"Ask It Early:" Vitamins and Weight Loss

In this mornings "Ask It Early" segment, CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton answered questions about nutrition and weight loss, carpel tunnel syndrome and H1N1.

"As an osteopathic medical student and future osteopathic physician, patients often ask me whether it is healthy to limit the amount of food you eat, and therefore your daily caloric intake,if you still satisfy the daily nutritional requirements with high quality vitamins and supplements, in order to lose weight. How do you suggest that I answer that question?" asked Jonathan in Erie, Pennsylvania, via Skype.

"Here's the thing that people have to understand when you're talking about a multi-vitamin or any kind of vitamin or mineral supplementation: It is not a substitute for eating," Ashton replied. "The preference is to get your vitamins from eating food.

"We should mention that you can eat enough food to get enough of the vitamins and minerals you need if you eat a well-balanced diet. So, for many people, those who are pregnant, those who have an underlying medical condition, and those who have absorption or nutritional issues -- yes, a multivitamin is fine."

Does carpel tunnel start as a tingling and slight numbness in the hand and if this goes untreated can the nerve or muscle be damaged?" asked Kim, via Twitter.

"Carpel tunnel is a common problem that affects millions of people every year," Ashton said. "It's caused by a compression of the median nerve in the wrist. The pain can go up your arm. And it can if not treated, cause actual muscle weakening.

"You can think of this like a garden hose that gets stepped on. The water can't go through. The blood supply can't supply that nerve. Then, yes, you can have muscle weakness and atrophy, a lot of different treatments. The easiest one is a simple splint or immobilization that you can do at night before you go to bed."

According to Ashton, Carpel tunnel syndrome "can start as tingling, but neuropathic pain - pain that's caused by nerves, is extraordinary painful."

"There were four cases of H1N1 mutated viruses reported in North Carolina. Should we be worried?" asked Robin, via Twitter.

"Well, listen, people are on the lookout for that because this is what viruses do. They change. They evolve. They mutate. These particular cases became resistant to Tami flu, which is the big medication used to treat H1N1 influenza. So, we are expecting it to evolve a little bit, but we're looking for more widespread resistance. Obviously that hasn't happened yet. And remember when viruses mutate or evolve, sometimes they become weaker. It's not always a bad thing."

If you have any medial questions you'd like to ask Dr. Ashton, connect to her Twitter site on The Early Show at cbsnews.com.
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