Ageing and Vitamins

I have been reading ‘The Complete ‘Ask Dr. Weil’’ published in 2002. He answers a lot of the questions we ask about health (hence the title!) and here are some of the vitamins he refers to.

‘B-12’ helps regenerate red blood cells and has been linked to protection against heart disease and memory loss. It is believed to revive people who have been partying with alcohol and to revitalise women during menstruation. Amounts higher than 6 micrograms daily can be harmful. You can get B-12 from eating such things as liver, pork, milk and eggs; Vegans, therefore, may be at risk of deficiency.

‘C’ we get from fruit and vegetables and need more of it when exposed to toxins, infection or chronic illness. It is thought that vitamin C strengthens blood vessels and connective tissue with a lower risk of a heart attack and the alleviation of asthma. There are arguments about how much to take and in what form. Weil says keep off chewable tablets which are packed with sugar.

‘D’ isn’t mentioned in this particular book, but it increases calcium absorption by as much as 30 to 80 percent. The Osteoporosis Society of Canada recommends that adults over 50 should receive 800 IUs. Foods such as margarine, eggs, chicken liver, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel and fish oils all contain small amounts. Most multi-vitamins provide 400 IUs of vitamin D3.

‘E’ , like vitamin C, is an antioxidant and together the two can block chemical reactions that create free radicals, which can damage DNA and promote a variety of degenerative changes in cells. Selenium is a trace mineral with antioxidant and anti- cancer properties. Taken with vitamin E they facilitate each other’s absorption.

Whilst Dr. Weil says that it’s better to take your ‘vitamin cocktail’ in stages throughout the day, he is not opposed to taking your daily requirement all at once in one capsule, pill, or tablet, preferably after the biggest meal of the day.

I have seen plenty of warnings about overdosing on vitamins, so we need to make our own decisions based on information and medical advice. A regular dose of multi-vitamins and minerals is a good idea for older people, taken at regular times and with fruit juice or water, not coffee or tea as they can hinder absorption. But go carefully.