A sampling on supplements

Do you wonder about vitamins? I know I’ve certainly heard the back and forth arguments about vitamin and mineral supplements.

Do we absorb enough of them to make it worth taking them? Are we taking too much? Not enough?

Today’s foods are notoriously lacking in nutrients. We hear that all the time. With over-farming, and pesticides that are designed to choke out nutrients for weeds thrown on the same soil where we grow foods, it’s not too much of a jump to imagine that our foods are likewise suffering for adequate nutrients. The plants aren’t healthy. And hence, neither are we.

Taking supplements today are probably a good idea. They do some amazing things, if you research the different ones.

What can be confusing are dosages. While multivitamins are a good addition to one’s diet, they don’t always give you the amount our bodies need for full wellness. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is not set at a level that all humans need to be healthy – they’re set at the lowest level required not to be sick. There’s a difference.

And another problem is that the spectrum for human needs for vitamins and minerals are all over the charts. It’s difficult to throw out a blanket amount of any nutrient for all people, because every single person’s needs are different. Every body is unique, looks different, works differently, and requires a unique balance of macro-nutrients (fats, carbs, and proteins) and micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals) to function properly.

So in the end, it takes a little research on recommended doses, and trial and error as to how much your body really needs for working on all cylinders rather than the bare minimum of status quo.

Also, to take supplements you should first understand how they work. Take vitamins, for example. There are fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) that we store. If we take too much of it, our bodies can store an excess of it in our fat cells that can lead to signs of toxicity. It’s rare to get to that point when just eating foods rich in certain vitamins. But when taking supplements, it’s much more common. This happens because all of a sudden, it is getting copious amounts of a substance that it is not readily prepared to use all at once, and stores it away for leaner times. With food, it can slowly work at breaking the item down and using what it gets as it’s broken down.

So be careful and listen to your body when you show signs of overuse, and back off on your intake.

Water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins, folate, Vitamin C) don’t run as much of a risk of toxicity, since whatever the body doesn’t use it simply gets rid of within a 24- to 48-hour period. So, taking copious amounts of any water-soluble vitamin may just be money down the drain. Literally.

So do a little research on vitamins and minerals, what they do, and what deficiency signs are for each one. or take a quiz to get an idea on what you might need to fit your lifestyle! Go to a doctor and get your blood-work done to get a better idea on what you may need more of in your diet, and with supplements. You may be surprised at what physical complaints you have that could easily be cleared up with just a few more milligrams of a vitamin or mineral.

It really can be as simple as that. Be well!

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A personal look back at the year that was 2012

As I tentatively begin to step into the pristine landscape of 2013 and leave my footsteps behind me, it seems inevitable that I would look back at the past 12 months and contemplate the year that was 2012.

What a whirlwind year it was, after pulling myself out of a personal year-long hell in 2011. I’m healthy. I’m happy. And even my blogs have gotten better over a year’s time. I’ve started a Facebook page. I’ve even begun my education at a second school. I’ve tried strange things, such as cactus pads in my salad, and making raw foods. I even made kale chips in my new dehydrator. I have vastly improved my personal yoga practice. The other day, I found myself actually giving sound nutrition suggestions to people “coming down with something.” It surprised me that I had it in me!

Thanksgiving got strange at our house. It was a "Wok"-y holiday, and cooked lots of stuff I'd never heard of before.
Me cooking this year, something I did a LOT of in 2012. One thing I love about nutrition, is applying it in the kitchen. Thanksgiving got strange at our house. It was a “Wok”-y holiday, and I cooked lots of stuff I’d never heard of before. And it was all healthy and good for you.

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It’s amazing what a year can do for you.

For instance, this year has been a year of learning new things. As a health and nutrition nut, here is a list of personal buzz words I’ve welcomed into my vocabulary in 2012:

– Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
– Organic
– Processed foods
– Omegas (3s, and 6s)
– Farmer’s market
– Fad Diets
– Paleo
– Plant-based diets (Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian)
– “Eat the rainbow!”
– GMOs
– Pesticides/herbicides
– Documentaries
– Allopathic/Holistic
– Supplements
– (Essential) Nutrients
– Legumes
– Diet-related illnesses (Diabetes, cancer, hypertension/high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease)
– Obesity epidemic
– Lactose intolerance
– Deficiencies/Toxicity (vitamins, minerals, water)
– Empty calories
– Nutrient dense foods
– Sustainability
– Grow gardens, not lawns
– Heirloom seeds
– Free radicals/antioxidants
– “Let food be thy medicine”
– Hippocrates, the father of medicine
– Functional foods
– Protein, lipids, and carbs
– Soy
– Macro/micro nutrients
– Artificial sweeteners
– Folate
– BMI
– ATP
– HDL/LDL
– Phytochemicals
– RDA
– TCA Cycle
– Contaminants

I am pretty sure there are hundreds more, too. But these are just those off of the top of my head. Any of them sound familiar to you?

It’s amazing to me that I’ve discovered that much over just 12 months. And 2013 looks just as promising. Recently, I closed my eyes and jumped into nominating myself as a student delegate for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Student Advisory Council. Now, let me clarify: I have NEVER been on a committee in my entire life. I haven’t felt passionate about anything in my 30 years of life to want to join a committee related to it. But this year, I gave it a whirl. I am getting tired of all the books and online tests, and no real-world application or interacting with others who share my passions. Besides these blogs (which I’ve fallen behind on writing of late), I don’t feel like I am reaching enough people to make an impact with all of this amazing knowledge I continue to acquire. I can’t WAIT to start making a difference.

For now, though, I await the long, arduous process in store for me before I know whether I am chosen to serve on the council starting in June. Phew! Wish me luck, guys.

A friend of mine told me that 2013 was “going to be my year.” We’ll see what happens. The journey of 2013 so far looks pretty tame. I will be finishing my holistic nutrition program in June. I’ll peck through a few more required courses for my traditional dietician technician program, and maybe start making cards and practice some holistic nutrition counseling by the end of the year. I even kicked around the idea of starting a really basic online magazine. This time next year, though, I think I will start yoga instructor training. I want to get my that Western herbalism program under my belt, but – ah, one thing at a time.

So this year, I want to take a tai chi class. I want to travel. I want to cook and try foods I’ve never heard of before. I want to blog about topics that intrigue me, with touching prose. I want to take beautiful pictures. I want to dig out my three-year-old raised beds out of my garage, and finally start my little garden. I want to meditate. I’d love to learn how to crochet. I’d like to finish at least one cross stitch project. I want to have fun. I want to enjoy this year’s journey.

Viva la 2013!!!