Monday, October 31, 2011

Does Your Diet Have Enough Vitamin D?

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD. CSSD, CPT
Full time faculty
School of Health Sciences

Fall is officially here and the days are getting shorter. For most people, the change in seasons leads to a different workout routine due to less sunlight, and a dietary shift to more “comfort” type foods. As you are shifting into fall you should probably take stock of your diet and in particular of your vitamin D intake.

 Vitamin D is crucial to health and disease prevention, not only for keeping our bones strong but also for the regulation of immune function and for decreasing the risk for chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some types of cancers. While our bodies theoretically can manufacturer all of the vitamin D that we need if we are in direct sunlight for about 30 minutes a day, there are a host of factors that make this more difficulty than you think. We need UVB light in a certain range and there is less of it in the fall and winter months. Skin pigmentation and winter clothing will also prevent us from receiving adequate exposure. So in practical terms, I thought it would be a good idea to list the amount of vitamin D in food that are high in this nutrient as well as the current recommended levels so you can assess your diet and see if you are meeting your needs. For vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products, obtaining vitamin D through foods can be tricky so I have included some good sources of this nutrient that are “veggie friendly”.

First, how much do you need? In 2010, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences established revised Dietary References Intake (DRI) recommendations based on new research. The following RDA’s (Recommended Dietary Allowances) were established:

·         Children 1-13 years: 600 IU
·         Teens 14-18 years: 600 IU
·         Adults 19-70 years: 600 IU
·         Adults above 70 years: 800 IU
·         Pregnant and lactating women: 600 IU

So where’s the D?

·         1 cup nonfat milk: 115 IU
·         1 cup Silk light, plain soymilk: 119 IU
·         Salmon, Chinook, baked, 4oz: 411 IU
·         Sardines 3.25oz: 250 IU
·         White mushrooms, 1 cup: 164 IU
·         Whole egg (the D is in the yolk): 40 IU
·         Vitamin D fortified OJ 1 cup: 137 IU

So as you can see, for vegetarians unless you drink a lot of soymilk and eat a lot of mushrooms you may not be meeting your needs through foods. You can do it but it takes some label reading and a bit of sleuthing. The alternative is to supplement with either a D2 or D3 supplement (D2 is vegetarian and D3 usually comes from sheep lanolin. Research shows that both are equally well absorbed). But before you go supplementing, you should probably talk to your MD and see if they can test your vitamin D levels. It is an easy test to do and can provide you with information on your current levels.

Start reading those food labels and keep a running tally for a day or two and post a comment on what you find out.
Friday, October 28, 2011

Sorting out hot cereals

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
Full time faculty
School of Health Sciences

My favorite post-run breakfast is oatbran with fruit and some type of vegan protein powder. With the morning temperatures getting lower, you may be thinking about switching your cold breakfast foods for something warm. While it isn’t easy to figure out which cold cereals are 100% whole grain, with hot cereals whole grains are the norm not the exception. Even Cream of Wheat has a whole-grain version. 

Do some whole grains beat others? It doesn’t appear so as studies have found a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease in people who eat any whole-grain cereal and especially those rich in insoluble fiber.

So what are some good choices? To avoid breakfast boredom you may want to stock your pantry with a variety of different grains. Most whole-grain hot cereals (with the exception of rice cereals) have 4-5 grams of fiber per serving (40 grams dry, which equals about 1 cup cooked). The instant hot cereals also count as whole grains but they may get some of their fiber from added isolated fibers like inulin instead of the natural bran. Inulin may supply extra fiber but research hasn’t found it to be beneficial for the heart or the colon as of yet.

Hold the sugar when choosing your cereal and choose unsweetened over the presweetened packets. It doesn’t matter if the sugar is cane, date, or brown sugar; to your body it’s all the same. You would be better off adding your own sugar as you will undoubtedly end up with less. Most non-instant hot cereals don’t have added sodium while most instant hot cereals do. So if you use instant look for levels close to 100 mg per serving.

Here are just a few good bets for breakfast that are 100% whole grain, contain no added sugar, and have no more than 100 mg of sodium per serving: Bob’s Red Mill – all varieties of hot cereal, McCann’s Irish Oat Bran, Mother’s Oat Bran, Quaker Old Fashioned or Quick Oats, Cream of Wheat Whole Grain, Steel Cut Oats and Erewhon brand. And if you are looking for something quick and wholesome try Trader Joe’s frozen Steelcut Oatmeal.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October in Non-GMO Month

Jennifer Koslo, PhD, RD, CSSD, CPT
FT Faculty
School of Health Sciences

October is non-GMO month (genetically modified organisms),and in case you aren’t familiar with the ramifications of GMO’s in our food supply then now is a great opportunity to become informed. I for one avoid GMO’s if I possibly can. Well let me back up. Non-GMO month was created by the Non-GMO Project in 2010 as a platform for raising awareness on the GMO issue. And in less you have taken a nutrition class recently (and I happen to teach several), you may or may not be aware of the pros and cons of GMOs. There are some great movies you can watch on the subject like The Future of Food (which you can watch for free online and Food, Inc. (which you have to rent) but I will try to sum it up in a nutshell.

GMO’s are created through gene splicing techniques (biotechnology, genetic engineering or GE), which is an extremely precise way of plucking out just a desired gene or two from one organism and inserting it into another organism. It is light years more precise than traditional cross-breeding which takes the good with the bad when species are crossed. 

While there are some pros to this such as disease and pest resistant in plants, there are an awful lot of cons and quite frankly a dearth of long-term studies on their safety. I could go on for hours about the ramifications and the lack of testing and so on but you can watch the movies I suggested and visit the Non-GMO project site to read more. Actually here is a link to a good article

So what is the Non-GMO project all about? “It is a non-profit multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO projects, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices”. Foods that are Non-GMO certified contain a stamp that looks like this:

Currently in the US products that contain GMO’s are not labeled so unless a consumer purchases 100% organic foods there may be ingredients that have been altered through biotechnology. The beauty of this project is that you can easily identify foods that have no GMOs even if they aren’t 100% organic. All you have to do is look for the seal.

I encourage you to become informed on GMO’s so you can make informed purchasing decisions and make your voice heard with your purchasing dollar.

About Me

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
View my complete profile