you know that $20 billion is spent yearly on dietary supplements such as
Folate, Antioxidants (Vitamins A, E, and Selenium), Calcium, Vitamin D, Red
Yeast Rice, Fish oil, and Niacin? It's a big business.
supplementation is not necessary for
most adults who eat a well-balanced diet and get regular sun exposure.
Food should be the source of vital
must say this 20 times a day. If you want a sure fire way to get your vitamins
and minerals from food, I encourage you to read my Straight Talk blog. We have been preaching the benefits of food choices like
olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, and fruits and vegetables for years. This is the
basis for The Mediterranean Diet. It should be taught
Be cautious about supplements
can help make up for deficiencies in your diet or supply an extra boost for
certain populations. In excess, they can be not only costly but also harmful. They
can even interact with medicines you are taking and have side effects just like
my practice, patients frequently ask about the 9 nutrients/supplements shown
below that get lots of press. Consider
the facts then talk with your physician about what's in your diet and whether or not a
supplement might be right for you.
a B vitamin
leafy vegetables, fruits, cereals, grains, nuts.
like growth, reproduction, producing
women of child-bearing age
neural tube birth defects.
evidence of cardiovascular benefit
with Folate supplementation.
||Vitamin A: liver,
kidney, egg yolk, dairy. Beta-carotene:
orange vegetables, carrots,
skin, strong teeth and bones in children, resistance
infection, normal growth, cell structure, normal eyesight.||Excess
leads to increased risk of early deaths and cancer;
causes fetal loss
and birth defects
during 1st trimester of pregnancy.
|Vitamin E||Green leafy
meats, egg yolks,
wheat germ, whole grains.||Antioxidant
helps protect cells from free-radical damage,
and boosts immune system. Good
at risk for fracture.
showed no evidence of cardiovascular benefit of supplementation and showed an increased risk of heart
failure and stroke.|
element||Broccoli, cabbage, celery, onions,
garlic, whole grains, brewer's yeast.||Functions
entirely understood, but necessary for optimal health.||Can be harmful
and increase risk of prostate
green leafy vegetables, broccoli. Fortified
||Healthy bones and teeth, nerve
conduction, muscle contraction, blood clotting, production of energy, immunity
to disease.||It is complicated and excess can be harmful. Read Calcium for
Bones at Your Heart's Expense?
fortified milk and other foods.
||Helps body absorb calcium for
strong bones. Important to body in many other ways and found in virtually every
||Excess can be toxic, raise blood levels of calcium, lead to heart rhythm disorders and other
Yeast Rice |
by culturing rice with strains
of the yeast Monascus
purpureus; used in Chinese cuisine or
||Minimally lowers total
cholesterol and LDL, although it does not increase HDL.
||Varies greatly across commercial preparations. May have same side effects
|Fatty fish like Salmon
other forms of soybeans.
canola oil contain alpha-linolenic acid (LNA), which converts to omega-3s in the body.
||Slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaques,
blood pressure, lower Triglycerides, and decrease risk of
arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) which can lead to Sudden Cardiac
are not a substitute for eating fish in a balanced diet. Read Omega-3,
Fish and Fish Oil Supplements.
|Lean meats, fish, whole grains.
and nerves to function; important for converting food to energy. Lowers LDL, Triglycerides; raises HDL.
||No benefit when you already take a statin. Excess can
raise blood sugar. Read Women &
Cholesterol: Top 5 Myths Debunked.
|On this website, see Nutrition: Vitamins
And for the kids, see Project Heart Activity Masters for Grade 5: "My Vitamin Dictionary" and "My Mineral Dictionary".
For a quick reference to recommended daily values of key nutrients, see US Food and Drug Administration: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for Appropriate Nutrients
Want to learn more? Visit the National Institutes of Health - Office of Dietary Supplements.
Until next time!
Stephanie Coulter, MD
Do you have a topic that you would like to learn more about from Dr. Stephanie? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and your question may be the next Straight Talk topic!
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