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Supplements 101

By Chris Terrell, Merchandising Manager

Ever get confused by all the supplements that are available at New Leaf Market? It is not surprising when you consider the thousands of products that are available. It seems like every day there is a new supplement being touted as the next magic bullet to cure everything. But what about basic nutrients that have been proven to be beneficial to the body? Over the next couple of newsletters I will be covering the basic nutrients that are essential for your body.

The fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. Fat soluble vitamins are just that, they travel through the body in fat and are absorbed in the small intestines. Fat soluble vitamins stay in the body longer than water soluble vitamins—the body stores fat soluble vitamins in adipose tissue and the liver. Let’s take a brief look at each one and some of their benefits.

Vitamin A is beneficial for proper eye function, especially night vision. It is also beneficial for the immune system. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant and is important for proper development of bones and teeth. Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid that your body can convert to vitamin A when necessary. The advantage of this form of vitamin A is that it is much more difficult to overdose on, unlike vitamin A from animal sources.

Vitamin D has gotten a lot of press recently, but it has been around for a while! Vitamin D is very interesting in that it has the properties of a hormone. It is either converted in the skin from sunlight or acquired from the diet. Both modes require Vitamin D to be converted into its active form, 1,25(OH)2D3 or calcitriol. There are also immune functions that need vitamin D, possibly for differentiation of stem cells to monocytes or macrophages. Last but not least, vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of the parathyroid gland to balance blood serum calcium levels in the body.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that assists with the prevention of cellular oxidation in the body. It consists of the fat-soluble alcohols tocopherols (found in vegetable oils) and tocotrienols (found in cereal grains). Both groups have an alpha, beta, delta, and gamma designations. A great deal of research has been done on the d-alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E, but newer research has looked at the tocotrienols and the possibility that a mixed vitamin E with all eight antioxidant compounds may be more advantageous to take.

Vitamin K is essential for your blood to clot properly. It is also necessary for proper bone formation and repair. Vitamin K has three forms: K1 from plants, K2 is a form that is made in your intestines, and K3 is the synthetic form.

For more information, you may use our Health Notes computer in the store or on our website www.newleafmarket.coop. Our educated staff is ready to answer your questions and help you find the right product for you.

Chris Terrell is currently the Merchandising Manager for New Leaf Market. He spent eight years as the Supplement Manager and is currently finishing up his M.S. in Sports Nutrition and his N.D. from Trinity College.

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