Vitamin Supplements: A handy guide

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752px-B_vitamin_supplement_tabletsBecause factory-packaged foods tend to have lower nutritional content than fresh foods, it’s a good idea to have multivitamin supplements available for stressful times. Usually, if you eat right, you should consume the right quantities of minerals and vitamins. But during stressful times when fresh food is difficult to obtain, you might need a top up. Be sure to check the expiration date on your vitamin bottle and keep a fresh, unused bottle on hand at all times.

And let’s face it, we don’t always eat right.  Recent studies have shown that the vast majority of us get insufficient levels of key vitamins and minerals in our diets. The consequences range from weakened immune systems to low bone density to diminished mental capacity.

Vitamin D: For instance, researchers found that 70 percent of Americans under age 21 have low levels of vitamin D. Dr. Juhi Kumar of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center said, “The magnitude of the problem nationwide was shocking.” Although the first of its kind nationwide study didn’t focus on older Americans, experts believe most adults aren’t getting enough vitamin D, either. In the past few years, numerous studies have shown that optimizing your vitamin D levels may actually help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate and colon cancers. And the best way to optimize Vitamin D levels is through safe, smart and limited sunscreen-free exposure to the sun. Never let yourself burn, but getting 10-15 minutes of sunscreen-free exposure to the sun should set up your Vitamin D levels. To make sure, get your Vitamin D levels measured and regulate your sun exposure, or vitamin-supplement regimen accordingly.

Vitamin D tablets are also available that will significantly boost your levels of this key nutrient. Foods like cheese, butter, and margarine are high in Vitamin D. (Just watch how much you eat since all contain significant cholesterol.) Certain “fortified” cereals can also keep your Vitamin D levels high. Salmon, fatty fish, and fish oil can also help.

Vitamin A: is also crucial to your immune system, particularly if you’re a smoker. Vitamin A has been found to fight lung cancer and result in healthier lung. It helps boost white cell growth and fortify your immune system. It’s also crucial to keeping your eyes healthy. Consuming high amounts of Vitamin A can improve your vision, and help offset macular degeneration and blindness in old age.

Without supplements, the best way to get Vitamin A is through vegetables, especially carrots. Carrots are bursting with Vitamin A and the best source if you’re suffering from a deficiency. Green leaf vegetables, such as spinach and romaine lettuce, are also high in Vitamin A. Certain herbs are also helpful. Parsley is fantastic for boosting your Vitamin A. Cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, and chili pepper are also useful.

Vitamin B: is absolutely essential to your immune system. There are very few things about your health that the B vitamins won’t improve. Vitamin B will give you more energy, brighten your mood, keep your weight in check, and bring about healthier nerves, skin, hair, and eyes. If you aren’t taking a daily Vitamin B supplement now, you should be – something like a “Super B-Complex” that contains all the B vitamins. You should consider stocking up on these in case of a national emergency. A single supplement of Vitamin B can go a long way toward making you healthier.

But in the event that you can’t get supplements, the B vitamins can be taken in through a healthy diet. For B-1, try eating anything with whole grains. Whole grains are also a good source of B-3, as are peanut butter, salmon, and chicken. B-6 is available through soy, brown rice, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. B-12 can be found in most meat and dairy products. (Vegans are best off taking a B-12 supplement.) Generally, the best way to consume Vitamin B is through leafy green vegetables and whole grains.

Vitamin C: is necessary for your body to manufacture collagen, which helps grow and repair tissue and skin in your body. It’s an antioxidant, which means it can help reduce your likelihood of contracting a deadly disease, such as heart disease or cancer. It’s particularly important if you’ve been injured and are looking to quickly heal a wound. Scurvy is caused by a severe deficiency of Vitamin C.

As such, it will be crucial for your health during a national emergency. Fruits and vegetables all contain a good amount of Vitamin C. Leafy greens are again a great source, as are citrus, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, and cantaloupes. Eating these fruits and vegetables raw will ensure maximum Vitamin C content. A salad once a day – especially a fruit salad – is a great way to build up Vitamin C. Drinking a glass of orange juice every morning is another solution.

Vitamin K: is a less common supplement, but particularly necessary for the elderly in the event of an emergency. Consumption of Vitamin K helps fortify your tissue and bones, and is a very effective way to prevent osteoporosis. It also helps prevent blood clotting. Fortunately Vitamin K deficiencies are very uncommon. But if you’re at particular risk from either osteoporosis or blood clotting, you should consider increasing both your Vitamin K and Vitamin D. Vitamin K can be found in most green vegetables, including spinach, green beans, broccoli, and asparagus. Egg yolks and liver also contain Vitamin K.

Pregnant women will be at particular risk during a national emergency. Without doctors or any medical infrastructure, a pregnancy can be far more difficult. One thing pregnant women can do to ensure that their pregnancy goes smoothly and their child emerges without birth defects is to increase consumption of folic acid. This is a bit repetitive since folic acid is one of the many B vitamins, but it is extremely important for pregnant women. Folic acid is also essential for another key reason: It helps manufacture red blood cells and guard against heart disease, which is the number one killer in America today. Eat leafy green vegetables, fruits, liver, and beans for more folic acid.

When most people think of fat, they think of greasy McDonald’s cheeseburgers or onion rings – delicious in small amounts, but deadly as a part of your everyday diet. But there are certain fatty acids that your body needs to function. These will be needed during a national emergency, especially for your children. Essential fatty acids support the cardiovascular, immune, nervous, and reproductive systems. There are two types of essential fatty acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6.

Omega-3 deficiencies are far more common in America than most people might think. Omega-3 is derived from linolenic acids, which are particularly common in nuts such as flaxseeds, hempseeds, and sesame seeds. A silver bullet against Omega-3 deficiencies is to take one tablespoon of flaxseed oil per day. Keeping flaxseed oil in the event of an emergency is a good idea, especially if you have children.

Omega-6 comes from linoleic acid. Your body usually contains an excess of this, but it isn’t always processed properly if your diet is high in sugar and alcohol, or if you’re a smoker. The best source of Omega-6 is also a spoonful of flaxseed oil, as well as nuts.

There are several other essential vitamins and minerals that you should keep in mind during an emergency.

 

  • Calcium. You’ll need this for strong bones and teeth. It’s particularly necessary if you’re suffering from a bone condition. Try orange juice, milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, and green beans.

 

  • Iron. Iron keeps your blood high in oxygen. Go for soybeans, asparagus or spinach.

 

  • Potassium. This will keep all the acids in your body balanced and functioning properly. Pick up bananas, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, or potatoes.

 

  • Zinc. Zinc is essential for healing any wounds that might be inflicted on you. Try lima beans, legumes, dairy products, and seafood.

Unfortunately, you won’t have access to a grocery store during a national emergency and can’t simply go buy all these foods. The best way to stay healthy is to make sure you have a balanced pantry. Don’t just stock up potato chips and energy bars. Make sure you have fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and everything else needed for a proper diet.

Which foods should you make a point of stocking up on? You can mix and match any of the foods recommended above. But certain foods will keep your body overflowing with good vitamins and minerals. Stock up on spinach, asparagus, eggs, liver, tomatoes, mushrooms, orange juice, carrots, and flaxseed oil. Maybe put them together in a small “survival refrigerator” – your food kit in the event of an emergency.

Vitamin supplements can help keep your energy up and your immune system strong during an emergency. It’s also a good idea to have separate vitamin C and selenium supplements. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and can safely be taken in large quantities to help ward off disease. The mineral selenium, also available separately in supplement form, is a good companion to vitamin C. It stimulates antioxidant enzymes and can be particularly beneficial to the elderly. Take no more than 500 mcg of selenium per day.

Stocking up on supplements is great but expensive. Instead of blowing hundreds of dollars on different supplements, shift your diet so you consume more vitamins and minerals.

 

TumericThe Yellow Spice that Does Your Body Good!

Spice up your meals and rev up your immune system with turmeric! This staple of Indian cuisine acts as a cleanser and energizer of your body’s systems. It kills germs, relieves pain, protects the liver and heart, guards against cancer, and bolsters immunity.

The pigment that gives turmeric its distinctive yellow color, called curcumin, is the herb’s most medicinally potent compound. Turmeric also contains cell-protecting antioxidant chemicals.

Turmeric powder can be sprinkled on foods or mixed with warm water and taken as a therapeutic drink. Turmeric can also be applied topically to treat minor wounds. Like most health-boosting herbs, turmeric is available in supplement form.