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Vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins and Minerals

Q: Should I keep my vitamins in the refrigerator?

A: Vitamins should be stored according to directions on the bottle. As a general rule, vitamin tablets do not require refrigeration and indeed may suffer from excessive moisture. Liquid vitamin preparations are an exception to this rule, and require refrigeration, especially after opening.

The caps of bottles should be properly replaced after use. Should a desiccant packet (a drying agent) be included in the vitamin bottle, this item should be kept in the bottle until all the tablets have been used.

In regard to powdered vitamins (e.g. Vitamin C) it is especially important not to use a wet spoon when removing a dose.

Proper storage of nutritional supplements aids in obtaining the maximum benefit of these products.

Q: When is the best time to take vitamins?

A: If prescribed by a physician or nutritionist, one should be guided by the directions of the prescriber. Where no such instructions exist, labels should indicate the proper dose and method of taking vitamins.

The following additional factors should be considered:

Most nutritional supplements are best taken after a meal, when they can be absorbed along with the food. Remember that vitamins and minerals are essentially concentrated aspects of natural foods, and work best with food. Taking vitamins with water or juices makes tablets easier to swallow. The additional liquids ingested with the vitamins may also aid in their digestion.

Whenever more than one tablet is involved as a daily dose, it is usually preferable to split the dose rather than take all the tablets at one time, thus enabling the body to assimilate its nutrients rather than being flooded with an excess amount at one time. Thus, if a person wishes to take two grams of Vitamin C daily, a preferred method would be to take 500 mg. in the morning, a similar dose at lunch, another in the mid-afternoon, and a final dose in the evening.

Another principle which also guides nutrient intake is the purpose one has for the supplements in question. Thus, an enzyme for digestion should be taken after meals, and not several hours later.

Q: Is there such a thing as pure calcium?

A: This is an important question, especially today, when calcium is in the forefront of nutrition. We must understand that "pure" calcium is a highly reactive metal, which cannot be taken directly into the human body. All calcium preparation for nutritional purposes, whether in tablet, liquid or powder form are composed of compounds of calcium. This means that calcium is combined with other elements in order to form a substance the body can assimilate. These other elements may be carbon, oxygen, phosphorus, hydrogen, etc. Thus a person can take calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, etc. but never "pure" calcium.

The different compounds of calcium have varying amounts of elemental calcium. Elemental refers to the actual amount of pure calcium in a specific preparation.

This information is essential for knowledge of how much calcium supplement one must take to get a desired amount of this essential mineral.

Calcium carbonate, for example, has about 40% elemental calcium. Thus, if a physician recommends 1 gram (1000 mg.) of calcium (elemental) daily, one must take 2.5 grams (2500 mg.) of this form of calcium to obtain the desired amount. Other sources of calcium usually have less elemental calcium, and one must take correspondingly more of the nutrient in question.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Vegetus Publications
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Zimmerman, Philip
Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:column
Date:Mar 22, 1989
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