Sunday, January 30, 2011

Challenge for Week #5

Our Challenge for Week #5 is to take a Multivitamin every day. For every day that you take a multi-vitamin (or separate supplements if they help you meet your daily minimum requirements) you can award yourself 5 points.

Don’t hesitate to set up a reminder for yourself… maybe an alarm on your cell phone.

Do you really need a multivitamin?

Well maybe not...You probably don’t need to take supplements if you eat wild, fresh, whole, organic, local, non-genetically modified food grown in virgin mineral and nutrient soils, and not transported across vast distances and stored for months before eaten… work and live outside, breathe only fresh unpolluted air, drink only pure, clean water, sleep nine hours a night, move your body every day, and are free from chronic stressors and exposures to environmental toxins.”

Hmmm maybe you do need to take a multi-vitamin after all! Here are 4 myths about Multivitamins as taken from an article by Dixie Mills M.D.

Myth #1: All multivitamins are created equally

I know that in these difficult economic times, many of us are shopping at discount markets. But it’s my belief that vitamins are just like so many things in life- you get what you pay for. Cheap multivitamins are often poor quality, low on nutrients, and full of unnecessary additives.

What to look for in a multivitamin

Be sure the multivitamin you choose has some or all of the following characteristics.

Pharmaceutical grade

Contains the most bioavailable forms, including chelated minerals

Contains naturally-sourced nutrients

No preservatives, sugar, or artificial flavoring, filler, dyes, or coloring

(For further guidance check out this article on choosing a multivitamin.)

Many inexpensive multivitamins contain forms of nutrients that are difficult for the body to break down and utilize, whereas professionally formulated brands combine naturally-sourced nutrients and chelated minerals so your body can digest and use them more readily. Some multivitamins contain preservatives, sweeteners, fillers, and artificial colors or flavoring, while others leave these additives out.

I sometimes liken multivitamins to salads. Most of us would agree that salads are good for us. But a salad of lettuce from a bag, sprayed with chemicals and topped with dressing made with high-fructose corn-syrup is far different from one made with organic spinach, topped with olive oil, lemon juice and walnuts. The bottom line is that salads are made with different quality ingredients, and so are multivitamins.

Myth #2: If you eat a healthy diet, you don’t need a multivitamin

Whether by choice or happenstance, we’re inevitably exposed to any number of factors that can make it difficult to get all of our body’s nutritional needs met — even with a healthy diet. Studies show that in today’s world, most of us are simply not getting the basic nutrition we need to prevent disease, let alone achieve optimal health.

Of course, vitamins are no substitute for a healthy die! But there is also evidence that some scarcer key nutrients are more reliably obtained from supplements. Research suggests that vitamin K, for example, is better absorbed from tablets than from food. Iodine is another crucial micronutrient that many women lack. Vitamin D and omega-3’s are simply not ample enough in the food chain to fully protect us from degenerative diseases. A good multivitamin–mineral complex will cover these gaps, particularly when you are under a lot of stress, on a special diet, or have food sensitivities.

Myth #3: Multivitamins are a waste of money

Think of multivitamins like a little extra money in your health bank account. A quality multivitamin–mineral complex can help preserve healthy brain and nervous system function, spark the body’s energy production, support tissue repair, protect immune function, regulate a healthy sleep-wake cycle, balance hormonal pathways, and so much more. A good one is never a waste of money, whether you’re a teen or a nonagenarian!

We don’t stand alone on this idea, either. Research by the Lewin Group — a health services consulting firm The Wall Street Journal calls “the gold standard of health policy analysis” — has applied accounting methods to determine that key essential nutrients are well worth the pennies per day they cost because they reduce sickness and chronic disease in women and dramatically decrease total healthcare expenditures on services like physician visits and hospitalizations.

Myth #4: Multivitamins are dangerous

Yes, if we take certain vitamins in extremely high doses or in the wrong forms, some can be dangerous to the body. But let’s be realistic: even drinking water in extreme amounts can be harmful! Vitamins and minerals work in harmony in the body, so looking at large doses of a single isolated vitamin or a multivitamin without minerals is not compatible with what is found in nature and is not the same as taking a well-balanced multivitamin. This is another reason why choosing a professionally formulated multivitamin is a good idea.

If you look closely at what’s behind this myth, you’ll see that studies reporting negatively on multivitamins generally target population groups with serious health issues to start — like cancer or heart disease, or lifestyle habits linked with higher risk, like cigarette smoking. Other studies are poorly designed and do not control for what type of multivitamin its participants are taking, how often they’re taking it, or their lifestyle factors.

The concern about interaction between multivitamins and certain prescription drugs, such as anti–clotting medications, is a very real one. But many nutritional factors can influence the way prescription drugs work in the body, even eating broccoli — at least, in theory! If you’re receiving appropriate monitoring, taking a quality multivitamin–mineral complex, including omega-3’s, should not be a problem for you. We always encourage partnering with your healthcare professional to decide what works best for you.

Myth #5: Your body can’t absorb multivitamins

If this were true, why would there be well-known precautions about their interactions with certain drugs? Or why would people having surgery be asked to stop taking them (if they contain vitamin E) two weeks prior to surgery to minimize bleeding? Your body absolutely absorbs multivitamins — but there is a difference in how well you absorb and use multivitamins depending on the quality of the formulation.

Brilliant yellow pee — what’s that about?

When you take a “rich” multivitamin and notice your urine fairly glows in the dark, have you ever wondered if maybe those vitamins just simply went right through you?

Women often ask us about this phenomenon, and we’re happy to explain. What makes your pee yellow is a fluorescent component of riboflavin (vitamin B2) called the flavin ring. As it passes along the body’s metabolic pathways riboflavin plays many important roles and undergoes biochemical changes. Several of riboflavin’s molecular metabolites retain the fluorescent flavin ring which, when excreted, gives your urine that special glow!

The ease with which nutrient forms are digested, absorbed, and metabolized by the body is sometimes referred to as bioavailability. Pharmaceutical–grade vitamin and nutrient tablets are regularly run through tests that measure precisely how long they take to dissolve in the stomach and intestines. The optimal nutrient forms are those that better absorbed and metabolized than others. Calcium supplements made from ground–up seashells, for instance, aren’t absorbed and used as well as alkalizing mineral–salt forms such as calcium nitrate and calcium and calcium ascorbate.

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