I’ve always heard that people should get their vitamins from food. Do we really need supplements?

Nutritional supplementsYou’re referring to the first commandment in nutrition that states “Thou shalt meet all your nutritional needs from a balanced diet.” That means, all you have to do is consume daily 5 to 9 fresh fruits and vegetables, 6 to 11 whole grains, 3 glasses of low-fat milk, and 2 servings of extra-lean meat, chicken, fish, or legumes. Sounds reasonable, but there’s a catch – most people aren’t doing it. In fact, the just-published findings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII), show that only a measly one out of every 100 people meet even minimum standards for dietary adequacy. So, in answer to your question, yes, many people would benefit from a well-chosen supplement. Photo credit: Creative Commons License Clean Wal-Mart via Compfight

Someone told me the B vitamins are important for lowering heart disease. Is this true?

dinner for one The B vitamins, especially folate and vitamins B6 and B12, lower heart disease risk by reducing levels of a compound called homocysteine in the blood. This compound irritates blood vessel walls, increasing inflammation associated with the underlying cause of heart disease, atherosclerosis. Even if your blood cholesterol is low, you could be at risk for heart disease if homocysteine levels are high. Optimal intake of…

1. folate-rich foods, such as dark green leafies, orange juice, and legumes;

2. vitamin B6-rich foods, such as seafood, chicken breast, 100% whole grains, and bananas; and

3. vitamin B12-rich foods, such as low-fat milk, salmon, and eggs,

lower homocysteine levels, thus reducing your risk for heart disease. Aim for 400 micrograms of folate, 2 or more milligrams of vitamin B6, and 2 micrograms or more of vitamin B12 daily from foods and/or supplements. Photo credit: knitting iris via Compfight