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Nutritional Supplements

Supplements are not only expensive; they can be dangerous. With the exception of calcium and a multivitamin, supplements are rarely needed or recommended. Taking handfuls of vitamins is not useful, and there is noth ing "natural" about it. There are a few vitamins and minerals that, in an extra dose, can be helpful in certain situations; these should be discussed with your doctor.

Preventive Pills to Discuss with Your Doctor
Aspirin works as a blood thinner to prevent strokes and heart disease. Just one baby aspirin a day can reduce severity of heart attacks. Also, if you have high cholesterol (total over 240) and a family risk of heart disease or other risk factors, you should also be taking a cholesterol-lowering medication. The benefits of a multivitamin and calcium supplement are for girls and women of all ages.

Safe Preventive Pills

Pill For Who? Why? Cost Caution
Multivitamin - one a day Most everyone - those who do not have a perfect diet every day of the year Provides essential nutrients of vitamins and minerals, preventing diseases and illness $5/month Check with your doctor if you take additional vitamin supplements, to avoid overdoses
Calcium - 600 to 1,200 mg daily Most girls and women - those who do not eat at least four servings of calcium-rich foods daily Provides bone building nutrient, prevents muscle cramps, and can help with PMS $10/month Calcium should be taken in divided doses with meals
Aspirin - one regular or baby aspirin daily Women past menopause with risk of heart disease Thins blood and prevents heart disease and stroke $3/month Take with food; check with your doctor if you are not sure

In some people with knee osteoarthritis, glucosamine chondroitin can reduce pain, stiffness, swelling, and maintain functional joint movement. You might need to take glucosamine chondroitin for up to two months to have an effect; then take it once daily. If you do not notice a difference in joint stiffness or pain after three to four months, stop taking it. Glucosamine chondroitin can sometimes raise cholesterol levels; have your cholesterol checked within the first six months of taking the supplement. This supplement should not be taken in people with allergies to shellfish, diabetics, or people who take several medications or have medical problems.

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From The Active Woman's Health and Fitness Handbook by Nadya Swedan. Copyright © 2003 by Nadya Swedan. Used by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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