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Vitamins & Supplements
Vitamins & Supplements Articles
Studies suggest that we take much more vitamin D than we do now —
especially those of us living in northern climes who may get too
little sunlight to produce adequate amounts in the skin. Many
scientists have advocated vitamin D doses much higher than the
present recommended dose to prevent a host of chronic conditions.
But the report of an expert panel convened by the Institute of
Medicine (IOM) concluded that high doses of vitamin D aren't
necessary and might even be harmful. Many people — including many
clinicians and researchers — were taken by surprise.
A panel of experts acting at the request of the Institute of Medicine has determined that most Americans are in fact getting enough vitamin D from a combination of sun exposure, diet, and supplements.
A study of patients with Alzheimer's disease found that taking the omega-3 fat DHA did not affect the progression of the disease.
With the effectiveness of multivitamins in question, it is possible to get the required amounts of vitamins and minerals through diet alone, even for those watching calories, by focusing on nutrient-dense foods.
The list of vitamins and minerals below can give you an understanding of how particular vitamins and minerals work in your body, how much of each nutrient you need every day, and what types of food to eat to ensure that you are getting an adequate supply. The recommendations in this vitamins chart are based largely on guidelines from the Institute of Medicine. Recommended amounts may be expressed in milligrams (mg), micrograms (mcg), or international units (IU), depending on the nutrient. Unless specified, values represent those for adults ages 19 and older.
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31–70: 15 mcg (600 IU) 71+: 20 mcg (800 IU)
Like their names suggest, osteopenia and osteoporosis are related diseases. Both are varying degrees of bone loss, as measured by bone mineral density, a marker for how strong a bone is and the risk that it might break. If you think of bone mineral density as a slope, normal would be at the top and osteoporosis at the bottom. Osteopenia, which affects about half of Americans over age 50, would fall somewhere in between.
The main way to determine your bone density is to have a painless, noninvasive test called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) that measures the mineral content of bone. The measurements, known as T-scores, determine which category — osteopenia, osteoporosis, or normal — a person falls into (see graphic).
Starting on your 51st birthday, current government guidelines say you're supposed to consume 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. With advancing years, both men and women begin to experience a decline in the density of bones that makes them weaker and more likely to break. In essence, your bone becomes more porous, and calcium supposedly fills in the holes.
But the amount of calcium adults need continues to be debated. The critics say there's little evidence that high intake has more than a marginal effect on bone density and fracture prevention. They say exercise and reversing vitamin D deficiency are not promoted enough and are more important for bone health. Professor Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, is one of the leading lights in the critical camp.
Vitamin D has been linked to a growing list of health benefits beyond bone strengthening, but many people, particularly seniors, have vitamin D deficiency. Because few foods are rich in the vitamin, taking a supplement is recommended.