May 30, 2008

-Level 5 Leadership (brief)

What will catapult your company from merely good to truly great? Believe it or not, a leader who's almost painfully humble—as well as iron willed.

Out of 1,435 Fortune 500 companies that renowned management researcher Jim Collins studied, only 11 achieved and sustained greatness—garnering stock returns at least three times the market’s—for 15 years after a major transition period.

What did these 11 companies have in common? Each had a “Level 5” leader at the helm.

Level 5 leaders blend the paradoxical combination of deep personal humility with intense professional will. This rare combination also defies our assumptions about what makes a great leader.

Celebrities like Lee Iacocca may make headlines. But mild-mannered, steely leaders like Darwin Smith of Kimberly-Clark boost their companies to greatness—and keep them there.

Darwin Smith—CEO at paper-products maker Kimberly-Clark from 1971 to 1991—epitomizes Level 5 leadership. Shy, awkward, shunning attention, he also showed iron will, determinedly redefining the firm’s core business despite Wall Street’s skepticism. The formerly lackluster Kimberly-Clark became the worldwide leader in its industry, generating stock returns 4.1 times greater than the general market’s.

The Idea in Practice

Humility + Will = Level 5
How do Level 5 leaders manifest humility? They routinely credit others, external factors, and good luck for their companies’ success. But when results are poor, they blame themselves. They also act quietly, calmly, and determinedly—relying on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.

Inspired standards demonstrate Level 5 leaders’ unwavering will. Utterly intolerant of mediocrity, they are stoic in their resolve to do whatever it takes to produce great results—terminating everything else. And they select superb successors, wanting their companies to become even more successful in the future.

Can You Develop Level 5 Leadership?
Level 5 leaders sit atop a hierarchy of four more common leadership levels—and possess the skills of all four. For example, Level 4 leaders catalyze commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear, compelling vision. Can you move from Level 4 to Level 5? Perhaps, if you have the Level 5 “seed” within you.

Leaders without the seed tend to have monumental egos they can’t subjugate to something larger and more sustaining than themselves, i.e., their companies. But for leaders with the seed, the right conditions—such as self-reflection or a profoundly transformative event, such as a life-threatening illness—can stimulate the seed to sprout.

Growing to Level 5
Grow Level 5 seeds by practicing these good-to-great disciplines of Level 5 leaders:

First who.
Attend to people first, strategy second. Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off—then figure out where to drive it.

Stockdale paradox.
Deal with the brutal facts of your current reality—while maintaining absolute faith that you’ll prevail.

Buildup-breakthrough flywheel.
Keep pushing your organizational “flywheel.” With consistent effort, momentum increases until—bang!—the wheel hits the breakthrough point.

The hedgehog concept.
Think of your company as three intersecting circles: what it can be best at, how its economics work best, and what ignites its people’s passions. Eliminate everything else.

May 23, 2008

-Vitamins Overview

Each vitamin has specific functions. You can develop health problems (deficiency disease) if you do not get enough of a particular vitamin.

Vitamin A helps in the formation and maintenance of healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucous membranes, and skin.

Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine. The more protein a person eats, the more vitamin B6 is needed to help the body use the protein. Vitamin B6 helps form red blood cells and maintain brain function, among other things.

Vitamin B12, like the other B vitamins, is important for metabolism. It also helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums. It helps the body absorb iron and maintain healthy tissue. It also promotes wound healing.

Vitamin D is also known as the "sunshine vitamin," since it is made by the body after being in the sun. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine three times per week is enough to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D. This vitamin promotes the body's absorption of calcium, which is essential for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps maintain proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorus.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant also known as tocopherol. It plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body use vitamin K.

Vitamin K is not listed among the essential vitamins, but without it blood would not stick together (coagulate). Some studies suggest that it helps promote strong bones in the elderly.

Biotin is essential for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and in the production of hormones and cholesterol.

Niacin is a B vitamin that helps maintain healthy skin and nerves. It is also has cholesterol-lowering effects.

Folate works with vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells. It is necessary for the production of DNA, which controls tissue growth and cell function. Any woman who is pregnant should be sure to get enough folate. Low levels of folate are linked to birth defects such as spina bifida. Many foods are now fortified with folic acid.

Pantothenic acid is essential for the metabolism of food. It is also plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol.

Riboflavin (B2) works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and the production of red blood cells.

Thiamine (B1) helps the body cells change carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for heart function and healthy nerve cells.

*Latest Cancer Findings


1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not
show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few
billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer
cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are
unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the
detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's

3. When the person's immune system is strong, the cancer cells will be
destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer, it indicates the person has multiple
nutritional deficiencies
. These could be due to genetic, environmental,
food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and
including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and
also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow,
gastrointestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver,
kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation, while destroying cancer cells, also burns, scars and damages
healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce
tumor size. However, prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not
result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and
radiation, the immune system is either compromised or destroyed; hence
the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and
become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer
cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by
not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.


a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar, it cuts off one
important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like
NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame, and it is
harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses,
but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make
it white in color. A better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the
gastrointestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and
substituting with unsweetened soy milk, cancer cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is
acidic, and it is best to eat fish and a little chicken rather than beef
or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and
parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds,
nuts and a little fruit
help put the body into an alkaline environment.
About 20% can be from cooked food, including beans. Fresh vegetable
juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to
cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of
healthy ce lls. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells, try and
drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and
eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at
temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green
is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties.
Water -- best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins
and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive
enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines become putrefied
and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from
or eating less meat, it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of
cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer

14. So me supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence,
Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the
body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like
vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the
body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and
positive spirit will help
the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger,
resentment, and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic
environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax
and enjoy life

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising
daily, and deep breathing help
to get more oxygen down to the cellular
level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.


1. No plastic containers in micro.

2. No water bottles in freezer.

3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This
information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as

Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer.
Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies.
Don't freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases
dioxins from the plastic.

Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle
Hospital, was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked
about dioxins and how bad they are for us.. He said that we should not
be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers.

This especially applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the
combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the
food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Instead, he recommends
using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for
heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such
things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed
from the container and heated in something else.

Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. It's just safer
to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that awhile
ago, some of the fast-food restaurants moved away from the foam
containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.

Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as
dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the
food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt
out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper
towel instead.

May 18, 2008

-Varicose veins


Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins. The word "varicose" comes from the Latin root "varix," which means "twisted." Any vein may become varicose, but the veins most commonly affected are those in your legs and feet. That's because standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins in your lower body.

For many people, varicose veins and spider veins — a common, mild and medically insignificant variation of varicose veins — are simply a cosmetic concern. For other people, varicose veins can cause aching pain and discomfort. Sometimes the condition leads to more serious problems. Varicose veins may also signal a higher risk of other disorders of the circulatory system.

Varicose veins are a common condition in the United States, affecting up to 15 percent of men and up to 25 percent of women. Treatment may involve self-help measures or procedures by your doctor to close or remove veins.

Signs and symptoms

Some people with varicose veins don't experience any discomfort from the condition. When painful signs and symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • An achy or heavy feeling in your legs, and burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs. Prolonged sitting or standing tends to make your legs feel worse.
  • Itching around one or more of your veins.
  • Skin ulcers near your ankle, which represent a severe form of vascular disease and require immediate attention.

Varicose veins are dark purple or blue in color and may appear twisted and bulging — like cords. They commonly appear on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg. However, they can form anywhere on your legs, from your groin to your ankle.

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they're smaller. Spider veins are found closer to the skin's surface and are often red or blue. They occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face. Spider veins vary in size and often look like a spider's web or a tree branch.


Arteries carry blood from your heart to the rest of your tissues. Veins return blood from the rest of your body to your heart, so the blood can be recirculated. To return blood to your heart, the veins in your legs must work against gravity. Muscle contractions in your lower legs act as pumps, while toned, elastic vein walls help blood return to your heart. Tiny one-way valves in your veins open as blood flows toward your heart then close to stop blood from flowing backward.

As you get older your veins can lose elasticity, causing them to stretch. The valves in your veins may become weak, allowing blood that should be moving toward your heart to flow backward. Blood pools in your veins, and your veins enlarge and become varicose. The veins appear blue because they contain deoxygenated blood, which is in the process of being recirculated.

Some pregnant women develop varicose veins. Pregnancy increases the volume of blood in your body, but decreases the flow of blood from your legs to your pelvis. This circulatory change is designed to support the growing fetus, but it can produce an unfortunate side effect — enlarged veins in your legs. Varicose veins may surface for the first time or may worsen during late pregnancy, when your uterus exerts greater pressure on the veins in your legs. Hemorrhoids are varicose veins located in and around the anus.

Risk factors

These factors increase your risk of developing varicose veins:

  • Age. Aging causes wear and tear on the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow. Eventually, that wear causes the valves to malfunction.
  • Sex. Women are more likely than men are to develop the condition. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, premenstruation or menopause may be a factor. Female hormones tend to relax vein walls. Taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills may increase your risk of varicose veins.
  • Genetics. If other family members had varicose veins, there's a greater chance you will too.
  • Obesity. Being overweight puts added pressure on your veins.
  • Standing for long periods of time. Your blood doesn't flow as well if you're in the same position for long periods.

Screening and diagnosis

In making a diagnosis, your doctor will examine your legs while you're standing and will look for swelling. He or she may also ask you to describe the pain and aching in your legs. Finally, your doctor may perform an ultrasound test to see if the valves in your veins are functioning normally or if there's any evidence of a blood clot. Your primary care doctor may recommend that you see a doctor who specializes in vein conditions (phlebologist) or a doctor who treats skin conditions (dermatologist or dermatology surgeon).


Extremely painful ulcers may form on the skin near varicose veins, particularly near the ankles. Ulcers are the result of long-term "water logging" of these tissues, caused by increased pressure of blood within affected veins. Brownish pigmentation usually precedes the development of an ulcer. See your doctor immediately if you suspect you've developed an ulcer.

Occasionally, veins deep within the legs become enlarged. In such cases, the affected leg may swell considerably. Any sudden leg swelling warrants urgent medical attention because it may indicate a blood clot — a condition known medically as thrombophlebitis.


Fortunately, treatment usually doesn't mean a hospital stay or a long, uncomfortable recovery. Less invasive techniques generally allow varicose veins to be dealt with on an outpatient basis. Self-help measures — such as exercising, losing weight, not wearing tight clothes, elevating your legs and avoiding long periods of standing or sitting — can ease pain and prevent varicose veins from getting worse. Varicose veins that develop during pregnancy generally improve without medical treatment within three months after delivery.

If you don't respond to self-help or if your condition is more severe, your doctor may advise one of these varicose vein treatments:

  • Sclerotherapy. In this procedure, your doctor injects small- and medium-sized varicose veins with a solution that scars and closes those veins. In a few weeks, treated varicose veins should fade. Although the same vein may need to be injected more than once, sclerotherapy is effective if done correctly. Sclerotherapy doesn't require anesthesia and can be done in your doctor's office.
  • Laser surgeries. Doctors are using new technology in laser treatments to close off smaller varicose veins and spider veins. Laser surgery works by sending strong bursts of light onto the vein, which makes the vein slowly fade and disappear. No incisions or needles are used.
  • Catheter-assisted procedures. In one of these treatments, your doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) into an enlarged vein and heats the tip of the catheter. As the catheter is pulled out, the heat destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut. This procedure is usually done for larger varicose veins.
  • Vein stripping. This procedure involves removing a long vein through small incisions. This is an outpatient procedure for most people. Removing the vein won't affect circulation in your leg because veins deeper in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood.
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy (fluh-BEK-to-me). Your doctor removes smaller varicose veins through a series of tiny skin punctures. Local anesthesia is used in this outpatient procedure. Scarring is generally minimal.
  • Endoscopic vein surgery. You might need this operation only in an advanced case involving leg ulcers. Your surgeon uses a thin video camera inserted in your leg to visualize and close varicose veins, and then removes the veins through small incisions.

Be a cautious consumer
When it comes to treatment options for varicose veins, it pays to be a cautious health consumer. Advertisements claiming "unique," "permanent" or "painless" methods to remove varicose veins may be appealing, but they may not actually measure up to those claims. Before undergoing any procedure, ask your doctor about any health risks and possible side effects.

You may want to inquire about treatment costs, as well. Most insurance policies don't cover the expense of elective cosmetic surgery for varicose veins. However, in many cases, if you have signs or symptoms such as swelling and bleeding, insurance may cover the treatment.

Current treatments for varicose veins and spider veins are highly successful. However, it's possible that varicose veins can recur.


There's no way to completely prevent varicose veins. But improving your circulation and muscle tone can reduce your risk of developing varicose veins or getting additional ones. Traditional, common-sense approaches include:

  • Exercise. Get your legs moving. Walking is a great way to encourage blood circulation in your legs. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate activity level for you.
  • Watch your weight, and your diet. Shedding excess pounds takes unnecessary pressure off your veins. What you eat makes a difference, too. Follow a low-salt, high-fiber diet to prevent the swelling that may result from water retention and constipation.
  • Watch what you wear. Avoid high heels. Low-heeled shoes work calf muscles more, which is better for your veins. Don't wear tight clothes around your waist, legs or groin. Tight panty-leg girdles, for instance, can restrict circulation.
  • Elevate your legs. To improve venous circulation, take several short breaks daily to elevate your legs above the level of your heart. For example, lie down with your legs resting on three or four pillows.
  • Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. Make a point of changing your position frequently to encourage blood flow. Try to move around at least every 30 minutes.
  • Don't sit with your legs crossed. This position can aggravate circulation problems.


Wearing compression stockings is often the first approach to try before moving on to other treatments. Compression stockings are worn all day. They steadily squeeze your legs, helping veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. The amount of compression varies by type and brand.

Stockings today come in a variety of strengths, styles and colors. With the variety offered, you're likely to find a stocking that you're comfortable wearing.

You can buy compression stockings at most pharmacies and medical supply stores. Prices vary. Prescription-strength stockings also are available.

When purchasing compression stockings, make sure that they fit properly. Using a tape measure, you or your pharmacist can measure your legs to ensure you get the right size and fit according to the size chart found on the stocking package. Compression stockings should be strong but not necessarily tight. If you have weak hands or arthritis, getting these stockings on may be difficult. There are devices to make putting them on easier.

Complementary and alternative medicine

Evidence suggests that horse chestnut seed extract may be an effective treatment for chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a condition associated with varicose veins in which leg veins have problems returning blood to the heart. The herb may help improve swelling and discomfort caused by varicose veins. Talk with your doctor before trying horse chestnut seed extract or any other herb or dietary supplement.

(source mayo clinic)

May 15, 2008

-Good sources of selenium

Several foods are naturally rich in selenium. The best sources of selenium include:

  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Meats (especially organ meats such as liver and kidney)
  • Seafood
  • Some nuts (e.g., Brazil nuts, walnuts)
  • Wheat germ

In addition, selenium is present in grains, seeds, fruits and vegetables grown in selenium-rich soils. Animals that eat plants or grains that were grown in soil rich in selenium have higher levels of selenium in their muscle.

Examples of certain foods and the amount of selenium (in micrograms) they contain include:


Micrograms (mcg)

Percent Daily Value*

Brazil nuts, dried, unblanched, 1 ounce



Tuna, light, canned in oil, drained, 3 ounces



Beef, cooked, 3½ ounces



Spaghetti w/ meat sauce, frozen entrée, 1 serving



Cod, cooked, 3 ounces



Turkey, light meat, roasted, 3½ ounces



Beef chuck roast, lean only, roasted, 3 ounces



Chicken Breast, meat only, roasted, 3½ ounces



Noodles, enriched, boiled, 1/2 cup



Macaroni, elbow, enriched, boiled, 1/2 cup



Egg, whole, 1 medium



Cottage cheese, low fat 2%, 1/2 cup



Oatmeal, instant, fortified, cooked, 1 cup



Rice, white, enriched, long grain, cooked, 1/2 cup



Rice, brown, long-grained, cooked, 1/2 cup



Bread, enriched, whole wheat, commercially prepared, 1 slice



Walnuts, black, dried, 1 ounce



Bread, enriched, white, commercially prepared, 1 slice



Cheddar cheese, 1 ounce



*Source: Office of Dietary Supplements (National Institutes of Health)

Daily Value (DV) helps consumers know the amount of a specific nutrient contained within one serving of a food. Food with less then 5 percent or less of the daily value is a low source of a nutrient. Food that provides 10 percent to 19 percent of the DV is a good source.

For instance, Brazil nuts contain 544 mcg, an unusually high level of selenium that provides 780 percent of the daily value of the nutrient. The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) recommends eating Brazil nuts occasionally because of their high selenium content.

The ODS encourages people to get selenium from dietary sources instead of taking selenium supplements. For example, selenium obtained through the diet appears to be much more effective in protecting against certain types of cancer than selenium obtained through supplements.

However, in some cases, patients may require selenium supplements. For example, patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN) for extended periods of time sometimes require supplements. TPN is a method of feeding nutrients to a person through an intravenous (I.V.) line when their digestive systems do not function. Patients with gastrointestinal problems (e.g., Crohn’s disease) that prevent proper absorption of nutrients also may require supplements.

Most forms of selenium supplements are available without prescription, although an injectable form of selenium is available by prescription only.

People should never take selenium or any other drug or supplement without first consulting a physician. In particular, people with certain allergies or medical conditions (e.g., liver or stomach problems) should not take these supplements. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also have increased risk factors (e.g., potential damage to a fetus or newborn) that may prohibit them from taking selenium supplements.



Selenium is a trace mineral found in soil, water and some foods. It is required for the body to function normally, but only in small amounts. Selenium boosts the performance of enzymes, which help the body carry out many chemical reactions that are crucial for brain and body functions.

Selenium appears to provide many health benefits to the body. It may help prevent the development of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, aids in regulating the function of the thyroid gland, and helps strengthen the immune system.

Several foods are naturally rich in selenium. The best sources of selenium include dairy products, meats (especially organ meats such as liver and kidney), seafood and certain nuts. In addition, selenium is present in grains, seeds, fruits and vegetables grown in selenium-rich soils.

Selenium deficiency is rare in the United States and Canada. However, when selenium deficiency does occur, it can lead to heart disease, hypothyroidism (low production of thyroid hormone) and a weakened immune system. In particular, selenium deficiency can lead to Keshan disease, in which the heart becomes enlarged and fibrous tissue replaces the muscle tissue in the middle layer of the heart’s walls.

Experts advise adults not to consume more than 400 micrograms of selenium in a single day. Long term consumption of excessive selenium can lead to a condition called selenosis and symptoms such as fatigue, garlic odor on the breath, and loss and brittleness of hair and nails.

Experts generally urge people to get selenium from dietary sources instead of taking selenium supplements. However, in some cases (such as patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN) for extended periods of time) supplements may be required.

About selenium

Selenium is an essential mineral that is required only in small amounts in the body. This mineral is a key component of enzymes, which help the body carry out many chemical reactions that are crucial to brain and body functions.

Selenium is incorporated into proteins that make enzymes known as selenoproteins. These crucial antioxidant enzymes help prevent free radicals (byproducts of oxygen metabolism) from damaging cells. Free radicals contribute to the development of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Selenoproteins also help regulate the function of the thyroid gland and help strengthen the immune system.

Soil, water and some foods provide the most abundant sources of selenium. In addition, selenium is found in many foods that do not naturally contain high levels of selenium, but that obtain this mineral because they are grown in regions of the world with selenium-rich soil.

Many areas of the United States (especially the high plains of Nebraska and the Dakotas) and Canada have selenium-rich soil. People who do not live in these areas still are likely to have access to food rich in selenium that was grown in and shipped from selenium-rich areas.

People in areas of the world without access to foods grown in high-selenium soil are more likely to have low levels of selenium. Parts of China and Russia are examples of where this occurs.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences has issued the following recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for selenium. The figures are expressed in micrograms (mcg):

Gender and Age

Amount of Selenium

Males/females 0 to 6 months


Males/females 7 months to 3 years


Males/females 4 to 8 years


Males/females 9 to 13 years


Males/females 14 and older


Pregnant females


Lactating females


Health impact of selenium

Selenium appears to provide many health benefits to the body. It may help prevent the development of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, aids in regulating the function of the thyroid gland and helps strengthen the immune system.

Some scientists believe that selenium may work along with vitamin E to provide antioxidant protection from heart disease. Others believe selenium prevents viruses from attacking the heart muscle. However, it is important to note that one recent study analyzing the results of a 13-year clinical trial concluded that selenium supplements do not reduce the risk of heart disease.

Studies also suggest that adequate levels of selenium can protect the body against certain forms of cancer, including those of the bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate and rectum. Rates of nonmelanoma skin cancers also appear to be much lower in U.S. regions with high levels of selenium in the soil. The National Cancer Institute presently is conducting a long-term study to see if taking supplements of selenium, vitamin E or a combination of the two may help prevent prostate cancer.

One recent study also found early evidence that taking selenium substances may slow the progression of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. People who are diagnosed as HIV-positive often experience reduced levels of selenium in their bodies. Reduced selenium levels also have been reported in people with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disorder that causes pain and swelling of the joints.

Selenium also aids the body in cell growth and may help stimulate antibody production when a person receives a vaccine. It may protect the body against the toxic effects of substances such as heavy metals and may help protein synthesis in the body. Finally, selenium may boost fertility, particularly in men.

Selenium deficiency is rare in the United States and Canada. In fact, average intakes of selenium in these countries actually exceed amounts recommended by experts. When selenium deficiency does occur, it can lead to heart disease, hypothyroidism and a weakened immune system. However, evidence suggests that these illnesses typically are not caused by selenium deficiency itself. Instead, such deficiency makes the body more vulnerable to other nutritional, biochemical or infectious stresses.

People with digestive disorders who require total parenteral nutrition (or TPN, in which nutrition is obtained intravenously) may be at increased risk of selenium deficiency. However, this is easily solved by adding selenium to the solution used during TPN.

Digestive disorders themselves also can decrease the absorption of selenium. Physicians treating patients with these conditions (e.g., Crohn’s disease or surgical removal of part of the stomach) typically monitor selenium levels (along with levels of other nutrients) to make sure they stay in balance.

People with low body stores of selenium are at increased risk for Keshan disease, in which the heart becomes enlarged and fibrous tissue replaces the muscle tissue in the middle layer of the heart’s walls. Keshan disease also causes rapid heartbeat. It is a rare disease that most commonly occurs in areas of China with low selenium levels in the soil. In severe cases, patients may experience heart failure, with young children and women of childbearing age at greatest risk. Other rare diseases associated with selenium deficiency are the bone disease Kashin-Beck disease and myxedematous endemic cretinism, which causes mental retardation.

Experts advise people not to consume more than 400 micrograms of selenium in a single day. Eating large amounts of selenium for a long period of time can lead to a condition called selenosis and symptoms including:

  • Fatigue
  • Garlic odor on the breath
  • Irritability
  • Loss and brittleness of hair and nails
  • Mottled teeth
  • Nausea/gastrointestinal upsets
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Skin rash and inflammation
Selenosis is a rare condition in the United States, and most of the cases that occur are due to accidental industrial exposure (such as in metal industries, painting and certain trades).

-Potential risks of antioxidants

It is believed that different types of antioxidants, when consumed in appropriate amounts, work together to fight free radicals. However, consuming too much or too little of a particular type of antioxidant may inhibit the benefits of other antioxidants.

At high levels, some antioxidants such as Carotenoids may be dangerous to a person’s health. Some experts believe that high doses of antioxidant supplements may promote oxidation. Others believe that high doses kill too many free radicals, inhibiting the ability of some to attack harmful bacteria or cancer cells. In addition, there is insufficient research to determine what, if any, long-term effects may occur as the result of taking these supplements.



Antioxidants are substances that slow or prevent damage to the body’s cells. They protect the cells from unstable molecules known as free radicals, which can increase the effects of aging and the risk of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Free radicals are molecules with one or more unpaired electrons. They are a byproduct of a normal bodily process involving the metabolism of oxygen for energy. Environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, radiation and ultraviolet light can also cause free radicals to form.

Because free radicals lack an electron, they are unstable and highly reactive. As a result, they steal electrons from other cells, which in turn destabilizes those cells, turning them into free radicals. This chain reaction formation of free radicals can occur indefinitely, causing destruction to the body as cellular damage accumulates.

Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging cells by donating electrons to free radicals, thereby stabilizing them. When an antioxidant loses an electron, it remains stable and thus does not itself become a free radical.

There are a number of important substances that supply antioxidants to the body. These include beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and the mineral selenium.

Fruits and vegetables are the main source of dietary antioxidants. In addition, many foods are fortified with antioxidant vitamins. Antioxidant supplements also are available, but experts generally urge people to avoid them. Research has not revealed whether or not they help prevent disease, and they may be dangerous if taken inappropriately.

About antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that slow or prevent the oxidation process from damaging the body’s cells. They also repair cell damage, and may improve immune system functioning and lower the risk of infection and cancer.

Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. These are molecules that have one or more unpaired electrons. Every cell in the body needs oxygen to produce energy. However, when cells burn oxygen, they create free radicals. Environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, radiation and ultraviolet light also can cause free radicals to form in the body.

An unpaired electron makes a free radical unstable and highly reactive. In order to become stable, free radicals seek out and take electrons from body cells. This damages the cells, depriving them of an electron, leaving them unstable and resulting in the formation of another free radical. The new free radical then seeks to take an electron from another cell, creating a chain reaction of free-radical creation that can continue indefinitely.

Occasionally, free radicals are helpful to the body. For example, the immune system may use them to kill disease-causing viruses and bacteria. However, more often, free radicals inflict damage to healthy cells and DNA (which contains the genetic code for human cell reproduction). This can lead to many health problems, including:

  • Age-related deterioration, such as wrinkling of skin
  • Artery and heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts (clouding of the eye lens)
  • Diabetes

The body’s natural defenses try to limit the damage of free radicals and to repair damaged cells. For example, certain enzymes in the body also work as antioxidants to neutralize harmful substances. However, the effectiveness of this activity is limited and decreases as a person ages.

Antioxidants provide extra help in the body’s fight against free radicals. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging cells by donating electrons to free radicals. When an antioxidant loses an electron, it remains stable and thus does not itself become a free radical. Antioxidants that donate an electron to a free radical neutralize the free radical or convert the molecule into waste to be eliminated by the body. They also may help repair cells already damaged by free radicals.

Much remains to be learned by scientists about antioxidants, and many of the claims made about antioxidants have not yet been conclusively proven. Experts remain unsure of exactly how antioxidants work to help prevent illness.

Scientists believe that antioxidants may protect people from certain diseases (e.g., arthritis, cancer, cataracts, heart disease) and may slow the degenerative process that accompanies aging. For example, studies have shown that people who eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables (which are high in antioxidants) have lower rates of cancer. However, experts cannot yet definitively say that this is due to the antioxidant content of these foods.

Researchers continue to look for evidence of links between antioxidants and good health. For example, researchers at Ohio State University recently found evidence that combining antioxidant treatment with the use of a certain type of heart drug may help the heart recover better following a heart attack.

Other recent studies have found evidence that antioxidants may:

  • Help slow vision loss caused by eye diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.
  • Protect against tick-borne illness such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • Shield the lungs from damage in patients with silicosis, which results from exposure to crystalline silica.

While these studies are promising, they have not yet been confirmed. In addition, other recent studies seem to undermine some of the commonly held assumptions about antioxidants.

For example, researchers at Oregon State University found evidence that flavonoids have little or no value as antioxidants, although they may contain other health benefits.

Types and differences of antioxidants

A handful of food-based substances supply antioxidants to the body. The following are powerful antioxidants found in food:

  • Beta-carotene and other carotenoids. Carotenoids are the pigments in plants that typically cause fruits and vegetables to appear red, orange or deep yellow. Some foods that are dark green also contain carotenoids that are hidden by the green of the plant’s chlorophyll (the chemical that facilitates photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into chemical energy). It should be noted that food color is not always a good indicator of antioxidant levels. For example, corn is deep yellow yet does not contain a high level of carotenoids.

    Beta-carotene is the most common carotenoid to appear in foods. It is converted into vitamin A in the body. Other carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables include alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Because carotenoids are fat-soluble, they may be stored in the body and help fight free radicals in lipids and fat tissues.

  • Vitamin C. As an antioxidant, vitamin C may protect the body in a fashion similar to beta-carotene. However, vitamin C helps remove free radicals from body fluids (e.g., blood) rather than from fat tissue. It also neutralizes free radicals created from polluted air and cigarette smoke. Research is under way to determine whether vitamin C’s antioxidant properties may help reduce the risk of cancer and cataracts (clouding of the eye lens).

  • Vitamin E. Many health benefits have been claimed on behalf of this vitamin, not all of which have turned out to be true. However, vitamin E does appear to offer many benefits as an antioxidant. It may help to prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – the so-called “bad” cholesterol that causes plaque buildup in the arteries – and cell membranes by stopping the free-radical chain reaction process. It also may help prevent some cancers. Vitamin E works together with antioxidants such as vitamin C to prevent other chronic diseases.

  • Selenium. An essential trace mineral in the human body and an important part of antioxidant enzymes that protect against the effects of free radicals. Selenium works with vitamin E to protect cells from damage. The amount of selenium found in foods is directly related to the amount of selenium in the soil in which the food was grown. Some studies indicate that selenium may reduce the risk of cancer, particularly lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers.

Certain enzymes in the body also serve as antioxidants. So do phytonutrients such as flavonoids, which also prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, reduce the stickiness of blood platelets and protect against various diseases.

Good sources of antioxidants

Fruits and vegetables are the major source of dietary antioxidants. The highest concentrations are found in the most deeply or brightly colored fruits and vegetables. In addition, many other foods are fortified with antioxidant vitamins. Good sources of various antioxidants include:

  • Vitamin C. Fruits (especially citrus fruits and juices) and vegetables (e.g., green peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, tomatoes)

  • Vitamin E. Apricots, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish oils, unsaturated vegetable oils, avocado, wheat germ, salad dressings

  • Carotenoids. Liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, and yellow, orange, red and deep-green fruits and vegetables

  • Selenium. Garlic, seeds, Brazil nuts, meat, eggs, poultry, seafood, whole grains (the amount in plant sources varies according to the content of the soil)

  • Lycopene (a type of carotenoid). Tomatoes and tomato products, papaya, apricots, pink grapefruit, blood oranges

  • Flavonoids. Grapes, peanuts, soy, tea, wine

Scientists have developed a measure known as an Oxygen Radical Absorbence Capacity (ORAC) score to determine the antioxidant potential of various foods. The higher the food scores, the greater the likelihood of antioxidant activity and the better at helping to fight disease (e.g., heart disease, cancer). The American Dietetic Association lists several examples, including:


ORAC Units

Prunes (four)


Blueberries (one-half cup)


Blackberries (one-half cup)


Strawberries (one-half cup)


Raisins (one-fourth cup)


Raspberries (one-half cup)


Oranges (one-half cup of sections)


Plums (one)


Red grapes (one-half cup)


Cherries (one-half cup)



ORAC Units

Kale (1 cup)


Beets (one-half cup)


Red bell peppers (one-half cup)


Brussels sprouts (one-half cup)


Corn (one-half cup)


Spinach (1 cup)


Onions (one-half cup)


Broccoli florets (one-half cup)


Eggplant (one-half cup)


Alfalfa sprouts (one-half cup)


Antioxidant supplements also are available, but experts generally urge people to avoid them. There has not been enough research conducted to determine whether or not antioxidant supplements can help prevent disease. People are urged to use extreme caution in taking supplements and to consult a physician before doing so.

Rather than taking supplements, people are urged to eat a well-balanced diet that provides an adequate amount of antioxidants and other nutrients vital to good health. It is important to note that a lack of essential nutrients can damage DNA as much as free radicals.

-Vitamin Villains: Do Any Interfere with Your Health?

You work hard to get the important nutrients you need to be healthy and prevent disease. You take a vitamin supplement and eat all the right foods. But did you know that some foods you eat -- or lifestyle habits you practice -- can interfere with the digestion, absorption or utilization of nutrients? Here are some of the villains and their victims.

The Victim:
Calcium -- Essential for strong bones, regular heartbeat and proper nerve and muscle functioning, calcium also helps to prevent osteoporosis, high blood pressure and colon cancer.

The Villains:
Alcohol -- May inhibit the absorption of calcium by interfering with vitamin D utilization needed for calcium absorption.
Fiber -- Fiber? Yes! The more you eat, the more your calcium level drops. A fiber-rich diet is healthy, so don't skip the fiber, just add more calcium -- about 150 mg for every 25 grams of fiber.
Smoking -- A study by the Mayo Clinic showed that smokers have twice the risk for osteoporosis as non-smokers.
Phytic Acid -- A component of many whole grain foods that have not been subjected to fermentation by yeast (like during bread making), phytic acid binds minerals such as calcium, lowering its absorption. Keep whole grains in your diet, but eat them separately from calcium rich foods. Or simply increase your calcium intake.
Excessive protein -- Too much protein accelerates calcium loss. Keep protein intake to no more than twice the RDA.
Oxalic Acid -- Present in spinach, Swiss chard and chocolate, it combines with calcium to form calcium oxalate, a chemical salt that the body excretes.

The Victim:
Iron -- Essential for transporting oxygen in the blood, it is also good for healthy teeth, skin, nails and bones. Iron from plant foods is more susceptible to interference than iron from animal foods.

The Villains:
Tannins -- These are found in tea, coffee and red wine. Before drinking any of these beverages, wait at least an hour after consuming iron-rich foods.
Phytic Acid -- Present in whole grains that have not been subjected to fermentation by yeast (like during bread making), phytic acid binds iron, especially that from plant foods.
Fiber -- Can bind minerals, but some fiber is better than no fiber at all. Just be sure to eat high fiber foods separately from iron-rich foods.
Calcium -- Calcium phosphate will bind with iron, making both useless.
Oxalates -- Found in spinach and Swiss chard, oxalates bind iron and make it unabsorbable.

The Victim:
Beta Carotene -- An important antioxidant and precursor to vitamin A.

The Villain:
Vitamin E -- Daily mega-doses (greater than 600 IU) interfere with the absorption of beta carotene.

The Victim:
Vitamin C -- A strong antioxidant, vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system.

The Villains:
Alcohol -- Heavy drinkers need more vitamin C.
Smoking -- Smokers need 50 percent more vitamin C than non-smokers.
Stress -- Since both physical and mental stress deplete the body of vitamin C, be sure to get at least the recommended daily allowance when your body is enduring such stressful things as surgery, burns and trauma.

-Don't Overdo IT!

It used to be that we took vitamins to prevent deficiency diseases. But nowadays, scientific studies are showing how some vitamins and minerals may actually prevent diseases as big and deadly as osteoporosis, neural tube defects, heart disease and cancer. In our zeal to take advantage of those benefits, many of us take supplements in megadoses, hoping that if a little is good, more is better. But that's seldom the case. The fact is some nutrients are potentially toxic when ingested in sufficiently large amounts. In addition, high dosage vitamin and mineral supplements can interfere with the normal metabolism of other nutrients and with the therapeutic effects of certain drugs.

The following vitamins and minerals are ones that you should be particularly cautious about when taken in supplemental form. When choosing these supplements, stick to those that don't exceed 100% of the RDA.

  • Vitamin A: When taken for a sustained period of time, vitamin A is toxic at doses as low as 50,000 IU (15,000ug of retinol) a day (10 times the RDA). Vitamin A is stored in fat, particularly in the liver, where it can cause jaundice and liver damage. There are many other toxic manifestations including: headache, nausea and vomiting, blurred and double vision, hair loss, bone pain and dry mucus membranes. On the other hand, carotenoids, which your body turns into vitamin A, are not known to be toxic even when ingested in large amounts for weeks to years, but they may turn your skin orange.

  • Vitamin D: This vitamin is potentially toxic, especially to children. Too much can lead to the deposition of calcium in soft tissue, causing irreversible renal and cardiovascular damage. Sometimes as little as 5 times the RDA can be toxic. During the warmer months, sun stimulated production of vitamin D, plus the consumption of two glasses of milk a day is adequate for kids and adults. Use a dietary supplement only if you don't drink fortified milk, and make sure the supplement does not exceed 100% of the RDA.

  • Folic Acid: During their reproductive years, women should get 400ug/day to help prevent neural tube birth defects. But megadoses don't give you more protection. In fact, they can cause harm by interacting to create dangerous zinc deficiencies.

  • Iron: For adults, daily intakes from 25 to 75 milligrams appear to be safe. However, iron supplements can be deadly to children and poisoning occurs when children accidentally eat iron supplement pills. A dose of 3 grams can be fatal to a two year old. A dose of 1,000 mg for every 10 pounds of body weight is fatal to an adult. Even at lower doses, too much iron from supplements can cause constipation, upset stomach, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Some people have enhanced iron absorption and are genetically at risk from iron overload or hemochromatosis, which can result in the failure of multiple organ systems.

  • Calcium: Supplements much above the RDA aren't recommended. There is no evidence of ill effects up to 2500mg/day, but very large amounts can induce constipation, result in the deterioration of kidney function and put some men at risk of kidney stones.


Vitamins are a group of substances essential for normal cell function, growth and development.

There are 13 essential vitamins. That means they are needed for the body to function. They are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate (folic acid)

Vitamins are grouped into two categories:

  • Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's fatty tissue.
  • Water-soluble vitamins must be used by the body right away. Any left over water-soluble vitamins leave the body through the urine. Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the liver for many years.

-Vitamin E Supplements May Raise Lung Cancer Risk

Vitamin supplements won't protect people against lung cancer and taking vitamin E may even heighten the risk, a new study finds.

The survey covered the supplement-taking habits and lung cancer incidence of almost 78,000 adults in the state of Washington over a four-year period.

"Our study of supplemental multivitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and folate did not show any evidence for a decreased risk of lung cancer," study author Dr. Christopher G. Slatore, a fellow in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Washington, said in a statement. "Indeed, increasing intake of supplemental vitamin E was associated with a slightly increased risk of lung cancer."

As reported in the March issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the research focused on men and women aged 50 to 76 taking part in the four-year VITAmins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study. Lung cancer was diagnosed in 521 participants surveyed.

In addition to the expected association with smoking, family history and other lung cancer risk factors, there was a slight but statistically significant association with vitamin E supplementation and incidence of the disease, the researchers found.

Every increase in vitamin E of 100 milligrams per day was associated with a 7 percent rise in lung cancer risk -- translating into a 28 percent increase in risk over 10 years for someone taking 400 milligrams of vitamin E daily.

"This provides additional evidence that taking vitamin supplements does not help prevent lung cancer," said Eric Jacobs, strategic director of pharmacoepidemiology at the American Cancer Society.

The society does not currently recommend use of any vitamin supplement to prevent malignancy, Jacobs said. However, "our dietary guidelines do recommend eating five or more servings of a variety of vegetables each day," he noted.

A representative of the supplements industry called the study results "not all that surprising."

"Vitamins are essential nutrients that act to maintain health and prevent vitamin deficiency," Pamela Mason, spokeswoman for the London-based Health Supplements Information Service, said in a statement. "They were never intended to be used to prevent chronic disease such as cancer. Indeed, it would be asking a lot of a vitamin pill to expect it to prevent cancer."

Since the primary cause of lung cancer is smoking, the best preventive measure is simply not to smoke, Jacobs said. Nutrients can play an auxiliary role, he noted. Anyone who cannot quit should avoid taking beta-carotene supplements, because studies have linked them to an increased risk of lung cancer, Jacobs said.

On the other hand, "for former smokers, there is some evidence that vegetables high in carotinoids, such as carrots and sweet peas, decrease the risk," he said.

Some vitamins have been linked to a reduced risk of other cancers, added Edward Gorham, an associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California at San Diego.

"We have worked with vitamin D, and we found a protective effect of vitamin D on colon cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and recently a modest effect on lung cancer," Gorham said.

But that effect came not from supplements but from sunlight, which causes vitamin D to be formed in the human body, he said.

"These results with multivitamins dont surprise me because there is so little vitamin D in multi-supplements, 100 or 200 International Units," Gorham said. "To achieve the effect, it takes 2,000 IU. If youre in the tropics, that amounts to 10 or 15 minutes in the sun. In southern California, it takes 10 or 15 minutes in the summer and longer in the winter because the sun angle is so low."

One study has also associated vitamin D supplements with a decreased risk of colon and breast cancer in women, Gorham said.

SOURCES: Eric Jacobs, Ph.D., strategic director, pharmacoepidemiology, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Edward Gorham, Ph.D., associate professor, family and preventive medicine, University of California, San Diego; Feb. 29, 2008, statement, American Thoracic Society; Feb. 29, 2008, statement, Health Supplements Information Service; March 2008 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine

May 7, 2008

-The Vitamin That Could Add Years to Your Life

If there were an Olympics for anti-aging nutrients, vitamin D would have a good shot at the gold medal.
Here's why: Scientists recently examined how blood levels of vitamin D affect aging on a cellular level. High intake was associated with as much as 5 fewer years of chromosome aging!

New Wonder Vitamin
D seems to be particularly relevant to a cellular yardstick of aging called a telomere. These "end caps" on your chromosomes get shorter and shorter with age, but having high blood levels of vitamin D seems to help ensure longer telomeres. That's a good thing, because when telomeres get really short and disappear, cells stop dividing and start to die. Translation: You age and become more vulnerable to disease.

More D Delights
For years, D -- a vitamin found in food but also synthesized by your skin with a bit of sun exposure -- has been a nutritionist's delight because of its impact on bone health. Now, evidence is growing that the vitamin not only helps build bone and thwart aging but also defends against multiple sclerosis, several cancers including these, and inflammation in the gums and . . . lungs. D is definitely moving into bona fide super-nutrient territory.

Better Get Yours
Milk remains an excellent source of vitamin D, with 100–125 international units (IU) per cupful. Not into milk? Here are a few other sun-free ways to get your fill of D:
  • Choose fortified foods. Food manufacturers are catching on: We want more D! Check the labels of everything -- from orange juice and bread to yogurt and pudding -- to see if they're fortified.

  • Eat fish. The richest source of D is salmon (360 IU of vitamin D in 3.5 ounces), but tuna and sardines canned in oil are good sources, too.

  • Have an egg. D is in the yolk, and although 26 IU doesn't sound like much, it all adds up.
  • Take a supplement. Just stay below 2000 IU per day from food and supplements combined.

RealAge Benefit: Getting 400 international units of vitamin D and 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day can make your RealAge as much as 1.3 years younger


May 3, 2008

-Che Guevara

Ernesto "Che" Guevara (14 May 1928 – 9 October 1967), commonly known as Che Guevara, El Che, or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, politician, author, military theorist, physician, and guerrilla leader. His stylized image also later became a countercultural symbol worldwide.

As a young medical student, Guevara traveled through Latin America and was transformed by the endemic poverty he witnessed. His experiences and observations during these trips led him to conclude that the region's inequalities were a result of capitalism, neo-colonialism, and imperialism, with the only remedy being world revolution. This belief prompted his involvement in Guatemala's social revolution under President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, whose eventual CIA-assisted overthrow solidified Guevara’s radical ideology.

Later, in Mexico, he joined and was promoted to commander in Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement, playing a pivotal role in the successful guerrilla campaign to overthrow the U.S.-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. After the Cuban revolution, Guevara served in many prominent governmental positions, including President of the National Bank and “supreme prosecutor” over the revolutionary tribunals and executions of suspected war criminals from the previous regime. Along with traveling to meet world leaders on behalf of Cuban socialism, he was a prolific writer and diarist: his published work includes a manual on the theory and practice of guerrilla warfare. Guevara left Cuba in 1965 to incite revolutions first in an unsuccessful attempt in Congo-Kinshasa and then in Bolivia, where he was captured with help of the CIA and executed.

Both notorious for his harsh discipline and revered for his unwavering dedication to his revolutionary doctrines, Guevara remains a controversial and significant historical figure. Because of his death, invocation to armed class struggle, and romantic visage, Guevara became an icon of leftist revolutionary movements worldwide, as well as a global merchandising sensation. He has been venerated and reviled in dozens of biographies, memoirs, books, essays, documentaries, songs, and films. Time Magazine declared him one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, while an Alberto Korda photograph of him entitled Guerrillero Heroico, has been declared "the most famous photograph in the world.

Early life

Ernesto Guevara was born on 14 May 1928 in Rosario, Argentina, the eldest of five children in a family of Basque and Irish descent. Growing up in a family with leftist leanings, Guevara was introduced to an array of political perspectives even as a boy. Though suffering from the crippling bouts of asthma that were to afflict him throughout his life, he excelled as an athlete. He was an avid rugby union player and earned himself the nickname "Fuser"—a contraction of "El Furibundo" (raging) and his mother's surname "de la Serna"—for his aggressive style of play. Ernesto was also nicknamed "Chancho" (pig) by his schoolmates, because he rarely bathed, and proudly wore a "weekly shirt".

Guevara learned chess from his father and began participating in local tournaments by the age of 12. During his adolescence and throughout his life he was passionate about poetry, especially that of Pablo Neruda, John Keats, Machado, Federico Lorca, Gabriela Mistral, César Vallejo, Walt Whitman, and Sara de Ibáñez. He could also recite Kipling's "If" and José Hernández's Martín Fierro by memory. The Guevara home contained more than 3,000 books, which allowed Guevara to be an enthusiastic and eclectic reader, with interests including Marx, Faulkner, André Gide, and Jules Verne. He also enjoyed reading Nehru, Kafka, Camus, Lenin, and Sartre; as well as Anatole France, Friedrich Engels, H.G. Wells, and Robert Frost. As he got older he developed an interest in the Latin American writers Horacio Quiroga, Ciro Alegria, Jorge Icaza, Ruben Dario, and Miguel Asturias. Many of these author's ideas he would catalog in his own hand written notebooks of concepts, definitions, and philosophies of influential intellectuals. These included composing analytical sketches of Buddha and Aristotle, along with examining Bertrand Russell on love and patriotism, Jack London on society, and Nietzsche on the idea of death. Sigmund Freud's ideas also fascinated him as he quoted him on everything from dreams and libido, to narcissism and the oedipus complex.
A 22 year old Guevara in 1951.
A 22 year old Guevara in 1951.

In 1948, Guevara entered the University of Buenos Aires to study medicine. While still a student in 1951, Guevara took a year off from his medical studies to embark on a trip traversing South America by motorcycle with his friend Alberto Granado, with the final goal of spending a few weeks volunteering at the San Pablo Leper colony in Peru, on the banks of the Amazon River. Guevara used notes taken during this trip to write an account entitled The Motorcycle Diaries, which later became a New York Times best-seller[12] and was adapted into a 2004 award-winning film of the same name.

Witnessing the widespread poverty, oppression and disenfranchisement throughout Latin America, and influenced by his readings of Marxist literature, Guevara began to view armed revolution as the solution to social inequality. By trip's end, he also viewed Latin America not as separate nations, but as a single entity requiring a continent-wide liberation strategy. His conception of a borderless, united Hispanic America sharing a common 'mestizo' Hispanic America was a theme that prominently recurred during his later revolutionary activities. Upon returning to Argentina, he completed his studies and received his medical diploma on 12 June 1953

“After graduation, due to special circumstances and perhaps also to my character, I began to travel throughout America, and I became acquainted with all of it. Except for Haiti and Santo Domingo, I have visited, to some extent, all the other Latin American countries. Because of the circumstances in which I traveled, first as a student and later as a doctor, I came into close contact with poverty, hunger and disease; with the inability to treat a child because of lack of money; with the stupefaction provoked by the continual hunger and punishment, to the point that a father can accept the loss of a son as an unimportant accident, as occurs often in the downtrodden classes of our American homeland. And I began to realize at that time that there were things that were almost as important to me as becoming famous or making a significant contribution to medical science: I wanted to help those people.”

— Che Guevara, 1960

On 7 July 1953, Guevara set out again, this time to Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. In December 1953 he arrived in Guatemala where President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán headed a democratically elected government that, through land reform and other initiatives, was attempting to end the latifundia system. Guevara decided to settle down in Guatemala so as to "perfect [him]self and accomplish whatever may be necessary in order to become a true revolutionary".

In Guatemala City, Guevara sought out Hilda Gadea Acosta, a Peruvian economist who was well-connected politically as a member of the left-leaning American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA). She introduced Guevara to a number of high-level officials in the Arbenz government. Guevara also established contact with a group of Cuban exiles linked to Fidel Castro through the 26 July 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. During this period he acquired his famous nickname, due to his frequent use of the Argentine interjection "che", which is used in much the same way as "hey" or "pal".

Guevara's attempts to obtain a medical internship were unsuccessful and his economic situation was often precarious. On 15 May 1954 a shipment of Škoda infantry and light artillery weapons was sent from Communist Czechoslovakia for the Arbenz Government and arrived in Puerto Barrios, prompting a CIA-sponsored coup attempt. Guevara was eager to fight on behalf of Arbenz and joined an armed militia organized by the Communist Youth for that purpose, but frustrated with the group's inaction, he soon returned to medical duties. Following the coup, he again volunteered to fight, but soon after, Arbenz took refuge in the Mexican Embassy and told his foreign supporters to leave the country. After Hilda Gadea was arrested, Guevara sought protection inside the Argentine consulate, where he remained until he received a safe-conduct pass some weeks later and made his way to Mexico.

The overthrow of the Arbenz regime cemented Guevara's view of the United States as an imperialist power that would oppose and attempt to destroy any government that sought to redress the socioeconomic inequality endemic to Latin America and other developing countries. This strengthened his conviction that Marxism achieved through armed struggle and defended by an armed populace was the only way to rectify such condition.

Guevara arrived in Mexico City in early September 1954, and renewed his friendship with the other Cuban exiles whom he had known in Guatemala. In June 1955, López introduced him to Raúl Castro who later introduced him to his older brother, Fidel Castro, the revolutionary leader who had formed the 26th of July Movement and was now plotting to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in what became the Cuban Revolution. Guevara recognized at once that Castro was the cause for which he had been searching.

Although he planned to be the group's medic, Guevara participated in the military training with the members of the Movement, and, at the end of the course, was called "the best guerrilla of them all" by their instructor, Colonel Alberto Bayo. The first step in Castro's revolutionary plan was an assault on Cuba from Mexico via the Granma, an old, leaky cabin cruiser. They set out for Cuba on 25 November 1956. Attacked by Batista's military soon after landing, many of the 82 men were either killed in the attack or executed upon capture; only 22 found each other afterwards.[21] Guevara wrote that it was during this bloody confrontation that he laid down his medical supplies and picked up a box of ammunition dropped by a fleeing comrade, finalizing his symbolic transition from physician to combatant.

Only a small band of revolutionaries survived to re-group as a bedraggled fighting force deep in the Sierra Maestra mountains, where they received support from the urban guerrilla network of Frank País, the 26th of July Movement, and local country folk. With the group withdrawn to the Sierra, the world wondered whether Castro was alive or dead until early 1957 when the interview by Herbert Matthews appeared in The New York Times. The article presented a lasting, almost mythical image for Castro and the guerrillas. Guevara was not present for the interview, but in the coming months he began to realize the importance of the media in their struggle. Meanwhile, as supplies and morale grew low, Guevara considered these "the most painful days of the war."

At this point Castro promoted Guevara to comandante of a second army column. However, Guevara's first idea to hit an enemy garrison at Bueuycito did not go as planned. When his men were late to arrive, he began the attack without them. He told a sentry to halt, but when the sentry moved, Guevara decided to shoot. However, his gun jammed, as did the gun of the young rebel who was with him. Guevara fled under a hail of bullets, which in turn brought a hail of bullets from the rebels in the hills, and the barracks surrendered before Guevara repaired his tommy gun. As Guevara said, "My survival instincts took over."

As Guevara reconsidered his tactics, he imposed even harsher disciplinary treatment. Deserters were punished as traitors, and Guevara was known to send execution squads to hunt down those seeking to escape. As a result, Guevara became feared for his brutality and ruthlessness. During the guerrilla campaign, Guevara was also responsible for the execution of a number of men accused of being informers, deserters or spies.

Guevara was also instrumental in creating the clandestine radio station Radio Rebelde in February 1958, which broadcast news to the Cuban people and statements by the 26th of July movement, and provided radio telephone communication between the growing number of rebel columns across the island. Guevara had apparently been inspired to create the station by observing the effectiveness of CIA supplied radio in Guatemala in ousting the government of Jacobo Arbenz.

In late July of 1958 Guevara would play a critical role in the Battle of Las Mercedes by using his column to halt a force of 1,500 men called up by Batista's General Cantillo in a plan to encircle and destroy Castro's forces. Years later in 1984, USMC Major Larry Bockman, would analyze and describe Che's tactical appreciation of this battle as "brilliant". As the war extended, Guevara led a new column of fighters dispatched westward for the final push towards Havana. In the closing days of December 1958, Guevara directed his "suicide squad" in the attack on Santa Clara, that became the final decisive military victory of the revolution. Radio Rebelde broadcast the first reports that Guevara's column had taken Santa Clara on New Years Eve 1958. This contradicted reports by the heavily controlled national news media, which had at one stage reported Guevara's death during the fighting. Batista, upon learning that his generals were negotiating a separate peace with the rebel leader, fled to the Dominican Republic the next day on 1 January 1959.

After the Revolution
On 8 January 1959, Castro's army rolled victoriously into Havana. On 7 February, the revolutionary government proclaimed Guevara "a Cuban citizen by birth" in recognition of his role in the triumph.[citation needed] Shortly thereafter, he divorced Hilda Gadea, who was still in Mexico.[citation needed] On 2 June 1959, he married Aleida March, a Cuban-born member of the 26th of July movement with whom he had been living since late 1958.

During the rebellion against Batista's dictatorship, the general command of the rebel army, led by Fidel Castro, "introduced into the liberated territories the 19th-century penal law commonly known as the Ley de la Sierra". "This law included the death penalty for extremely serious crimes, whether perpetrated by the dictatorship or by supporters of the revolution. In 1959, the revolutionary government extended its application to the whole of the republic and to war criminals captured and tried after the revolution. This latter extension, supported by the majority of the population, followed the same procedure as that seen in" the Nuremberg Trials held by the Allies after World War II. To implement this plan, Castro named Guevara commander of the La Cabaña Fortress prison, for a five-month tenure (2 January through 12 June 1959). Guevara was charged with purging the Batista army and consolidating victory by exacting "revolutionary justice" against traitors, chivatos, and Batista's war criminals. Serving in the post as "supreme prosecutor" on the appellate bench, Guevara oversaw the trials and executions of those convicted by revolutionary tribunal. For Raúl Gómez Treto, senior legal advisor to the Cuban Ministry of Justice, removing restrictions on the death penalty was justified in order to prevent citizens themselves from taking justice into their own hands.

It is estimated that several hundred people were executed on Guevara's orders during this time.

On 12 June 1959, as soon as Guevara returned to Havana, Castro sent him out on a three-month tour of fourteen countries, most of them Bandung Pact members in Africa and Asia. Sending Guevara from Havana also allowed Castro to appear to be distancing himself from Guevara and his Marxist sympathies, that troubled both the United States and some of Castro's 26th of July Movement members. He spent twelve days in Japan (July 15–27), participating in negotiations aimed at expanding Cuba's trade relations with that nation. During this visit Guevara also secretly visited the city of Hiroshima, where the American military had detonated an atom-bomb fourteen years earlier. Guevara was "really shocked" at what he witnessed and by his visit to a hospital where A-bomb survivors were being treated.

Upon returning to Cuba in September 1959, it was evident that Castro now had more political power. The government had begun land seizures included in the agrarian reform law, but was hedging on compensation offers to landowners, instead offering low interest "bonds", which put the U.S. on alert. At this point the affected wealthy cattlemen of Camagüey mounted a campaign against the land redistributions, and enlisted the newly disaffected rebel leader Huber Matos, who along with the anti-Communist wing of the 26th of July Movement, joined them in denouncing the "Communist encroachment." During this time Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo was offering assistance to the "Anti-Communist Legion of the Caribbean" who was training in the Dominican Republic. This multi-national force comprised mostly of Spaniards and Cubans, but also of Croatians, Germans, Greeks, and right-wing mercenaries, were plotting to topple Fidel Castro.

These developments prompted Castro to further clean house of "counter-revolutionaries", and appoint Guevara chief official at the National Institute of Agrarian Reform INRA and later President of the National Bank of Cuba BNC, while allowing him to retain his military rank.[43] Although at first sight a strange choice for the important position, Guevara had been promoting the creation of self-sufficient industries since his days in the Sierra Maestra. Guevara was expecting the U.S. to invade, and the Cuban population to then leave the cities and fight as guerrillas, although Guevara's hopes for armed uprisings elsewhere were failing.

In 1960 Guevara provided first aid to victims when the freighter La Coubre, a French vessel carrying munitions from the port of Antwerp, exploded twice while it was being unloaded in Havana harbor, resulting in well over a hundred dead. It was at the memorial service for the victims of this explosion that Alberto Korda took the famous photograph now known as Guerrillero Heroico.

Guevara desired to see a diversification in Cuba’s economy, as well as an elimination of material incentives, in favor of moral ones. Guevara viewed capitalism as a “contest among wolves” where “one can only win at the cost of others”, and thus desired to see the creation of a “new man and woman”. An integral part of fostering a sense of “unity between the individual and the mass”, Guevara believed, was volunteer work and will. To display this, Guevara "led by example", working "endlessly at his ministry job, in construction, and even cutting sugar cane" on his day off, as did Castro. During this time he also wrote several publications advocating a replication of the Cuban revolutionary model, promoting small rural guerrilla groups (foco theory) as an alternative to massive armed insurrection.

Guevara did not participate in the fighting of the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, having been ordered by Castro to a secretly prearranged command post in Cuba's western Pinar del Río province, where he fended off a decoy force.[48] He suffered a bullet grazing to the cheek during this deployment, however, when his pistol fell out of its holster and accidentally discharged.

Guevara played a key role in bringing to Cuba the Soviet nuclear-armed ballistic missiles that precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. During an interview with the British Communist newspaper The Daily Worker a few weeks after the crisis, Guevara angrily stated that "if the missiles had been under Cuban control, they would have fired them off."[citation needed] Sam Russell, the British correspondent who spoke to Guevara at the time came away with "mixed feelings", calling him "a warm character" and "clearly a man of great intelligence", but "crackers from the way he went on about the missiles."

Disappearance from Cuba
“Because now in the mountains and fields of America, on its flatlands and in its jungles, in the wilderness or in the traffic of cities, on the banks of its great oceans or rivers, this world is beginning to tremble. Anxious hands are stretched forth, ready to die for what is theirs, to win those rights that were laughed at by one and all for 500 years. Yes, now history will have to take the poor of America into account, the exploited and spurned of America, who have decided to begin writing their history for themselves for all time. Already they can be seen on the roads, on foot, day after day, in endless march of hundreds of kilometers to the governmental “eminences,” there to obtain their rights. Already they can be seen armed with stones, sticks, machetes, in one direction and another, each day, occupying lands, sinking hooks into the land that belongs to them and defending it with their lives. They can be seen carrying signs, slogans, flags; letting them flap in the mountain or prairie winds. And the wave of anger, of demands for justice, of claims for rights trampled underfoot, which is beginning to sweep the lands of Latin America, will not stop. That wave will swell with every passing day. For that wave is composed of the greatest number, the majorities in every respect, those whose labor amasses the wealth and turns the wheels of history. Now they are awakening from the long, brutalizing sleep to which they had been subjected.”

— Che Guevara, to the U.N. General Assembly, December 11 1964.

In December 1964, Che Guevara traveled to New York City as head of the Cuban delegation to speak at the United Nations. He also appeared on the CBS Sunday news program Face the Nation and met with a range of people from U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy, to associates of Malcolm X. Malcolm X expressed his admiration, by declaring Guevara "one of the most revolutionary men in this country right now", while reading a statement from Guevara to a crowd at the Audubon Ballroom.

On 17 December, Guevara left for Paris and embarked on a three-month tour that included the People's Republic of China, the United Arab Republic (Egypt), Algeria, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Dahomey, Congo-Brazzaville and Tanzania, with stops in Ireland and Prague. In Algiers on 24 February 1965, he made what turned out to be his last public appearance on the international stage when he delivered a speech at an economic seminar on Afro-Asian solidarity. He specified the moral duty of the socialist countries, accusing them of tacit complicity with the exploiting Western countries. He proceeded to outline a number of measures which he said the communist-bloc countries must implement in order to accomplish the defeat of imperialism. Having criticized the Soviet Union (the primary financial backer of Cuba) in such a public manner, he returned to Cuba on 14 March to a solemn reception by Fidel and Raúl Castro, Osvaldo Dorticós and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez at the Havana airport.

Two weeks later, in 1965 Guevara dropped out of public life and then vanished altogether. His whereabouts were a great mystery in Cuba, as he was generally regarded as second in power to Castro himself. His disappearance was variously attributed to the failure of the industrialization scheme he had advocated while minister of industry, to pressure exerted on Castro by Soviet officials disapproving of Guevara's pro-Chinese Communist stance on the Sino-Soviet split, and to serious differences between Guevara and the pragmatic Castro regarding Cuba's economic development and ideological line. Castro had grown increasingly wary of Guevara's popularity and considered him a potential threat. Castro's critics sometimes say his explanations for Guevara's disappearance have always been suspect.

The coincidence of Guevara's views with those expounded by the Chinese Communist leadership was increasingly problematic for Cuba as the nation's economy became more and more dependent on the Soviet Union. Since the early days of the Cuban revolution, Guevara had been considered by many an advocate of Maoist strategy in Latin America and the originator of a plan for the rapid industrialization of Cuba which was frequently compared to China's "Great Leap Forward". According to Western observers of the Cuban situation, the fact that Guevara was opposed to Soviet conditions and recommendations that Castro pragmatically saw as necessary, may have been the reason for his disappearance. However, both Guevara and Castro were supportive publicly on the idea of a united front.

Following the Cuban Missile Crisis and what Guevara perceived as a Soviet betrayal when Khrushchev withdrew the missiles from Cuban territory, Guevara had grown more skeptical of the Soviet Union. As revealed in his last speech in Algiers, he had come to view the Northern Hemisphere, led by the U.S. in the West and the Soviet Union in the East, as the exploiter of the Southern Hemisphere. He strongly supported Communist North Vietnam in the Vietnam War, and urged the peoples of other developing countries to take up arms and create "many Vietnams".

Pressed by international speculation regarding Guevara's fate, Castro stated on 16 June 1965 that the people would be informed when Guevara himself wished to let them know. Still, rumors spread both inside and outside Cuba. On 3 October of that year, Castro revealed an undated letter purportedly written to him by Guevara some months earlier: in it, Guevara reaffirmed his enduring solidarity with the Cuban Revolution, but declared his intention to leave Cuba to fight for the revolutionary cause abroad. Additionally, he resigned from all his positions in the government and party, and renounced his honorary Cuban citizenship. Guevara's movements continued to be a closely guarded secret for the next two years.

In 1965 Guevara decided to venture to West Africa and offer his knowledge and experience as a guerrilla to the ongoing war in the Congo. According to Algerian President Ahmed Ben Bella, Guevara thought that Africa was imperialism's weak link and therefore had enormous revolutionary potential. Guevara led the Cuban operation in support of the Marxist Simba movement, which had emerged from the ongoing Congo Crisis. Guevara, his second-in-command Victor Dreke, and twelve other Cuban expeditionaries arrived in the Congo on 24 April 1965 with a contingent of approximately 100 Afro-Cubans joining them soon afterward. They collaborated for a time with guerrilla leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who had previously helped supporters of the slain Patrice Lumumba lead an unsuccessful revolt months earlier. Disillusioned with the discipline of Kabila's troops, Guevara would dismiss him, stating "nothing leads me to believe he is the man of the hour."

South African mercenaries, led by Mike Hoare in concert with Cuban exiles and the CIA, worked with the Congolese army to thwart Guevara. They were able to monitor his communications, and so pre-empted his attacks and interdicted his supply lines. Despite the fact that Guevara sought to conceal his presence in the Congo, the U.S. government was aware of his location and activities: The National Security Agency was intercepting all of his incoming and outgoing transmissions via equipment aboard the USNS Valdez, a floating listening post which continuously cruised the Indian Ocean off Dar es Salaam for that purpose.

Guevara's aim was to export the Cuban Revolution by instructing local Simba fighters in Marxist ideology and foco theory strategies of guerrilla warfare. In his Congo Diary, he cites the incompetence, intransigence and infighting of the local Congolese forces as key reasons for the revolt's failure.[64] Later that year, ill with dysentery, suffering from asthma, and disheartened after seven months of frustrations, Guevara left the Congo with the Cuban survivors. (Six members of his column had died.) At one point Guevara considered sending the wounded back to Cuba, and fighting alone until the end in the Congo, as a revolutionary example; however, after being urged by his comrades and pressed by two emissaries sent by Castro, at the last moment he reluctantly agreed to retreat. A few weeks later, when writing the preface to the diary he kept during the Congo venture, he began: "This is the history of a failure."

Guevara was reluctant to return to Cuba, because Castro had made public Guevara's "farewell letter" —a letter intended to only be revealed in the case of his death—wherein he severed all ties in order to devote himself to revolution throughout the world. As a result, Guevara spent the next six months living clandestinely in Dar es Salaam and Prague. During this time he compiled his memoirs of the Congo experience, and wrote drafts of two more books, one on philosophy and the other on economics. He also visited several Western European countries to test his new new false identity papers, created by Cuban Intelligence for his later travels to South America. Throughout this period Castro continued to importune his return to Cuba, but Guevara only agreed to do so under the basis of preparing a revolutionary effort somewhere in Latin America, and that his presence on the island would be secret.

Guevara's location was still not public knowledge. Representatives of Mozambique's independence movement, the FRELIMO, reported that they met with Guevara in late 1966 or early 1967 in Dar es Salaam regarding his offer to aid in their revolutionary project, which they ultimately rejected. In a speech at the 1967 May Day rally in Havana, the Acting Minister of the armed forces, Major Juan Almeida, announced that Guevara was "serving the revolution somewhere in Latin America". The persistent reports that he was leading the guerrillas in Bolivia were eventually shown to be true.

At Castro's behest, a parcel of jungle land in the remote Ñancahuazú region had been purchased by native Bolivian Communists for Guevara to use as a training area and base camp.

Training at this camp in the Ñancahuazú valley proved to be more hazardous than combat to Guevara and the Cubans accompanying him. Little was accomplished in the way of building a guerrilla army. Former Stasi operative Haydée Tamara Bunke Bider, better known by her nom de guerre "Tania", who had been installed as his primary agent in La Paz, was reportedly also working for the KGB and is widely inferred to have unwittingly served Soviet interests by leading Bolivian authorities to Guevara's trail.

Guevara's guerrilla force, numbering about 50 and operating as the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional de Bolivia; "National Liberation Army of Bolivia"), was well equipped and scored a number of early successes against Bolivian regulars in the difficult terrain of the mountainous Camiri region. In September, however, the Army managed to eliminate two guerrilla groups in a violent battle, reportedly killing one of the leaders.

Guevara's plan for fomenting revolution in Bolivia appears to have been unsuccessful because it was based upon three primary misconceptions:

* He had expected to deal only with the Bolivian military, who were poorly trained and equipped. However, Guevara was unaware that the U.S. government had sent the CIA and other operatives into Bolivia to aid the anti-insurrection effort. The Bolivian Army would also be trained, advised, and supplied by U.S. Army Special Forces including a recently organized elite battalion of Rangers trained in jungle warfare that set up camp in La Esperanza, a small settlement close to the location of Guevara's guerrillas.

* Guevara had expected assistance and cooperation from the local dissidents which he did not receive, nor did he receive support from Bolivia's Communist Party, under the leadership of Mario Monje, which was oriented toward Moscow rather than Havana.
* He had expected to remain in radio contact with Havana. However, the two shortwave transmitters provided to him by Cuba were faulty; thus the guerrillas were unable to communicate with and be resupplied, leaving them isolated and stranded.

In addition, Guevara's known preference for confrontation rather than compromise, which had previously surfaced during his guerrilla warfare campaign in Cuba, contributed to his inability to develop successful working relationships with local leaders in Bolivia, just as it had in the Congo. This tendency had existed in Cuba, but had been kept in check by the timely interventions and guidance of Fidel Castro.

Capture and Execution
Félix Rodríguez, a CIA operative, claims that he headed the hunt for Guevara in Bolivia. On 7 October, an informant apprised the Bolivian Special Forces of the location of Guevara's guerrilla encampment in the Yuro ravine. They encircled the area, and Guevara was wounded and taken prisoner while leading a detachment with Simeón Cuba Sarabia. Che biographer Jon Lee Anderson reports Bolivian Sergeant Bernardino Huanca's account: that a twice wounded Guevara, his gun rendered useless, shouted "Do not shoot! I am Che Guevara and worth more to you alive than dead."

Guevara was tied up and taken to a dilapidated schoolhouse in the nearby village of La Higuera. Early on October 9, the day after his capture, Barrientos ordered that he be killed. The executioner was Mario Terán, a sergeant in the Bolivian army who had drawn a short straw after arguments over who would get the honor of shooting Guevara broke out among the soldiers. To make the bullet wounds appear consistent with the story the government planned to release to the public, Félix Rodríguez ordered Terán to aim carefully to make it appear that Guevara had been killed in action during a clash with the Bolivian army.

Moments before Guevara was executed he was asked if he was thinking about his own immortality. "No," he replied, "I'm thinking about the immortality of the revolution." Che Guevara also allegedly said to his executioner, "I know you've come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man." Terán hesitated, then pulled the trigger of his semiautomatic rifle, hitting Guevara in the arms and legs. Guevara writhed on the ground, apparently biting one of his wrists to avoid crying out. Terán shot him again, this time hitting him fatally in the thorax – at 1:10 pm, according to Rodríguez.

His body was then lashed to the landing skids of a helicopter and flown to nearby Vallegrande where photographs were taken, showing a figure described by some as "Christ-like" lying on a concrete slab in the laundry room of the Nuestra Señora de Malta hospital.

A declassified memorandum dated 11 October 1967 to President Lyndon B. Johnson from his senior adviser, Walt Rostow, called the decision to kill Guevara “stupid” but “understandable from a Bolivian standpoint.” After the execution, Rodríguez took several of Guevara's personal items, including a watch which he continued to wear many years later, often showing them to reporters during the ensuing years. Today, some of these belongings, including his flashlight, are on display at the CIA. After a military doctor amputated his hands, Bolivian army officers transferred Guevara's cadaver to an undisclosed location and refused to reveal whether his remains had been buried or cremated. The hands were preserved in formaldehyde to be sent to Buenos Aires for fingerprint identification. (His fingerprints were on file with the Argentine police.) They were later sent to Cuba. On 15 October, Castro acknowledged that Guevara was dead and proclaimed three days of public mourning throughout the island.

While researching his biography Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life, author Jon Lee Anderson happened to discover the hidden location of Guevara's burial. Thus in 1997, the skeletal remains of a handless body were exhumed from beneath an air strip near Vallegrande, identified as those of Guevara by a Cuban forensic team at the scene, and returned to Cuba. On 17 October 1997, his remains, with those of six of his fellow combatants, were laid to rest with military honors in a specially built mausoleum in the city of Santa Clara, where he had won the decisive battle of the Cuban Revolution.

Also removed when Guevara was captured was his diary, which documented events of the guerrilla campaign in Bolivia. The first entry is on 7 November 1966 shortly after his arrival at the farm in Ñancahuazú, and the last is dated 7 October 1967, the day before his capture. The diary tells how the guerrillas were forced to begin operations prematurely due to discovery by the Bolivian Army, explains Guevara's decision to divide the column into two units that were subsequently unable to re-establish contact, and describes their overall unsuccessful venture. It also records the rift between Guevara and the Bolivian Communist Party that resulted in Guevara having significantly fewer soldiers than originally expected and shows that Guevara had a great deal of difficulty recruiting from the local populace, due in part to the fact that the guerrilla group had learned Quechua, unaware that the local language was actually Tupí-Guaraní. As the campaign drew to an unexpected close, Guevara became increasingly ill. He suffered from ever-worsening bouts of asthma, and most of his last offensives were carried out in an attempt to obtain medicine.

The Bolivian Diary was quickly and crudely translated by Ramparts magazine and circulated around the world.[citation needed] There are at least four additional diaries in existence—those of Israel Reyes Zayas (Alias "Braulio"), Harry Villegas Tamayo ("Pombo"), Eliseo Reyes Rodriguez ("Rolando") and Dariel Alarcón Ramírez ("Benigno")—each of which reveals additional aspects of the events.

Even forty years after his death, Che's life and work remain controversial.

Some view Che Guevara as a hero, for example Nelson Mandela referred to him as "an inspiration for every human being who loves freedom" while Jean-Paul Sartre described him as "not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age." Guevara remains a beloved national hero to many in Cuba, where school children begin each morning by pledging "We will be like Che." Moreover, Guevara has been sanctified by some Bolivian campesinos as "Saint Ernesto", whom they pray to for assistance.

Conversely, others view him as a spokesman for a failed ideology and as a ruthless executioner. Johann Hari, for example, writes that "Che Guevara is not a free-floating icon of rebellion. He was an actual person who supported an actual system of tyranny." Detractors have also theorized that in much of Latin America, Che-inspired revolutions had the practical result of reinforcing brutal militarism for many years. He also remains a hated figure amongst many in the Cuban exile community, who view him with animosity as "the butcher of La Cabaña."

Ironically, a monochrome graphic of Alberto Korda's photograph has become one of the World's most universally merchandized images[93] and can now be seen on an endless array of items, including t-shirts, hats, posters, tattoos, and even bikinis. Yet, Guevara also remains an iconic figure both in specifically political contexts and as a wide-ranging popular icon of youthful rebellion.
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