Vitamin Self-Help Advice

Written by Rita Kennen

Success with your health through vitamins and minerals.

Walk into any drug or grocery, and you'll find the shelves overflowing with supplements for ailments, A-Z. If you've wondered what exotic nutrients like shark cartilage might do for your health, ask a nutrition expert like Kathie Swift. That's what we did.

Success Television: How essential is it to take vitamins every day?

Nutrition Bars
Vitamin supplements may be very important to your health.
Folic acid prevents birth defects; it may also be important in preventing heart disease.
Symptoms of depression, muscle aches and anxiety may actually be caused by an insufficient amount of magnesium in your diet. 
Kathie Swift: I believe vitamin and mineral supplementation may be VERY IMPORTANT for certain individuals. As an example, we know that folic acid prevents birth defects, but it also has a new role in the aging process along with its B-complex relatives, B6 and B12, in keeping a damaging substance called homocysteine in check. (Editor's note: High homocysteine levels are believed to be implicated in heart disease.)

Magnesium is one of my favorite minerals as it participates in hundreds of biochemical reactions, including neurotransmitter and neuromuscular function. That means that depression, muscle aching and anxiety may actually be magnesium deficiency in disguise.

I could go on and on with respect to this question, but will stress simply that since I took an amazing vitamins and minerals course in graduate school almost 20 years ago, I have felt that medicine should elevate the lowly rank of vitamins and minerals in health and disease assessment.

We are finally getting there as better tools in the nutrition assessment trade become available to us allowing us to look through a new lens for optimal health and longevity. But we do need to get smarter about supplementation at many different levels.

Kathie Swift R.D. M.A. is Nutrition Director at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires, a health resort in Lenox, MA.

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