Practice your A, B, C, D’s for Great Health
By Christine Cheng (R.Ph), Fred Cheng (R.Ph)
As we get older, many factors can affect the adequate absorption and proper utilization of vitamins and minerals from our diet. For example, diseases and normal physiological changes affect the way our bodies require, absorb and process food. There are also lifestyle choices, such as smoking or being vegetarian that may limit the amount of vital vitamins and minerals we get from our diet. Therefore, it is fitting to use quality supplements to ensure optimal functioning of our bodies. This can be achieved if you take a few minutes to brush up on your “A, B, C, D’s”. It’s easy!
CAROTENOIDS are the colourful plant pigments found in fruits and vegetables. Some of them can be converted to VITAMIN A, which acts as a powerful antioxidant in our bodies. Vit.A as an antioxidant help with protection of the eye from photodamage by filtering out certain colours of light, for example. Other carotenoids (eg. LYCOPENE and LUTEIN), do not convert into Vitamin A, but they do have other beneficial properties such as cancer prevention and eye health. The dosing varies widely from 10,000-25,000 units daily depending on the purpose. THORNE makes a great Vitamin A on its own or in a combination called “A.C.E.+SELENIUM”. “VISION SUPPORT II” by AOR is a collection of carotenoids including lutein.
VITAMIN B exists in many forms. You may have heard of Vit.B1 through B12, and while they all benefit your body’s energy levels in some way, they do have unique properties. VIT.B1 (or “THIAMINE”) is involved with carbohydrate metabolism and nerve communication in muscles. VIT.B2 (or “RIBOFLAVIN”) is an essential B vitamin that is typically lacking in ill patients, especially those suffering from HIV, liver disease, or alcoholism. VIT.B3 (aka.“NIACIN”) is well-known for its cholesterol-lowering actions and may also be useful in reducing the risk of certain types of cataracts. VIT.B5 (or “Pantothenic Acid”) is important in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism as well as skin function. It is also used with some success in controlling anxiety. VIT.B6 (aka.”Pyridoxine”) is involved with amino-acid metabolism. It is associated with eye health and may decrease the risk of lung cancer in smokers. The benefits of Vit.B3 and B6 in Alzheimer’s are actually unclear at this point. VIT.B12 can be synthesized by microbes in our large intestines and also found in animal sources of our diet such as meats, fish, and liver. It is important in general cell production, red blood cell production, and normal nerve sheath formation. Low stomach acidity (in cases where the person takes antacids, for example) alters the body’s ability to absorb oral Vit.B12, and thus there specialized forms of oral B12 and also intramuscular injections available. In general, our body needs a good balance of all the Vitamin B’s, so an overall Vit.B complex is a good start. THORNE’s line of Vit.B is unique in that you have a choice of getting the different Vit.B’s separately or in combination. Also check out the “B COMPLEX” by INNATE RESPONSE FORMULAS, which includes their proprietary immune blend as well as some enzymes and proteins to maximize health benefits.
Catching on to our alphabetic pattern yet? VITAMIN C (aka. “ascorbic acid”) is famous for its effects on boosting our immunity and increasing the healing rates of the cold/flu, burns, fractures, ulcers, etc. But did you know that it is great for other purposes, such as increasing the absorption of iron (if taken together), as well as benefiting heart and lung health? At this time, the word is still out on whether Vit.C actually helps with depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, but people do take it for those purposes. ESTER-C SUPREME is a wonderful formula by SISU for boosting respiratory health. It contains arabinogalactans and quercetin, which are useful for asthmatic or sensitive, allergic lungs. The Vit.C in the Sisu formulas are all in an “ester-C” form, which is buffered with calcium for a more neutral pH. If you want an added boost for immunity, consider “C COMPLETE POWDER” BY INNATE RESPONSE FORMULAS to take advantage of the added hesperidin, quercetin, and rutin.
VITAMIN D is very good when taken with Calcium to minimize the rate of bone loss and diminish the risk of osteoporosis. There is also much excitement about its potential in battling cancer. Although Vit.D shows promise in boosting our immunity in general at higher doses, its role in cancer therapy is unclear and it appears that it takes many years of use for any benefit. There is a wide dosing range for Vit.D use, but a long-term daily dose of 4000IU should not be exceeded. Nowadays, the majority of Vit.D is available as cholecalciferol (“Vit.D3”), the more potent form.
Many vitamins and minerals are required by our bodies to run smoothly, but Vit.A, B, C, D are 4 of the most important ones, especially as we age. We may not get adequate supplies from our regular diet due to health/disease-related and lifestyle reasons, so it is important to supplement with quality vitamins and minerals. Keep an eye out for future articles for more on other important vitamins and minerals. For now, practice those A, B, C, D’s towards a healthier, stronger you.
(Christine and Fred Cheng are a sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Cloverdale, BC. We specialize in integrative natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. Everything mentioned in our articles, and much more, can be found at our Cloverdale Pharmasave. We would love to meet you and hear from you! 604-576-2888; www.cloverdalepharmasave.com; or, on FaceBook. Of course, before you begin any activity program or try any OTC supplementation, check with your physician and pharmacist.)
Image courtesy of Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net