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Archive for the ‘Vitamins and Minerals’ Category

Folic acid

What is it?

Folate and folic acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate occurs naturally in food, and folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin. Since 1998, folic acid has been added to cold cereals, flour, breads, pasta, bakery items, cookies, and crackers, as required by federal law. Foods that are naturally high in folate include leafy vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce), okra, asparagus, fruits (such as bananas, melons, and lemons) beans, yeast, mushrooms, meat (such as beef liver and kidney), orange juice, and tomato juice.

Folic acid is used for preventing and treating low blood levels of folate (folate deficiency), as well as its complications, including “tired blood” (anemia) and the inability of the bowel to absorb nutrients properly. Folic acid is also used for other conditions commonly associated with folate deficiency, including ulcerative colitis, liver disease, alcoholism, and kidney dialysis.

Women who are pregnant or might become pregnant take folic acid to prevent miscarriage and “neural tube defects,” birth defects such as spina bifida that occur when the fetus’s spine and back do not close during development.

Some people use folic acid to prevent colon cancer or cervical cancer. It is also used to prevent heart disease and stroke, as well as to reduce blood levels of a chemical called homocysteine. High homocysteine levels might be a risk for heart disease.

Folic acid is used for memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related hearing loss, preventing the eye disease age-related macular degeneration (AMD), reducing signs of aging, weak bones (osteoporosis), jumpy legs (restless leg syndrome), sleep problems, depression, nerve pain, muscle pain, AIDS, a skin disease called vitiligo, and an inherited disease called Fragile-X syndrome. It is also used for reducing harmful side effects of treatment with the medications lometrexol and methotrexate.

Some people apply folic acid directly to the gum for treating gum infections.

Folic acid is often used in combination with other B vitamins.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for FOLIC ACID are as follows:

Effective for…

  • Folate deficiency. Taking folic acid improves folate deficiency.

Likely effective for…

  • Kidney disease. About 85% of people with serious kidney disease have high levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine have been linked to heart disease and stroke. Taking folic acid lowers homocysteine levels in people with serious kidney disease. However, folic acid supplementation does not appear to reduce the risk of heart disease-related events.
  • High amounts of homocysteine in the blood (hyperhomocysteinemia). High levels of homocysteine have been linked to heart disease and stroke. Taking folic acid lowers homocysteine levels by 20% to 30% in people with normal to slightly elevated homocysteine levels. It is recommended that people with homocysteine levels greater than 11 micromoles/L supplement with folic acid and vitamin B12.
  • Reducing harmful effects of a medicine called methotrexate. Taking folic acid seems to reduce nausea and vomiting, which are possible side effects of methotrexate treatment.
  • Birth defects (neural tube defects). Consuming high amounts of folate in the diet and taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects.

Possibly effective for…

  • Age-related vision loss (age-related macular degeneration). Some research shows that taking folic acid with other vitamins including vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 reduces the risk of developing age-related vision loss.
  • Depression. Limited research suggests that taking folic acid along with antidepressants seems to improve symptoms in people with depression.
  • High blood pressure. Research suggests that taking folic acid daily for at least 6 weeks reduces blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, taking folic acid with blood pressure medication does not seem to lower blood pressure any more than taking just the medication alone.
  • Gum problems due to a drug called phenytoin. Applying folic acid to the gums seems to prevent gum problems caused by phenytoin. However, taking folic acid by mouth does not seem to improve symptoms of this condition.
  • Gum disease during pregnancy. Applying folic acid to the gums seems to improve gum disease during pregnancy.
  • A skin discoloration disorder called vitiligo. Taking folic acid by mouth seems to improve symptoms of vitiligo.

Possibly ineffective for…

  • Cancer of the white blood cells (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). Taking folate during pregnancy does not reduce the risk of childhood cancer of the white blood cells.
  • Breast cancer. Consuming folate in the diet might lower the risk of developing breast cancer in women who also eat high amounts of methionine, vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), or vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), but research is not consistent. Other research suggests that taking folic acid supplements alone does not lower the risk of breast cancer.
  • Heart disease. Research suggests that taking folic acid alone or with vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B12 does not reduce the risk of death or heart disease-related events in people with heart disease.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome. Daily injections of folic acid appear to have no effect on symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Toxicity from the drug lometrexol. Daily injections of folic acid appear to have no effect on symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Prostate cancer.Folic acid levels in the blood do not seem to be linked with the risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • Stroke. Research suggests that people with high folate intake from the diet have a lower risk of stroke due to blood vessel ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke). However, folic acid does not seem to reduce the risk of stroke due to blood clots (ischemic stroke).

Likely ineffective for…

  • Inherited disease called Fragile-X syndrome.Taking folic acid by mouth does not improve symptoms of fragile-X-syndrome.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Alzheimer’s disease. Limited evidence suggests that elderly people who consume more folic acid than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) appear to have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than people who consume less folic acid.
  • Preventing re-blockage of blood vessels after angioplasty. There is inconsistent evidence on the benefits of taking folic acid after a procedure to widen the blood vessels. Taking folic acid plus vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 might actually interfere with healing in cases where a device (stent) is inserted in the blood vessel to keep it open.
  • Bipolar disorder. Taking folic acid does not appear to improve the antidepressant effects of lithium in people with bipolar disorder. However, taking folate with the medication valproate improves the effects of valproate.
  • Cervical cancer. There is some evidence that increasing folic acid intake from dietary and supplement sources, along with thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin B12, might help to prevent cervical cancer.
  • Memory and thinking skills in older people. There is conflicting evidence about the role of folic acid in age-related decline in memory and thinking skills. Some research shows that taking folic acid might improve mental function in older people. However, other research suggests no benefit.
  • Colorectal cancer. Some research suggests that taking folic acid by mouth as a supplement or in the diet lowers the risk for developing colorectal cancer. However, contradictory evidence exists.
  • Diabetes. Taking folic acid supplements does not seem to benefit people with diabetes.
  • Epilepsy. Taking folic acid does not reduce seizures in people with epilepsy.
  • Esophageal cancer. Research suggests that consuming more folate in the diet lowers the risk for developing esophageal cancer.
  • High amounts of homocysteine in the blood caused by the drug fenofibrate. Taking folic acid every other day might lower levels of homocysteine in the blood caused by the drug fenofibrate.
  • Stomach cancer. Research suggests that taking folic acid reduces the risk of developing some types of stomach cancer.
  • Gout. Early research suggests that folate might reduce the risk of gout.
  • Hearing loss. Low levels of folate in the blood seem to be related to the risk for sudden hearing loss in adults. Some evidence suggests that taking folic acid daily for 3 years slows the decline of hearing loss in older people who have low folate levels. It is not clear if folic acid supplementation reduces hearing loss in people with normal folate levels.
  • Male infertility. Some research suggests that taking folic acid plus zinc sulfate daily can increase sperm count in men with low sperm counts.
  • Lung cancer. There does not appear to be a relationship between low levels of folic acid and lung cancer in most people.
  • Helping medicines used for chest pain work longer. Some evidence suggests that taking folic acid does not help medications for chest pain (nitrates) work longer.
  • Cleft lip. Some research suggests that taking folic acid during pregnancy lowers the risk of left lip. However, other research shows no effect.
  • Pancreatic cancer. Eating more than 280 mcg of folate in the diet daily is linked to a lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer. However, other research suggests that folate intake is not linked to pancreatic cancer risk.
  • Restless leg syndrome. Taking folic acid seems to reduce symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Researchers are studying whether folic acid deficiency causes restless leg syndrome.
  • Sickle-cell disease. Taking folic acid might lower homocysteine levels. However, it is not known if this will benefit people with sickle-cell disease.
  • Cancer due to a disease called ulcerative colitis. Early research suggests that taking folic acid might prevent cancer in people with ulcerative colitis.
  • Liver disease.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Weak bones (osteoporosis).
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate folic acid for these uses.

How does it work?

Folic acid is needed for the proper development of the human body. It is involved in producing the genetic material called DNA and in numerous other bodily functions.

Are there safety concerns?

Folic acid is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth or injected into the body. Most adults do not experience any side effects when used in doses less than 1000 mcg daily.

Folic acid is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large doses, long-term. High doses of folic acid might cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, rash, sleep disorders, irritability, confusion, nausea, stomach upset, behavior changes, skin reactions, seizures, gas, excitability, and other side effects.

There is some concern that taking too much folic acid for a long period of time might cause serious side effects. Some research suggests that taking folic acid in doses of 800-1200 mcg might increase the risk of heart attack in people who have heart problems. Other research suggests that taking these high doses might also increase the risk of cancer such as lung or prostate cancer.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Folic acid is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately during pregnancy and breast-feeing. Taking 300-400 mcg of folic acid daily is commonly used during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.

Procedures to widen narrowed arteries (angioplasty): Using folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 intravenously (by IV) or by mouth might worsen narrowed arteries. Folic acid should not be used by people recovering from this procedure.

Cancer: Early research suggests that taking 800-1000 mcg of folic acid daily might increase the risk of cancer. Until more is known, people with a history of cancer should avoid high doses of folic acid.

Heart disease: Early research suggests that taking folic acid plus vitamin B6 might increase the risk for heart attack in people with a history of heart disease.

Anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency: Taking folic acid might mask anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency and delay appropriate treatment.

Seizure disorder: Taking folic acid supplements might make seizures worse in people with seizure disorders, particularly in high doses.

Are there interactions with medications?

Be cautious with this combination.
There is some concern that taking large amounts of folic acid with 5-fluorouracil might increase some side effects of 5-fluorouracil, especially stomach problems. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking folic acid.
Capecitabine (Xeloda)
There is some concern that taking large amounts of folic acid might increase the side effects of capecitabine, especially stomach problems like diarrhea and vomiting. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking folic acid.
Fosphenytoin (Cerebyx)
Fosphenytoin (Cerebyx) is used for seizures. The body breaks down fosphenytoin (Cerebyx) to get rid of it. Folic acid can increase how quickly the body breaks down fosphenytoin (Cerebyx). Taking folic acid along with fosphenytoin (Cerebyx) might decrease the effectiveness of fosphenytoin (Cerebyx) for preventing seizures.
Methotrexate (MTX, Rheumatrex)
Methotrexate (MTX, Rheumatrex) works by decreasing the effects of folic acid in the body’s cells. Taking folic acid pills along with methotrexate might decrease the effectiveness of methotrexate (MTX, Rheumatrex).
Phenobarbital (Luminal)
Phenobarbital (Luminal) is used for seizures. Taking folic acid can decrease how well phenobarbital (Luminal) works for preventing seizures.
Phenytoin (Dilantin)
The body breaks down phenytoin (Dilantin) to get rid of it. Folic acid might increase how quickly the body breaks down phenytoin (Dilantin). Taking folic acid and taking phenytoin (Dilantin) might decrease the effectiveness of phenytoin (Dilantin) and increase the possibility of seizures.
Primidone (Mysoline)
Primidone (Mysoline) is used for seizures. Folic acid might cause seizures in some people. Taking folic acid along with primidone (Mysoline) might decrease how well primidone works for preventing seizures.
Pyrimethamine (Daraprim)
Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) is used to treat parasite infections. Folic acid might decrease the effectiveness of pyrimethamine (Daraprim) for treating parasite infections.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Green tea
There is some concern that green tea might keep folic acid from working the way it should in the body. This might lead to a condition that is similar to folic acid deficiency.

Are there interactions with foods?

Taking folic acid with food reduces its absorption slightly, but probably not enough to be important.
Researchers don’t agree on whether or not folic acid interferes with zinc absorption. But for people who get enough zinc in their diet, the effect of folic acid probably isn’t important.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For folic acid deficiency: the typical dose is 250-1000 mcg (micrograms) per day.
  • For preventing neural tube defects: at least 400 mcg of folic acid per day from supplements or fortified food should be taken by women capable of becoming pregnant and continued through the first month of pregnancy. Women with a history of previous pregnancy complicated by such neural tube defects usually take 4 mg per day beginning one month before and continuing for three months after conception.
  • For reducing colon cancer risk: 400 mcg per day.
  • For treating high levels of homocysteine in the blood:
    • 0.5-5 mg (milligrams)/day has been used, although 0.8-1 mg/day is appears to be more effective.
    • In people with end-stage renal disease, high homocysteine levels may be more difficult to treat, and doses of 0.8-15 mg/day have been used. Other dosage plans such as 2.5-5 mg 3 times weekly have also been used. Doses higher than 15 mg daily do not seem to be more effective.
  • For improving the response to medications for depression: 200-500 mcg daily has been used.
  • For vitiligo: 5 mg is typically taken twice daily.
  • For reduction of toxicity associated with methotrexate therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or psoriasis: 1 mg/day is probably enough, but up to 5 mg/day may be used.
  • For preventing macular degeneration: folic acid 2.5 mg, vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) 1000 mcg, and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 50 mg daily.

The adequate intakes (AI) for infants are 65 mcg for infants 0-6 months and 80 mcg for infants 7-12 months of age. The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for folate in DFE, including both food folate and folic acid from fortified foods and supplements are: Children 1-3 years, 150 mcg; Children 4-8 years, 200 mcg; Children 9-13 years, 300 mcg; Adults over 13 years, 400 mcg; Pregnant women 600 mcg; and breast-feeding women, 500 mcg. The tolerable upper intake levels (UL) of folate are 300 mcg for children 1-3 years of age, 400 mcg for children 4-8 years, 600 mcg for children 9-13 years, 800 mcg for adolescents 14-18 years, and 1000 mcg for everyone over 18 years of age.

Other names

5′-methyltetrahydrofolate, 5′-MTHF, Acide Folique, Acide Ptéroylglutamique, Acide Ptéroylmonoglutamique, Acido Folico, B Complex Vitamin, Complexe de Vitamines B, Complexe Vitaminique B, Dihydrofolate, Folacin, Folacine, Folate, Folinic Acid, L-methylfolate, Methylfolate, Méthylfolate, Pteroylglutamic Acid, Pteroylmonoglutamic Acid, Pteroylpolyglutamate, Tetrahydrofolate, Tétrahydrofolate, Vitamin B9, Vitamine B9.


To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.



  • Marti-Carvajal, A. J., Sola, I., Lathyris, D., Karakitsiou, D. E., and Simancas-Racines, D. Homocysteine-lowering interventions for preventing cardiovascular events. Cochrane.Database.Syst.Rev. 2013;1:CD006612. View abstract.
  • Palmieri Y. Reduction of the incidence of metachronous adenomas of the large bowel by means of antioxidants. Brussels: Se-Te Press. 1998;
  • Burn J, Chapman PD, Bishop DT, Dixon R, Turner F, and Coaker J. Results of the CAPP1 Study: aspirin and resistant starch are beneficial in familial adenomatous polyposis. Am J Hum Genet 2003;73
  • Zhu S, Mason J, and Shi Y. The interventional effect of folic acid on the development of gastric and other gastrointestinal cancers – Clinical trial and follow- up for seven years. Chinese Journal of Gastroenterology 2002;7:73-78.
  • Cole B, Baron J, and Sandler R. A randomized trial of folic acid to prevent colorectal adenomas. Proc Am Assoc Cancer Res Annu Meet 2005;46:4399.
  • Vitamin D Could Lower Risk Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

    D Drops Vitamin D

    Diabetes symbol

    Research scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München in Germany have shown that people with the proper supply of vitamin D are at lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus. The study, which was conducted in cooperation with the German Diabetes Center and the University of Ulm. The report was published in the scientific journalDiabetes Care.


    The researchers collaborated with scientists from the department of Medicine/Cardiology at the University of Ulm and German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf.


    New tests performed on participants of the KORA study have shown that people with a proper supply of vitamin D have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus, while individuals with lower concentrations of vitamin D in their blood have a higher risk. This effect could be attributable to the anti-inflammatory effect of vitamin D.


    The result of the study could have direct consequences for the prevention of this common disease.


    “Vitamin D deficiency is relatively widespread due to our modern way of life and the geographical latitude of Germany. In the winter months, in particular, people often do not receive adequate supplies of the vitamin because of the lack of sunlight,” explained researchers from the Institute for Epidemiology II at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

    “If follow-up studies confirm our results, a targeted improvement in the supply of vitamin D to the general public could at the same time reduce the risk of developing diabetes.” The human body can produce vitamin D itself if it has sufficient exposure to sunlight. The UVB radiation in natural daylight splits the precursor of vitamin D, 7-dehydrocholesterol, in the skin and forms provitamin D3. Further vitamin D synthesis occurs in the liver and kidneys.


    The supply can be improved by eating certain foods, such as vegetables, fruits, olive oil, omega 3-richfish, eggs and milk

    Diabetes Dietary Foodsproducts and by taking vitamin D supplements.
    Over six million people in Germany suffer from Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and the number of undiagnosed cases could be equally high or more. Unfortunately, there has been no cure for this common disease. Type 2 diabetes is a disorder of glucose metabolism. It is characterized by a loss of insulin action and a drop in the levels of the hormone produced by the body.


    The mechanisms that trigger the disease have not yet been fully clarified. However, it is known that diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. The objective of the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to understand the mechanisms
    that cause common diseases and to develop new approaches with regard to their diagnosis, therapy and prevention.


    Story Source: Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen – German Research Centre for EnvironmentalHealth.


    Journal Reference: Effect of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D on Risk for Type 2 Diabetes MayBe Partially Mediated by Subclinical Inflammation: Results from the MONICA/KORA
    Augsburg study. Diabetes Care, 2011;


    Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen – German Research Centre for Environmental Health (2011, October 4). Vitamin D could lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, study suggest.

    This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice,diagnosis or treatment. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional for medical and nutritional consultation.

    Vitamin Therapy Can Reduce Stroke, Researchers Report In AMA Journal

    J C Herbal ProductsA commentary by University of Western Ontario’s David Spence and Harvard School of Public Health’s Dr. Meir Stampfer in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association argues vitamin therapy has an important role to play in reducing stroke.

    Vitamin B therapy is widely used to lower homocysteine levels and too much of this amino acid in the bloodstream was linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack. Intake of B vitamins results in a protective cardiovascular benefit.

    A study by Spence, a scientist with the Robarts Research Institute at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, found Vitamin B therapy actually increased cardiovascular risk in patients with diabetic nephropathy.

    He says this commentary provides insights that overturn the widespread belief that homocysteine is dead. He says two key issues have been overlooked in the interpretation of several clinical trials: the key role of vitamin B12, and the newly recognized role of renal failure.

    “It is now clear that the large trials showing no benefit of vitamin therapy obscured the benefit of vitamin therapy because they lumped together patients with renal failure and those with good renal function, says Spence, the author of How to Prevent Your Stroke.

    “The vitamins are harmful in renal failure, and beneficial in patients with good renal function, and they cancel each other out.”

    The commentary also contends most of the trials did not use a high enough dose of vitamin B12.

    Story Source:
    University of Western Ontario.

    Journal Reference:
    Understanding the Complexity of Homocysteine Lowering
    With Vitamins: The Potential

    Role of Subgroup Analyses. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011;

    This article is for informational and educational purposes only;
    It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

    Low Levels of Vitamin C Increase Risk For Heart Failure Patients

    Important New Research From University of Ulsan In Korea Reported.

    The American Heart Association, National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Nursing Research funded the study.

    Low levels of vitamin C were associated with higher levels of high sensitivity C – Reactive protein (hsCRP) and shorter intervals without major cardiac issues or death for heart failure patients,
    in research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2011.

    Compared to those with high vitamin C intake, heart failure patients in the study who had low vitamin C intake were 2.4 times more likely to have higher levels of hsCRP, a marker for inflammation and a risk factor for heart disease.

    The study demonstrates that low vitamin C intake is associated with worse outcomes for heart failure patients.

    Study participants with low vitamin C intake and hsCRP over 3 milligrams per liter (mg/L) were also nearly twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease within one year of follow-up.

    “We found that adequate intake of vitamin C was associated with longer survival in patients with heart failure,” said researchers from Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, in the University of Ulsan in Korea.

    The average age among the 212 patients in the study was 61, two thirds were men and about one-third were women. Approximately 45 percent of the participants had moderate to severe heart failure.

    Participants completed a four-day food diary verified by a registered dietitian and a software program calculated their vitamin C intake. Bloods tests measured hsCRP.

    Researchers divided participants into one group with levels over 3 mg/L of hsCRP and another with lower levels. Patients were followed for one year to determine the length of time to their first visit to the emergency department due to cardiac problems or death.

    Researchers found that 82 patients (39 %) had inadequate vitamin C intake, according to criteria set by the Institute of Medicine. These criteria allowed the researchers to estimate the likelihood that the patient’s diet was habitually deficient in vitamin C based on a four day food diary.

    After a year follow-up, 61 patients (29 percent) had cardiac events, which included an emergency department visit or hospitalization due to cardiac problems, or cardiac death.

    The researchers found that 98 patients (46 percent) had hsCRP over 3 mg/L. Inflammatory pathways in heart failure patients may be why vitamin C deficiency contributed to poor health outcomes, the data suggests.

    “Increased levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein means a worsening of heart failure,” the researchers explained. “An adequate level of vitamin C is associated with lower levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. This results in a longer cardiac event-free survival in patients.”

    The use of diuretics may also play a role because vitamin C is water soluble and diuretics increase the amount of water excreted from the kidneys, explained researchers also participating in the study and co-authors from College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.

    Vitamin C Rich Foods
    “Diet is the best source of vitamin C,” the researchers said. “Eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day provides adequate amount.” More randomized controlled trials and studies are needed to determine the impact of other micro-nutrients on survival or re-hospitalization, they said.

    The American Heart Association,  the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Nursing Research funded the study.

    Story Source: American Heart Association.

    American Heart Association (2011, November 13).
    “Low vitamin C levels may raise heart failure patients’ risk.”

    This article is for informational and educational purposes only;
    It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact your doctor or healthcare professional for medical and nutritional consultation.

    Higher Folate Intake Can Reduce Hearing Loss Risk In Men

    Increased Folate (Folic Acid) intake can decrease a man’s risk of hearing loss by 20 percent, according to new research presented at the 2009 American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, in San Diego, CA.

    The study, which identified 3,559 cases of men with hearing loss, found that men over the age of 60 who have a high intake of foods and supplement high in Folate have a 20 percent decrease in risk of developing hearing loss.

    Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in the United States,affecting more than 36 million people. High Folate foods include leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, lettuces, dried or fresh beans and peas, fortified cereal products, sunflower seeds and certain other fruits and vegetables are rich sources of folate. Brewer’s yeast, baker’s yeast, liver and liver products also contain high amounts of Folate.

    The authors believe this is the largest study to focus on the relationship between dietary intake and hearing loss. They used the most recent figures from the “Health Professionals Follow-up Study” cohort from years 1986 to 2004, a group consisting of 51,529 male health professionals. They were first enrolled into this study in 1986 and filled out detailed health and diet questionnaires every other year. The authors believe their findings can allow greater education, prevention, and screening efforts.

    This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

    High Blood Levels of Vitamin E Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease,

    High levels of several vitamin E components in the blood are associated with a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in advanced age, suggesting that vitamin E may help prevent cognitive deterioration in elderly people. This is the conclusion reached in a Swedish study published in the July 2010 issue of the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease”.

    “Vitamin E is a family of eight natural components, but most studies related to Alzheimer’s disease investigate only one of these components, tocopherol,” explained the research team. “We hypothesized that all the vitamin E family members could be important in protecting against Alzheimer’s Disease. If confirmed, this result has implications for both individuals and society, as 70 percent of all dementia cases in the general population occur in people over 75 years of age, and the study suggests a protective effect of vitamin E against Alzheimer’s Disease in individuals aged 80 and over.”

    The study was conducted at the Aging Research Center (ARC), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, in collaboration with the Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, University of Perugia, Italy. The study included a sample of 232 participants from the Kungsholmen Project, a population-based longitudinal study on aging and dementia in Stockholm (Kungsholmen parish). All participants were aged 80+ years and were dementia-free at the beginning of the study (baseline). After 6-years of follow-up, 57 Alzheimer’s Disease cases were identified.

    The blood levels of all eight natural vitamin E components were measured at the beginning of the study. Subjects with higher blood levels (highest tertile) were compared with subjects who had lower blood levels (lowest tertile) to verify whether these two groups developed dementia at different rates. The study found that subjects with higher blood levels of all the vitamin E complex forms had a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease, compared to subjects with lower levels. After adjusting for various confounders, the risk was reduced by 45- 54%, depending on the vitamin E component.

    The researchers note that the protective effect of vitamin E seems to be related to the combination of the different forms. Another recent study indicated that supplements containing high doses of the E vitamin form �- tocopherol may increase mortality, emphasizing that such dietary supplements, if not used in a balanced way, may be more harmful than previously thought.

    “Elderly people as a group are large consumers of vitamin E supplements, which usually contain only �- tocopherol, and this often at high doses,” said the researchers. “Our findings need to be confirmed by other studies, but they open up for the possibility that the balanced presence of different vitamin E forms can have an important neuroprotective effect.”

    Story Source: Karolinska Institutet. Journal Reference: High plasma levels of vitamin E forms and reduced Alzheimer’s disease risk in advanced age. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2010;

    This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

    Poison Control Center: Wide Margin Of Safety Confirmed For Supplement​s

    Poison Control Centers’ New Data Implies Supplements are SafeMulti-Vitamin Alive

    New data has been released regarding the 28th Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

    The report, which is a collection of data from 2010 that was reported through the Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS), shows that there is a “wide margin of safety for dietary supplements.”

    The study from the National Institute of Health, Office of Dietary supplements with  approx 20,000 participants showed that about 50 percent of Americans use supplements, and about 20 percent of the participating adults are taking a health supplement with at least one botanical.

    The results of the study were published in the Journal of Nutrition.

    The Poison Control Center has kept detailed records and statistics on the reports of poisonings for every kind of substance, which includes dietary supplements.

    In 2007, the Poison Control Center reported no deaths associated with multiple vitamins, B vitamins or from vitamins A, C, D or E. It also reported that there were no deaths from any of these vitamin supplements or any other vitamin in 2010.

    “The results from the 28th Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, is a welcomed response to some of the negative press on supplements recently,” industry leaders said. “This news is both positive and reassuring of our efforts to help people become healthier.” and added “Although this report shows the overall safety of the dietary supplement industry as a whole, it is very important to try to take these results in context.”

    For more information, visit


    This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.

    Your Questions About Vitamins & Nutritiona​l Supplement​s Answered

    More than 50% of Americans take dietary supplements, yet many people are not sure which ones to take, how much to take or  when to take them. Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions about vitamins and supplements.

    What time of day should I take vitamins and other nutritional supplements?

    Most dietary supplements including your daily multiple vitamin, vitamins A,B Complex, C and D or Omega 3 fish oilcapsules can be consumed  any time of day,

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    preferably with your largest meal of the day. Most people prefer to take them with their breakfast or lunch. It’s important to remember that it’s better to take your supplements with food in order to help with proper digestion, absorption and optimum utilization.

    However, not all supplements should be taken with food and best utilized when on an empty stomach before a meal. That’s why it’s essential to read the label directions.

    As an example, plant sterols and stanols as found in products like Super Sterol Protein Complex and Cholesto-Plex should are best taken before mealtimes. If you are taking plant sterol supplements to help promote healthy cholesterol levels, try to  take them 15-30 minutes before a meal for optimal effectiveness.

    How do I decide which vitamin and nutritional supplements are best for me?

    Determining which supplements you should take begins with properly understanding your diet. If specific nutrients are missing from your regular diet, it’s best to consult a nutritional healthcare practitioner or talk to your primary health care provider. To help assure fulfillment of nutrient “gaps” many people choose a comprehensive daily multivitamin & mineral supplement. It’s the most convenient and effective way to assure optimal vitamin and mineral levels.

    If you are looking for the most appropriate formulation for you, be sure to identify one that is formulated to meet your specific age-related, personal fitness level and basic gender needs. For example, iron requirements for women over age of 50 are typically 8 mg per day while the needs for women under 50 are 18 mg per day. Multivitamins for women over the age of 50 should contain little to no iron because 8 mg per day can usually be acquired through the regular diet.

    A multivitamin for men over the age of 50 should not contain iron and may often include other ingredients that may not typically be included in a woman’s multiple vitamin such as Lycopene, L-Carnitine, L-Histidine, Saw Palmetto, etc.

    Conversely, a good woman’s multi-vitamin supplement may contain ingredients not included in a man’s formula such as: Herbal Black Cohosh, Gamma Linoleic Acid, Calcium, Iron, etc.

    While a multivitamin is ideal for supplementing basic vitamins and minerals, some people need more than one single multi-combination formula. For example, many people today are advised to take extra vitamin C, calcium and vitamin D. Some people cannot tolerate milk or milk products,  the most potent sources of calcium, and many people do not maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D. Although a multivitamin provides these nutrients, it may not supply enough of each to keep your levels adequate.

    In addition, a multivitamin is often formulated with a combination of vitamins and minerals only, not other key nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, protein, amino acids or coenzyme Q10.

    If you don’t consume at least two to three servings of fatty fish (i.e. salmon, anchovies, sardines) each week then you should consider taking a daily fish oil supplement. If you take a statin drug to lower your cholesterol levels, you may be at risk of low blood levels of coenzyme Q10, and otherbeneficial antioxidant nutrients that protect your heart. Thus, if you’ve been prescribed statin drug, taking a coenzyme Q10 supplement could be very valuable.

    Again, be sure to talk to a nutritional healthcare practioner or your primary physician when deciding on a safe and effective nutritional supplement program.

    Can you take too much?

    Many supplements can be safely taken in amounts greater than the Recommended Daily Value (DV) or Recommended Daily allowance (RDA). The percent daily value (%DV) displayed on the label denotes what percent of the recommended intake amount for a specific nutrient is met per serving.

    Numerous studies have shown that taking certain nutrients in amounts greater than 100% DV may have valuable health benefits. For example… Consuming higher levels of Vitamin C, Beta Carotene and Vitamin E may promote stronger immune function and help protect the body against free radical damage.

    When taking supplements including herbs, vitamins, minerals etc. it is important to follow the suggested use, dosage and to consider which is the highest amount that can be safely consumed. Before taking any vitamin or supplement, be sure to carefully review the precautions and instructions  on the product’s label.

    Can I take supplements with my prescription medications?

    Be sure to inform your doctor or healthcare practitioner about all the dietary supplements you take, even if you take them occasionally. This is especially important because some dietary supplements may interfere with prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, perhaps causing those prescriptions and OTCs to be less effective.

    Conversely, some medications cause certain nutrients levels to drop and so taking supplements can help support your nutrient status and overall health when taking such drugs. Statin drugs, for example, have been known to lower blood levels of the antioxidant nutrient coenzyme Q10. To that end, individuals taking statin drugs are often advised to supplement with coenzyme Q10.

    It’s important to let your doctor know the dosage and the frequency of use for all the supplements you are taking.   Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about potential nutrient depletions that may occur with your medication(s) so you can be sure to  restore those key nutrient levels with proper supplementation.

    Can I take supplements after the expiration date?

    When a vitamin nutritional supplement expires, it is not necessarily harmful to consume. Expiration dates on most dietary supplements are actually “best if used by” guidelines.

    However, the active ingredients may no longer be up to the potency specified on the label. If in doubt about an expired product, you may want  to discard that product and purchase a fresh, new batch.

    Can I cut vitamin and nutritional supplement tablets into smaller pieces if I can’t swallow them whole?

    Most supplements may be cut in half, milled into powder or chewed if swallowing is a problem.

    Softgels (soft gelatin capsules) that are too large for you to comfortably swallow may be punctured or cut in half to empty the contents into a spoon or food.

    Two-piece hard shell gelatin capsules may be opened easily to release the contents into food or a beverage.

    Be advised, the only products not recommended to cut into smaller pieces are those that are timed-release or enteric coated. Such supplements should be swallowed whole to assure the best performance.

    Where is the best place to store vitamins and nutritional supplements?

    Storage directions are commonly explained on a vitamin label. Most often, storing the bottles in a cool, dry place with the cap tightly sealed is recommended. Certain formulations may require special storage conditions such as refrigeration.

    Always keep these products out of reach of children and pets.

    This article is for informational and educational purposes only; It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or healthcare professional.


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