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14 most popular vitamins and minerals


Charley Brindley


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This is a list of the 14 most popular vitamins and minerals.

Many studies have shown that people who eat a healthy, well balanced diet, need not take vitamin suplements, however, over $70 billion is spent each year on vitamins and supplements. This is a list of the 14 most popular.

We do not recommend any of these vitamins or supplements. We only present what others have written about them.

1. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also know as ascorbic acid, is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Good sources include peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, oranges and kiwi fruit.

How much do I need?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can't be stored in the body.

You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need from your daily diet. Adults need 40 mg a day.

What does it do?

Vitamin C has a number of important functions. For example it:

helps protect cells and keeps them healthy helps the body absorb iron from food

What happens if I take too much?

Taking large amounts of vitamin C can cause stomach pain, diarrhoea and flatulence. But these symptoms should disappear once you stop taking the supplements.

You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. But if you decide to take vitamin C supplements it's important not to take too much because this could be harmful.

Taking 1000 mg or less of vitamin C supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

Credit: Food Standards Agency

2. St. John's Wort

St. John's wort ( Hypericum perforatum ), once thought to rid the body of evil spirits, has a history of medicinal use dating back to ancient Greece, where it was used to treat a range of illnesses, including various 'nervous conditions.' St. John's wort also has antibacterial and antiviral properties and, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, has been used to help heal wounds and burns.

In recent years, there has been renewed interest in St. John's wort as a treatment for depression and there has been a great deal of scientific research on this topic. St. John's wort is one of the most commonly purchased herbal products in the United States. Because St. John's wort interacts with a wide variety of medications, it is important to take it only under the guidance of a healthcare provider who is knowledgeable about herbal medicines.

Credit: University of Maryland Medical Center

3. Fish Oil

Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil and certain plant/nut oils. Fish oil contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), while some nuts (e.g., English walnuts) and vegetable oils (e.g., canola, soybean, flaxseed/linseed, and olive oil) contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Evidence from several studies has suggested that amounts of DHA and EPA in the form of fish or fish oil supplements lowers triglycerides, slows the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques ("hardening of the arteries"), lowers blood pressure slightly, as well as reduces the risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with known heart disease. However, high doses may have harmful effects, such as an increased risk of bleeding. Although similar benefits are proposed for alpha-linolenic acid, scientific evidence is less compelling, and beneficial effects may be less pronounced.

Credit: MedLine Plus

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4. Garlic

Despite hundreds of scientific studies, garlic remains something of a mystery. Its use dates back thousands of years as both a traditional medicine and seasoning. Ancient Egyptians consumed garlic to reduce fever. In the Middle Ages people believed it would protect against the plague. Soldiers in both World Wars are said to have eaten garlic to prevent gangrene. And, of course, legend credits garlic (the “stinking rose”) with the power to ward off vampires.

Traditionally, garlic has been an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and many Asian cuisines. Nowadays people around the world eat garlic because they like it and/or think it is good for them. And garlic supplements are top sellers, marketed to lower cholesterol, as well as fight cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and infections, including the common cold.

Here are some main areas of interest:

Cholesterol. While some studies (most using supplements) have found that garlic reduces cholesterol by about 10% over the short term, others have shown little or no effect. A 2003 review by researchers at Brigham Young University found that garlic supplements were modestly effective in lowering total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in 6 out of 10 studies.

Cancer. Population studies suggest that people who eat a lot of garlic and other allium vegetables have a lower risk of certain cancers, including stomach, prostate, and colon. But it’s difficult to do the large controlled clinical trials that are needed to prove that it’s really garlic and not other diet, lifestyle, or genetic factors that are protective. One such study, recently done in China and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that garlic supplementation for seven years did not reduce the risk of stomach cancer. In addition, there is no evidence to back the claims made that garlic helps prevent breast or lung cancer.

Other possibilities. Garlic may lower blood pressure—but by fairly small amounts at best. It may “thin” the blood slightly, too. There’s no good evidence it helps with upper respiratory infections, diabetes, or any other condition it is touted for.

Credit: UC Berkeley Wellness Letter

5. Alfalfa

Alfalfa supplements are thought to possess the ability to help with a number of different types of body ailments. Usually composed of the leaves and flowers from the alfalfa plant, these dietary supplements contain an ample amount of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for a healthy body. Many homeopathic physicians and herbalists find that alfalfa supplements are excellent herbal medicine, and one that has few if any side effects. Here is some information about the nutritional content of alfalfa supplements, as well as some of the conditions that may be effectively treated with the use of these herbal pills.

Few herbs contain the range of necessary nutrients that are found in alfalfa supplements. Alfalfa is very rich in chlorophyll and natural protein. A high concentration of Vitamins A, B6, D, E, and K are present as well. Along with these elements, there are also respectable amounts of iron, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Alfalfa supplements are also said to contain eight of the essential amino acids as well. In short, there is a lot of health producing power contained in these herbal supplements.

The use of alfalfa supplements is understood to be helpful with a number of ailments. Persons who suffer from arthritis may find that taking alfalfa will help to ease the constant pain, as the compound helps to neutralize uric acid in the system. Promoting better digestion and easing the frequency of stomach upsets is another often-cited result of regular use of alfalfa supplements. There are sources that claim that alfalfa supplements also can help to normalize blood pressure, minimize mental and physical fatigue, and help to eliminate toxins from the body.

Credit: Wisegeek

6. Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is an herb that has been shown in clinical studies to have an important role in maintaining a healthy prostate. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens, sometimes referred to as sabal in Europe) grows naturally in the southeast United States, including Georgia, Mississippi, and particularly Florida. Saw palmetto is not the only herb that has an influence on the prostate gland. Several other herbs and plant compounds that are potentially useful in maintaining a healthy prostate gland including pygeum, stinging nettle, isoflavones such as genistein and daidzein, rye pollen, phytosterols such as beta sitosterol, and carotenoids such as lycopene.

It appears that urinary symptoms resulting from mild-to-moderate prostate enlargement respond more readily to saw palmetto than symptoms due to severe enlargement. It often takes several weeks or months for the effects of saw palmetto and other herbs to be fully appreciated. Saw palmetto and herbs have fewer side effects than drugs used for prostate enlargement but they are not as potent.

Credit: Ray Sahelian, M.D.

7. B-Complex

Although many people consume foods fortified with vitamin B, the typical American diet that is high in processed, cooked and microwavable food provides only a fraction of the B-vitamins we need for good health. Because these vitamins are vital to a vigorous long life, not getting them can lead to serious problems. B vitamins are easily flushed out of the body, and people on weight-loss diets, alcoholics or those who take antibiotics or seizure drugs are even more inclined to have vitamin B deficiency.

While it is safe for many people to take three times or more of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for B-vitamins, each of us has unique requirements based on our own individual physiology and lifestyle. Consequently, it is important to check with a knowledgeable health professional before beginning a vitamin regimen in order to determine your proper dosage. Because deficiencies usually include more than one B-vitamin, and because the B-vitamins work best as a team, we should take a B-complex supplement along with any single B-vitamin in order to achieve their synergistic effects.

Credit: BNET Business Network

8. Vitamin E

What is vitamin E?

Vitamin E is found in foods such as vegetable oils and shortening, meat, eggs, milk, and leafy vegetables. Vitamin E is important for many processes in the body.

Vitamin E is used to treat vitamin E deficiency.

Vitamin E may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about vitamin E?

Do not take more vitamin E than is prescribed for you or than is directed on the package. Too much vitamin E can be dangerous.

Who should not take vitamin E?

Before taking vitamin E, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you have any other medical conditions, allergies, or if you take other medicines or other herbal/health supplements.

Before taking vitamin E, tell your doctor if you are taking warfarin (Coumadin). You may not be able to take vitamin E, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during treatment.

Do not take a vitamin E supplement without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant. Do not take a vitamin E supplement without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.


9. Potassium

Potassium is an extremely import mineral. It is helpful in reducing blood pressure and preventing strokes.

Unfortunately, the FDA will not allow a combination vitamin formula to contain more than 99 mg of potassium per recommended daily dose.

Thus, the recommended dose for Super Life Glow (30 capsules) and for Life Glow Plus (20 capsules) and thus both formulas contain the same amount of potassium -- 99 mg.

You can and should take extra potassium. There is information below about this issue. But, this note is here to inform you that the potassium in these formulas is deliberately kept at the legal maximum allowed by the government -- 99 mg.

You can easily take several thousand mg -- safely.

Potassium is an extremely important electrolyte that functions in the maintenance of:

Water Balance and distribution

Acid-base balance

Muscle and nerve cell function

Heart function

Kidney and adrenal function

Over 95% of potassium in the body is found within cells. In contrast, most of the sodium in the body is located outside the cells in the blood and other fluids. How does this happen? Cells actually pump sodium out and potassium in via the "sodium-potassium pump." This pump is found in the membranes of all cells in the body. One of its most important functions is preventing the swelling of cells. If sodium is not pumped out, water accumulates within the cell causing it to swell and ultimately burst.

The sodium-potassium pump also functions to maintain the electrical charge within the cell. This is particularly important to muscle and nerve cell. During nerve transmission and muscle contraction, potassium exits the cell and sodium enters, resulting in a change in electrical charge. This change is what causes a nerve impulse or muscle contraction. It is not surprising that a potassium deficiency affects muscles and nerves first.

Although sodium and chloride are important, potassium is the most important dietary electrolyte. In addition to functioning as an electrolyte, potassium is also essential for the conversion of blood sugar into glycogen-the storage form of blood sugar found in the muscles and liver. A potassium shortage results in lower levels of stored glycogen. Because glycogen is used by exercising muscles for energy, a potassium deficiency will produce great fatigue and muscle weakness. These are typically the first signs of potassium deficiency.

Credit: Vibrant Life

10. Selenium

Selenium used to be treated as a very toxic substance, but modern science now regards it as essential - but in small quantities. An overdose or deficiency of selenium is equally bad, and good steady amounts should be available - but in small quantities. Selenium is required for

One of the main activities of this mineral is its anti-aging properties and its ability to help rid the body of free radicals, as well as toxic minerals such as mercury, lead and cadmium.

It is helpful in fighting infections since it stimulates increased antibody response to infections, promotes more energy in the body, and while it helps with alleviating menopausal symptoms in women, it assists the male in producing healthy sperm.

In certain cases selenium has also proven effective in helping to fight cold sores and shingles, which are both caused by the herpes virus.

Some researchers have shown that in selenium-deficient animals a harmless virus can mutate into a virulent form capable of causing damage and death - this has also been followed up with other studies, which seem to indicate that selenium helps to keep the spread and multiplying of viruses in check.

Selenium is also used against arthritis and multiple sclerosis and if provided in adequate amounts it is thought to help prevent cancer as well. Tissue elasticity and pancreatic function is also dependant on this mineral.

In a study it was shown that selenium could be useful in treating certain cancers, and is also helpful in making the blood less "sticky", which is helpful in preventing heart attacks and strokes.


The dosage is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), but be aware that this dosage is the minimum that you require per day, to ward off serious deficiency of this particular nutrient. In the therapeutic use of this nutrient, the dosage is usually increased considerably, but the toxicity level must be kept in mind.

In the case of microelements, such as trace elements, the amounts are very small, yet they are still important and 70 micrograms per day is taken as the required dosage.

Credit: Zest for Life

11. Calcium

Calcium is a nutrient that is essential for strong bones and for supporting your body's critical functions such as controlling your blood pressure and maintaining your heart beat. Ninety-nine percent of your body's calcium is stored in your bones and teeth. This calcium makes up your bone bank. Throughout your lifetime, calcium is "deposited" in and "withdrawn" from your bone bank depending on your needs. When your dietary calcium intake is too low, your body will "withdraw" the calcium it needs from your bones. Over time, if more calcium is taken out of your bones than is put in, the result may be thin, weak bones that may break more easily.

Credit: Helen Hayes Hospital New York State Department of Health

12. Vitamin D

Taking vitamin D supplements may help people live longer, according to a new research review. But it's not yet clear exactly how vitamin D does that.

The new review, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, comes at a time when vitamin D is a hot topic linked to benefits including lower risk of some cancers and fewer falls for elders.

The body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D is also found in some foods, including salmon, and in some fortified foods, including some dairy products and cereals.

But some experts are concerned that vitamin D deficiency is too common and suggest that the current recommended intake of vitamin D is too low.

The new vitamin D review comes from Philippe Autier, MD, and Sara Gandini, PhD.

Autier works for the International Agency of Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. Gandini works for the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy.

Together, they analyzed the results of 18 vitamin D studies that included mortality rates.

More than 57,000 adults in the U.S., U.K., and Europe participated in the studies. Most of them were "frail" elders with low blood levels of vitamin D, write Autier and Gandini.

Participants were typically assigned to take vitamin D supplements or a placebo containing no vitamin D.

Their daily vitamin D doses ranged from 300 to 2,000 international units (IU), averaging 528 IU per day, in the form of ergocalciferol (vitamin D-2) or cholecalciferol (vitamin D-3).

Each study was designed differently, but on average, participants were followed for 5.7 years. During that time, 4,777 participants died of any cause.

People taking vitamin D were 7% less likely to die during the studies. The precise reason for their lower death rate isn't clear, and the reviewers aren't recommending a specific vitamin D dose.

An editorial published with the study recommends more research on vitamin D's benefits.

"The roles of moderate sun exposure, food fortification with vitamin D, and higher-dose vitamin D supplements for adults need to be debated," writes editorialist Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD, who works in Harvard School of Public Health's nutrition department

Credit: WebMD

13. Chromium Picolinate

Chromium picolinate is a nutritional supplement that works to increase the efficiency of insulin to optimal levels. Gaining increased popularity in the United States, this supplement has been touted a miracle mineral, one advertised to have myriad effects including weight loss, mood enhancement, energy promotion, increase in life span, and even the prevention of acne (Krzanowski, 1996). The most common usage for chromium picolinate is as a weight loss aid; claims that this supplement can melt fat, drastically reduce appetite, and increase metabolism are rampant and account for the popularity of chromium picolinate in our diet-obsessed culture. Recently, the supplement has been marketed as a safe alternative to steroids, claiming to increase strength and lean muscle mass (Trent & Thieding-Cancel, 1995). Chromium picolinate is a common ingredient in many herbal weight-loss concoctions readily available for over-the-counter sale at the local drugstore or on the internet. However, because chromium picolinate is a nutritional supplement rather than a prescription drug, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot vouch for the accuracy of advertiser?s often remarkable claims (Krzanowski, 1996). Additionally, scientific research is generally unsupportive of the weight loss claims surrounding chromium picolinate; consumers must be aware of these discrepancies when making a decision to take this or any other nutritional supplement.

Credit: Vanderbilt University

14. Glucosamine Chondroitin

Laboratory studies suggest that glucosamine may stimulate production of cartilage-building proteins. Other research suggests that chondroitin may inhibit production of cartilage-destroying enzymes and fight inflammation too. Some human studies have found that either one may relieve arthritis pain and stiffness with fewer side effects than conventional arthritis drugs. Other studies have shown no benefit. As the research accumulated, expert review bodies have been cautious because, although positive reports outnumbered negative ones, the negative ones have been larger and better designed. In addition, whether glucosamine offers any advantages over established drugs such as acetaminophen, traditional NSAIDS, or selective Cox-2 inhibitors has not been determined.

The largest and best-designed clinical trial is the Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. So far, the GAIT has produced two sets of negative results. In 2006, the researchers reported on a 24-week study that involved 1583 patients who were randomly assigned to receive 500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride three times daily, 400 mg of sodium chondroitin sulfate three times daily, 500 mg of glucosamine plus 400 mg of chondroitin sulfate three times daily, 200 mg of celecoxib (Celebrex) daily, or a placebo. The study found that glucosamine and chondroitin, alone or together, did not reduce osteoarthritis knee pain more effectively than a placebo. The drug group did about 17% better than the placebo group.

Credit: QuackWatch

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