Vegetables High In Calcium

We are all aware of the importance of calcium, the benefit it has for our body and that it cannot function without it. Calcium is found naturally in dairy products and is added to a plethora of common foods such as orange juice, cereal, soy milk and breads. Most recommendations to add calcium in your diet will point you towards dairy products, but, a common question for many vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat dairy products is, “What vegetables are high in calcium?”

Before we get into specific vegetables and their calcium content we need to look at the difference in absorption of calcium from foods. Calcium is absorbed far better from dairy products than vegetables. Moreover, vegetables that are high in calcium but are also high in oxalic acid, such as spinach, sweet potatoes and beans, don’t provide the body as much calcium as they contain. The Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium states, “In comparison to calcium absorption from milk, calcium absorption from dried beans is about half and from spinach is about one tenth.” Oxalic acid essentially blocks calcium absorption. Protein and caffeine may also have a negative impact on the retention of Calcium. This must all be taken into account when choosing plant-based calcium sources.

The following chart has vegetables categorized by oxalate content, “Low” to “Very High.” Within those categories each vegetable is listed in order from highest calcium content to lowest. As you’ll see, spinach has the highest calcium content, but since it has a “Very High Oxalate” content it is not a good choice for calcium. Be sure to choose from the “Moderate” to “Low” oxalate categories to maximize calcium absorption.

 

Food

Serving SIze

Calcium (mg)

% DV

Calories

Oxalate Content

Dill

2 tsp

63.67

6.37

12.8

Low Oxalate

Basil

2 tsp

59.16

5.92

7

Low Oxalate

Oregano

2 tsp

57.49

5.75

9.5

Low Oxalate

Broccoli

1 cup raw

42.77

4.28

30.9

Low Oxalate

Brussels Sprouts

1 cup raw

36.96

3.7

37.8

Low Oxalate

Romaine Lettuce

2 cups

31.02

3.1

16

Low Oxalate

Cabbage, Green

1 cup raw

28

2.8

17.5

Low Oxalate

Kale

1 cup cooked

93.6

9.36

36.4

Moderate Oxalate

Thyme

2 tsp

52.92

5.29

7.7

Moderate Oxalate

Cinnamon

2 tsp

52.1

5.21

12.8

Moderate Oxalate

Asparagus

1 cup raw

32.16

3.22

26.8

Moderate Oxalate

Fennel

1 cup raw

42.63

4.26

27

Moderate Oxalate

Collard Greens

1 cup cooked

266

26.6

49.4

High Oxalate

Turnip Greens

1 cup cooked

197.28

19.73

28.8

High Oxalate

Mustard Greens

1 cup cooked

103.6

10.36

21

High Oxalate

Celery

1 cup

40.4

4.04

16.2

High Oxalate

Spinach

1 cup cooked

244.8

24.48

41.4

Very High Oxalate

Swiss Chard

1 cup cooked

101.5

10.15

35

Very High Oxalate

Sesame Seeds

0.25 cup

351

35.1

206.3

Very High Oxalate

Leeks

1 cup raw

52.51

5.25

54.3

Very High Oxalate

 

Works Cited for “Vegetables High in Calcium:” 

  1. O’Connor, H. The Oxalate Content of Food. http://www.ohf.org/docs/OxalateContent092003.pdf
  2. National Research Council. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1997.
  3. Agricultural Research Service. United States Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Release 26. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list

Photo Source: Kale

Originally posted 2013-12-20 15:29:11.

Apples wake you up!

If you are like most Americans, your day starts with coffee. Hopefully that is not the extent of your morning fuel, but if you feel as though that is all you have time for, consider making a switch. An apple is super easy to take on the go and due to the nutrients packed in this juicy fruit, apples wake you up.

The first reason apples wake you up is the natural sugar found within called fructose or fruit sugar. This type of sugar is more slow acting than table sugar, so instead of getting the dreaded sugar high and crash, it will be a steadier stream of energy.

The fiber contained in an apple helps sustain that energy as well. Fiber slows down the sugar’s digestion in the body and makes the effect last longer. The type of fiber in apples also helps lower the risk of heart disease for an added bonus.

Water found in apples, like any water, can also help to wake the body up. Water is essential for life, so if you think about it, this makes sense. Water helps to wake up all of the cells in your body and jump-starts your metabolism for the day. Dehydration causes a feeling of tiredness, so an apple is a great way to add a little water into your diet.

Quercetin, is a polyphenolic flavonoid found in apples that has been shown to provide antioxidant effects. It has also been shown to increase oxygen levels. Over a seven day period, participants in a study who were given quercetin had improved VO2 max levels, or a higher oxygen capacity as well as overall endurance. The higher the oxygen levels in the body, the more oxygen is available to the brain, therefore the quercetin in apples can likely help wake you up.

Dietary polyphenols found in apples are also thought to have a positive effect on blood sugar regulation. Although there are many sugars and carbohydrates in apples, apples’ polyphenol content might help to stop the blood sugar spike, making apples a healthy way to obtain energy.

Other great health benefits from apples include:

Vitamin C: this vitamin is a great antioxidant that can help protect the body from infection and disease.

Great workout fuel: not only do apples have waking powers, the combination of fructose, other types of carbohydrates and water also makes apples great pre-workout fuel.

So why not wake up to a sweet and juicy apple each day? I know after all of this research, I will at least be integrating apples into my diet for some healthy pre-workout energy!

Sources for “Apples wake you up!”:

Originally posted 2013-12-17 07:09:16.

Popcorn as a Healthy Snack

Popcorn as a healthy snack, instead of a decadent, guilty pleasure, may sound like a great idea in theory, but you may worry that some deliciousness might get lost in the “healthy” process. Not to worry! The method you use to pop your popcorn has the greatest effect on whether or not your popcorn is a healthy snack. By using the best popping methods and adding some nutritious ingredients to your popcorn, you’ll have a healthy and delicious snack in your hands in no time.

To make popcorn a healthy snack, the most important thing to remember is to avoid refined seeds oils or trans-fats for popping your popcorn. Instead of using canola, corn, or vegetable oil (which can lead to inflammation and atherosclerosis), use an air popper or pop your popcorn in whole, healthy fats like ghee, coconut oil, olive oil or butter. These types of fats are less prone to oxidation and they don’t throw off the important essential fatty acid balance in your body.  

Once you’ve improved your popping method, use the ideas below to make you popcorn a sweet or  savory snack, naturally loaded with antioxidants and other important nutrients:

Popcorn with a dash of dark chocolate. Think popcorn is as “guilty” as it gets? Add on some dark decadence by tossing a few ounces of dark chocolate in a pot and heating it. Drizzle the melted dark chocolate over your air-popped popcorn for a burst of antioxidants and sticky-sweet deliciousness, sans the fat and carbs of heavy oils or margarine.

Healthy popcorn with a little sass. Add a dash of lemon juice and ¼ peppercorn to 3-4 cups of popcorn and toss for a little extra zing to your bowl without adding on guilt. 

Popcorn as a healthy snack and a party mix. Mix up a little fun by filling a bowl half-full of air-popped popcorn, then add ¼ cup of almond slivers, ¼ cup of banana chips, and ¼ cup of dried cranberries or raisins for a healthy snack medley that’s big on health and flavor. The perfect snack idea for you next get together.

Popcorn with cheese. What snack is just as beloved as popcorn? Cheese! Now you can pair these two snack favorites by shredding some white cheddar (made with milk from grass-fed cows) over your freshly popped popcorn. The heat from the newly popped kernels will help melt the cheese into the corn for a protein, vitamin and mineral infused snack blend that’s sure to please your taste buds.

A healthy popcorn snack with a spicy kick. If you like your snacks low-calorie and with a lot of heat, air-pop a serving of popcorn, then sprinkle on hot sauce sauce, shake and serve. This recipe is sure to please anyone who likes their popcorn with a side of nearly calorie-free fire.

Extra sweet and extra healthy popcorn. Drizzle honey over 3 cups of popcorn, then add ¼ tsp cinnamon and toss for added antioxidants and minerals — guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

Popcorn with extra savory goodness. Add ¼ tsp of garlic powder and ½ tsp of rosemary to 3 cups of popcorn and toss for a pop of hearty flavor without added fat or calories.

Popcorn as a healthy snack is a great idea for anyone who wants to lose the unhealthy fats and high-sodium that usually comes standard with a bowl of this savory popped treat. Try any of these simple recipes to knock out the health-sabotaging, fattening toppings and enjoy popcorn as a snack that’s packed with health and more flavor than ever.

Sources for “Popcorn As a Healthy Snack:” 

Originally posted 2013-12-11 14:25:47.

Are almonds fattening?

Honestly I chose to answer the question, “Are almonds fattening?” because the idea of attributing any one food to making a person fat drives me nuts (no pun intended). For the sake of discussion though, let’s dive into it.

Almonds are a favorite food of mine, so I will admit to some bias. I love adding them to cereal, onto toast, or mixing them in with  baked goods for some added texture and nutrition. I also used to stop at the farmer’s market every year for a small bag of roasted almonds coated in a cinnamon sugar glaze as a semi-healthy treat. I adore eating something tasty while also boosting my nutrition for the day.

Let’s break down the nutrition facts to getter a better picture of whether or not almonds are fattening.

One fourth cup of slivered almonds, which is quite a bit if you think about it, is only 156 calories. As with most nuts, the profile of the almond is high in fat, but this type of fat is a heart-healthy one. Natural fats, like those found in almonds, are required for many things in the body including brain function and the digestion of fat soluble vitamins. Almonds’ fat content isn’t enough evidence to say that they’re fattening!

Almonds pack protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins all in one little nut. Almonds contain potassium, which helps balance out the sodium in your body, as well as phosphorus and magnesium, which are important for bone health. Magnesium might also help manage cortisol, a stress hormone that can cause negative biological consequences (including weight-gain) when out of balance. Almonds also contain vitamin E, which is great for healthy skin and nails.

The thing about almonds is that some people do not enjoy them plain, but feel the need to have them roasted and salted. One fourth cup of roasted and salted almonds can add over 100mg of sodium as well as extra fat in the form of oil, which is added to help keep the salt attached to the almonds.  So, if you’re going for the healthiest almond option, dry roasted almonds with lower sodium are the best.

But are almonds fattening?

Let’s think about this for a moment. What exactly is it that makes a particular food (such as almonds) fattening or not? Is it fat content? Is it high carbohydrates? Is it large amounts of protein or calories?

How about none of the above?

That’s right. No single food will “make you fat,” whether it contains fat or not. Yes, certain foods do not contain the nutrition that our bodies need, but that does not mean once that forbidden food hits your lips it heads straight to your hips. That is not the way the body works.

How and why is fat stored in the body?

Fat is stored when the energy from any given food is not used up in a given amount of time. The stored fat can be used for fuel later on if the body is desperately in need of energy. Fat is not the first form of energy the body burns, but that is a whole different discussion. To give a very broad answer, fat is stored when the incoming calories are higher than the output of calories.

It is important to look at the full picture when asking questions like, “Are almonds fattening?”

Because the fact of the matter is, yes, any food can make you fat. This includes almonds if we eat too many or if our energy expenditure is less than the amount of calories we eat. The great thing about whole foods like almonds, however, is that they are more likely to satisfy you than refined foods, which means you’ll be less likely to store extra fat from eating almonds than, say, almond roca. 

Are almonds a nutritious source of food that we should be incorporating in our diet? Absolutely, yes.

And not just because I am nutty about them.

 

Tell me…

What is your favorite kind of nut?

What are your thoughts on “fattening” foods?

 

Sources for “Are almonds fattening?”:

Originally posted 2013-12-06 16:16:11.

Health Benefits of Ginger

The health benefits of ginger may not be as well known to you as its spicy taste, which can pep up everything from salads to casseroles. This strong-flavored root has been used for thousands of years, and was once a popular remedy for everything from nausea to bronchitis. Ginger is still one of the most popular spices in use today, for both its food-boosting flavor and its amazing health-boosting side effects. Here are a few of the health benefits of ginger:

Ginger provides health benefits during pregnancy: Morning sickness, as any expecting mom knows, can strike any time of day and add misery to what should be a magical, joyous time. Research has shown that ingesting ginger can treat morning sickness, or the nausea and vomiting that can occur during a pregnant women’s first trimester. Consume 1g of ginger daily to alleviate the symptoms of morning sickness.

Ginger for an upset stomach: When it comes to treating nausea, ginger isn’t just for expecting moms! Studies indicate that children and adults can benefit from the nausea and upset stomach reducing effects of ginger. Consult with a physician before treating upset stomach in children under 2-years-old with ginger to ensure you administer the proper dosage. Adults may take 1g of ginger daily to alleviate upset stomach and nausea.

Ginger may provide relief for osteoarthritis: If you are suffering from pain and swelling caused by arthritis inflammation, ginger may provide some safe and natural relief. Research has shown that ginger’s anti-inflammatory compounds, called gingerols, can alleviate inflammation. Take 250 mg of ginger 4 times a day to treat osteoarthritis symptoms.

Ginger to relieve symptoms of  Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that causes unusual contractions in your large intestine that can lead to diarrhea, constipation, pain and gassiness, has affected between 10 – 20 percent of the population at some point. Studies have shown that using ginger as a herbal supplement can treat the symptoms of IBS. Take 1g of ginger daily for IBS relief.

Health benefits of ginger for motion sickness: Some studies indicate that powdered ginger may help alleviate motion sickness, or a state of dizziness and nausea caused by a disruption of a person’s balance or equilibrium, often brought about by travel on a plane, boat or car. Do not exceed 4 g of powdered ginger daily to treat motion sickness.

Ginger for heart disease: Some preliminary studies suggest that ginger may help prevent blood from clotting and help lower cholesterol, both of which can reduce your risk of heart disease. Ask a doctor before taking ginger as a natural treatment for heart disease.

Health benefits of ginger for digestion: The next time you have that unpleasant abdominal discomfort after a large or spicy meal, just try some ginger. Studies have shown that ginger can be used to effectively treat the symptoms of indigestion and sooth your stomach. Take 1g of ginger daily to alleviate indigestion. 

Enjoy the health benefits of ginger by consuming this spicy root as an extract, in capsule form or as a tea. Consult your doctor before using ginger as a natural treatment for serious health conditions. You can also enjoy ginger in common foods and drinks like ginger ale, gingerbread, and just in time for the holiday season, gingerbread houses! A health-booster and amazing flavoring for sweets, soups, teas and many recipes, ginger is a beneficial, aromatic treat any time of year.

 Sources for “Health Benefits of Ginger:” 

Originally posted 2013-12-05 12:18:43.

Is quinoa fattening?

Quinoa has quickly become one of the most popular health foods on the market. It’s high in protein and fiber, it’s gluten-free, and it’s a good source of a number of vitamin and minerals. But… is quinoa fattening? Quinoa is relatively high in calories, and it can require a few extra “fixings” to make it taste good, so this is actually not a bad question — especially if you’re trying to lose a few extra pounds.

The answer to the question “Is quinoa fattening?” is a little more nuanced than whether or not quinoa contains fat. With only 4 grams of fat per 1 cup serving, quinoa is actually a low fat food. What really gives quinoa its potential to be fattening is the total amount of calories and carbohydrates it contains. In 1 cup of quinoa there are 222 calories and 35 grams of carbohydrates. 

If you think about it though, 222 calories really isn’t that much. Even if your daily caloric need is low and you’re on a 1,000 calorie diet, 222 calories would only meet about 1/4th of your total caloric need for the day. So far so good. But have you seen 1 cup of quinoa? It isn’t much, and you’re not just going to eat plain quinoa. You’ll need something on it. If you have it for breakfast, you’re going to want to add some milk and honey. For dinner you might cook it up with some olive oil or tomato juice and veggies. The calories can quickly add up. There is some potential that quinoa could become a vehicle for a few extra calories, but overall I’m not convinced that quinoa is a fattening food.

Is quinoa fattening? I’m more inclined to argue just the opposite. Even the 35 gram or carbohydrates isn’t all that problematic. Your body needs some carbohydrates during the day, and the type of carbohydrates found in quinoa are the best kind. Quinoa’s starches make excellent fuel for your brain and muscles. On top of that, 1 cup of quinoa contains 8 grams of high quality protein and a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Quinoa isn’t an empty source of fattening calories — it’s a highly nourishing food for restoring and energizing your body.  

If you’re really trying to lose excess fat, my only recommendation would be to eat quinoa for breakfast instead of for lunch or dinner. Eating quinoa in the morning will give your brain thinking fuel, boost your metabolism, and give you plenty of time to burn off those carbohydrates. For more information about quinoa, including how to cook it, read our more in-depth article on quinoa.

Sources: USDA Food Database
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Originally posted 2013-12-04 10:11:29.

The Health Benefits of Rosemary

health benefits of rosemaryThe health benefits of rosemary abound, making this spice much more than just as an aromatic addition to countless beloved recipes. For centuries this little herb has been used to treat everything from nightmares to baldness. Even today, rosemary is considered a health booster in a lot of surprising ways. Read on to discover the health benefits of rosemary, and find out why this spice deserves a space not just in your kitchen, but in your medicine cabinet as well.

Rosemary benefits hair growth: For those of us who suffer from baldness, help might come in the form of an aromatic herb. Studies indicate that massaging the scalp with rosemary oil, in combination with other essential oils, may treat alopecia, or hair loss, by increasing blood flow to the scalp and stimulating the re-growth of hair.

Rosemary for memory health: Studying for an exam? You may want to prepare with a little rosemary aromatherapy! A recent study suggests that inhaling the scent of rosemary oil may temporarily enhance memory by elevating concentrations of a compound known as 1,8-cineole, also called eucalyptol, in the bloodstream. Concentrations of 1,8-cineole has been linked to improved cognitive function and memory.

Rosemary for cellular health: Rosemary may provide health benefits right down to your cells! Rosemary contains antioxidants called polyphenols, a type of chemical found in many fruits and vegetables, which help fight free radicals that can damage and destroy cells. Healthy cells leave you less susceptible to diseases and can even contribute to longevity.

Rosemary for stopping food-borne pathogens: Disease-causing microorganisms found in food, also known as food-borne pathogens, have been linked to serious illnesses and even death in animals and humans. Studies have shown that rosemary extract contains antimicrobial properties, and can effectively neutralize common food-borne pathogens such as S. aureus and B. cereus.

Rosemary for muscle pain: Rosemary oil, when used topically, may alleviate muscle pain and is currently an accepted treatment in Europe. More studies are needed to confirm its efficacy.           

Rosemary for healthy digestion: The next time you have upset stomach or bloating from indigestion, you may want to try some rosemary leaves. Rosemary leaf, when consumed, may help ease upset stomach and is a recommended indigestion treatment used in Europe.

The health benefits of rosemary make this aromatic spice a must-have in every household. Take no more than 4-6 grams of rosemary as a dried herb, and consult with your physician before consuming rosemary to treat serious conditions. From promoting hair growth to alleviating muscle pain, this herb serves up some surprising health-boosting effects. So sprinkle plenty of rosemary on your favorite dinner recipes, sip it as a tea, or use it as an oil or tincture to get the most from this great-for-you spice.

Sources for “The Health Benefits of Rosemary:”

Originally posted 2013-12-03 13:44:49.

Mood Enhancing Foods

Mood Enhancing FoodsMood enhancing foods are not just some whimsical idea. The foods you take in on a daily basis can make a big impact on not just your waistline, but on how you feel. With winter fast approaching and the days growing shorter, many of us find our fuse shortening as well. Irritation, moodiness and depression, or the winter blues (also known as seasonal affective disorder), affect as many as 6 out of 100 Americans each year. If you’re feeling the winter doldrums, or if you’re just down in the dumps, the solution may be as close as your refrigerator door. Try these mood enhancing foods for more energy, better health and even an extra dose of happiness.

Mood enhancing food from the sea: The Mussel. This hard-shelled saltwater dweller not only cooks up for a tasty delicacy, but it contains several trace elements that help maintain a positive mood, such as iodine, zinc and selenium. These elements nourish your thyroid, a gland that controls the production of hormones that affect your weight, energy and mood.

A better mood in a cup: Coffee. Although not technically a food, the grounds from this powerful little bean (the coffee bean) delivers a lot of mood-boosting power. A nerve chemical in your brain called adenosine can block certain brain chemicals that boost energy. The caffeine in coffee effectively absorbs adenosine, allowing you to experience a pleasant rush of energy, along with better focus and more of a feeling of alertness-the perfect way to perk up your day!

This mood enhancing food has a peel (appeal): The Orange. Sweet, juicy and succulent, oranges come loaded with iron, which promotes healthy red cell production that maintains your energy level, and mood-boosting Vitamin C, which can alleviate feelings of depression and enhance your immune system function, thus helping you avoid or more quickly ward off those unpleasant winter sniffles, colds and flus.

Feeling blue? Go green: Broccoli. Ultra light on the calories, fat and carbs, this dieter’s delight also serves up lots of good stuff in the mood department. Not only high in fiber, which helps alleviate digestive problems that can sour your disposition, broccoli is also rich in folate, which can diminish feelings of depression and help boost your mood.

Mood enhancing food from the candy aisle: Dark Chocolate. It’s creamy, delicious and arguably the best thing to ever happen to deserts. Not surprisingly, it’s a major mood booster. The caffeine in dark chocolate blocks adenosine and enables that pleasant rush of energy to your brain. Dark chocolate also contains the chemical phenylalanine, which stimulates dopamine and serotonin production in the brain, both of which enhance mood. 

Boost your mood with a spoon: Yogurt. Yogurt contains good bacteria, or probiotics, that helps promote digestion. This creamy dairy product also packs a wallop of calcium, a mineral that not only builds strong bones and promotes good heart and muscle health, but has been shown to alleviate feelings of moodiness and depression.

Mood enhancing foods, when eaten regularly, can add up to a happier and healthier you. So nosh, dine, sip and stock up on these mood enhancers — they’ll help you start and end each day with a smile.

 Sources for “Mood Enhancing Foods:”

Originally posted 2013-11-21 10:36:43.

What to Eat When Pregnant

Pregnant belly

There may be no more exciting-and worrisome-time in a mother’s life than those nine-plus months before her little one enters the world. It’s a time filled with a lot of second guessing and fretting over whether you’re doing all the right things, especially whether or not you know what to eat when pregnant. When it comes to picking the best foods t0 eat when pregnant, you need choices that are both healthy and appetizing.  Look no further than a few of these prenatal superfoods we’ve outlined below:

Beans: Beans and excellent food to eat when pregnant because they’re savory, filling and high in protein — all major pluses when you’re eating for two. Beans’ high protein count makes them an excellent meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans, or for those who may develop a meat aversion while pregnant. Beans also provide fiber, which is important for digestion, and helps you maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels — both of which can fluctuate while pregnant.

Yogurt: If you really want to know what to eat when pregnant, yogurt is at the top of the list! It’s packed with calcium, protein, and iodine, all crucial for your baby’s development. Yogurt also contains a type of good bacteria called acidophilus, which promotes healthy digestion.  The digestive benefits of yogurt will really come in handy when you’re experiencing belly bloat, a common pregnancy symptom!

Nuts: Nuts are a widely recognized superfood, even for those of us who aren’t pregnant. Nuts are packed with vitamins and minerals that we all need to stay healthy, but pregnant women can especially benefit from many of the nutrients in this crunchy snack, including fiber, protein and magnesium, a mineral that helps reduce the risk of premature labor. Nuts are also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, which many experts feel can boost brain function in both mommy and baby. 

Whole grains:  Not only do whole grains provide a healthy source of carbs-crucial for you and your baby’s energy but whole grain cereals also typically provide iron, which helps prevent anemia, and folate, which can reduce the risk of birth defects. Opt for an all-natural whole grain cereal when shopping for this prenatal superfood, and check the package label to ensure the brand comes with an adequate amount of iron and folate. 

Fish: Fish are low-fat and offer a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids. Opt for fish options that provide plenty of DHA (a type of omega 3 fatty acid), but that are low in mercury, a chemical that may play a role in poor fetal development. Salmon is an example of a safe prenatal superfood, while swordfish, shark and king mackerel are all high in mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy. Check out article on mercury levels in fish for more information on safe fish choices when pregnant.

Leafy greens: Dark green veggies like spinach, kale and broccoli come packed with iron, fiber, vitamin A, lutein, vitamin K , and a whole host of other nutrients! When making your “what to eat when pregnant list,” put leafy greens at the top with yogurt!  Vitamin A helps baby’s bones and skin grow and lutein promotes eyesight development. Leafy greens also pack a lot of potassium, which is very important for you and your baby’s heart health and nerve and muscle function.

Lean meat: Lean meat is a great source of protein, and adequate protein intake cannot be over emphasized. After all, proteins are the building blocks of life! Meat also offers a powerful dose of vitamin B6, which is good for your baby’s nervous system, and vitamin B12, which supports fetal development.

Prenatal multivitamins: Though not a superfood exactly, supplementing your diet with a prenatal multivitamin is highly recommended during pregnancy and may even be prescribed by your doctor to help ensure you receive the proper amount of vitamins and minerals to support your and your baby’s health. 

Maintaining a good diet when pregnant is key to keeping you and your baby healthy. Adding these superfoods to your prenatal menu will help ensure that you are eating well while you eat for two! 

Sources for “What to Eat When Pregnant:”

Originally posted 2013-11-21 10:12:59.

Vitamin D Deficiency During the Winter

Vitamin D Deficiency in Winter

Daylight savings has come and we have had our first snow dusting in the Twin Cities. It is time to start considering the risk of vitamin D deficiency — the days are getting shorter and a tad drearier, especially here. I never actually realized this, but it gets darker earlier up north since we are further from the equator. This means less hours of sunshine and less direct sun rays, which can be a bit of a problem since sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. 

Vitamin D is essential to the body for maintaining proper amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Vitamin D also aids in the absorption of calcium which helps keep our bones nice and strong. According to the Mayo clinic, vitamin D deficiency could cause rickets, or malformation of bones, in children and osteomalacia, or weakened bones and muscles in adults. Low levels of vitamin D is also thought to cause depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder in some individuals, with fall and winter being especially high risk times.  The FDA’s daily recommendations for vitamin D are 600IU for ages 1-70 and 800IU for those over the age of 70, but according to other research this might just be the bare minimum. So what are ways we can obtain the needed vitamin D during the darker winter months and avoid vitamin D deficiency?

Dietary sources typically only make up for 20% of our overall vitamin D intake, but it doesn’t hurt to load up on these foods during times of lower sunlight.  Here are few foods to help you avoid vitamin D deficiency: Fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel or salmon. Six ounces of salmon contains over 600IU of vitamin D. Eggs (in the yolk). Fortified foods such as milk, orange juice, soy milk and cereals. Beef liver. Cod liver oil (if you get desperate) which used to be a very common vitamin D supplement.

Get all the sunlight you can in the winter. Again, sunlight is the best way for your body to get vitamin D. In a time when we are all worried about skin cancer, it is still recommended that we get a moderate amount of sun for vitamin D production. The body actually stores extra vitamin D in the fat cells to avoid seasonal deficiency.   On a sunny day during the spring or summer for someone with moderately tanned skin and moderately close to the equator (yes, a little unspecific), it only takes being outside for 15 minutes with face and hands uncovered (including no sunscreen) for the body to produce enough vitamin D. During the winter, try to walk outside for 15-20 minutes during the sunniest part of the day several times per week, if not daily.

Recommendations for the amount of sunlight needed can be tricky since adequate vitamin D production is based on a number of factors. First of all, the darker your skin, the more difficult it is for the UVB light to penetrate and produce vitamin D. It also depends on where you live. The further away from the equator you are, the less direct UVB rays you get. It also depends on the time of the year, and as we discussed, the winter months produce the low amounts of sunshine.

Cautious tanning bed usage. Although large amounts of time spent in a tanning bed are not recommended due to the risk of skin cancer, these beds still produce UVB light that your body can turn into vitamin D. The Vitamin D Vouncil recommends caution with tanning beds, but still suggests a short period of time in a bed that contains more UVB than UVA light. The rule of thumb recommended by The Council is half the amount of time it takes your skin to turn pink (for a freckled gal like me this is probably about 4-5 minutes).

Supplements are also an option. Always be careful when taking supplements as you never want to over dose, especially on a fat soluble vitamin such as vitamin D. The upper tolerable level for vitamin D is set to 10,000 IU for all forms of vitamin D.

Low levels of sunlight can be a bummer for the mood and the body, but you can easily obtain the vitamin D you need though adequate UV rays, foods, and supplements to keep happy and healthy during the winter months. Avoiding vitamin D deficiency is easy and can result in vast improvements in your health. (Always check with your doctor before taking new supplements, starting a new diet, or using a tanning bed.)  

Tell me…

Are you affected by the dark days of winter?

Have you ever had cod liver oil?

Sources for “Vitamin D Deficiency in Winter:”

Originally posted 2013-11-21 09:45:29.