A combination of earlier magazine work and new blog posts

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Vitamins

Emerging from the winter gloom, most of us will become more active as wonderful weather returns. Now is a good time to ensure we are in top

condition for spring cleaning and extra exercise. The starting point should be to check if we’re getting all the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need. So spring is also the ideal time to give you my beginner’s guide to vitamins. It’s simpler than you think to maximize your inner and outer beauty from a bottle.

With so much talk about vitamins nowadays, it seems like everyone is using them. However, many women think vitamin supplements are unnecessary if they have balanced diets (no, girls, three different types of pizza a day doesn’t qualify). But most people will be surprised to learn that few of us get all the nutrients we need from our food, no matter how hard we try. My eyes were opened when a study of more than 20,000 women showed that not a single one got 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance for 10 basic nutrients from her food. Other studies reveal that half the population has marginal nutritional deficiencies. No wonder so many people are running around tired and wondering why their hair and skin are dry.

I also get letters from some of you who would like to begin taking vitamins, but don’t know where to start.

Here is my foolproof routine. A good multivitamin should be part of your daily regimen at any age. Think of it as necessary as drinking water. The nutrients in most multivitamins ensure that you won’t get any major mineral deficiencies. It’s hard to go wrong with major brands. One I like is PharmAssure’s Biomultiple, Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Formula. It has all the basic vitamins you need (A, C, E and lots of calcium and Vitamin D for bones) but also includes a few of my other favorites, including silica, great for nails and hair; alpha lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant that may help strengthen your immune system*; dong quai, a Chinese herb that is intended to help PMS or menopausal symptoms*; and also chromium, which might boost your metabolism.* Also on my short list is Vitalert from Performance Labs. It includes all the necessary vitamins plus some micronutrients like bee pollen that may help promote physical and mental alertness.’ This is especially good given the irregular eating, long hours and stress we put on our bodies.

For those of you who like to specialize, Pharmavite’s Nature Made brand develops specific formulas that target different concerns, in addition to dozens of individual supplements. For instance, Nature Made multis include Antioxidant Formula, with more immune helpers; Essential 50+ for Women, with extra calcium for bones and some herbs said to help counter hot flashes*; Essential Energy formulated to combat sluggishness; and even Essential Heart, with extra garlic, a mineral that is showing promise in controlling cholesterol.*

For women searching for beauty combined with good health, check out Olay’s vitamins, which are developed for everything from alleviating brittle nails to enhancing complexion. Olay’s combinations encourage bodies to promote beauty from the inside. My personal fave is their Evening Primrose Nourishing Complex, an essential oil in a capsule that nourishes dry skin.

So now, ladies, you have no more excuses. This beginner’s guide should get you going. It’s not that difficult to take a vitamin a day to make sure that your health is the best it can be, and that you are encouraging your bodies to do all they can to keep you looking forever 21.