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Vitamin C: Tips For Increasing Your Intake
A new RDA?
According to a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the National Institutes of Health is taking another look at the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C. The current RDA for vitamin C is 60 milligrams per day—about the amount you get from one orange. Due to recent findings on the potential health benefits of this wonder vitamin, the NIH is now considering boosting the RDA to somewhere between 100 and 200 milligrams per day, two to three times the current recommendation.
Why all the hype?
Vitamin C has long been known for its value as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are natural compounds found in many of the foods we eat. The most well known antioxidants are vitamin C, selenium, beta carotene and vitamin E. Antioxidants work by inhibiting toxic substances in the body (also known as "free radicals") which may lead to the development of cancers, heart disease and the aging process. There has been a strong correlation between diets high in fruits and vegetables (which are rich in antioxidants) and reduced risk of chronic diseases. Vitamin C may account for much of this protection. However, we are also finding numerous other compounds within fruits and vegetables, collectively called "phytochemicals", that may also play a preventative role. Phytochemicals are defined simply as chemicals found in plants. They occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. These substances, many of which also have an antioxidant effect, may protect our bodies from cellular damage that can lead to cancer and other chronic diseases.
Due to the strong correlation between diets abundant in fruits and vegetables and disease prevention, The National Cancer Institute launched the "5-A-Day" program. The basis of this campaign promotes the intake of a minimum of five fruits and vegetables daily as a good defense against cancer and other diseases. A specific recommendation of this program is to include vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables in the diet each day since vitamin C is a particularly well-researched antioxidant. The mainstay of the program, however, is that by eating five servings of produce daily we can easily take in not just a good dose of vitamin C, but the minimum amount of protective plant chemicals shown to be effective in reducing risk of chronic diseases. Remember, five is the minimum amount. In the case of fruits and veggies it's definitely a situation where more is better!
Olive Oil May Be Key to Mediterranean Diet's Benefits
TUESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- The heart-healthy effects of the famous "Mediterranean diet" may have something to do with components of virgin olive oil that repress genes that promote inflammation, a new study reports.
"These findings strengthen the relationship between inflammation, obesity and diet and provide evidence at the most basic level of healthy effects derived from virgin olive oil consumption in humans," study leader Francisco Perez-Jimenez of the University of Cordoba, Spain, said in a news release from BioMed Central, publisher of BMC Genomics. The study was published online April 19 in the journal.
Perez-Jimenez and his colleagues studied how a diet rich in so-called phenol compounds -- which are found in olive oil, especially extra-virgin types -- affected the workings of genes in 20 people with a common condition called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome puts people at risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The American Heart Association has more on the Mediterranean diet.
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