Vitamins & Supplements Archive


Vitamin D supplements linked to lower risk of advanced cancer

A study published by JAMA Network Open found that people taking vitamin D supplements were less likely to have a cancer that spread from the original tumor site to another part of their body or one that proved fatal. However, this risk reduction was only seen in people who were at a normal weight, not those who were overweight or obese. The study did not find that people who took vitamin D were less likely to develop cancer over all compared with those who did not.

Vitamins A, E, and D tied to fewer colds, lung disorders

News briefs

Getting enough vitamins through diet (or a multivitamin, if necessary) is one of the best ways to bolster your immune system. And you may wonder if vitamins can also ward off colds and other respiratory conditions. An observational study published Oct. 27, 2020, by BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health offers encouraging news. Researchers evaluated the self-reported diet information of more than 6,000 British adults over eight years. People who reported the highest intakes of vitamins A and E from both diet and supplements, and high intake of vitamin D just from supplements, had the fewest complaints of respiratory illness, such as colds, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The study doesn't prove that these vitamins prevented respiratory problems, but other studies have linked them to lower risks for respiratory disease. Vitamins are most effective when they come from diet. Good sources of vitamin A include liver; whole milk; cheese; carrots; and dark, leafy greens. Good sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. It's difficult to get enough vitamin D from food (such as fish or fortified milk), so taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 provides some insurance.

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3 supplements that may harm your heart

Labels on the bottles promise better health, but these supplements may wind up hurting you.

Keeping your heart healthy requires a combination of strategies, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. Adding a dietary supplement may seem like another means of protection.

But be careful. Unlike prescription medications, supplements are often sold without evidence that they work or they're safe. There's no way to know what's really inside pills or potions, since the FDA doesn't evaluate whether the manufacture of supplements is high quality, such as whether the pills are free from impurities. The following supplements may pose heart risks.

Medication and your skin

Certain drugs or treatments may affect the skin, causing side effects like excessive dryness or blue spots.

Having problems with your skin? You may want to look in your medicine cabinet. Numerous prescription drugs and even over-the-counter treatments may bring unexpected skin changes, says Dr. Suzanne Olbricht, an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. Medications to look out for include the following.

Blood-thinning medications

Spontaneous bruising that occurs even without bumping into something becomes more common as you get older. Doctors call it senile or actinic purpura and it happens often in people who take medication to prevent blood clots, such as warfarin (Coumadin) or even a baby aspirin. "As you age, the dermis, the thick middle layer of the skin, begins to thin and doesn't support the blood vessels inside as well as it used to," says Dr. Olbricht. This can make the blood vessels more likely to break. Even the tiniest injury can release blood under the skin, leading to the discoloration and dark purple bruises that characterize this condition.

Common ways to fight the common cold

These three remedies may reduce symptom duration and severity.

While there's no cure for the common cold, everyone seems to have a surefire remedy they embrace.

Some of the popular ones are sucking on zinc lozenges, boosting your vitamin C intake, and even slurping up steaming bowls of old-fashioned chicken soup.

Should I worry about a sudden swollen tongue?

On call

Q. What would cause my tongue to suddenly swell? Could this be a possible side effect of medication, or something else?

A. There are many reasons for a swollen tongue. Indeed, a reaction to a medication is one of the more common causes. For example, a well-known side effect of ACE inhibitors (a class of drugs used to control blood pressure) is a condition called angioneurotic edema. Swelling of the face, lips, and tongue can happen quickly in people who take an ACE inhibitor. The reaction may occur soon after it's first taken or at any time thereafter. Sometimes people get this reaction even though they have used the drug for several years. ACE inhibitors are more likely to cause angioneurotic edema in African Americans.

Moderate amounts of coffee are the best

Drinking no more than four or five 8-ounce cups of coffee per day—equal to about 400 milligrams of caffeine—helps people get the drink's health benefits with a lower risk of caffeine side effects like anxiety and nervousness.

Grain of the month: Brown rice

Whole-grain rice comes in an array of colors, including gold, purple, red, and black. But the most common is brown, which refers not to a particular variety but the natural color of the grain.

Rice that is milled and polished to remove the bran and germ components, leaving only the starchy endosperm, is known as white rice. But that refining process also strips away key nutrients. Compared with white rice, brown rice contains much higher amounts of fiber, certain B vitamins (B1, B3, B6, and B9), magnesium, potassium, and iron. Research suggests that swapping white rice for brown rice may improve blood sugar levels and help with weight control.

Tips to avoid constipation

There are many ways one can try to avoid constipation. For example, lifestyle remedies may help—such as increasing dietary fiber, getting regular exercise, and drinking three to six cups of water per day. If those approaches don't work, doctors recommend using fiber supplements, such as psyllium husk (Metamucil), methylcellulose (Citrucel), or wheat dextrin (Benefiber). Another supplement that might help is magnesium. When all strategies fail, it may be time to try over-the-counter medication. One option is an osmotic laxative such as polyethylene glycol (Miralax).

Building strength before surgery may ease recovery

Prehabilitation aims to increase your strength and health before, not after, a medical procedure.

Rehabilitation can help get you up on your feet again after surgery or a physical setback. But some surgeons are increasingly turning to an innovative approach called prehabilitation in hopes of easing that recovery in the first place.

Prehabilitation, commonly called prehab, is an individualized medical program designed to help people — often those who are older or frail — better withstand and bounce back from an anticipated physically stressful event, such as surgery, says Dr. Julie K. Silver, an associate professor and associate chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

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