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IMMUNE POWER DIET: TAKING YOUR B'S THE RIGHT WAY

If you take any of the  vitamins, here are two things to remember:

Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is a diuretic, and may make you need to urinate often. It's not a good idea to take this vitamin before you go to sleep; instead, take it in the morning or afternoon.

Other  vitamins can make it hard to fall asleep. As a safe rule, you should take only  vitamins in the morning.

Cobalamin (B12) was studied by Dr. Sandra Kaplan, who examined several patients suffering from vitamin Â12 deficiency. In the laboratory, she exposed their immune cells to a common bacteria and found that the immune cells' ability to destroy the bacteria was more than one-third weaker than cells from control patients with no B12 deficiency.

Folic acid was studied by Dr. Robert Gross at MIT, who looked at the immune responses of twenty-three patients with folic acid deficiency. He found that these patients couldn't mount an effective immune response when challenged. However, when the patients were given folic acid supplements, their weakened immune responses returned to normal.

TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING

Let's forget the laboratory for a moment, and talk about people. What does all this scientific evidence mean for you? Knowing all of this, doesn't it make sense to go out and take as many vitamins as possible? Emphatically not. Unlike money or friends, more vitamins are definitely not always better. Every vitamin works best within a certain dosage range, and taking too much can be as bad, or worse, than taking too little.

This is especially true with the fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K. Because these vitamins are stored in fat and not in watery tissues, the body can't flush them out when it has too much. If you're taking too much, you can suffer a wide range of symptoms: blurred vision, tremors, restlessness, kidney stones, ulcers, upset stomach, hair loss, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and high blood pressure.

What most people don't know is that even the water-soluble vitamins—vitamin Ñ and the  complex vitamins—work best in certain amounts. A recent paper from the Mayo Clinic reported that several people who were taking megadoses of Pyridoxine (B6) without medical supervision showed signs of serious overdose, including tingling and numbness in their hands and feet, unsteadiness, and lack of muscle coordination. Fortunately, this story ends happily: all of the patients reported their symptoms disappeared when they stopped overdosing themselves.

Another study, from India, showed that volunteers taking vitamin Ñ boosted their immune strength—up to a point. But if they took too much, their cells were actually less able to kill bacteria, which shows a dramatic drop in immune strength. In another study, researchers in California found that high concentrations of vitamin Ñ actually reduce immune cells' ability to kill fungal invaders in the body. The same is true of vitamin E; in the right doses, it stimulates the immune system, but too much of it actually brings about a weaker, less active immune response in people.

That is why each of us must design our individual carefully calibrated vitamin program. The vitamins you need depend on your age, sex, diet, health, exercise, stress level, and a host of other lifestyle factors.

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