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”
Are the foods on your plate helping you stay healthy through the years? We know what foods are ‘good’ for us, but did you know that what’s on your plate today could affect the way you age?
A recent study, by DSM and Groningen University, looked at why some populations age healthier than others. The researchers found evidence that a lack of nutrients can have long-term health effects. The results of the study support what we already know about the importance of a balanced diet throughout our lives.
It’s not always easy to ensure we’re getting proper nutrition, particularly as we age and need fewer calories and our bodies may absorb less nutrients. To help you stay healthy, try following these five rules: Continue reading “5 tips to help you age healthier”
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”
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?
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.
It is essential for expecting mothers to take care of themselves while carrying their little bundles of joy. Here are a few nutrition tips for mothers to follow during pregnancy:
Protein is a fundamental building block of your baby’s development. Try eating a protein-rich diet complete with eggs, nuts and fully-cooked meats.
Don’t be Afraid of the Weight Gain
Gaining the amount of weight recommended by your healthcare provider is important for a healthy infant. Contact your doctor if you are concerned about gaining too little or too much weight during pregnancy.
Make the Calories Count
You need extra calories during pregnancy, but make sure they’re not empty calories. Eat foods that are good for you and packed with vitamins and nutrients. Eating the right calories now can possibly make it easier to shed the baby weight later. If you are looking for a prenatal multi-vitamin, try CVS Prenatal multi-vitamin with DHA omega-3.
Drinking lots of water is incredibly beneficial and vital for you and baby. Expecting moms should drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day and even more during the warm summer months.
Take Your Vitamins
Follow the instructions of your healthcare provider and take prenatal vitamins with recommended levels of folic acid and DHA omega-3 (try BrainStrong Prenatal or Enfamil Expecta Prenatal Supplement with DHA).
Recent research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found healthy, pregnant women who took a DHA supplement had bigger, healthier babies with longer gestation periods compared to other healthy pregnant women who took a placebo.
Did you know three quarters of people in the U.S. are not meeting their recommended intakes for vitamin A? In honor of the 100 anniversary of the discovery of vitamins, check out the infographic for helpful information about vitamin intake.