The Pros and Cons of Vitamin Supplements

By: Jennifer Woods

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means getting a good nutritional balance of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs to thrive. Often this can be done through a varied, sensible diet but for people not eating particularly well, those with certain medical conditions or those who want a little extra help in bulking up or losing weight supplements may be the way to give your body the nutrients that its missing. Because of their numerous health benefits, convenience and availability (most supplements can be bought over the counter without the approval of a healthcare provider) there was a reported 7.5% growth in nutritional supplements in 2009.

But despite their potential benefits, there are some practical and medical downsides of vitamin supplements too. People should never take any form of medication without fully understanding what it is for, how to take it correctly and knowing whether or not they actually need it. This is why it is important to consult a trained healthcare provider before taking supplements – although you may think you are doing your body a favour it might actually have the opposite effect. Here are some pros and cons to adding supplements to your diet.

(-) Excessive and unnecessary doses

People often don’t realise the specific amounts of vitamins and minerals within the foods they are consuming and may consequently use supplements to boost their nutritional intake unnecessarily. Taking excessive doses of certain vitamins can be dangerous and cause toxicities within the body’s organs and tissues – particularly the liver as it struggles to break down high amounts of various vitamins within the body. In a study carried out by Gustavo Castano, results indicated that a high intake of vitamin A can lead to liver failure and potential death.

Protein shakes are a popular supplement with athletes and body builders who want to bulk up and increase their muscle mass. But bearing in mind that the recommended daily allowance of protein is only 56g in men and that 3oz of meat sometimes containing 20g of protein, it can be easy to overdo it. The excess calories can cause athletes to actually gain fat rather than muscle. Understanding the nutritional value of the meals that you are eating is a good way to ascertain whether or not you need to add supplements to your diet at all.

(+) Beneficial for those with special diets

Some people have allergies to certain foods such as dairy products or may make the lifestyle choice to become a vegetarian. Things like this may make them deficient in certain vitamins and minerals and this is where taking supplements can be a great help. For example many vegetarians are often lacking in the vitamin B-12 which is found in meat. Inadequate amounts of this vitamin can lead to pernicious anemia so it is important to keep levels high even if you can’t or don’t want to eat the foods associated with it. Keeping levels of vitamin A, C and E high also means that you will be more protected against cancer and heart disease.

(-) Cost

Because they usually need to be taken daily, maintaining a vitamin supplement ‘diet’ can become expensive. Although the more basic capsule form of multi vitamins can be purchased for as little as $2, the more specialized, high dose forms of vitamin supplements can cost a lot more. Their value for money is somewhat questioned by a British newspaper suggesting that 75% of the vitamin C in supplements is lost in urine as the kidneys simply flush it from the bloodstream.

With protein shakes costing up to $20 for a premade carton and $50 for a DIY tub of powder, it can certainly be an expensive way to stay healthy.

It’s not just the intial outlay for your supplements either. Another area where you may find yourself out of pocket if you are taking PRESCRIBED supplements is when purchasing health insurance. According to one report, insurance companies are now able to look at a patients perscription history and determine from this what sort of ailments or ongoing conditions they may have. Many of us presume our medical history is between us and our doctors. But insurance companies have the rights to this information through numerous loopholes that you have to adhere to before purchasing health insurance. Therefore if you have an ongoing health problem or deficiency that means you need to take regular supplements, don’t be surprised if your health insurers know about it then hike up your premiums accordingly.

(+) Convenience

In today’s hectic, high paced culture, many of us struggle to find the time to cook a healthy, nutritious meal. Vitamin supplements are a good way of getting what we need quickly and with no stress. They are also great for kids who need essential vitamins and minerals to grow properly but may be fussy eaters. The convenience of protein shakes is also great for athletes who are advised to take a protein hit directly after a workout in order to instantly repair and replenish the muscles and stabilise blood sugar levels. A premade shake is easy to carry around and is absorbed by the body more quickly than a meal.

They are also easy to get hold of with many health stores and supermarkets selling them over the counter as well as online.

(-) May interfere with medication

Studies suggest that vitamin supplements may interfere with prescribed medicines for certain medical conditions and disorders as they cause medications to be metabolised at a different rate. One prime example of this is taking a vitamin D supplement alongside Atorvastain – a drug used for controlling high cholesterol. This is one of the reasons why consulting a healthcare provider before taking supplements is so important.

(+) Different forms

Adding supplements to your diet is easy as they come in all different forms. The most well known is pill or capsule form but some people struggle to swallow these and can therefore try the teas, concentrated liquids, powders or even chewable wafers. Different forms may be absorbed by the body at different rates. For example throat lozenges are thought to take longer while pills are absorbed more quickly.

The post The Pros and Cons of Vitamin Supplements also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

The Psychology Behind Halloween Costumes: What Our Choices Say About Us

Halloweenpsych(PCM) Halloween is here. That means all the super heroes and sexy nurses will abruptly show themselves for a single night. Suddenly it becomes permissible for you to scare your friends. Also, it is probably the only day when you would seek out strangers and ask them to give you candy.

But what about Halloween is so exciting? Is it the thought of candy? Couldn’t possibly, candy is available all year round for our consumption. Could it be the decorations? No, we decorate for nearly every holiday in America. What about the costumes? Ah, I think we are on to something here.

In 2009 Halloween costume sales surpassed six billion dollars and 62% of the sales were adult oriented costumes, showing the holiday is no child’s play. Some of us spend hours contemplating the perfect outfit, discussing it with our friends, purchasing makeup and creating realistic props. For many, Halloween becomes one of the largest productions of the year. The question is: Why do we bother ourselves with the daunting task of dressing up?

The most obvious and simple reason is fun. Dressing as an exaggerated version of your ninth grade math teacher can provide endless entertainment for your classmates. Covering yourself in synthetic blood will most likely cause your mother to squirm. The concept of being someone else to get a reaction from others is enjoyable.

Another motive for dressing up on Halloween is to step into one of your idol’s shoes, literally. According to a National Retail Federation report in 2010 the top two most popular child costumes were “the princess” and “Spider Man.” What young girl doesn’t want to wear an extravagant pink gown and rule the kingdom? What boy doesn’t want to sport a body suit with chiseled muscles and save the world? Stepping into the role of an idol, becoming them, we are able to act differently. This concept of performing a role other than the one you play everyday can be appealing.

This is the true motivation to buy/create Halloween costumes; but the question is why? Well, every human develops what is called an “ego” and a “shadow.” Our ego is built of every aspect of ourselves that we are aware of and are proud to share with others; things like being a good student or a caring person. Our shadow is comprised of parts of us that have been rejected as negative as we grow up. Qualities such as being violent or overtly sexual are in many of our shadows. The story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a great example of this. By day Dr. Jekyll is a fine doctor; however, by night he unconsciously becomes Mr. Hyde and maliciously terrorizes London. Dr. Jekyll is indeed a respectable man, however, that is not all he is. He has a dark side, Mr. Hyde, who after being suppressed needs to escape.

With these concepts in mind, let’s examine the idea of Halloween costumes again. Imagine a boy named Jeremy. Jeremy has two sisters and often gets punished by his parents for being rough with them. The negative reaction he receives from his parents forces Jeremy to push his aggression into his shadow, to hide it from everyone. When Halloween rolls around Jeremy wishes to dress as a serial killer. He is able to scream, be rough and thus allow his aggression to come out. Jeremy is using his costume as a means of exercising his shadow, for it is permissible to act violent and aggressive while playing the role of the serial killer on Halloween. Wearing this costume is a healthy means for Jeremy to release some of the pressure his shadow has put on him.

I am not saying that Jeremy has a potential to become literal killer, however, playing the role for a few hours is beneficial for his psychological health. This same reason is why teenage girls dress as the scantily clad maid or sexy devil. They are playing the role of seductress and allowing sexuality they have been forced to repress to run free. We are unable to deny our shadow, for it is a part of us. If our shadow is ignored completely it will explode, like as Dr. Jekyll’s did. Halloween provides a context in which many of our shadow behaviors are acceptable.

So this Halloween allow yourself to have fun and step into a new role. If you need some help deciding, consider looking at your walls. Do you have a poster of someone you do not know but idolize? Consider the reasons why you like them. What qualities do they possess that you feel you lack? Take these questions into consideration when deciding what to be this season, for your costume choice may say more about you than you think.

The post The Psychology Behind Halloween Costumes: What Our Choices Say About Us also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Teen Runner Disqualified For Showing Good Sportsmanship


(PCM) A high school runner by the name of Zach Hougland came in first place during a cross country race in Des Moines, Iowa, but was later disqualified from the competition all because he showed some good sportsmanship and went back to assist a fellow runner who was struggling.

Competitor Garrett Hinson was suffering from severe dehydration during the race, so when Houghland noticed that no one else was coming to Hinson’s aid, he turned back and helped Hinson cross the finish line.

Definitely a heartwarming gesture, however it backfired when Hougland was notified that he had lost his first place medal. The rules of the Iowa High School Athletic Association a competitor is immediately disqualified for giving or receiving help, so therefore both Hougland and Hinson were both disqualified from the race.

A representative for the Iowa High School Athletic Association claims that his hands are tied due to the rules, however he does commend Hougland for his good sportsmanship. Hougland’s team did score high enough in the competition to allow him to compete at the state meet later this month and Houghland says despite losing his medal he would not do anything differently and would still come to the aid of a person in need.

The post Teen Runner Disqualified For Showing Good Sportsmanship also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Pumpkin Carving 101, Decorating Ideas and More

(PCM)It’s October and that means it’s time to bring on the festive fall decorations! With just a few weeks left until Halloween, it’s the perfect time to start pumpkin picking! Plain pumpkins are wonderfully festive for the month of October, but as Halloween gets closer, why not go all out and carve them up, or better yet, bedazzle them!

Here are a few tips and ideas on how to add a little pizazz to your pumpkins, from carving to bedazzling!

How to carve the perfect pumpkin:

1. Clean the pumpkin by using a damp cloth or wetwipe. Make sure all the dirt is off and let it dry.

2. Cut the stem off the pumpkin at a 45 degree angle so that the top will fit back on top without falling through.

3. Use a large spoon or pumpkin scraper to scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin. Don’t forget to clean up the stem top too. Don’t throw away the seeds – separate them from the pulp and roast them in the oven with a little salt at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

4. Either draw a pattern with a permanent marker, or trace a stensil. is a great site where you can print some really unique patterns for a reasonable price.

5. Follow the pattern and cut all the way through the pumpkin with a knife or carving kit utensil if you have one. Invest in a good carving kit if you carve pumpkins every year – they aren’t too expensive and are safer to use, especially with kids.

6. Carefully remove the pieces by pushing them from the inside out, and clean up the edges the best you can.

7. Place a battery operated light or candle (in a holder!) inside the pumpkin, and that’s it!

More Tips and Ideas:

Throwing a Halloween party? Instead of using an ice bucket to keep drinks cold, use a pumpkin! Take a large, wide pumpkin, cut off the top third, and scrape out the pulp and seeds. Line the pumpkin with a glass or plastic bowl to keep it from leaking. Finish by filling the bowl with ice and bottled drinks! You can also do the same thing with a tall, narrow pumpkin to keep wine and other bottles of liquor on ice!

Turn your pumpkins into vases and fill with beautiful flowers for a festive, fall display! Just carve a hole in the top, removing the stem and insides of the pumpkin. Place a bowl inside the pumpkin, fill half way with water, and put some fresh cut flowers in it. Keep it out on display well past Halloween – it’s still autumn after all!

Bedazzle pumpkins with glitter, rhinestones, and/or bows! It’s an easy way to make your pumpkins pop – plus they’ll last much longer than carved pumpkins. The only downside is you don’t get to roast the seeds, but you’ll be okay. Clean the pumpkin and make sure it’s completely dry. Paint a thin layer of glue along the pumpkin followed by a generous sprinkling of glitter. You’ll have to move fast so you the glue doesn’t dry and get clumpy.  You can also pour the glitter in a shallow bowl and roll the pumpkin in the glitter bowl if it’s not too large. Once the entire pumpkin is covered in a layer of glitter, let it try completely for about an hour. Tie a pretty ribbon at the stem, or go really diva by glueing rhinestones to it!

And of course, you can always paint your pumpkins for a fun, safe activity for kids. Acrylic paint or permanent felt-tip markers work best.

Have fun and hurry, Halloween will sneak up on you before you know it!

What Do Your Fall Decorations Say About You?

The post Pumpkin Carving 101, Decorating Ideas and More also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

A Thanksgiving Ritual… Little Things You Did that Really Mattered to Me!

By: Susan Ford Collins


How to Make Habits of Highly Successful People (HSPs) Part of Your Holidays

In our family, Thanksgiving is about much more than just food! Oh yes, every year I make homemade cranberry sauce, a huge rice-stuffing filled turkey roasted with onions, mushrooms and carrots till golden brown, along with neatly trimmed broccoli “trees” for the kids, and a mouth-watering array of regular as well as gluten-free pumpkin pies. But most delicious of all (tucked inconspicuously among the silverware and napkins on our long cloth-covered table) we have something more. A ritual!

Little 3” x 3” slips of colorful paper are set under the napkins beside each person’s plate… along with small stubby pens… so that when the meal is over and we’re still too full for desert, we can write each other messages about “something you did or you were this year that really mattered to me… a phone call at just the right time, a welcome word of praise, a hug or smile that was desperately needed; the kind of mother or friend you were; the example you set that made the way easier for someone else in the family. Something you probably don’t even remember, but I do. And I want to thank you for doing it or being it.” Then we share our notes with everyone else at the table.

On Thanksgivings when we have lots of guests, instead of writing our messages, we go around the table sharing them out loud, generating smiles, hearty chuckles and even grateful tears. Spoken words are wonderful, but words written have an advantage… They last! In the months that follow, we’ve all noticed these saved “things that really mattered to me” slips of paper posted on refrigerator doors, pinned on bulletin boards or neatly creased and folded in bowls of seashells, sea glass and other memorabilia. These tiny notes serve as powerful reminders too. On particularly challenging days, it’s wonderful to reread what was said about us and, even more heartwarming, to recall what was said about our kids. To know about the kind deeds they’ve done for others that we would never otherwise hear about, or be able to enjoy.

And, now that these notes have become a family ritual, we’re on the lookout all year for experiences we can write on next year’s colorful Thanksgiving notes! But we frequently deliver them long before knowing there’ll be lots more by then!

Success Filing as a family

Here’s something I learned by shadowing Highly Successful People (HSPS) for 20 years and working with them for 20 more. HSPs make time each day to “file” their successes… all the ordinary and extraordinary things they did and realized that day, like… I ate a good breakfast, went for a run, quizzed my kids on their spelling words, replied to all my emails, returned a call I missed yesterday… that could be a hug opportunity.

Why is this important to HSPs? Here’s what they told me. If they wait for other people to acknowledge them and agree with them they could be waiting a long time! So to constantly build and rebuild their Self-Confidence, instead of relying on Other-Confidence, they write their successes in a journal, a computer file or cell phone or just underline them in their mind while repeating one of these mantras…

  • When my Success File I feel Success-Full. When it is low, I feel low too. (And tend to lie around and procrastinate instead of getting going on my priorities.) Or…
  • Success in my past gives me confidence in my future… the confidence I need to enjoy goals and dreams!

Whether we realize it or not, families have Success Files too. How full is your family’s? Hopefully this Thanksgiving Ritual will help you top it off!

Susan Ford Collins is a sought-after speaker, trainer, and the founder of The Technology of Success. She began her career as a young researcher at the National Institutes of Health with a radical idea: to focus her research on healthy, highly successful people (HSPs) rather than dysfunctional ones. With more than two decades studying HSPs and two additional decades working with them, she now shares what she has learned about leadership and management. Susan and her husband live happily in their tropical Miami home, surrounded by lush gardens, koi ponds and an indoor/outdoor aviary filled with exotic finches.

The Technology of Success book series includes:

The Joy of Success: 10 Essential Skills for Getting the Success You Want, [New edition, Greenleaf Book Group Press, October 20, 2015]

Success Has Gears: Using the Right Gear at the Right Time in Business & Life, [2014]

Our Children Are Watching: 10 Skills for Leading the Next Generation to Success, [2014]

Find Susan on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,


The post A Thanksgiving Ritual… Little Things You Did that Really Mattered to Me! also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

This Halloween Say No to Zombies, Yes to Zombie Killer!

Zombies. They’re soooo in right now. It’s a brave new corpsed-up world.  How zombified have things gotten, really? Google “zombie” paired with pretty much any other word, from A to, well, Zed, and you’ll get a legion of legitimate hits. “Zombie apple?” Ripe for the pickin’! “Zombie zeitgeist?” Well, duh! Just be prepared to unearth a little zombie kinkiness/nastiness as well. Because one Haitian voodoo daddy’s zombie cucumber is another person’s, um.

So what’s a thoughtful tricked-out treatster to do this Halloween to stand out from the inevitable ratty horde of would-be rotting meatbags? Simple: Go the opposite of zombie! Get your dress-up on as the world’s most kick-ass zombie killer instead.

Rule Halloween night like a redneck king! Strut the zombie-choked streets as Tallahassee, the Twinkie-obsessed undead-dispatcher from the 2009 Hollywood smash hit Zombieland. See RDB’s simple costuming tips below!


rule #1: badass hat. The essential bit. For true Tallahassee attitude, only the right hatitude will cut it: Duding up in country-singer cowboy headwear is gonna miss the mark, podnah. The real thing, in this case, is the Real Deal Brazil (, our genuine handmade-in-Brazil recycled-truck-tarp hat, chosen by Columbia Pictures’ costume department to give Tallahassee his crazy-ass sense of comic s***kicker cool. And once Halloween has melted back into the shadows, we’re confident your RDB hat will still be making mucho guest appearances atop your own crazy-ass cabeza.

rule #2: shades ’n’ scruff. Try the sunglasses-tree at just about any dollar store for suitable NASCAR-country-boy eyewear. And if you can’t muster up some fast whisker growth for a sloppy goatee, then dot your cheeks and chin with an eyeliner pencil for a quick patch of 5 o’clock hair-face.

rule #3: he-man neckwear. Wood beads, heavy chains, metal or fake-bone pendants. Kind of a Cracker Jacks-prize approach to men’s jewelry, really. Here again, any available dollar store should get you there.

rule #4: v-neck shirt. There’s something about a lowcut T-shirt that just says you’re badass. (Unless, of course, you’re a real lardass, and wearing sweatpants. Then it kinda says 3 a.m. Wal-Mart shopper instead.) Maroon is Tallahassee’s color, but any dark V-neck T should do the trick.

rule #5: leathers. You could probably pull off a jean jacket in a pinch, but Tallahassee is all about classic heavy leather, when he’s not seriously rednecking it up in snakeskin. Just not leather with too much sheen to it, and more motorcycle-style than bomber.

rule #6: the belt. Something with a big ol’ metal buckle.

rule #7: weapon holder, or (fake) weapon. The average leather gun holster is too small, but a leather sheaf for a long fish-filleting knife would do it, strapped to your belt, and then tied at the bottom around your left thigh with yet another belt. In the absence of that, just get yourself a toy rifle, or a toy AK-47, if such a thing is available at, y’know, Toy Guns ’R Us. The key word here is “toy.” Halloween surprise + packing real heat = bang, bang, someone’s bad-dead, not just funny-undead.

rule #8: classic denim. No designer “holes,” acid-washed streaks or black thread; the simple workin’ man’s denim-jeans standard, Levi’s, is best. To achieve that I’ve-just-endured-the-apocalypse feel, rub charcoal on your hands and then smear them on your thighs. You dirty little zombie-killer, you!

rule #9: boots. Cowboy, not biker. Suede or natural says serious boot-wearer, but snakeskin lends kick-ass redneck cred in a red-hot second.

other fun props. Jack Daniels bottle, Hostess Twinkies, banjo, long-handled pruning shears.*

* Note of caution: Hard liquor, mystery-cream-filled snack-cakes, poorly played bluegrass music and sharp garden implements can cause serious harm to the still-living.

The post This Halloween Say No to Zombies, Yes to Zombie Killer! also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

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