top of page


Vitamins are a mystery to me, I’m always wondering should I take them and do I need them and there are so many different kinds of vitamins. Every month there seems to be a new one I should be taking – so I did a bit of research on the ones I was wondering if I should take and this is what I found. I hope this information is helpful for those of you going through the same dilemma.

Folic Acid or folate is good for health, especially when pregnant, but many people do not realize that this substance is in fact a water-soluble version of vitamin B9. A water-soluble vitamin must be consumed everyday as these substances cannot be stored within the body for us when needed. For those who aren’t pregnant, it is still important to ensure folic is taken in the diet, if not as a supplement as it plays a significant role in cell maintenance and production, especially during cell division and growth. For pregnant women a daily supplement of folic acid should be taken immediately. It has been found to play a major role in the development of the neural tube in a growing fetus. The baby could develop spina bifida or increased chance of a cleft palate. Talk to your doctor.

Foods that contain folic acid are: spinach, broccoli and sprouts, sunflower seeds, dried beans and many cereal products.

Calcium - Most doctors recommend that all women take a daily calcium supplement. This is especially true for women entering their 30s and older, since calcium can help forestall osteoporosis. Specific groups of people benefit from calcium supplements, especially if they cannot get calcium as part of their regular diet. For many, a diet rich in dairy products provides more than enough calcium, and as long as the dairy products contain some fat, as in 1 or 2% milk, the calcium should be readily absorbed. Non-fat milk, also called skim milk, does not contain enough fat to absorb calcium efficiently. Instead, low fat milk is recommended for adults and children over the age of 5.

Vitamin E - The term vitamin E describes a family of 8 antioxidants, 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols, alpha-tocopherol (a-tocopherol) is the only form of vitamin E that is actively maintained in the human body and is therefore, the form of vitamin E found in the largest quantities in the blood and tissue. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, protects vitamin A and essential fatty acids from oxidation in the body cells and prevents breakdown of body tissues. You can get vitamin E from 4 main groups: Vegetable oils, Corn, canola, sunflower, sesame, cottonseed, peanut, rice bran, and palm oils. Nuts – almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios and hazelnuts. Legumes and grains – Corn, lentils, wheat, rice, chickpeas, barley grass and oats. Wheat germ oil had been used since the 20’s as a vitamin E supplement and offers a good combination of tocopherols plus tocotrienols.

Selenium - Selenium is an antioxidant (scavengers of free radicals)) and a component of several essential enzymes. Health benefits of selenium are partly explained by its antioxidant effect. Selenium may delay or prevent the onset of cancer and also have anti-aging effect. Selenium is also an important mineral needed for proper thyroid function. It also promotes immunity system. Selenium deficiency is associated with reduced immune cell counts and higher risk of death for HIV patients. If selenium is consumed in overdose, it may have toxicity effect. The upper intake level recommended for selenium (by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences) is 45 micrograms for infants and 400 micrograms for adults. Some of the symptoms of selenium toxicity are fatigue, hair loss, and white blotchy nails. Natural food sources high in selenium include cereals (corn, wheat, and rice), nuts (brazil nuts and walnuts), legumes (soybeans), animal products (beef, chicken, egg, cheese), seafood (tuna). Other selenium rich foods are oats and turkey. Brazil nuts are among the very rich sources of selenium. In fact, it is advised to exercise caution with consumption of Brazil nuts, as the selenium intake could reach a toxic level. Like anything new consult your doctor first.

Author: Kathryn Hartwell


bottom of page