Vitamins For Dummies book cover

Vitamins For Dummies

By: Christopher Hobbs and Elson Haas Published: 09-20-1999

“Christopher Hobbs and Elson Haas...take a complicated field and...make sense of it.”
—Ron Lawrence, MD, PhD, Director, Council on Natural Nutrition

Don’t forget to take your vitamins! It’s good advice. But everybody’s needs are different. Age, lifestyle, gender, ethnicity, diet, and habits all play a role in determining which vitamins and minerals you need more or less of in your diet. Like traffic lights, vitamins help regulate your body’ most basic functions at the cellular level. And just like those red, green and amber beacons, they must be synchronized—not too many or too few—to get you through your life’s journey in good shape. Now Vitamins For Dummies shows you how to have green lights all the way.

Confused by vitamins? Mystified by minerals? Can’t tell the difference between gingko and ginseng? In this straight-talking guide, two experts cut through the confusion and help you:

  • Get a handle on what each vitamin mineral and supplement does
  • Create a personalized supplement program
  • Understand the fine print on the labels
  • Combat or prevent specific ailments
  • Enhance memory, mood, and energy
  • Slow the aging progress

Drawing upon their years of experience in clinical practice as well as the latest scientific research into nutritional supplements, Chris Hobbs and Elson Haas, MD, tell you, in plain English, what you need to know to make informed decisions about which supplements you take. They cover:

  • The ABCs of vitamins
  • All about minerals
  • Amino acids and proteins—the body’s building blocks
  • The importance of fats and oils
  • Common supplements for digestion
  • Super-foods and other great supplements
  • The top 40 herbal supplements

As an added bonus, Vitamins For Dummies features a quick-reference, A-to-Z guide to treatments for 90 common complaints. From acne to motion sickness to varicose veins, the authors describe complete healing programs that include vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements and lifestyle changes.

Your complete A-to-Zinc guide to vitamins, minerals, herbs and other nutritional supplements, Vitamins For Dummies is your ticket to good health and long life.

Articles From Vitamins For Dummies

page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
48 results
48 results
Vitamins For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-15-2022

Your mom may not be giving you chewable vitamins with your breakfast anymore, but that doesn't mean you can just forget about them! Following a daily program of taking supplements and eating nutrient-dense foods is vital for maintaining your health and getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy. Some nutrients alleviate common maladies so you can reduce your intake of over-the counter and prescription medications. Always follow the recommended daily allowance for vitamins and supplements.

View Cheat Sheet
Boron: A Trace Mineral Necessary for Good Health

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Boron is a trace mineral essential to human health and must be obtained from diet or supplements. This nutrient recently gained popularity after researchers found that it helps the bones use calcium. Increased boron levels in the soil have been associated with a lower risk of osteoarthritis. Trace minerals occur in the soil, in foods, and in your body at much lower levels than the macrominerals, so they become more easily depleted. When deficiencies occur — and deficiency is much more common than toxicity — important metabolic functions like blood sugar regulation, or specific substances and enzymes in the body, will not work properly. Examples of metabolic functions affected include iodine needed for thyroid production, iron for red blood cell hemoglobin production, and zinc for proper immune function. Key functions of boron: May act on the parathyroid glands to regulate calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus balance. Used to prevent bone loss. Boron is a common ingredient in bone-supporting formulas along with calcium. If boron occurs in sufficient levels in the soil in which food is grown, the mineral will be in abundance in whole foods, such as apples, grapes, nuts, legumes, and leafy greens. You need about 1 mg of boron daily from your diet, but 3–5 mg may be more helpful as a supplement, particularly for the elderly. Toxicity of boron is unknown. Boron deficiency, which may occur with a low consumption of fruits and vegetables, may affect bone and calcium metabolism and lead to osteoporosis in the elderly. Some diseases, activities, foods, and drinks can increase your risk of trace mineral deficiency. Diseases and conditions to watch out for include parasitic infections, ulcers and diverticulitis (with chronic blood loss), liver disease, burns, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and weak digestion. Remember, too, that if you live in a hot climate or are physically active, excessive sweating and taking diuretics can increase the loss of many trace minerals.

View Article
Calcium: Essential Nutrition for Teeth and Bones

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Calcium is a critical mineral nutrient. You must include calcium in your diet because your body can’t manufacture it. Calcium is essential for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. The strength of your bones depends on calcium and other minerals like silicon and magnesium that you absorb from your diet, particularly during your years of growth and development. Calcium is also important for nerve conductivity, for muscle contraction (including normal heartbeats), and for cell division. Also, the cells of your body require calcium, along with magnesium, to properly transmit nerve impulses. Key functions of calcium include: May promote a sound night’s sleep when taken before bed. Supports bone health, especially if you are a woman during and after menopause, for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis (the increased porosity of bones common during aging). Osteoporosis commonly leads to fractures and even mortality. The risk increases in women, especially during the first ten years after menopause. You should consult your doctor to determine your bone strength and begin a complete bone-strengthening supplement program. Reduces muscle cramps and menstrual cramps. Prevents tooth decay. Good calcium sources include cheese and yogurt, sardines (with bones), broccoli, peas, leafy greens (such as kale), almonds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, tofu, soymilk, blackstrap molasses, dried figs and apricots, and corn tortillas (with added lime). Calcium is absorbed and utilized better when taken with vitamin D and magnesium, when your stomach has an adequate acidity level, when accompanied by regular exercise, and after protein intake, as well as when taken at bedtime along with some ascorbic acid, such as vitamin C. Calcium supplements are available in many forms — tablets, capsules, chewables, powders, and liquids — many in the form of mineral salts, such as calcium carbonate, calcium gluconate, and calcium citrate. Some, such as calcium citrate, are absorbed better than others, so check the label or ask an employee if the product you’re buying contains calcium citrate. Toxicity is most likely to occur when you have magnesium and/or phosphorus deficiency. Calcium toxicity can lead to increased calcification, which is a factor in atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries and the cause of most cardiovascular disease), kidney stones, and other stone formations. Calcium deficiency is more common than an overdose of calcium, and a deficiency can cause weak and porous bones, decay and loss of teeth, abnormal heartbeats, and rickets (a disease affecting children, in which a calcium deficiency results in soft, porous, and deformed bones).

View Article
Glycine for Helping Wounds Heal and Detoxifying

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Glycine is a nonessential amino acid. Dietary sources of this nutrient include fish, meats, beans, and dairy products. It also comes from choline in the liver and the amino acids threonine or serine. Glycine is an important nutrient for detoxifying chemicals in your body and helps wounds heal. Its beneficial effects for schizophrenics have been studied for more than ten years. Before taking glycine supplements, consult a qualified nutritionist. While glycine shows some beneficial effects in schizophrenia, too much can have toxic effects in the brain. Glycine occurs so widely in all foods that it’s unlikely you need to take individual supplements. Key uses of glycine include: Physiologically, glycine has a calming effect on brain metabolism. Glycine helps your body synthesize hemoglobin, collagen, and glutathione—another amino aid detoxifier. Glycine works in your body to detoxify toxic chemicals like toluene, which is released from the paint in your house. This amino acid is also an essential part of glutathione, a substance your liver uses to protect your body’s cells and tissues from free radical damage. You can use glycine for healing wounds, reduce manic states, and to support growth hormone release (taken in higher amounts). Dimethylglycine and trimethylglycine, other forms of glycine, are supplemented more in clinical practice to improve energy and strengthen your immune system and your ability to recover from and prevent infections. Serine, a component of brain proteins (including coverings of the nerves), is an amino acid that can be made in your tissues from glycine or threonine, so it is considered nonessential. Your body, however, needs adequate amounts of vitamin B-3, vitamin B-6, and folic acid to make serine from glycine. Serine isn’t often recommended, except in the special form, phospatidylserine. Its chief functions are: Serine is important in the formation of cell membranes and in making creatine (part of your muscle tissue). Serine is used as a natural moisturizer in skin creams. A special form of serine, phosphatidylserine, can help treat mood and metabolic or sleep disorders. Meats and dairy products, wheat gluten, peanuts, and soy products all contain ample amounts of serine.

View Article
Helping Your Mood with Amino Acids Phenylalanine and Tyrosine

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Phenylalanine — an essential amino acid— is readily available in most food sources, particularly high in meats and milk products, with lower levels found in oats and wheat germ. To make use of phenylalanine, your body requires vitamin B-3, vitamin B-6, vitamin C, copper, and iron. Phenylalanine is used to form tyrosine. Thought to be useful in the treatment of depression and anxiety, tyrosine is important to metabolism. Tyrosine also aids in the reduction of body fat. Because your body can’t reconvert tyrosine to phenylalanine, you must get this nutrient amino from your diet. It is required for many bodily functions and is one of the few amino acids that can directly affect brain chemistry. Avoid using phenylalanine supplements, and reduce high-phenylalanine containing foods like meat and dairy products if you have lupus. This amino acid is important in helping your brain make active nerve chemicals that can affect your mood (like epinephrine). Phenylalanine seems to increase endorphins in the brain to give you a more positive outlook. Key uses of phenylalanine: Phenylalanine is transformed into norepinephrine in the body through a variety of metabolic steps, as well as to other active chemicals, such as epinephrine, dopamine, and tyramine. Norepinephrine is an important neurotransmitter that conveys information from nerve to nerve and is apparently important for memory, alertness, and learning. Practitioners recommend phenylalanine for treatment of depression, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, and Parkinson’s Disease. This amino acid may also function as a pain reliever for headaches (particularly migraines), and also for lower back and neck pain, arthritis, and menstrual cramps. Researchers don’t know yet how effective phenylalanine is for these conditions, but some clinical trials look promising. If you have lupus, see your doctor and your nutritionist before taking tyrosine. The key uses of tyrosine are: Tyrosine is known as the antidepressant amino acid, and it may also be useful for reducing anxiety and improving energy. Tyrosine has a mild antioxidant effect, binding free radicals (unstable molecules) that can cause damage to the cells and tissues, and is useful in preventing cell damage if you smoke, have a stressful life, or are exposed to chemicals and radiation. Tyrosine is used to treat a low sex drive and Parkinson’s disease. Tyrosine is also used in programs for people with drug or weight loss problems; it is a mild appetite suppressant. Your body needs folic acid, niacin, vitamin C, and copper to help convert tyrosine into many important substances, including melanin, a skin pigment; estrogen; and enkephalins (natural pain relievers). Tyrosine may stimulate growth hormone and can act as a mild appetite suppressant.

View Article
How Glutamic Acid and Proline Figure In to Your Good Health

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Dietary sources of glutamic acid — a nonessential amino acid — are animal and vegetable proteins. This nutrient is found in high concentrations in the human brain. Proline derives from glutamic acid. Proline is one of the main amino acids your body uses to build collagen, which makes up the tough, elastic fibers of scar tissue and is the main structural material of your body — bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin all contain collagen. Dietary sources of proline are eggs and dairy products. Proline promotes healthy bones, skin, and cartilage. Amino acid mixtures and tissue-building formulas commonly contain this amino acid. Proline is helpful in tissue repair following injury (especially burns) and after surgery. If you read labels, don’t be confused by different words for glutamic acid, sometimes called glutamine or glutamate, which are essentially similar forms with the same function. Key uses of glutamic acid include the following: Practitioners prescribe glutamine to help gastrointestinal healing. Glutamine also helps reduce cravings for sugar and alcohol, probably by providing energy for brain function. Practitioners prescribe this amino acid for neurological and mental disorders. Avoid glutamic acid supplements if you are pregnant, and never take them without the advice of your health practitioner in any circumstances. Do not give glutamic acid supplements to infants or children. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is derived from glutamic acid and serves as a flavor enhancer. It is hidden in many processed and restaurant foods under the label “natural flavor or natural coloring.” Some scientists say that MSG should be on the label, because it is a brain stimulant to which many people react. Children, especially, should not consume MSG regularly. Chow mein lovers beware! Chinese chefs in particular commonly use a generous amount of MSG to enhance the flavor of their dishes. Some medical researchers feel that lysine, proline, and vitamin C supplements are effective in reversing hardening of the arteries. Always take vitamin C with proline for healing injuries and strengthening tissues, because it is necessary for building collagen.

View Article
Glutathione: The Antioxidant Amino Acid

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Glutathione is a not a protein-building amino acid, but a mixture of amino acid chains. Glutathione is a nutrient that forms enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase. It is essential to life. Dietary sources abound because glutathione is present in all plant and animal cells. It is an antioxidant nutrient that helps protect you from free radicals, keeping your tissues young and vital longer. Specifically, glutathione helps detoxify chemicals from you cells. This amino acid is added to nutritional formulas that help clean certain toxins (like those that result from smoking) from your system. Key uses of glutathione are as follows: A potent antioxidant, it protects against damage from chemicals, free radicals (particularly peroxides), smoke, radiation, and other toxins. Glutathione is prescribed by practitioners for protection against cancer, cataracts, and skin problems. It occurs widely in both plant and animal cells in small amounts, and is also formed in your body.

View Article
Alanine: An Amino Acid Energy Source

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Alanine is a nonessential amino acid, meaning that if you don’t get this nutrient from you diet, your body can manufacture it. It is an important part of human muscle and one of the few amino acids that transforms into glucose, an important sugar that your body uses as an energy source. Alanine is included in some energy and sports formulas, but is less popular as a single supplement. Some key uses of alanine are: Helps produce lymphocytes, which are cells in your lymph fluid and bloodstream that are vital to your immune system. May help regulate blood sugar. Helps reduce symptoms of prostate enlargement in men if used with glycine (another amino acid). Helps your adrenal gland function. Beta-alanine (another form of the amino acid) is not part of proteins, but is a component of vitamin B-5, which is good for your adrenal glands. Although your body can manufacture all the alanine it needs, dietary sources include animal proteins, plus dairy, oats, wheat germ, and avocado.

View Article
Copper: An Antioxidant Essential to a Healthy Body

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Copper is a trace mineral—an essential nutrient to humans. It must be obtained through diet or supplements. This antioxidant nutrient helps your body use iron. Copper is a zinc-balancing mineral important in many enzymes as well as in the production of hemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen. It also plays a role in the functioning of the prostate gland and the activity of the oil glands, helping prevent acne. Nerves and joints require copper for healthy functioning. One source of copper is cacao bean. Who said chocolate is all bad for you? Key functions of copper include: May lower cholesterol levels. May improve symptoms of arthritis. The highest concentration of copper is found in oysters. It is also available from nuts and seeds, whole grains and legumes, and in small amounts in most vegetables. Copper is usually found in multivitamins at a dosage of 1–2 mg per day. Take additional copper if you’re consuming a higher level (50 mg) of zinc for therapeutic purposes. Work with your practitioner to balance your copper and zinc intake. Adequate levels of copper may prevent your hair from graying prematurely. Copper toxicity can come from water when it flows through copper pipes, and copper can be found in well water. Too much copper intake can cause various neurological and mental symptoms. Copper deficiency is not uncommon and often joins with iron deficiency in anemia. Copper deficiency can cause symptoms of fatigue, skin rashes, and hair loss, and can contribute to a decrease in the ability to taste and smell.

View Article
Cysteine: Amino Acid, Protector, and Detoxifier

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Cysteine is an important sulfur-containing nonessential amino acid important to many metabolic (biochemical) pathways. Dietary sources of this nutrient include poultry, yogurt, oats, and wheat germ, and in sulfur-containing foods such as egg yolks, garlic, onions, and broccoli. Cysteine is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier as a precursor (a substance that precedes another) for glutathione enzymes, which the body, and especially the liver, use for disabling destructive free radicals. Key uses of cysteine include: Practitioners recommend this amino acid for protection from chemical toxicity and to support the detoxification process in smokers and people exposed to chemicals or air pollution. Cysteine helps prevent cataracts and cancer and aids in anti-aging programs. Cysteine is important in your liver’s daily rebuilding process. Researchers and clinicians are studying N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a special form of cysteine, for its ability to deliver cysteine into the lungs, where it acts as a powerful antioxidant to help protect lungs from the free radicals that scientists say can lead to worsening symptoms of lung diseases like emphysema. NAC is an excellent expectorant that helps keep the lungs clear of mucus. Aspirin, acetaminophen (the active ingredient of Tylenol), and a host of other pain-relieving medications may irritate your liver. Ask your health practitioner about taking extra cysteine or NAC to help your liver protect itself from these potent chemicals. If your health practitioner deems it safe for you, the usual dose is 250 mg two or three times daily.

View Article
page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5