Get To Know Your Vits & Supplements

If you’re interested in health and nutrition, you can’t fail to have noticed the ongoing debate about the usefulness – and even possible risks – of taking vitamins and other supplements. But there’s so much contradictory information swirling around it’s difficult to know what you should and shouldn’t take.

Well, we haven’t got the answer. If we had, there’d be no debate. But there are definitely plenty of things you can do to help make an informed decision about whether to take them and what to take.

First off, let’s be clear that you should always speak to a professional before making decisions about your health and nutrition. With that in mind, here are some points to know and think about when you’re weighing things up:

  • Having routine and regular bloodwork done will identify anydeficiency in essential elements like iron and zinc. Specific tests can also be ordered for presence of certain vitamins like B12, a deficiency of which was recently claimed to be a factor in dementia and depression (for more on this, see http://tinyurl.com/B12-vits).
  • We certainly need many vitamins and other important nutrients but the best, most effective and potentially least risky sources are those that come from natural foods, especially fruits and leafy green vegetables. Sunshine is an excellent source of vitamin D.
  • Though always the subject of research, the Recommended Daily Amounts (RDAs) or Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) as they’re now being called are publicly available. The Institute of Medicine produces downloadable tables which you can access via the US Department of Agriculture at http://tinyurl.com/dri-tables.
  • Everybody (meaning every body) has different needs. Key factors that make a difference include your gender, your general state of health and your age. Only a physician or nutritionist can advise you on this.
  • Excessive amounts of some vitamins, such as A, C and D (but not from sunshine) can cause mild to serious problems. So can too much iron.

Final word to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: “Do not self-diagnose any health condition. Work with your health care provider to determine how best to achieve optimal health and always check with your health care provider before taking a supplement, especially when combining or substituting them with other foods or medicine.” Visit http://ods.od.nih.gov/ for more on dietary supplements.

Love and Taxes

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Of course the other thing coming soon is Tax Day on April 17, 2012 – You might be thinking it’s the 15th and it usually is – however- this year the 15th lands on a Sunday and Monday the 16th happens to be Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia.  So April 17th is the date for all Federal Tax returns this year.

Thought I’d send you some tax tips in case you’re the kind of person who manages to get them done early (despite the two day ‘extension’).

Here are seven of the most common errors on tax returns. If you can avoid these errors, you’ll greatly minimize the chance of an audit … and NOBODY wants to go through that!

  1. Mistakes on social security numbers top the list of tax return errors. Make sure all the SSNs on the return are correct. And it’s a good idea to put your SSN on each page of the return in case the pages get separated at the IRS.
  2. Math errors are another common mistake – especially when subtracting. If you’re not using a computer or tax-preparer carefully check the math.
  3. Forgetting to sign and date the return. Yeah, happens all the time. And remember for a married couple filing a joint return, both must sign.
  4. Failing to attach all the paperwork – like W-2s.
  5. Putting income in the wrong place. This is interesting. If you record dividend income as interest income – like for mutual funds – the IRS computers will probably see that as under-reporting dividend income, because they get that information from the mutual fund companies. Then the hassles begin.
  6. Failing to file because you can’t pay in full. BIG MISTAKE! File your return on time, even if you can’t pay the tax due. Willful failure to file is a federal crime. You’ll only pay interest on amounts past due.
  7. Failing to file when no tax is due. I guess it happens. You’ve got to file the return whether you owe any money or not.

There’s lots of information on the Internet to help you avoid problems. Just do a search on “common tax errors”.

All of us here at Hejny Insurance Agency wish you a joyous tax season! OK … how about a reasonably fun tax season? OK … good luck, we hope you get through it. How’s that?

Seriously, though, I hope this information was helpful to you. Thanks for your business!

Beware of These Valentines Tricks

It’s not just young lovers who send Valentines greetings at this time of year. Many people send parents, spouses, children and grandchildren cards and gifts as a cute way of expressing affection. Crooks know that too, using Valentines as a way of conning money out of their victims and even hijacking their computers. Make sure you don’t get caught up in this by watching out for these common tricks:

Phony eCard Greetings
You get an email either from a mystery sender or someone you know with a link to a supposed Valentines eCard, or with an eCard actually attached. By clicking on either, you download a virus onto your computer. Two simple actions can prevent this– having an up-to-date anti-virus program installed and, if you know the supposed sender, contacting them to make sure they really did send the greeting.

Bogus Flower Gifts
You order flowers from a new online company advertising incredibly low prices. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is and you’ll lose your money. Plus, the scammers now have your credit card number and may use it to make purchases in your name. Best to use a reputable online florist or go to a local store.

Online Romancing
Spoof emails arrive in our email boxes all the time but we might let our guard down when a message
arrives from a mystery admirer around Valentines. It’s often a prelude to an online “romance” in which the victim receives photos of the attractive admirer ( which are really just pictures stolen by the con artist). The crime ends up with the victim being asked to provide money to pay for the admirer to come visit. Just don’t fall for this trick – never give money to people you don’t know.

Now the bad stuff’s out of the way, it leaves us with the chance to wish you Happy Valentines!