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SUNDAY JANUARY 10

HEALTH DEBATE

VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS: ARE THEY REALLY NECESSARY?

THE DOCTOR DR CINDY PAN

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or most of us, it is not necessary to take vitamin and mineral supplements because we are capable of deriving sufficient nutrients from eating a varied, balanced diet. Vitamins consumed in food generally work better than those ingested through supplements. There are exceptions. For example, women are strongly recommended to take folate before conception as well as during pregnancy. In the case of folate, the synthetic form is actually absorbed better than the form found in food. Other situations where supplementation may be required would include breastfeeding mums, women with very heavy menstrual periods, crash or fad dieters, some vegetarians, people on restricted diets, people with

coeliac disease or malabsorption problems, people who consume alcohol to excess, people taking certain drugs (legal or illegal), smokers, the elderly, disabled, chronically ill and anyone else who has difficulty consuming a varied, balanced diet. If your diet is less than perfect you may wonder if you should take a multivitamin. In most cases, in the short term, there is little risk and there may be some benefit. However, in the long term, relying on supplements rather than improving your diet and lifestyle may actually harm your health. Supplements cannot replace a healthy, balanced diet and taking high-dose supplements for a long time can lead to toxicity. Talk to your doctor about whether there is a sound reason for you to take vitamin or mineral supplements. They can assess your dietary intake and advise on improvements.

■ Dr Cindy Pan has had over 10 years of clinical practice experience. Her books include Pandora’s Box: Lifting The Lid On Life’s Little Nasties (HarperCollins) and Playing Hard To Get (HarperCollins). She appears on television, lectures and speaks about all aspects of health, relationships and wellbeing.

5MIN MOTIVATOR BY ANDREW MAY

THE NATUROPATH LEAH HECHTMAN

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unripe, frozen and then gassed to ripen? The vitamin C content of an orange depends on the ripening process. If this process is interfered with, the vitamin C content drops dramatically. Now let’s consider minerals. Minerals are naturally occurring elements found in nature as mineral salts. The mineral concentrations of soils can vary considerably according to geographic location. For example, in Australia our soil is notoriously low in selenium. Modern agriculture can be a recipe for mineral deficiencies, which is worsened by the losses caused by processing and manufacturing methods. Consider also that the pollutants and chemicals associated with modern farming techniques have changed the mineral content and ratios of both water and soils.

would like to say no to this, however, as time progresses I find myself recommending supplementation for most people. It is ultimately highly challenging to consume sufficient vitamins and minerals from one’s diet. A number of reasons explain this. Humans are unable to manufacture most vitamins, so they must be present in food intake. Food sources of vitamins are particularly unstable substances. They need to be handled with care during cooking and storage. You can easily destroy the vitamin content of the food you are about to eat. Boiling vegetables or fruit, for example, is the fastest way to literally throw your nutrients out with the water. Steaming or eating them raw is a better alternative. Let’s consider the potential impact to the vitamin content of an orange. How was the orange grown and stored? Was it picked

■ Leah Hechtman is a naturopath and fertility specialist. She is a lecturer, author, researcher and industry consultant and has her own clinical practice in Sydney, NSW. She specialises in fertility, reproductive and psychological health. For more information visit www.naturalhealthfertility.com

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Reach your goals DO YOU SET GOALS FOR THE YEAR AND NEVER STICK TO THEM? HERE’S HOW TO SET YOURSELF UP TO SUCCEED Why do so many people set the same goals year after year? The goal might be to lose weight, stop smoking, travel more, learn a language, spend more quality time with the kids or get fit once and for all. Sound familiar? The following tips will dramatically increase your chances of sticking to your goals in 2010. Ask yourself the right questions ■ Give some thought to what you really want and why you want to achieve it. ■ How much does this goal really mean to you? ■ What are the benefits of achieving this goal? List them. ■ Who else does this affect or impact? ■ Are you really prepared to do what it takes to achieve this goal?

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Get anchored Write your goals down on a sheet of paper, simplify them into point format and put them in a place where you will see them regularly. This might be in your diary, in the office, the car or even in the bathroom. Set a plan Identify the key steps you need to take towards accomplishing your goal and assign specific dates for this. Involve significant others in your plan so that you have to be accountable to someone. Be realistic and reward yourself It is important to reward yourself along the way as you tick off your action plan. And remember, human beings make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up if you lose focus. Happy new year!

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■ Andrew May is a human performance expert, a bestselling author and a media commentator. His Recharge Clinic offers programs in performance, recovery, productivity and health. Visit www.andrewmay.com Drug use and sexual references

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★★★★ ONLY AT THE MOVIES “Fantastically funny, Meryl Streep is hilarious” DO YOU SET GOALS FOR THE YEAR AND NEVER STICK TO THEM? HERE’S HOW T...

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