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene and other vitamin A precursors (the body turns the precursors into vitamin A).
The body converts vitamin A from beta-carotene as needed and there is no toxic level for beta-carotene as there is for vitamin A. Therefore, it is preferable to choose a vitamin supplement that has its vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene.
Folic Acid works together with vitamin B12 to form healthy red blood cells and helps reduce the risk of spina bifida in unborn babies. Your body needs this nutrient for the production, repair, and functioning of DNA, our genetic map and the basic building block of our body's cells.
Folic acid is found in small amounts in many foods. Good sources include broccoli and Brussels sprouts, peas, chickpeas, brown rice and some fruit (oranges and bananas). Other good sources are fortified cereals and whole grains.
In 1932, it was discovered that the consumption of citrus fruits could prevent scurvy, a disease that killed millions of people. Today, it is used to prevent many illnesses, from everyday ailments such as the common cold to devastating diseases such as cancer.
It is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and neutralizes free radicals, reducing the risk for several types of cancer. It helps make the collagen needed for healthy bones and blood vessels, and it controls infections.
The best food sources for vitamin C are citrus fruits or juices, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, and spinach. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamin C.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus, vital for building healthy bones. It helps maintain a healthy immune system, helps regulate cell growth, and keeps cancer cells from growing and dividing.
Inadequate intake of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of bone fractures, and prostate, breast, and colon cancers. Taking a vitamin D supplement can help reduce those risks.
There are very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Adequate sources include dairy products, fortified cereals, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E protects your cells against the effects of free radicals that can damage cells and contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vitamin E can help prevent or delay the development of those chronic diseases. Vitamin E has also been shown to play a role in immune function and in DNA repair.
Good dietary sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin K is used in the body to control blood clotting and is essential for synthesizing the liver protein that controls the clotting. It is also important in bone formation and repair. Vitamin K can decrease the incidence or severity of osteoporosis and slow bone loss.
Vitamin K is found in a number of foods, including leafy greens, cauliflower and liver. Other good sources are cooking oils like vegetable oil, olive oil, canola oil, and soybean oil. Vitamin K is also produced in the intestines and this function is improved with the presence of yogurt in the diet.
There is no substitute for a healthy nutritious diet. However, the vitamins listed above provide very important supplemental benefits for our bodies in the war against disease and poor health.
About the Author
Chris Chenoweth is the author of the DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME, HEALTH & MONEY GUIDE, 500 pages of household tips, home remedies, diet and nutrition information, health issues and 1000's of recipes! http://www.money-home-biz.com
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