Thursday, June 07, 2012
Is taking vitamin supplements really necessary?

By Dr. Anthony Policastro Sometimes patients will ask me about taking vitamins. We all are aware of the fact that people who eat a balanced diet do not need extra vitamins. The problem is in defining what a balanced diet is. Some people think that means burgers at McDonald's on Monday, burgers at Burger King on Tuesday and burgers at Wendy's on Wednesday. At one point it was relatively easy figuring out what to eat. The typical meal would consist of a portion of meat, a starch and a vegetable. There would be a need for fruits to round out the day and a glass of milk with the meal. However, over the years, there have been issues found with almost every type of food. We now caution people about drinking whole milk. We tell people not to have too many servings of red meat. We need to be careful about which foods are safe. The result is that people have changed their eating habits and do not necessarily get the right mix of foods. When we first learned about vitamins, we learned about them alphabetically. We divided them in A, B complex, C and D. However, there is a better way to divide them. Some vitamins dissolve in water. They are called water soluble vitamins. Others dissolve in fat. They are called water soluble vitamins. The water soluble vitamins are those in the B-complex (niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, folic acid, etc) and Vitamin C. The important thing to remember about this group of vitamins is that they dissolve in water. That means the body removes them in the urine. Thus if we do not have enough in our body, the kidneys tend to preserve them. If we have too much the kidneys tend to get rid of the excess. That makes balancing these vitamins somewhat easier than it is for the fat soluble vitamins. The result is that there is less of a tendency to become deficient for this group of vitamins. That does not mean that you cannot become deficient in them. The British Navy learned a long time ago that their sailors needed to eat limes while on long voyages so they could get enough Vitamin C. That is why they are now called "limeys". The fat soluble vitamins are a little different. They include vitamins A, D, E and K. They are broken down by the body at a certain rate. That means that you can become deficient if you do not take enough of them. It also means you can become overdosed if you take too much of them. That is why people need to be careful about taking megadoses of these vitamins. Because of all of this there is a logical answer to the question about whether one should take daily vitamins. Since most people do not eat balanced meals, they tend to not get their daily share of vitamins. However, since the body holds onto needed water soluble vitamins and breaks down fat soluble vitamins at a predictable rate, balancing a diet is not a daily task. You can balance your diet over a period of days. You might be heavy on vegetables one day. You might be heavy on fruits the next day. However, for those individuals who are not sure about their diets, it is reasonable to take a multivitamin daily. Any multivitamin will provide reasonable amounts of what you need to supplement your diet. It really does not make a difference which one you take. The cheapest one is probably the best one. The goal is to support a diet that might be low on one of the vitamins. It is not to replace a healthy diet. It is to provide assistance to those individuals who have created an eating pattern that does not have the balance that they need to get everything that they should have on a regular (not daily) basis.

Healthier You Recipe Contest Nanticoke Health Services and the Western Sussex Farmers Market are looking for your heart-healthy recipes that use local seasonal produce. On Saturday, Aug. 4 at 10 a.m., three lucky entries will be prepared and shared at the Western Sussex Farmers Market (located at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club) and one will win a gift basket worth $100 courtesy of Nanticoke Health Services. All recipes will be evaluated on originality of the recipe, use of seasonal produce, being "heart healthy," texture, visual appearance, and taste. Also, visit the Western Seaford Farmers Market each week to pick up Chef George's "Recipe of The Week." The recipe contest submission deadline is June 20. For complete contest rules, e-mail or call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Bayhealth appoints nurse manager Bayhealth has appointed Sarah Arnett, RN, BSN, as the new nurse manager for the Bayhealth Kent General Emergency Department. Arnett arrives from Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, Md., where she served as nurse manager, supervising 140 staff members including nurses, emergency technicians and unit clerks. She brings more than 15 years of nursing experience to Bayhealth. Arnett earned her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Maryland - Baltimore in 1997. She served as an emergency nurse at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and at Doctors Community Hospital, including service as a Critical Care Flight Team RN with the Petroleum Helicopters Express Care Team. Arnett also served as a Trauma Nursing Corps course instructor and Forensic Nurse examiner. She is a member of the Emergency Nurses Association and Sigma Theta Tau International Society of Nursing and has been certified as an emergency nurse.

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings Area residents can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture with a Life Line Screening at Harvest Christian Church in Seaford on Thursday, June 14. Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms, and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for both men and women. Packages start at $149. All five screenings take 60 to 90 minutes to complete. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit Pre-registration is required.

Alzheimer's Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Alzheimer's Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, at LifeCare at Lofland Park's first floor resident lounge, 715 E. King St., Seaford. This group provides support and information about Alzheimer's and dementia to families, caregivers and anyone who is affected by this disease. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact LifeCare at Lofland Park at 628-3000, ext. 8302.

Rabies confirmed in raccoon A raccoon in Newark recently tested positive for rabies. No human was bitten but exposure to blood and saliva was suspected and so an individual was referred for postexposure prophylaxis treatment, a series of four vaccinations. The Division of Public Health reminds people that as weather warms and we start spending more time outdoors, we increase our risk of exposure to rabid animals. DPH advises that wild mammals in Delaware should be regarded as if they may have rabies, no matter their location. Pet vaccinations and awareness are the best defense. Since January 2012, the Delaware Public Health (DPH) Laboratory has tested 48 animals, of which five (approximately 10 percent) were found positive for rabies. There were six confirmed cases of rabies in animals in 2011. Rabies is a deadly disease that kills both animals and humans. When untreated, the rabies virus is almost always fatal. For more information, visit or

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Parkinson's Support Group A Parkinson's Support Group is being held in Seaford on the third Monday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Nanticoke Senior Center. The group focuses on educating members about Parkinson's through guest speakers and small group discussions. Persons with other movements disorders are welcome to join the group as much of what is discussed is not limited to Parkinson's. The value of exercise is continually stressed and an exercise class for the group will be started in the near future. New members are encouraged to attend. Reservations or advance notification is not required. For more information, call Dennis Leebel at 302-644-3465.

NMH offers CPR classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency. Cost is $40. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.