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Multivitamins for Optimum Health
It’s never too late to change your habits, and if you are not in the habit of taking a multivitamin supplement regularly, it’s time you did. Altering your behavior in this one respect will greatly improve your chances of living a long and healthy life. Good nutrition is necessary to maintain optimum health, and a multivitamin supplement will ensure that you receive what your body needs to help prevent and fight disease and improve your state of well being.
What Does Good Nutrition Mean?
We can enjoy good health and heal ourselves of most ills through good health practices, which include giving our bodies the fuel needed from the things we eat. Good nutrition means obtaining the right balance and amounts of water, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, plus vitamins and minerals. Although there are many food-sources of these nutrients, here is a review of what you learned in school as the main sources:
• Complex carbohydrates can be found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, peas, and beans. Simple carbohydrates are in table sugar, fruit, and processed foods like dessert, candy, and soft drinks.
• Proteins are in abundance in meat and dairy products, as well as in nuts, seeds, beans, wheat, and rice.
• The fats we need are usually picked up from dairy products, meats, fish, and oils extracted from various vegetables.
• Vitamins and minerals are most easily obtained from the vegetables and fruits we eat.
Can Good Nutrition Come From a Well-Balanced Diet?
Medical spokesmen no longer try to reassure us that we can get everything we need by eating well. We can’t. Food itself is no longer the same as it once was. Vegetables and fruits are often grown in soil that has been depleted of nutrients, which means the foods are also. As well, foods lose many nutrients in the process of storing, shipping, refining, and even through cooking. We can’t be sure, therefore, that the food we are eating has the nutritional value it is supposed to have. Not only that, it might not be a healthy choice for other reasons:
• Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with insecticides that can’t be rinsed or even washed off, and if the skins are removed, many of the nutrients are removed as well.
• Additives can help preserve food and make it tastier and more attractive, but we aren’t sure of the long-term effects of these chemicals on our bodies.
• Some fruit and vegetables are now routinely genetically altered.
• Sugar, salt, and fat are inexpensive commodities that add flavor, and, therefore, are used in large quantities in most commercially prepared foods.
• Animals and fowl are loaded with hormones that are passed on to us when we eat them.
Food production and processing are not the only culprits that worry us and make it difficult to obtain the nutrition we need from the food we eat. We have to share the blame by our own practices of skipping meals, eating on the run, and choosing heavily processed, nutrient-poor food:
• We eat too much fat and too much of the most harmful – read "saturated" – kind, such as meat, eggs, and cheese.
• We eat too much sugar and salt, and not enough fruit and vegetables.
• Some of us eat too much food for good health; others are constantly dieting and don’t eat enough.
• We are, for the most part, not active enough to eat the amount of food needed to maintain good health without a substantial weight gain.
(These last two points fall into the category of damned if you do; damned if you don’t.)
Since we can’t rely on our diets to supply us with the necessary building blocks to maintain good health a dietary supplement is the answer. Supplements can be in the form of a tablet, a capsule, a liquid, or in powders that can be mixed in water or juice, or added to bars, creams, or gels. Supplements are sold as individual vitamins or minerals, or in combination multivitamin formulas, which may include mineral additions as well.
Why Choose a Multivitamin?
Vitamins are required to maintain both physical and mental health. For instance, a deficiency of vitamin C will cause scurvy, a deficiency of vitamin D will cause rickets, and a deficiency of vitamin A will cause eye problems. Minerals are needed for healthy bones and teeth, normal cell function, the composition of body fluids, and for the proper utilization of vitamins and other nutrients.
In a multivitamin, the whole range of vitamins will be included, taking into consideration the amounts recommended by the government’s determination, many years ago, of the minimum required daily allowance (RDA) for the prevention of serious deficiencies. Since research conducted in more recent years has shown us that the prevention of disease is also possible, multivitamins are now formulated with this feature in mind.
Unless you have symptoms that show you need a particular vitamin or mineral in larger than normal quantities to correct a specific problem, a multivitamin supplement is usually a better choice than taking several different individual vitamins. Nutrients work together in cooperative action, or synergy, and correcting a deficiency in one vitamin or mineral may be not only ineffective, it may also induce a deficiency in another vitamin or mineral. A multivitamin’s balanced preparation, therefore, is not only effective, it is safe. A one a day multivitamin is also a convenient delivery method for most people. Taking several tablets or capsules a day to meet your needs can be not only expensive but also too much of a burden for most people.
What is the Best Multivitamin for You?
Multivitamins are designed for specific purposes, and you will find formulas that are particularly suited for a child or for an adult. Women have special needs at various stages in their lives and a multivitamin for women will be formulated to optimize prenatal, pre-menopausal, or post-menopausal health. For example, there are different amounts of calcium and iron needed by women at different ages, and pregnant women require folic acid, zinc and manganese to a greater degree than non-pregnant women. A man may be looking for help with hair loss and waning libido.
Good health requires good practices like eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly and a maintaining a positive attitude. A multivitamin supplement can help in all three areas. Start taking one today.
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