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33MD for April 7, 2009

POSTED: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 4:34pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 10:58pm

Americans spend more than $20 billion a year on vitamin supplements, but recent studies suggest they might not have the affect most had hoped. Experts say there’s an easy way to make sure you’re getting the vitamins you need without depending on a pill. Heart attack, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diseases many hoped would be delayed or prevented by taking a vitamin supplement. But several large studies released this year are forcing consumers to reconsider. Clinical Dietician Ginnie Collins says, “It’s probably not harmful to take a multivitamin if you want to, you may be wasting your money.” Dieticians say you’ll get more bang for your buck by shifting your focus from taking a bill to eating healthy foods. For example, one cup of cantaloupe gives you more than 100% of your vitamin c needs. “Oranges have lots of vitamin c, beans have lots of protein, broccoli has lots of vitamin c, dark green leafy vegetables have lots of folate and calcium.” Experts say stock your cart with the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. “Nature provides us with all these colorful vegetables and fruits and if we eat them everyday then we’re going meet the majority of the needs that we have.” But some still need a supplement. Pregnant women need extra folic acid and some elderly need more B-12. However, for the majority, the sure way to stay healthy is to keep a colorful cart.

The size of your belly may matter more than your weight when it comes to your risk for heart failure. According to a Swedish study, women with larger bellies had a 15% greater risk for heart failure. Men had a 16% larger risk. Scientists say the younger the person, the bigger the impact of having a big belly.

You may need to check your freezer. The pistachio recall is expanding over concerns of possible salmonella contamination. The recall now covers all lots of roasted in-shell and shelled pistachios and raw shelled pistachios from nuts harvested since 2008. The FDA is also warning people not to eat pistachio ice cream or other pistachio products until it can determine whether or not the nuts came from the California plant in question.