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The Truth About Vitamins, Coffee & Red Wine

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Vitamins, coffee and red wine have been in the news a lot this year.  Good, bad, waste of money?  We’ve cut through all the hype to get to the bottom line.  Our sources include the Mayo Clinic, Harvard School of Public Health and WebMD.  Just remember that research seems to be pouring out daily and probably the best advice is the oldest – everything in moderation.

vitamins

Vitamins

Long term studies on the effectiveness of multivitamins and mineral supplements show that they’re mostly ineffective in prolonging life or enhancing health.  In fact, they may do more harm than good when you take multiple supplements plus eat fortified foods.  Too much calcium or iron, for example, can contribute to kidney stones and constipation.  And excessive amounts of vitamins A, D, E and C can cause all sorts of issues if you take too much.

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One thing to keep in mind was that widely available vitamin supplements were used – many of questionable quality.  And if you have a true definicency, you’re a vegetarian (may need B12) or you’re pregnant (folic acid has been proven effective) supplements may be necessary.

Doctors recommend eating a healthy and varied diet to get the nutrition you need. And it doesn’t cost a fortune to eat well. Pricey salmon isn’t the only way to get Fish oils, for example.  Walnuts, chia and flax seeds are relatively inexpensive ways to get this important nutrient.  So spend your vitamin money on good foods instead.

red wine

Red Wine

With the popularity of Mediterranean style diets that include it, researchers began studying red wine’s effect on health.  As it turns out, red wine is packed with Resveratrol, a strong antioxidant that helps keep the body healthy.  So everyone rushed to add a glass or two of red wine to their meals to gain the benefits.  But doctors aren’t so convinced.  First of all, Mediterranean style diets aren’t just about red wine.  They include a variety of healthy foods that most Westerners don’t eat.  So like vitamins, don’t expect red wine to protect you from a host of health problems.

Bottom line is that if you drink red wine, 1-2 glasses (5 ounces) a day for men and one glass for women is probably okay.  As usual, pregnant women should avoid wine as should those with current health issues.

coffee

Coffee

One day it’s bad for you, another day it’s the best thing since sliced bread.  We all know that too much can be problematic causing sleeplessness, anxiety and restlessness in some people.  But the good news is that there is no link between coffee consumption and cancer or other diseases.

There are a few exceptions, though.  Those with a genetic mutation that alters how coffee is metabolized (too quickly), pregnant women or those who have trouble controlling their blood sugar or pressure should avoid coffee.  And it’s best to drink filtered coffee since the filter removes some of the elements in coffee that can increase bad cholesterol.

But age is turning out to be a factor in how much you should drink.  If you’re under 55, it’s best to keep it to no more than 2 cups (8 ounces each) a day.  Older individuals, however, can bump it up to as many as 6 cups without a problem.  More research needs to be done, but coffee consumption after age 55 has been shown to keep many conditions- Type 2 diabetes, Parkinsons, liver cancer, to name a few – at bay.  If this holds, that will be one more benefits of getting older!
All images from http://commons.wikimedia.org/

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by on December 19th, 2013