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Vitamins are organic substances your body needs to function properly. They help process other nutrients, and help form red blood cells, hormones, genetic material and chemicals in your nervous system. We need very small amounts of vitamins - about 1/8 teaspoon a day.

The recommended amounts (the USRDA) are included with each vitamin description. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body; too much can be toxic. These include Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Excess of the water-soluble vitamins are eliminated by the body naturally.

These include Vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, B12, C, Folic Acid (folacin), Pantothenic Acid and Biotin. Other B vitamins include choline, inositol and PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid).

If you do not eat well-balanced meals and a variety of foods, a vitamin supplement may be useful. It should provide the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) defined by the government. (Because of the hazards of vitamin poisoning, megadoses of vitamins should be supervised by your doctor.)

The RDAs are estimates of vitamins needed to meet the nutritional needs of most healthy people. The standards are set by the Food and Nutrition Board-National Research Council of the US Government. Cooking can affect the vitamins found naturally in foods. Cook vegetables quickly in as little water as possible; roast or broil meats; use cooking liquid in sauces and soups.

"Fortified" and "enriched" foods are better for you than non-fortified and non-enriched foods. Fortified milk products have added Vitamins A and D which are lost when fat is removed. Enriched grain products have added wheat germ and nutrients lost during processing.


Oxygen, as we know it, is the essence of life. However, while it fuels life, it can also generate free radicals, which can bring harm such as promoting ageing and cancer. Antioxidants are a broad range of substances that protects us from the harmful effects of oxygen. Many of these substances are present in the diet as vitamins. The best known antioxidants are vitamin A, C and E.

A good way to get antioxidant vitamins into our body system is through healthy eating habits. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fibres and other nutrients including antioxidants. A good start to optimal health is to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (you can think of a serving as about a fistful).

Individuals whose diets are rich in fruits and vegetables may have a reduced risk of cancer compared with those who eat a higher proportion of high-fat and processed foods. However, in medical studies that examined the association between antioxidant intake and the risk of cancer in selected groups of people such as smokers, a major surprise has been that antioxidant supplementation appears to be not useful or even harmful.


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