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Why do we need vitamins and supplements daily?

What are "free radicals"?
Free radicals are molecules with an unpaired electrons. These free radicals can be formed from these sources: stress, radiation from the sun, pollution, several toxins, and poor food choices. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction. In their quest to find another electron, they are very reactive and cause damage to surrounding molecules. Researcher Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston, said "If free radicals simply killed a cell, it wouldn't be so bad… the body could just regenerate another one. The problem is, free radicals often injure the cell, damaging the DNA, which creates the seed for disease"1. With repeated free radical attacks that the body cannot stop, that damage can lead to a host of chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. We cannot avoid these free radicals but we can neutralize them through antioxidants.

Is proper diet not enough?
A healthy diet helps combat the effects of these free radicals. Antioxidants are electron donors. They can break the free radical chain reaction by sacrificing their own electrons to feed free radicals, but without turning into free radicals themselves. High concentrations of these antioxidant nutrients are found in wheat and barley grass, sprouts and dark green vegetables. Fruits such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are good sources of antioxidants. Eating these and more also gives our body the nutrients it needs to repair and regenerate damaged cells. But maintaining a healthy diet is challenging.

The optimal level of Vitamin E daily is 400 IU. This will require a daily consumption of 33 heads of spinach or 27 pounds of butter or 80 avocados. Similarly, the required level of Vitamin C is 1200 to 2000 mg daily, which you can get from 18 oranges or 17 kiwi fruit or 160 apples per day. Researchers believe that supplementary antioxidants are necessary for combating free radicals in addition to the body's normal defense systems.

Should we take vitamins and supplements?
Multivitamins and vitamin supplements can provide the body with an antioxidant boost along with a healthy diet. Supplements should only be taken to supplement your diet, and not to completely replace it.

Due to today's fast-paced and busy lifestyle, many people are neglecting the importance of consuming whole, organic foods. Fast-food and convenience-food consumption, snacking, and soft-drink use have all increased, and many do not meet even the basic RDA's (Recommended Dietary Allowances) for key nutrition.

Likewise, many children lack the nutritional balance they need, and these bad choices now can definitely lead to health risks later in life. We all know that poor nutrition during the developmental years posts risks, while proper nutrition at this age is the foundation for good health for the rest of their lives.

Parents and their children should follow a well-balanced, proactive nutritional plan that includes high-quality vitamin and mineral supplementation to ensure that their bodies have optimal amounts of all the essential nutrients.

SUPPLEMENTS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER 2 3

CALCIUM

What it does
Makes and keeps bones and teeth strong; helps muscles and blood vessels contract and expand; secretes hormones; and sends messages through the nervous system. Why you need it Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Thus, calcium consumption is important for aging adults, particularly postmenopausal women whose bone breakdown exceeds formation, resulting in bone loss and increased risk of osteoporosis over time. "Women start losing bone density in their twenties," says Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., a nutrition professor at the University of Maine at Orono. "Calcium is your single best defense, and you should start taking it now."

Why you need it
Your body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Thus, calcium consumption is important for aging adults, particularly postmenopausal women whose bone breakdown exceeds formation, resulting in bone loss and increased risk of osteoporosis over time. "Women start losing bone density in their twenties," says Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., a nutrition professor at the University of Maine at Orono. "Calcium is your single best defense, and you should start taking it now."

Coenyzyme Q10

What it does
Necessary for basic cell function; helps cells manage your body's energy supply; is a powerful antioxidant.

Why you need it
Some researchers believe CoQ10 may help with heart-related conditions by lowering blood pressure and boosting your levels of ecSOD, an enzyme thought to protect blood vessels from damage. Studies also suggest that CoQ10 may fight cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease, as well as improve physical performance while exercising. Japanese researchers, for instance, found CoQ10 supplementation decreased exercise-induced muscle injury.

To improve your interval workouts. A Japanese study found that cyclists who supplemented with 300 mg of Co Q10 for eight days increased their maximum speed during 10-second sprints, and felt less fatigue afterward. Supplementing with Co Q10 has also been shown to reduce inflammation and free radicals created by bouts of heavy exercise.

Where to find it
Occurs naturally in the body. (As you get older, production decreases. The only way to get back up to youthful levels is by taking a supplement.)

Vitamin C

What it does
Facilitates normal growth and development and repairs bodily tissues, bones, and teeth; helps the body make collagen, an important protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels; and functions as an antioxidant to block some of the damage caused by free radicals.

Why you need it
Vitamin C's healing and antioxidant powers make it essential. Signs of vitamin deficiency include dry and splitting hair; gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and bleeding gums; rough, dry, scaly skin; decreased wound-healing rate; easy bruising; nosebleeds; and a decreased ability to fight infection. A severe form of vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy. Despite its rep as a cold fighter, C has never been proven to prevent or cure the sniffles, but the antioxidant is believed to boost your immune system. It is also often used as an ingredient in skincare products since vitamin C can boost your body's collagen production to help reduce wrinkles and can also firm up and moisturize your skin.

Grape Seed Extract

What it does
Treats health problems related to free radical damage, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Why you need it
Stay young from the inside out! Preliminary animal research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham has shown that it may protect brains in ways that fight against future age-related dementia, as well as decrease the development of skin cancer due to UVB radiation exposure. In pill form, it also helps maintain collagen and elastin, two ¬building blocks of smooth skin.

Saw Palmetto

What it does
Saw palmetto may not be effective for treating BPH, but it may help you delay the onset of male pattern baldness. According to research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, when 26 balding men took 200 mg of saw palmetto daily over a 6-month time span, 60 percent saw their hairline improve.

Why you need it
In the past, saw palmetto supplements were used to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)—a condition in which the prostate becomes enlarged. A series of recent studies, however, have challenged its effectiveness. One study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that saw palmetto extract was no more effective than a placebo at treating urinary symptoms and other problems linked to BPH.

Ginkgo Biloba

What it does
The herbal medication, packed with antioxidants (specifically flavonoids and terpenoids), not only neutralizes free radicals (which age your skin), but also dilates blood vessels and breaks up blood platelets, improving circulation.

Why you need it
While results are inconsistent, some studies show that gingko biloba boosts brain function and may enhance memory. Swiss research indicates that people who took three 90 mg ginkgo extract tablets twice a day for 30 days improved circulation in the liver and increased the body’s production of a natural protective molecule called glutathione, which helps you get rid of free radicals. (High levels of glutathione are also associated with greater immunity, can decrease muscle damage, and improve strength and endurance in athletes.) Additionally, one recent Texas Tech study found that gingko extract helped protect the brain after a stroke.

 

Sources:
1http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-antioxidants-work1

2http://www.womenshealthmag.com/nutrition/best-supplements-for-women

3http://www.menshealth.com/health/mens-health-supplement-guide

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