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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 26, 1997     The Message
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September 26, 1997

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12 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana September 26, 19 ii The ABCs of vitamins and mineralsl What's so impor- tant about vitamins and minerals? Does it matter if they come from food or supplements? Can you really get too much of a good thing? These are just a few of the ques- tions dietitians like Ruth Harper, of the Food and Nutri- tion Services Department at St. Mary's Medical Center, are asked all the time. And with all the hype we're hear- ing today about "miracle" vitamins and the contradic- tory reports we're getting about what our bodies real- ly need, it's no wonder confusion abounds. What do vitamins do? ............. According to Harper, our bodies require varying quantities Of 13 vitamins and assorted minerals to func- tion at peak efficiency. For example, Vitamin A is essen- tial for h6atl13T Skin and eyes while the B vitamins aid in blood foatiOn and the transformation of food into energy. To keep our gums healthy, we need an adequate supply of Vitamin C. Minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron also perform important functions. For example, calcium helps strengthen our bones and protects them from osteoporosis. Magnesium and potassium help keep the heart functioning properly while iron is vital to the production of healthy red blood cells. In summary, each vitamin and mineral plays special roles in our bodies. When they are not in balance, we can't perform at our best, much like a car when it is out of alignment or in need of an oil change. Food vs. supplements: dg,.c0000th,0000.00qur00e matte.r ? ................................. "Our lxlies cannot tell any difference between the vitamins and minerals in food and those found in sup- plements," Harper says. "But when we eat a well-bal- anced diet, our bodies generally yet all of the vitamins and minerals needed for good health." She stresses, "Supplements should never be used as a substitute for meals. Foods contain other important nutrients that your body will not get from a vitamin supplement. Therefore, it is always best to consider food as your primary source of vitamins and minerals and to take supplements to fill in any gaps." Certain groups of people, however, might benefit from taking supplements. Individuals on low-calorie diets may have difficul ,ty getting the quantities of vitamins and min- erals they need. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also need more vitamins and minerals - particularly iron, folic acid, and calcium--than they can obtain through the food they eat. Those following a strict vegetarian diet may also have extra needs for vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B-12, Vitamin D, riboflavin, calcium, and iron. Those leading overly-demanding lifestyles may also find it hard to eat nutritious meals on a regular basis. Some studies indicate that the elderly need more of certain vit- amins than the young, although final conclusions have yet to be made. Women in general are likewise prone to greater needs for certain vitamins and minerals, as are alcoholics and severely ill individuals. Many individuals are concerned about "natural" vs. "processed" foods. It is true that certain vitamins and minerals are destroyed when foods are processed, but many times, they can be added back into the foods, restoring their nutritional value. Foods to which lost vitamins and minerals have been added back are described as "enriched." "Fortified" products are those to which vitamins and minerals that do not naturally occur in that food have been added. If you are unsure whether your diet is supplying your body with the proper amounts of vitamins and miner- als, Harper recommends talking with your physician or a registered dietitian to determine what your special needs really are. Can you really get too muchof a good.thing? ................................................... The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) repre- sents the levels of vitamins and minerals that, accord- ing to the Food and Nutrition Board, are needed for optimum health. Nevertheless, many Americans feel "if a little bit is good, a lot must be even better" and take supplements-- or megadoses of them -- that con- tain more than the RDA levels. "When someone consumes more of a vitamin or min- eral than necessary, the excess is typically excreted, going to waste but not causing the body harm. explains Bob Murphy, a pharmacist with St. Mary "However, when too much ol a fat-soluble vitamin ingested, the excess is stored in the body and can ha very negative consequences. Thus, it's really best stick to the amounts that are recommended." Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and and prolonged excessive dosages of them can be dan ous. Too much Vitamin A, for examvle, can cause dry s14 fatigue, loss of appetite and hair loss while overly hi i intake of Vitamin D can calcify body tissues; cause h tension; lead to nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetii and result in kidney stones and damage to the kidne Although Murphy says Vitamin E is relatively non-to compared to other fat-soluble vitamins, extremely hil doses of it have been reported to cause fatigue, na and loss of appetite, muscle weakness and diarrhea. 'l much vitamin E may also have an inhibitory effect on! function of vitamin K in the formation of prothroml: which is essential for blood clotting. Vitamin K in its natural form has not caused aJ signs of toxicity; however, the synthetic product, met dione, may cause negative effects in infants. Exc intake of niacin, Vitamin B-6, and iron can likewise cc tribute to health problems. Naturally, you want to get the most value for y( dollar, so when purchasing vitamin supplements, bottom line is this: Beware of the "extras" that co cause you more trouble than they are worth! Health news to be feature of the Message Health -- a Catholic Perspective is the title of a n page each week in "the new Message." Articles a0 items will be provided by St. Mary's Medical Ce ter, Evansvill6, and by other health care provide in southwestern Indiana. Readers will find tips and suggestions, nutritio al information and schedules of available medk services, along with news items about medical st vices and developments, written from a Catho' perspective. Comments and questions are welcome, at Message, P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-016 Vitamin O Keyvitaminsand mine ...... Name RDA Good Natural Sources females: 4,000 IU. - cantaloupes, apricotS; egg yolks,- *children: !,400-3,300 IV carrots adults/children: 400 IU milk tuna, liver, egg yolks, salmon, sardines, cod liver oil Vitamin K adults: 70-140 ug children: 12-60 ug liver, soybean oil, spinach, cabbage, wheat bran, broccoli, greens Niacin males: 15-20 mg many grains, liver, fish, poultry, (V!tami'n B-2) females: 13-15 mg peanuts, eggs. milk, legumes, children: 5-18 mg meats ,. :G  :G "!! ';;:;':::',,*X,q';../4:Y.G: "  - ' :  t:;   " .'Y... .  :;, : Vitamin B-5 adults: 4-7 mg** eggs, kidney, liver, salmon, (Pantothenic Acid) children: 2-5 rag** yeast Name RDA Biotin adults: 30-100 ug children: 10-30 ug** iiii!  . ............ Calcium males: 800-1200 mg females: 1,200 mg children: 400-1200 mg pregnancy: 1,200 mg Iron adults: 10-15 mg children: 6-10 mg pregnancy:- 30-rag Good Natural Sources peanuts, cauliflower, liver, yeast, egg yolks, mushrooms, chicken, halibut, grapefruit, bananas, tomatoes, soy flour, cereals, watermelon, strawberries sardines with bones, tofu, dairy products, salmon with bones, almond s , perch, spinach, beet greens, oysters, broccoli liver, raisin bran,sardines, clams, shrimp, chick peas, wheat germ, Brussels-sprouts, veal, eggs, beans, hamburger, prune juice FoIc Acid adults: 150-200 ug children: 35-100 ug pregnancy: 400 ug legumes, leafy vegetables, liver, wheat, eggs, lean beef, spinach * Throughout ths chart "chddren" .$ , ' refers to individuals 0 to 10 years of age. . , ** Vitamin [3-5 and Biotin do not have RDA values. The amounts listed here are estimated | safe and adequate dietary intakes." ;