DIET AND VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS
Many people will take vitamin and supplements while dieting. Note, however, that they are supplements. You shouldn’t be popping those pills because your fad diet has got you eating nothing but cucumbers, because they aren’t designed to replace real food.
That being said, supplements can be a very important part of your diet, and the Harvard School of Public Health strongly recommends taking a daily multivitamin to make up for common deficiencies. The vitamins most often lacking in the normal diet are: folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin E.
When choosing a supplement, try to get one from a natural source since they contain trace elements that make them easier to absorb by the body. Doctors also recommend taking a vitamin B “complex” (a combination of several or even all B vitamins) rather than individual doses. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals are:
§ Vitamin D. Research repeatedly proves that it keeps the bones healthy and prevents fractures. Some studies even say that it prevents prostate, breast, colon and other cancers.
§ Folic Acid. Aside from preventing some forms of cancers and fighting heart disease, it is required for pregnant women because of its prevention of birth defects like spina bifida.
§ Vitamin C. It prevents scurvy, infections, helps in the production for collagen (use it to keep wrinkles at bay!), and is crucial for healthy teeth, bones, and gums.
§ Vitamin E. Some studies show that vitamin E can help prevent heart disease, although further research needs to be done.
§ Vitamin K. Not only is this important for blood clotting, it helps build bone mass.
§ Antioxidants. Helps destroy free radicals, the culprits behind the development of cancer cells. Some studies also say that the combination of antioxidants, fiber and minerals found in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains can prevent several chronic diseases.
While vitamin supplements are part of a healthy diet, they shouldn’t be confused with those that trigger chemical reactions to directly help you lose the weight. The “fat burners” or “calorie converters” are not only expensive, but many of them don’t have any proven claims. To protect you against supplement scams and frauds, always:
§ Read the label. Look for active ingredients, serving side, and the amount of nutrients per serving. Other important information includes safe use and expiration dates.
§ Look for lab approval. Check if it has met the standards for strength, purity, disintegration and dissolution.
§ Avoid megadoses. A vitamin that contains 100% daily amount of all recommended vitamins and minerals is better than one that contains 500% of one and 20% of another. The only exception to the rule is calcium, because a 100% daily recommended value of calcium is too much to put into one serving.
§ Choose natural over synthetic. They may cost more, but are easier for the body to absorb.
§ Check with your doctor. You need to know if the supplement has any contraindications against your medication or pre-existing health conditions.