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Consumption of dietary and vitamin supplements is cultural

Getting into a chemist (Oceania and the UK)/pharmacy (US) in Australia, you notice immediately the wide range of dietary and vitamin supplements occupying almost a third of the store. There are a variety of choices from A to Z of brands locally and internationally. But, in France and Luxembourg this is not the case. Often, you have to ask the staff for common vitamin supplements, such as Omega 3 and grape seed tablets, which are stocked between beauty products and medicines. In developing countries of Asia, Africa and Central & South America, these are highly unaffordable for most people. Surprisingly, however, the Nielsen study showed that Asians (and North Americans) lead the world in the usage of dietary and vitamin supplements with the highest levels found in the Philippines and Thailand (66% compared to 56% in the USA). Europe (30%) and Latin America (28%) had the lowest intake (France and Spain at the bottom: 17% and 13% respectively). The respondents’ main reason for not taking vitamins was that “their diets were already balanced while those in Poland, Russia and the Baltic states felt that “it is too difficult to understand which product to use.” (

It is known that, generally, Europeans have poor vitamin D. A comparative study of eating habits and calcium & vitamin D intakes in Central-Eastern European countries conducted by the Faculty of Health Sciences in Semmelweis University, Hungary headed by Dr. Katalin Tátrai-Nèmeth concluded that the highest calcium intake was in the Hungarian population while the lowest in Slovenia, and vitamin D intake was critically low in both of these countries. (http://www.,a-comparative-study-of-eating-habits-calcium-and-vitamin-d-intakes-in-the-popula.html).

As my biological age increases, I become more interested in multi/vitamin supplements and have actually started taking them to boost my immune system and cope with the passing of time. I have always followed a nutritious diet, have low cholesterol, high energy level and good Mass Body Index, and so probably don’t need vitamin supplements. Therefore, for me, “consumption” is the right word to describe my endeavour to feel better.

Many experts maintain that vitamin supplements can improve many bodily functions and mental health, help decrease stress and improve mood. I, too, believe that these supplements can help solve nutrient deficiency that may cause ill health. However, some of these are simply excreted by our body if we consume more than we need. According to the many articles that I have read, some of them, such as niacin and vitamins A, B-6, C and D, even have negative effects when taken in high amounts (e.g. stomach upset, itching, headache and kidney stone).

Whatever your reason for taking dietary and vitamin supplements, ensure that you have a healthy, balanced diet and stay within the Recommended Daily Amounts (RDAs). As well, read their labels carefully keeping an eye on the dose, ingredients and expiry date. Next time you visit your doctor, ask her/his opinion about your needs and your consumption (and if you have not started yet, seek advice before doing so).

Meanwhile, the following necessary nutrients and vitamins are found in your vegetables and fruits:

Vitamin A (for growth and development of cells, prevention of eye problems and keeping a healthy skin) – e.g. milk, eggs, liver, green vegetables, apricots, mangoes, papayas and peaches.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin – helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy and is necessary for the heart, muscles and nervous system to function properly) – e.g. pasta and whole grains like wheat germ, lean meats, dried beans, soy foods and peas.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin which is essential for growth, turning carbohydrates into energy and producing red blood cells) – e.g. meat, eggs, broccoli, legumes (like peas and lentils), nuts, dairy products and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin – helps the body turn food into energy and is important for nerve function) – e.g. red meat, poultry, fish, peanuts and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B6 (essential for brain and nerve function and helps the body break down proteins and make red blood cells) – e.g. fortified cereals, potatoes,
bananas, beans, seeds, nuts, red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and spinach.

Vitamin B9 (Folate or folic acid is needed to make DNA and helps the body make red blood cells) – e.g. orange juice, liver, dried beans and other legumes, and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B12 (helps to make red blood cells and is important for nerve cell function) – e.g. fish, red meat, poultry, milk, cheese and eggs.

Vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid is essential for healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels and contributes to healthy brain function) – e.g. citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, guava, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach.

Vitamin D (‘sunlight’ strengthens bones by absorbing bone-building calcium) – e.g. egg yolks, oily fish such as salmon and sardines, and fortified foods like orange juice and milk.

Vitamin E (an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and aids red blood cells) – e.g. vegetable oils, nuts, avocadoes, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.

Without Vitamin K, we could bleed to death from a simple cut. In elderly people, Vitamin K helps maintain bone strength; and this can be found in asparagus, kale, spinach, turnips, Brussels sprouts, parsley and broccoli.

Let’s enjoy our food, look after our body and mind, and be happy without doing something to someone that we don’t want done to us.

Leap year, Valentine’s day and more

I hope that 2016 has started very well for you. Definitely, it has for me: I am spoilt being in Queensland (the third largest state in Australia) with its weather suited to outside entertainment and activities (e.g. only a sliding door and a compulsory gate separate our living area from the inground swimming pool).

I am not into major or radical resolutions because often these are likely to be short-lived, but I have set myself some not-so-small goals (i.e. connecting more to myself and traditions involving those around me, i.e. restore, enhance or even renaissance). Of course, I will continue to exercise at least 150 minutes/day, eat my veges & fruits and take everything in moderation (including uotopiloting). Last year, while waiting in the dentist’s practice in Brisbane (3rd populous city in Australia), I read an article that said it’s essential to have at least three holidays a year (which are not necessarily travels abroad) to de-stress. These holidays (e.g. farm stay, hotel lodging, staycation) should focus on our physical, mental and emotional well-being (obviously).

January 26 was Australia Day and there were fantastic celebrations with fireworks and musical shows all over the country. While working for Multicultural Affairs Queensland (formerly Bureau of Ethnic Affairs), we had fun coming up with definitions of an Australian; and my updated version is something like this: Being Australian is driving a Japanese or European car to an Irish pub to drink a Belgian beer; then on the way home grab an Indian takeaway or have Yum Cha at a Chinese restaurant; at home sits on a Swedish furniture watching an American TV program or film on a German TV while texting or Facebooking in a gadget with components from Malaysia or Philippines.

February (the shortest month of the year) is my fourth favourite month. In 2016, there are 366 days (a common year has 365 days) because February has 29 days, and not 28 (this happens once in every four years) – known as leap year. February is actually a busy month: to name a few – – the 4th is World Cancer Day, 5th is Rio Carnival and 8th is Chinese New Year. The first day of lent and forty-day-season of Christian praying and fasting is also this month; and February 14 is not only Valentine’s Day but National Impotence Day (to create awareness of erectile dysfunction).

The 68th British Film Awards, which is also known as the BAFTAs, will be held on the 14th at the Royal Opera House n London; the 58th Grammy Awards on the 15th at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles; and the 88th Academy Awards, known as the Oscars, on the 28th at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. Most importantly, let’s not forget that the Random Act of Kindness Day (to instill kindness among people regardless of age, gender, ethnic origin, national belonging and life’s circumstance) is on the 17th.

An 82 year old friend has recently sent me this email:
MY PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS WERE LIVING DURING THIS TIME PERIOD (1915-16) – “One hundred years ago”. What a difference a century makes!
Here are some statistics for the Year 1915:
The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.
 Fuel for cars was sold in chemists only.
 Only 14 percent of the homes had a bath.
 Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
 The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
 The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
 The average British wage in 1915 was £15 per year!
 A competent accountant could expect to earn £800 ($1600) per year.
 A dentist £900 ($1800) per year.
 A vet between £600 and £900 ($1200- $1800) per year.
 And, a mechanical engineer about £2000 ($4000) per year.
 More than 95 percent of all births took place at home
 Ninety percent of all Doctors had no university education!
 Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press AND the government as “substandard.”
 Sugar cost two pence a pound.
 Eggs were 10 pence a dozen.
 Coffee was five pence a pound.
 Most women only washed their hair once a month, and, used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
 Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
 – Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhoea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke
 The American flag had 45 stars.
 The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was only 30.
 Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet.
 There was neither a Mother’s Day nor a Father’s Day.
 Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write and, only 6 percent of all British pupils went to university.
 Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at local corner chemists.
Back then chemists said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach, bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health!” (Shocking?)
 Eighteen percent of households had at least one full-time servant or domestic help…
 There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE U.S.A.! In 2014 this figure had risen to 14,249.
 In the UK the murder rate in 1915 was 1420. In 2015 it was 537.
 I am now going to forward this to someone else without typing it myself.
 From there, it will be sent to others all over the WORLD all in a matter of seconds!
 Can you imagine what it may be like 100 years from now?

Year 2016 should be better

I’m writing this from sunny Brisbane in Australia. I’m so delighted to be with family and friends, especially that I didn’t see them for five years. Being a family addict and social connoisseur, every day is spent dining together, playing board games and sports, visiting places or simply lazing around talking to each other. Giving and receiving are also a habit. Fortunately, I received only useful presents last Christmas. However, even if I had unwanted gifts, I would have turned these into needed and appreciated possessions. In fact, even when I don’t like my gift, I never return it. Of course you can do this if there’s a receipt (but never ask for it) and exchange it for something that you really like.

In the past, I did regift expensive wine and champagne bottles (I don’t drink alcohol). Sometimes, I had presents that stayed in my wardrobe for a year or so waiting for the right person and occasion. Since I have a fairly good memory when it comes to people and their kindness, I always remember who has given me what. However, one day when my memory starts to dwindle, I will record my unwanted presents so that I won’t offer these embarrassingly to the original givers.

As well, I am good at reusing presents, e.g. my current make up porcelain holder was actually given to me as a jewellery box.

Barbara Young, one of my role models and former work supervisors, donates unwanted gifts to charities (e.g. Save the Children Fund) and those less fortunate. About 8 years ago, I helped her get rid of unused belongings in a garage sale.

Perhaps one day I will organise a swapping party for unused/unwanted Christmas (or birthday) presents.

The year 2015 was enlightening and productive for me, however, global events (several of which I had mentioned in my previous articles) saddened me. Currently, what worries me more is that our world continues to be riddled with mutual distrust and division, conflicts and terrorism. What can we do about these – antidotes and answers?

I hope that in 2016 we will witness less destruction of lives and properties (and other crimes), unemployment/underemployment, flooding of refugees, extreme weather conditions/climate change, failure in national and global governances, political and economic instability, and family breakdowns.

I wish you and your loved ones peace, security, safety, good health and happiness throughout 2016.