Common Misconceptions about Supplements

In our last article, we talked about the difficulties of meeting recommended guidelines for essential nutrients. iStock_000011975542_sm“Even if you follow a healthy diet, a busy lifestyle can make it difficult to obtain the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals from food alone,” says Elizabeth Somer, a leading registered dietitian and author of several books, including “The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals.”

So, how else can we get the nutrition we need? One easy way to maintain good nutrition is to enhance your diet with supplements. The problem for many is that the frequency of new studies combined with the staggering number of supplements available makes it increasingly confusing to know what is right.

To help you put nutrition news in context, Somer is debunking a few of the common misconceptions about dietary supplements:

Misconception 1: It’s realistic to obtain all essential nutrients from food.

Even experienced nutritionists have a hard time designing diets that provide all the essential nutrients for one day, while busy Americans often struggle to follow highly regimented diets. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but the best approach is to focus on eating nutrient-rich foods as much as possible, such as dark leafy greens (good source of lutein for eye health), colorful fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, and fats (such as salmon, which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA). Then fill the nutritional gaps with a daily moderate-dose, broad-range multivitamin. Another supplement I recommend is either a fish oil or a vegetarian source of DHA from algae, because DHA and EPA benefit eye, heart, and brain health,” says Somer.

Misconception 2: Multivitamins have no health benefits.

Although recent studies report that vitamin and mineral supplements do not lower one’s risk of heart disease or cancer, these supplements are still proven to be beneficial to one’s health. “If a study found that people who drank water had no lower risk for dementia, would you stop drinking water?,” asks Somer. Of course not, because water, like essential vitamins and minerals, is crucial to health and there is no controversy over its importance for human nutrition.

Misconception 3: Multivitamins are a waste of money.

Multivitamins are a relatively inexpensive tool to achieve proper nutrition. “No reputable health expert will argue that supplements can or should replace a good diet and a healthy lifestyle,” says Somer. However, multivitamins and nutritional supplements are one factor in a pattern of living that is known to maintain overall well-being. Think of multivitamins as an insurance policy for optimal nutrition  they are meant to supplement, not replace, a healthy diet.

Do you use dietary supplements to reach your health goals?

For more nutrition information, visit http://www.vitaminsinmotion.com.

Making the nutritional grade

As we enter 2016, many of us are thinking about our health and nutrition. After the indulgences of the holiday season, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s on our plate. When it comes to getting essential nutrients through food, it’s not enough to add the right foods to your menu, you also need to look at how often and how much of those foods you are eating.

Do you regularly eat a whole cup of sautéed spinach or get three weekly servings of salmon or other fatty fish? Research shows that Americans aren’t making the nutritional grade and, therefore, can lack important vitamins and minerals like folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin K and even vitamin C.

Data on dietary intake from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which used the USDA’s Healthy Eating Index to compare what people say they eat to recommended dietary guidelines, found that children and adults scored 56 points out of a possible 100 (equivalent to an “F” grade), while seniors fared only slightly better at 65 points (equivalent to a “D” grade). The American Heart Association agreed with those findings in its 2013 report on heart disease and stroke, concluding that poor diet and lack of exercise are two of the main factors contributing to the high prevalence of heart disease in the U.S.

While many of us are falling short on meeting recommended dietary guidelines, it’s clear from the sheer amount of healthy lifestyle articles, diets, methods and tips out there that we are striving to be healthier. 

Here are a few easy to ways to add extra nutrition to your meals:

  •  Add a cup of spinach or other leafy greens to your next smoothie. You won’t taste the spinach at all and your drink will be a pretty shade of green.
  • Add finely chopped veggies to your pasta sauce, soups and casseroles.
  • Swap out white pasta and bread and cereals for whole grain (aim for low-sugar and high-fiber options too).

Do you aim to meet the recommended dietary guidelines? How do you get your get your essential nutrients?

5 reasons that older adults need to exercise

A recent study published in the New York Times found that exercise might increase the brain’s flexibility.  Yet another reason in a long list supporting the health benefits of physical activity as we age. Not convinced? Here are our top 5 reasons why you need to prioritize exercise.

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  • Get out of your comfort zone: Trying something new, like a community Zumba class, or developing a new skillset, like boxing or rock-climbing, helps keep your brain stimulated. As you exercise your body, you’ll also be exercising your mind.
  • Manage your weight: Another added benefit of exercise? Dropping excess pounds. Staying within a healthy weight range can help stave off a myriad of health conditions – like hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Maintain your healthy brain: Grow your brain along with your muscles – regular exercise can encourage the growth of new brain cells and connections. Overall physical health is closely linked to brain health, so a healthy body is key to a healthy brain.
  • Keep your social life buzzing: Physical activity often goes hand in hand with group activities – aerobics class at the gym, dance lessons, weekly tai chi sessions in the part. Even walking dates with friends are a great way to stay active and stay connected.
  • Show what you can do: When you started, you could barely jog to the mailbox. Now you can make it around the block without taking a break. Exercise shows us what we’re capable of – often beyond our own expectations. Setting, and reaching, new goals is a great way to stay motivated.

What’s your favorite benefit of exercising?

 

Four Lifestyle Factors that Affect Brain Health

Senior Couple Jogging In Park

What’s the most important thing we can do to maintain brain health as we age? According to a new study, it’s not one thing but a combination of several things that may help slow cognitive decline in older adults.

A recent study was done over three years with nearly 1,700 older adults who had mildmemory complaints, slow walking speed, and other daily living limitations. The study participants were randomized into four groups, each with a different regimen to follow. The group who were assigned nutritional counselling, exercise, social and cognitive stimulation along with DHA supplements showed positive results. Even the participants in this group who had a low baseline DHA showed significant results.

The study results reinforce what we already know. The Four Dimensions of Brain Health – a healthy diet, mental engagement, physical activity and social engagement are essential to maintaining our brain health. “The MAPT study shows us that we have some influence in helping to maintain brain health,” says Elizabeth Somer, nutritionist and author. “Lifestyle changes, like making sure you’re eating the right foods and being active for thirty minutes daily, can have a big impact on brain health.”

DHA is an essential nutrient for brain health  but most of us don’t get nearly enough through diet, says Somer. “97% of the omega-3s in the brain are DHA, so it’s no wonder the study found that DHA supplementation can support a healthy brain,” she says. “Aim for a supplement that has at least 200mg DHA.”

How do you take care of your brain health?

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How to protect your eyes year-round


As the temperatures cool down (goodbye summer, see you next year!), the sun may be shining a little less brightly, but that doesn’t mean you should pack your shades away. Maintaining healthy eyes and vision is a year-round job.

5 ways to keep your eyes healthy throughout the year:

  • Wear sunglasses: Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can lead to vision issues, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Look for sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation and that screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light. If you do winter sports or will be spending a lot of time outdoors, consider polarized lenses which offer additional protection from the sun’s glare.
  • Hydrate: Keep dry eyes at bay by drinking lots of water. If you’re going to be losing water (i.e. sweating), add in additional water to replenish your body. Keep a refillable bottle of water nearby throughout the day to remind you to drink up.
  • Wear protective eyewear: Don’t underestimate the potential for eye injury in everyday activities. Sharp tools, flying dust, harsh chemicals – all can be hazardous to your eye health. If you’re doing basic home repairs or intensive cleaning, don a pair of safety goggles. You can pick them up at many eyewear and sporting goods stores.
  • Eat well: We shared Vitamins in Motion’s infographic on nutrition for eye health in our last post. In a nutshell, look for nutrient-packed fruits and veggies and healthy fats to keep your eyes bright, shiny, and healthy. Lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins A, C and E and omega-3 fatty acids are eye-health superstars.
  • Limit screen time: Today, screens are everywhere, not just on our desktop computer. Tapping out an email on your smartphone, watching a movie on your tablet – too much time in front of a screen can cause eyestrain. To prevent this, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. If you can, take a quick walk during this time.

How do you keep your eyes healthy?

How to Plan a Family Reunion

Sure, family reunions can be crazy and hectic, but is there anything better than having family – some close, some far-flung, together in one place? The warm and fuzzy feelings brought on by reconnecting with loved ones have an added bonus: it’s great for your brain health. So, bring on the long-lost cousins and beloved grandchildren! To make planning a reunion stress-free, follow these tips:

  • Choose a date that works for most: Finding the one perfect day that works for everyone just won’t happen (it’s those busy social calendars), so accept that going in. Find a day that works for as many people as possible and most importantly works for you!
  • Delegate: The family that plans together enjoys the reunion together. You don’t have to do it all and, in fact, your loved ones will feel honored when you delegate some tasks, showing your trust in them. Have someone find a location, someone else can take on the music playlist, etc.
  • Capture the memories: Reunions are full of special moments and having someone on hand, whether it be a hired photographer or a snap-happy relative, to take photos will ensure that everyone will be able to literally look back on the day in the months and years to come.
  • Tell your stories: one of the most valuable things we can pass on to younger generations is our history – after all, it’s their history too. Take time to share stories from your life that your nieces, nephews and great-grandchildren might not have heard. They will be grateful for the insight into their heritage.
  • Take it all in stride: At any special event, there are bound to be a few hiccups. Don’t let it get you down. When the day is over and everyone is packed up and on their way home, they won’t remember what went wrong. They’ll remember being together.

Do you have any tips for planning a family reunion?

Large group of children running in the dandelion spring field