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Vitamins and Minerals: What, Why & How Much?

Vitamins and minerals are micro-nutrients, part of the 6 Essential Nutrients, required for your body to turn food into energy.  Whole foods are the best source of vitamins and minerals, but it sometimes difficult to figure out if you are getting enough from the foods you eat.  Below is a list of the most important vitamins and mineral women need and suggestions as to the best food sources.  Note: Recommended daily allowances (RDA) listed below are for an average 45 year-old female.Healthy-Nutrition-For-Optimal-Tennis-Fitness

Calcium:

  • Why you need it:  The body uses calcium to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, to help muscles and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and to carry messages through the nervous system.  Women start to lose bone density in their twenties which can lead to osteoporosis over time.  Calcium is one of the best defenses against bone loss.
  • Where to find it:  Milk, cheese, yogurt and dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale.
  • How much you need: 1000mg.  Do not exceed 2,500mg.

Iron: 

  • Why you need it:  Iron carries oxygen in the body, aids in the production of red blood cells, supports immune function and cognitive development, and is essential for cell growth.
  • Where to find it:  Lean red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, cereals, whole-grains, beans and dark leafy vegetables. Also remember that vitamin C rich foods enhance absorption of iron.
  • How much you need: 18mg.  Do not exceed 45mg.

Magnesium:

  • Why you need it:  Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping heart rhythms steady, supporting a healthy immune system, regulating blood sugar levels and promoting normal blood pressure.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, almonds, cashews and other nuts, avocados, beans, soybeans and halibut.  Note that a diet very high in fat may cause less magnesium to be absorbed.
  • How much you need:  320mg.  Do not exceed 350mg in supplement form.

Vitamin A:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin A ensures proper development and function of eyes, skin and immune system and may prevent some types of cancers.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products, fruits, dairy, liver, fish and fortified cereals.
  • How much you need: 2,310 IU.  Do not exceed 10,000 IU.

Folate (Vitamin B9): 

  • Why you need it:  Folate helps to produce and maintain new cells.  It is necessary for proper brain function for mental and emotional health, and helps protect against birth defects.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, fruits and beans.  It is also often added to cereals, breads, pasta and rice.
  • How much you need: 400 micrograms.  Do not exceed 1,000 micrograms in the synthetic form.

Vitamin C:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin C facilitates normal growth and development, and repairs bodily tissue, bones and teeth.  It is used to produce collagen, functions as an antioxidant to block some of the damage caused by free radicals and boosts the body’s immune system.
  • Where to find it:  Most fruits and vegetables especially citrus fruit, red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and strawberries.
  • How much you need: 75mg.  Do not exceed 2,000mg.

Biotin:

  • Why you need it:  Biotin plays an essential role in energy production and the metabolism of sugar and fats.  It is also believed to aid in healthy hair, nails and skin.
  • Where to find it:  Nuts, eggs, soybeans, cauliflower, fish, avocados and berries.
  • How much you need:  There is no RDA, but generally 30 to 100 micrograms.

Other B Vitamins:

  • Why you need them: The B vitamins help the body convert food into fuel for energy.  They contribute to healthy skin, hair, and eyes and also help to maintain muscle tone, metabolism, nervous system functions and memory.
  • Where to find them:  Fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and many fortified cereals and whole grains.
  • How much you need: 
    • B1 (Thiamine):  1.1mg.  No upper limits have been set.
    • B2 (Riboflavin):  1.1 mg.  No upper limits have been set.
    • B3 (Niacin):  14mg.  Do not exceed 35/mg in supplement form.
    • B6 (Pyridoxine):  1.3 mg.  Do not exceed 100mg.
    • B12 (Cobalamin):  2.4 mg.  No upper limits have been set.                         

Vitamin D:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous in our bones and it is needed for bone and cell growth.  It also helps to reduce inflammation.
  • Where to find it:  Fortified mils and cereals, eggs yolks and fish.  The body can make Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.    
  • How much you need:  15 micrograms.  Do not exceed 100 micrograms.

 Omega-3:

  • Why you need it:  Omega-3 assists in proper brain function, helps reduce high blood pressure and calms inflammation.
  • Where to find it:  Fish, especially salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel, flax seeds and walnuts.
  • How much you need:  There are no standard doses for Omega-3.  Check with your doctor to find out your specific needs.

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  • Virginia

    Great information!

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The Rise of the Egg

The egg’s fall from grace began over two decades ago and corresponded to the rise in concern over cholesterol levels.  A single large egg contains 185 grams of cholesterol and the American Heart Association only recommends 300 mg of cholesterol per day – so 2 eggs puts you over their recommendation. However, these simple numbers don’t paint the whole picture because studies have shown that the cholesterol you eat, has very little impact on the amount of cholesterol in your blood.  Why?

First:  There are two types of cholesterol: dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol.  Both are important.  Dietary cholesterol is found in certain foods, such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and diary products. The second type (blood cholesterol, also called serum cholesterol) is produced in the liver and floats around in our bloodstream. Blood cholesterol is divided into two sub-categories: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL). LDL cholesterol is considered bad because it sticks to artery walls.

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Many scientists are now discovering that consuming food rich in dietary cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol, but instead foods high in saturated fats may be to blame. Again – back to eggs.  They contain primarily unsaturated fat.

Second:  Cholesterol happens to be one of the most important nutrients in your body.  It is a fat like substance found in every living cell in the body.  It’s a requirement for growth (in infants and adults). And it’s required for the production of many hormones.

Results: Researchers have looked at the diets of hundreds of thousands of people and they have found that consuming eggs every day is not associated with cholesterol problems or heart disease.  In controlled trials — the best kind of research — people were instructed to eat up to three eggs per day while on a weight loss diet.  These people lost weight, had decreased inflammation and either maintained or improved their blood cholesterol levels.

So the end result is, unless you have diabetes or a rare genetic disorder, eating eggs is not only not bad for you, but good for you.

What’s in an egg.

  • One large egg has 6 grams of high-quality protein which means it is highly digestible and may provide better satiety (keeping you fuller for longer), which helps weight management.
  • Eggs are a complete protein which means they contain all the essential amino acids
  • Eggs “biological value” — a measurement used to determine how efficiently a protein is used for growth — is 93.7. Milk, fish, beef, and rice respectively have a bio value of 84.5, 76, 74.3, and 64.
  • Good source of Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Eggs contain over 11 essential vitamins and minerals
  • Egg yolk is one of a few foods that contain Vitamin D
  • One egg contains between 66 an 84 calories depending on the size
  • Eggs also contain biotin (a B-vitamin), calcium, cephalin and lecithin (both help brain function)
  • Each egg has 5 grams of fat of which about 3 grams are from healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

Buying Eggs.  As you may have noticed, there are a dizzying number of choices when buying eggs.  Use the chart below to help you understand the differences..

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Weight Loss Tips You Will Enjoy!

Most of us are aware of the basics when it comes to keeping our weight in check:  drink water, exercise, eat less calories than you burn, enjoy whole foods and avoid junk food laden with added fats and sugar.  However, below are some fun and interesting tips that you can add to your arsenal to fight off unwanted weight gain.

imagesSnack Before Dinner.  Eat ½ ounce of healthy fat such as nuts or avocados eight minutes before dinner.  You will feel fuller longer and eat less.  One study showed a 4-pound weight loss per year with this simple trick.

Eat Mint.  Mint has been shown to be a natural appetite suppressant and can even improve digestion.  It can be eaten or inhaled.  It could be a cup of mint tea, mint flavored toothpaste (don’t eat it), mint infused room scent or a simple mint leaf in your water.  One study found that people who inhaled a peppermint scent every two hours ate 2,700 fewer calories per week—that’s nearly a one-pound loss!

Personally, I swear by a cup of mint tea at night.  I started drinking it a couple years ago whenever I got hungry at night and it did the trick.  Now it is my go to whenever I want to munch (Tazo Refresh is my favorite.)

Add Don’t Subtract.  If you are getting depressed thinking of all those foods you are not supposed to eat, then instead concentrate on what you should add to your diet.  For example, find a way to add 1 or 2 different healthy foods to your diet each day.  Plan your meals around it, and your focus will go from depriving to thriving.  Some examples: add kale to your scrambled eggs, add spinach to a juice or make a dessert with three different kinds of berries.

Eat Vitamin C.  It inhibits the production of cortisol, a hormone that essentially tells your body to store fat.  One simple way is to eat grapefruit or orange slices with breakfast. Or use it as your afternoon snack.

Shoot Your Food.  We have all heard about writing down everything you eat, well instead of pen and paper, record what you eat with a photo.  Sound complicated?  Not with today’s ever present cell phones.  Simply snap a picture before you pick up that fork.   When you look back and see that healthy salad covered in blue cheese dressing and croutons, it may give you a pause the next time you hit the salad bar.

Eat Breakfast.  A recent study in the journal Obesity found that women who ate a 700-calorie breakfast and 200-calorie dinner shed more than twice as much weight over 12 weeks as those whose meal sizes were reversed. 

Drink Wine. A 2010 study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which followed more than 19,000 women for an average of 13 years, found that those who had one to two alcoholic drinks daily put on fewer pounds than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers. Weight gain was lowest among wine drinkers. While the researchers can’t definitively explain this, they say that the subjects who sipped a glass or two ate fewer calories—and that women burn more calories after drinking than men do.

Stand up!  Standing burns 1.5 times more calories than sitting. Stand when you’re at the doctor’s office or when you watch TV.  My favorite tip is to set my computer on the bar height counter in my kitchen – this way it is perfect height to stand and work.

Sleep in a Cold Room. A somewhat chilly bedroom could improve both your sleep and your metabolism. An article in Obesity Reviews noted that the average indoor temperature has ticked upward during the past few decades. What’s more, most of us keep the thermostat steady throughout the house, preventing the body from experiencing dips in temperature to stoke its own calorie-burning furnace. Sleeping in a chillier room is a great way to force your body to heat itself up for hours and you will burn calories all night long while keeping yourself warm.

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