All Posts tagged Nutrition

Vitamins Your Teen Needs To Be Taking

We all know that during adolescence our bodies go through many physical and biochemical changes.  As a result, we have an increased need for certain vitamins.  Here are some vitamins that we need to make sure our teens have adequate amounts of: Folic acid and vitamin B12 are needed as tissue synthesis occurs rapidly.

  • As the calorie intake increases, the need for vitamin B1 (thaimin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and vitamin B3 (niacin) also increases.
  • Vitamin B6 and vitamin D are needed in higher amounts for tissue growth and skeletal growth.
  • The completed structure and function of newly formed cells relies on the presence of vitamins A, C, and E.
  • There is a continued need for calcium, magnesium and zinc so that the bones can increase their density.

Because of the often inadequate diets of teenagers, the following problems have been found in relation to the nutrient intake of teens:

  • Calcium, zinc and iron are often lower than the required amounts.
  • Vitamin A and vitamin C have also been found to be low.
  • The phosphorus intake can be high because of the quantity of soft drinks consumed and this can have an adverse effect on the calcium balance in the body.
  • There can be an over consumption of high sugar and refined carbohydrate foods.

It is recommended that in addition to trying to eat a healthy diet that teenagers take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. The supplement should contain at least the following: Contents Per Tablet

  • Vitamin A                                    500 – 1,200 IUs
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin)              2 – 10 mg
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)         2 – 10 mg
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)      2 – 15 mg
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)     10 – 25 mcg
  • Vitamin C                                    25 – 150 mg
  • Vitamin E                                   10 – 50 IUs
  • Biotin                                           20 – 50 mcg
  • Calcium                                      50 – 150 mg
  • Choline                                       5 – 15 mg
  • Bioflavonoids                           5 – 25 mg
  • Folic Acid                                  50 – 100 mcg
  • Beta-carotene                          2 – 5 mg
  • Iodine                                         10 – 25 mcg
  • Chromium                                20 – 30 mcg
  • Iron                                             2 – 3 mg
  • Magnesium                              20 – 60 mg
  • Selenium                                   10 – 25 mcg
  • Zinc                                             2 – 4 mg

Metabolic Syndrome: Are you at risk?

Metabolic Syndrome (also called Syndrome X) has become one of the most widely talked about health conditions in recent years.  Although it’s only been identified in the past 20 years, according to the American Heart Association, nearly 1 out of every 6 Americans have it (that’s about 47 million people).  That statistic is a little lower than the National Institutes of Health estimate which is 25% of Americans.  But why it is getting so much press lately is because it is being shown to double your risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.  It also increases your risk of diabetes by 5 times.  Metabolic syndrome is not really a disease by itself but a collection of unhealthy risk factors.  According to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are 5 risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome:

  • Large Waist Size – For men, this means a waist of 40 inches or more.  For women, a waist of 35 inches or more.
  • High TriglyceridesEither 150 mg/dL or higher or using a cholesterol medicine
  • Low Good CholesterolEither less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women or using a cholesterol medicine
  • High Blood PressureEither having blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or greater or using a high blood pressure medicine.
  • Elevated Fasting Blood Glucose – Having a fasting blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL or higher

To be diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome you need to have at least 3 of these factors.

Metabolic Syndrome is becoming more widely diagnosed, but the good news is it can be easily controlled with lifestyle changes.  In fact, one 2005 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed how well lifestyle changes could prevent metabolic syndrome.  Researchers looked at more than 3,200 people who already had impaired glucose tolerance, a pre-diabetic state.  One group was instructed to make lifestyle changes. They exercised 2.5 hours a week and ate a low-calorie, low-fat diet.  After three years, people in the lifestyle group were 41% less likely to have metabolic syndrome than those who got no treatment.  The lifestyle changes were also about twice as effective as using a diabetes medicine, Glucophage.

Experts say you prevent and treat metabolic syndrome the same way.  Here are the primary ways that it is treated:

  • Exercise. Start slowly. The American Heart Association recommends, if possible, that you gradually step up to exercising on most days of the week for 30-60 minutes.  Exercise such as walking daily even in the absence of significant weight loss may normalize triglycerides.
  • Eat a healthy dietYou should follow a heart-healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and few saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, and salt.
  • Get a good night’s sleep.  Emerging evidence indicates that individuals who sleep fewer than six hours per night may face an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight. In order to prevent metabolic syndrome, it’s important to maintain a body mass index (BMI) lower than 25.  Women should maintain a waist measurement of less than 35 inches, while men should aim for a waist measurement of less than 40 inches.  For those with elevated blood glucose weight loss may not only return the sugar to normal levels, but in the Diabetes Prevention Study in individuals with slight elevations of blood sugar and a family history of diabetes, 20 pounds of weight loss decreased the risk for developing diabetes by 60 percent.
  • Quit smoking if you smoke — now.
  • Schedule regular checkups with your doctor. Since metabolic syndrome doesn’t have symptoms, you need regular doctor visits to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.  However, research is showing that diet and lifestyle changes are more effective in reversing the condition than taking multiple medications.

Your diet is one of the most important factors in treating Metabolic Syndrome so here are some dietary recommendations:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat whole grains (rather than refined grains, like white rice and white bread)
  • Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol
  • If you eat dairy, choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • Have a low intake of salty foods
  • Eat few foods and beverages with added sugar

There are also some natural substances you can take that have shown positive results in improving metabolic syndrome.


In a 2009 study of 374 adults, researchers found that consumption of carotenoids (a type of antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables) may help improve certain risk factors involved in metabolic syndrome. For instance, higher carotenoid intake was linked to smaller waistlines, less belly fat, and lower levels of triglycerides.  Carotenoids are naturally abundant in a number of foods, including spinach, sweet potato, red peppers, tomatoes, kale, pumpkin, carrots, papaya, and collards.

Grape Seed Extract

In a small study published in 2009, four weeks of treatment with grape seed extract appeared to decrease blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome.  However, there were no significant changes in cholesterol levels.


The herb kudzu shows promise in metabolic syndrome treatment, according to preliminary research published in 2009. In tests on rats with metabolic syndrome, scientists discovered that kudzu-fed animals experienced less weight gain and had healthier levels of blood pressure, insulin, and cholesterol after two months (compared to animals that weren’t fed kudzu).

Basically, what metabolic syndrome comes down to is it is the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.  Poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and stress eventually has an effect on your body.  The only way it  can be remedied is to change your lifestyle and diet to adapt more healthy habits.


Childhood Calcium Intake May Prevent Obesity and Osteoporosis

I live and practice in Apex, NC which is in the middle of what’s called the Triangle.  For those of you now familiar with North Carolina, it’s basically the area that encompasses Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.  It is also known for its prominent universities, namely Duke, UNC, and NC State.  The reason I’m explaining this to you, is my post today comes from research just published by a researcher, Dr. Chad Stahl, from NC State University.  Dr. Stahl’s research shows us the importance of calcium in our diets as children.

Granted, we all know that we need calcium for healthy bones.  I advise most of my patients, the females especially, over the age of 35 to make sure they are taking a good calcium supplement.  However, this new NC State study suggests that not getting enough calcium in the early days of life could have a lifelong impact on both bone health and even obesity.  During this trial involving newborn pigs, it was found that the stem cells in the bone marrow of calcium-deprived piglets appeared to be programmed to become fat cells instead of bone-forming cells.  Because these stem cells provide all the bone-forming cells for an animal’s entire life, early calcium deficiency may have predisposed the piglets to have bones that contain more fat and less mineral.

The researchers in this study used pigs as a model for human health because pigs and humans are similar in terms of bone growth and nutrition.  Pigs are one of the few animals to experience fractures due to osteoporosis.  Dr. Stahl thinks this research is relevant to the infant food industry as well as the nutritional status of breastfeeding mothers.  It also points to a need for greater emphasis in early life on bone health.  This may even change the way health professionals look at osteoporosis – not as a disease of the elderly but a late onset pediatric disease.  It also points to the importance of childhood nutrition and the role it plays in the child’s health for the rest off their lives.


Supplements: How Do You Choose Which Brand to Take

There are hundreds of thousands of vitamin supplements available on today’s market.  You can buy them at health food stores, drug stores, grocery stories, various retailers, through health care professionals, and on the internet.  When choosing a supplement, how do you determine which one to buy?  Do you look at the package details, the manufacturer, the ingredients, and the label claims?  But how do you really know for sure you are getting the best supplement for you?

It can be very confusing to determine which supplement to buy.  Understanding the label will help you know if you are taking a quality supplement.  Look at the ingredients listed on the label.  Do you recognize any of them?  Just like any other food label, the nutrients are listed in a particular order and some manufacturers put the source next to the nutrient.  In a quality, wholesome product you will recognize and be able to pronounce most of the ingredients on the label.

I personally recommend whole food supplements.  Whole food supplements are made by concentrating foods.  When concentrated correctly, the foods supply a multitude of nutrients.  These nutrients work together to provide you with optimal nutrition for good health.  Only whole food ingredients can provide you with all the nutrients contained within the food.  For example, I looked at a supplement a patient brought in the other day and one of its ingredients is dl-alpha tocopherol acetate.  That is a manmade component of the vitamin E complex.  If you were to take a supplement with just dl-alpha tocopherol, you would be missing at least 5 other important nutrients as well as hundreds of other nutrients that occur within the whole vitamin E complex.  These nutrients are only available by consuming a natural, whole food form of vitamin E, such as wheat germ oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts and carrots.

Just like any recipe, the quality of the ingredients you use affects the quality of the final product.  Therefore, it’s good to answer all of the following questions when evaluating a supplement and its effectiveness.

  • Where do the ingredients come from?  Manufacturers who grow many of their ingredients have the unique ability to control the quality of the ingredient from seed to supplement.
  • When are ingredients processed?  When you buy a tomato, you inspect it for quality.  You wouldn’t knowingly buy one that was mushy or bruised.  This same principle holds true for the ingredients in your supplements.  Once they are ready for harvest and are harvested, the ingredients begin to lose their value.  If there is a delay of hours, days, or months from when an ingredient is harvested to when it’s processed, many of its very delicate phytonutrients are lost.
  • Are the ingredient’s vital factors retained?  Each ingredient has its own set of rules in relation to how to best package its vital components.  The manufacturing process needs to retain the vital nutrients within the ingredients.  Too much heat will destroy enzymes and phytonutrients.  The manufacturer should use a low-temperature high-vacuum process to make sure that the ingredient’s nutrients are preserved.

Now you may be saying, how am I supposed to answer these questions about the supplement I’m taking?  You may not be able to.  However, if you’re taking a certain brand of supplements and only that brand, you may want to do a little research into that company.  For example, I utilize the Standard Process supplements a lot, and if I go to their website I’m able to get these questions answered.  A good supplement company should be willing to disclose information about how it manufactures their vitamins.  Another thing that I like about Standard Process is the company is partnered with MediHerb, an Australian-based company.  You may or may not know that in the United States the FDA does not regulate vitamins or supplements.  I know this is a political issue right now for some, but one thing that FDA regulation does do is it ensures that what the manufacturer says is in that supplement is in the supplement.  Well, in Australia, their supplements are regulated by their version of the FDA.  Therefore, you know that what the label says is correct.

The main thing you need to remember when purchasing a supplement is you want one that’s from a reputable company with the least amount of man-made products.


More Healthy Snack Recipes

Because I had such a good response to my previous post on healthy snack recipes, I added some more for you on this post.

Chipotle spiced shrimp

Serves 4


1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 32 shrimp)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped


Rinse shrimp in cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel and set aside on a plate.

To make the marinade, whisk together the tomato paste, water and oil in a small bowl. Add garlic, chili powder and oregano. Mix well. Using a brush, spread the marinade (it will be thick) on both sides of the shrimp. Place in the refrigerator. Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler (grill). Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source .Put the shrimp in a grill basket or on skewers and place on the grill. Turn the shrimp after 3 to 4 minutes. The cooking time varies depending on the heat of the fire, so watch carefully. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 73, Cholesterol 85 mg, Sodium 151mg, Carbohydrates 3g,

 Ambrosia with coconut and toasted almonds

Serves 8


1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 small pineapple
5 oranges
2 red apples, cored and diced
1 banana, halved lengthwise, peeled and sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons cream sherry
Fresh mint leaves for garnish


Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a plate to cool. Add the coconut to the sheet and bake, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a plate to cool.

Cut off the crown of leaves and the base of the pineapple. Stand the pineapple upright and, using a large, sharp knife, pare off the skin, cutting downward just below the surface in long, vertical strips and leaving the small brown “eyes” on the fruit. Lay the pineapple on its side. Aligning the knife blade with the diagonal rows of eyes, cut a shallow furrow, following a spiral pattern around the pineapple, to remove all the eyes. Cut the pineapple crosswise into slices 3/4-inch thick, and remove the core with a small, sharp knife or small cookie cutter. Cut into cubes and set aside.

Working with 1 orange at a time, cut a thin slice off the top and the bottom, exposing the flesh. Stand the orange upright and, using a sharp knife, thickly cut off the peel, following the contour of the fruit and removing all the white pith and membrane. Holding the orange over a bowl, carefully cut along both sides of each section to free it from the membrane. As you work, discard any seeds and let the sections fall into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining oranges. In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, oranges, apples, banana and sherry. Toss gently to mix well. Divide the fruit mixture evenly among individual bowls. Sprinkle evenly with the toasted almonds and coconut and garnish with the mint. Serve immediately.

Nutritional info:  Calories 146, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrates 26g, Sodium 1mg, Total fat 4g, Saturated fat 1g, Monounsaturated fat 1g

Apples with dip

Serves 4


8 ounces fat-free cream cheese
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
1/2 cup orange juice
4 apples, cored and sliced


Place the cream cheese on the counter to allow it to soften, about 5 minutes.  To make the dip, combine the brown sugar, vanilla and cream cheese in a small bowl. Mix until smooth. Stir in the chopped peanuts.  Place the apples in another bowl. Drizzle orange juice over the apples to prevent browning. Serve the sliced apples with the dip.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 177, Cholesterol 4mg, Sodium 326mg, Carbohydrate 28g, Total fat 3g, Saturated fat 1g, Monounsaturated fat 1g


Serves 16


4-ounce can diced green chili peppers, drained

Half a small onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

8 10-inch fat-free whole-wheat tortilla

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese


In a bowl, combine peppers, onion and cumin. Sprinkle each tortilla with cheese, using 1/4 cup cheese on each. Divide pepper mixture among tortillas, spreading it over cheese. Roll up each tortilla and put in greased 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Cover pan with foil. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese melts. Remove foil. Turn oven to broil. Broil 4 inches from heat for 1 1/2 minutes a side, or until lightly browned. Cut each tortilla into 4 pieces. Serve with your favorite salsa for dipping.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 103, Cholesterol 10 mg, Sodium 200mg, Carbohydrates 16g, Total fat 3g, Saturated fat 1.5g, Monounsaturated fat  0.5g

Fresh tomato crostini

Serves 4


4 plum tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup minced fresh basil

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 pound crusty Italian peasant bread, cut into 4 slices and toasted


Combine tomatoes, basil, oil, garlic and pepper in a medium bowl. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Divide tomato mixture with any juices among the toast. Serve at room temperature.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 120, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 175mg, Carbohydrates 19g, Total fat 3.5g, Saturated fat 0.5g, Monounsaturated fat 2g

 Crispy potato skins

You can use any number of herbs or spices to season the potato skins. Try fresh basil, chives, dill, garlic, cayenne pepper, caraway seed, tarragon or thyme.

Serves 2


2 medium russet potatoes
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Wash the potatoes and pierce with a fork. Place in the oven and bake until the skins are crisp, about 1 hour.  Carefully — potatoes will be very hot — cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the pulp, leaving about 1/8 inch of the potato flesh attached to the skin. Save the pulp for another use.  Spray the inside of each potato skin with butter-flavored cooking spray. Press in the rosemary and pepper. Return the skins to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 114, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrate 27g, Total fat 0g, Saturated fat 0g, Monounsaturated 0g.

Vegetable salsa

Store-bought salsa can have as much as 400 milligrams of sodium in 1/4 cup. This thick vegetable salsa has much less sodium — 150 milligrams in 1/2 cup. If you prefer hotter salsa, add 1/2 to 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno peppers.

 Serves 16


1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup chopped red onion
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon salt


Wash vegetables and prepare as directed. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Toss gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Nutritional Info:  Calories 20, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 150mg, Carbohydrates 5g, Total fat 0g