By: Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.
Unless you’re supplementing daily with vitamin D, it’s likely you are deficient and don’t even know it. Up to three in every four people tested are low in this vitamin. What’s the risk?
Until recently, vitamin D’s sole job was to support calcium absorption and deposition into bone, thus lowering osteoporosis risk. This role is now considered the tip of the nutritional iceberg.
Every cell in your body has receptors for vitamin D, which means every cell, tissue, organ, and system, from the top of your head to the tip of your toes, needs the vitamin. It’s no wonder research shows that vitamin D might aid the body in muscle weakness, gum disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, hearing and vision loss, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and depression, among other health conditions. It also supports pregnancy outcome and reduces the incidence of falls by up to 60 percent in seniors, while a deficiency can mimic symptoms of fibromyalgia. Preliminary studies also show a possible link between low vitamin D intake and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease and more.
Continue reading “The One Vitamin You Are Low In”
In our last article, we talked about the difficulties of meeting recommended guidelines for essential nutrients. “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:
Continue reading “Common Misconceptions about Supplements”
We are more than a month into the new year, so how are you doing with those resolutions?
If you’re struggling to keep up with your 2015 goal, you’re not alone. “So many of us look to the start of a new year to make big changes,” says Elizabeth Somer, nutritionist and author of ‘Eat Your Way To Happiness’. “Our intentions are great – we want to lose weight, be healthier, start a gym routine – but our goals are lofty and we get discouraged when we don’t reach them quickly enough.”
This year, why not drop the resolutions and adopt a year-round feel-good approach? By focusing on the good and making gradual changes in areas where you are unsatisfied you’re more likely to feel that sense of accomplishment. Here are a few ways to feel good in 2015:
- Take stock: Instead of looking at what you need to be happier, appreciate all the good things you already have in your life. Give yourself a pat on the back for all of your accomplishments, big and small, from having a great relationship with your kids to cooking an excellent signature dish. For times when you need a nudge to remember your successes, try writing it down in a journal.
- Eat Breakfast: A simple goal, but a worthy one. The benefits of breakfast are myriad – starting your day with a healthy meal can give your energy, improve your ability to concentrate and even help you maintain a healthy weight. No time to sit down for scrambled eggs? Try something you can take on the go, like a smoothie. Even leftovers from last night’s dinner can work (don’t be afraid of veggies for breakfast!).
- Supplement: While we’re on the topic of nutrition, an important goal is to get enough of the essential vitamins and nutrients that you need. Eating the right foods is important, but studies show that many of us aren’t hitting the nutritional mark with diet alone. Learn more about essential nutrients here: vitaminsinmotion.com and talk to your medical professional to determine what supplements are best for you.
- Try something new: Anything that you haven’t done before counts for this one. Pilates, a language class, a new recipe, organizing a community event. Challenge yourself and you might find something you love doing.
- Reach out: It can be too easy to stay in and hibernate during the long winter, but social connection is a key element for overall health. Make a point to spend time with loved ones, reconnect with long-lost friends or meet new people in your community. Bonus – making plans with other people will actually force you to get out and be active.
Two of the most beloved holiday icons are leveraging their celebrity this season to bring attention to heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. Mrs. Claus is inviting American families to join her in making the same, heart-healthy lifestyle changes she and Santa are taking on this year to raise awareness for nutrition’s role in heart health.
Find out more and hear Mrs. Claus’ important message from her and Santa here: www.clausnutrition.com
Did you know singer Katy Perry takes 26 vitamins and supplements every day? She must know how important taking a daily supplement can be to help fill in the nutritional gaps you may have in your diet. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer says most people would benefit from a well-chosen supplement.
How do you know which vitamins and supplements you could benefit from? Of course, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor on the nutrients he or she recommends adding to your diet. Elizabeth Somer has provided some tips on choosing supplements.
- Select a broad-range multiple that supplies as close to 100 percent, but no more than 300 percent, of the Daily Value for a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. A multiple should complement an excellent diet and fill in the gaps on days when you don’t eat perfectly. It’s not a substitute for a healthy diet, it’s a supplement.
- Add a separate calcium plus magnesium supplement. You need calcium to keep your bones, skin, nerves, and muscle in tip-top shape, while magnesium is critical for coping with stress, maintaining a healthy heartbeat and blood pressure, and improving muscle, nerve, and bones. Unless you include at least three servings daily of calcium-rich milk or soymilk products and lots of magnesium-rich soybeans, nuts and wheat germ, you should supplement these two minerals into your diet.
- If your multi-vitamin or calcium vitamin does not have at least 1000 IU of vitamin D, then consider a separate vitamin D supplement. Optimal intake of the vitamin D is associated with lowered risk for muscle weakness, gum disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and certain cancers, including colon, breast, pancreas, and prostate cancers.
- If you don’t consume at least two servings a week of fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, or herring, then take a DHA omega-3 supplement. You need at least 220mg of DHA, and possibly up to 900mg/day, to lower the risk for heart disease (the number one killer for both men and women).
- More than half of Americans are worried about their vision worsening later in life, according to a recent survey by DSM Nutritional Products/Kelton. Ninety-four percent of Americans are unfamiliar with zeaxanthin, which is found in spinach, broccoli and kale. This nutrient, which may help improve eyesight, (along with lutein) can be taken in supplement form.
Last month, Elizabeth Somer, R.D. and author of Eat Your Way to Happiness, appeared on the TODAY Show to share her “4 Steps to Choosing the Right Vitamins and Supplements.”
In honor on the 100th Anniversary of the Discovery of Vitamins, Elizabeth recommended the following vitamins and nutrients to add to your daily routine:
1. Moderate dose multi-vitamin like Centrum Silver
2. Calcium + Magnesium supplement
3. Omega-3s and specifically algal DHA supplements like Algal-900, Expecta Lipil, BrainStrong
4. Vitamin D supplement
Have you ever reached for a bag of greasy chips at the end of a bad day? Ever gone into the cookie jar when you’re feeling down? You’re not alone.
Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. and author of “Food & Mood” writes about the relationship between food and the blues. She says in most cases, indulgence is harmless. However, sometimes people turn to food in an effort to alleviate depression or loneliness and choose items that make them feel even worse. Elizabeth says diet and other healthy habits can help in treating depression effectively.
Research shows diets high in omega-3 fatty acids correlates to lower depression rates. Elizabeth notes DHA is highly concentrated in the brain, and deficient levels of omega-3s in the nervous system may increase the vulnerability to depression.
Fatty fish are not the only way to consume DHA. Finding foods and beverages fortified with DHA is easier than ever as there are more than 550 supplements, foods and beverages fortified with algal DHA. Click here to find a list of these products.