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Posts Tagged ‘Vitamin D’

June is National Dairy Month. In past times, the mention of milk referred to dairy or that white liquid produced by mammals. Not so anymore. Controversy continues as to whether drinks from almonds, soybeans, coconut, and other plants constitute milk. While these products may be healthy, they definitely aren’t the same as milk from animals.Glass, Milk, White, Cow'S Milk, Pour A

Test your knowledge about dairy (with 1% fat), unsweetened almond, soy, rice, and coconut milks by taking the quiz below.

  • What milk listed above has the highest amount of protein?
  • Which one is highest in calories?
  • Which milks are fortified with calcium and vitamin D?
  • Which milk is highest in fat, based on the above criteria?
  • Which one(s) is/are lactose-free?

Protein in milk. Cow’s milk by far has the highest content of protein. In doesn’t matter if the product is skim, reduced fat, whole, organic, or inorganic, it contains the same amount of protein, about 1 gram per ounce or 8 grams in 8-ounce servings. Coconut and rice are the lowest with 0 grams of protein while almond has 1 gram, and soy 7 grams.

Calories in milk. Dairy milk (1% fat) also contains the most calories with 110 per serving. The most popular non-dairy milks usually contain added sugar, increasing the calorie count. When served unsweetened, plant milks have a calorie count as follows: almond― 40, soy― 80, rice― 70, and coconut― 45.

Fortified milk. A fortified food indicates that manufacturers have added micronutrients to the product. Federal regulations mandate fortification of cow’s milk with 2000 International Units (IU) per quart of vitamin A and 400 IU of vitamin D. Cow’s milk is naturally high in the mineral calcium, and the vitamin D improves calcium absorption. The federal government does not regulated fortification in plant milks, but many do add vitamins and minerals to simulate cow’s milk.

Fat content. Coconut milk, with 4.5 grams per serving of mostly saturated fat, has the highest content of the milks listed. Controversy continues regarding the pros and cons of the healthfulness of coconut milk. Current research confirms that saturated fat is less healthy than unsaturated types of fat whether from animal sources or plant sources. Soy milk is second highest in fat content with 4 grams per serving. The amount of fat in cow’s milk depends on whether it is skim―with minimal fat, whole―full-fat content, or somewhere in-between for reduced fat milk. Based on the 1 percent criteria, dairy, almond, and rice all have 2.5 grams of fat per 8-ounce serving.

Lactose. Lactose is a sugar found only in milk. Some people who have trouble digesting cow’s milk may be lactose intolerant.

Consumer Reports compared these milks and identified pros and cons.

  • Almond milk. These drinks contain few almonds, sometimes no more than the equivalent of three to four whole almonds. The nuts are ground and added to water. Drinks may contain some vitamin E and are often fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Panelists preferred “Almond Breeze Original” of the eight tasted. This drink has sugar added and possibly other additives.
  • Coconut milk. This drink is not the same as coconut milk found in cans. It is watered down to match the consistency of dairy milk. Added nutrients may include calcium and vitamin D, and some may have B12. Of the five brands tasted, the panel chose “Silk Almond-Coconut Blend Original” as the most flavorful.
  • Soy milk. This product is a good source of protein, but not the quality protein found in cow’s milk. It is made with ground soybeans and water, and is often fortified with B-vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D. Consumer Reports panelists tasted four products and selected “Silk Soymilk Vanilla” as the best. It, too, has added sugar.

With these facts, you can make more informed decisions about the type of milk you choose for you and your family. Dairy is usually the most economical and packs in more nutrients than any of the plant sources. All dairy milk has nine essential nutrients and high-quality (complete) protein. Non-dairy milks have no federal standards and may contain as much as ten different added ingredients including salt and sugar plus stabilizers and emulsifiers like locust bean gum, lecithin, and other gums.

Let me know what you think. Should these non-dairy drinks continue to be labeled as milk?

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Are you a candidate for cancer? People may take precautions yet still succumb to this awful disease. While the last blog looked at ways to avoid becoming a statistic, many questions remain. One study rarely paints a clear picture of what helps and what hurts in the prevention process. Below are recent research findings about nutrients to help discern what is best for you.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants are known to block the activity of harmful substances called free radicals. Because of this action, many tout that antioxidants ward off malignancy. Numerous foods, especially fruits, offer an abundance of antioxidants in the diet.

Grapes and grape juice: Grapes and grape juice contain high quantities of the potent antioxidants polyphenols and resveratrol. In animal studies, resveratrol prevented cell and tissue damage known to trigger the cancer process. Additionally, resveratrol slowed cancer cell growth and inhibited the formation of tumors in lymph, liver, stomach, and breast cells. It also triggered death of leukemic and colon cancer tumors and blocked development of skin, breast, and leukemia cancers at all stages of the disease.

Supplements: According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidant supplements haven’t proven effective in reducing the risk of developing or in dying from cancer. In fact, evidence suggested that excessive antioxidant supplements may increase the risk of certain cancers. According to recent studies, vitamin E supplements increased possibilities for prostate cancer. Mortality rates increased for those who took supplemental beta carotene and vitamins A and E.

Fruits: Many fruits have benefits in addition to antioxidants that may effectively protect against cancer. Apples, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries and strawberries are high in fiber and vitamin C. These fruits may help prevent colon cancer and probably lower risks of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lungs, and stomach cancer. See additional information at this site of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Cruciferous vegetables: This vegetable group (bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, radishes, turnips, and others) once strongly linked to preventing lung, colorectal, stomach, breast, prostate and other cancers, may be less effective than previously thought. Newer research failed to substantiate earlier relationships. However, these vegetables are high in nutrients and antioxidants and may in the future provide a link to combating cancer. In animal studies, broccoli and tomatoes—which are high in the antioxidant lycopene—reduced tumor growth in prostate cancer.

Teas: This beverage has the antioxidant catechin which may cut cancer risk. Green tea contains more catechin than does black tea. Green tea extracts may lower the risk of prostate cancer. While some studies found that oral cancer benefitted from tea, other studies failed to find the same association. Therefore, studies related to tea and cancer are inconclusive and need additional study.

Vitamin D and Calcium: Vitamin D lowers risks for colorectal cancer. Adequate blood serum levels of vitamin D cut total cancer incidents and mortality. However over a seven-year period, the Woman’s Health Initiative found that healthy women who took vitamin D and calcium supplements did not improve their chance of avoiding colorectal cancer. High intakes of calcium—greater than 1,500 milligrams/day—increased the risk for prostate cancer but results may have occurred because of lower vitamin D2 levels.

Modifying the diet may affect your risk of cancer. As researchers point out, diet alone is unreliable. However, it is one factor you can control to help you remain cancer free.

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How long do you want to live? We seem to have a built-in urge to live longer. Normal healthy people don’t want the grim reaper at their doorstep.

Deaths occur from numerous causes. Several things may cut the lifespan, but science is closing in on many factors that seem to increase longevity. Some lifestyle patterns, like smoking, may shorten life while others such as exercise seem to add more years. Unscrupulous wonder-potions with claims to extend existence surface then disappear. Do specific foods or nutrients impact survival?

Insufficient amounts of vitamin D may cause or worsen several health conditions—osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, some cancers, auto immune diseases, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. These infirmities decrease quality of life, and some shorten the lifespan. Sufficient quantities of vitamin D may help prevent various health problems, especially certain types of cancers and diabetes.

Researchers studied the role of vitamin D in more than 10,000 people with an average age of fifty-eight. Based on blood levels below thirty nanograms per milliliter, they classified seventy percent as vitamin D deficient. Those with deficiencies were more prone to high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and increased mortality. Survival rates improved when they treated the vitamin D-deficient with supplements.

How much vitamin D do older adults need? Like other nutrients, it’s best to get vitamins from food sources. Unlike other nutrients, the sun is an excellent source of vitamin D. In the elderly, loss of the skin’s ability to generate vitamin D from sunshine aggravated by immobility or limited exposure to outside physical activities causes even greater risks for deficiency. The most plentiful natural food supply is fatty fish. Mushrooms, eggs, cheese, and liver contain limited amounts. The food industry supplements many products— namely milk, yogurt, cereal, and orange juice—with vitamin D to close the nutrient gap in diets.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D after age seventy is 800 International Units (IU) per day. The Institute of Medicine set a level of 4,000 IU as the upper limit for supplementation. Although other health professionals increase that limit to 10,000 IU, the lower level reduces the potential for harm from an overdose.

While studies show definite health improvements in those treated for deficiencies, too much vitamin D has a downside. We cannot assume that if a little is good, more is better. Doses of vitamin D above the upper recommended levels can cause health issues, especially for those with kidney problems. However, the potential consequences from deficiency outweigh the less life-threatening conditions of overdose.

Will vitamin D delay aging and cause you to live longer?  Maybe. Evidence seems clear that vitamin D plays a role in longevity. If you fail to consume vitamin D rich foods, either natural or fortified, supplements may make a difference. You don’t have to wait until old age to start. After all, if you delay consuming adequate amounts, you may not get there.

 “Healthy Eating & Diet,” http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/are-you-getting-enough-vitamin-d

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October 20 is World Osteoporosis Day. This date climaxes the Bone and Joint Decade National Action Week (October 12-20) mandated by President George W. Bush in 2002. The event focuses on arthritis, back pain, and osteoporosis and calls attention to prevention, management, and treatments. According to reports by the Bone and Joint Institute, musculoskeletal conditions affect millions worldwide and nearly half the American population over age eighteen. This malady is the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability.

Osteoporosis, referred to as a silent disease, occurs without symptoms. As many as ten million Americans have osteoporosis and thirty-four million more have low bone mass. Forty percent of women over age fifty can expect to suffer from at least one fracture as a result of this disease.

What can you do? Several lifestyle factors impact bone health. Smoking and the consumption of two to three ounces a day of alcohol may cause greater susceptibility for osteoporosis. Certain medications can lead to a loss of bone density and fractures.

Good nutrition is vital for bone health. Inadequate intakes of calcium contribute to the development of osteoporosis. Food sources of calcium include milk and milk products, sardines and salmon, dark green vegetables (such as kale, broccoli, and spinach), and almonds. Some foods fortified with calcium include orange juice, cereals, and bread.

Vitamin D, important for calcium absorption and bone health, is found in liver, saltwater fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, and tuna), and egg yolks. Many people acquire Vitamin D through fortified milk. Sunshine, another source of Vitamin D, could prove less reliable, especially during winter months. Children and most adults need 600 IU/day while older adults need at least 800 IU daily.

In addition to nutrition, the skeleton needs exercise. Weight-bearing exercises, especially, make bones stronger.

It’s never too late to consider bone health. A bone mineral density (BMD) test identifies osteoporosis, measures bone loss, and determines risk for fractures. The test is painless. Early treatment of abnormalities may prevent easily fractured bones and pain plus the multiple expenses associated with this prevalent disease. Take care of those bones. You need them to last for a lifetime.

http://www.usbjd.org/projects/NAW_op.cfm

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/overview.asp

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