Calcium and Women’s Health

calciumCalcium and women’s health have long been linked, and now a recently published study in the journal Osteoporosis International has found that there is no connection between calcium supplementation and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

For the study, researchers examined 74,245 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study. Calcium supplement usage and incident cardiovascular disease among all these participants was recorded.

Researchers noted that, not only did the women who consumed calcium supplements have no increased risk of CVD, but they had lower levels of trans fat, smoked less, and were more physically active than women who didn’t take any such supplements.

“Calcium is an essential nutrient most widely used for its bone health benefits, and government data show most Americans don’t get enough,” said Duffy MacKay, N.D., Senior Vice President for Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition. “We encourage continued studies on calcium’s safety and benefits, but this study should help women feel confident that calcium supplements are an appropriate choice if they are not getting enough from food alone.”  Continue reading “Calcium and Women’s Health”

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Nutrient Depletion: Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are usually prescribed for conditions that cause swelling and inflammation. Applied as a topical, taken as a tablet, used as a nasal spray or eye drops, or even as an inhaler, there are many ways to take corticosteroids.

Some conditions that corticosteroids are prescribed for include arthritis, lupus, kidney disease, asthma, and even eczema.

Long-term use of steroids can have many side effects including changes in mood, increased blood pressure, stomach ulcers, diabetes, osteoporosis, increased appetite and weight gain. So talk to your doctor about what can be done to minimize these side effects, if they do occur.

One thing that you can do is take calcium and vitamin D, since steroids reduce calcium absorption and increase urinary excretion and may interfere with calcium and vitamin D metabolism. Considering that osteoporosis is one potential side effect of these drugs, consider supplementing with at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day and 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 to maintain proper bone health.

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Dinner Tonight: Rapini and Pasta

Rapini or broccoli rabe is a dark leafy green vegetable that looks like it has tiny broccoli florets on it. It is part of the mustard family and has a very bitter taste. As a kid, rapini was a staple in our house, especially when the weather got cooler. Instead of salads, my mother would cook up some rapini with olive oil to accompany whatever main dish she made that night.

Now it is a staple in my house, as well. I combine it with pasta and white kidney beans and loads of garlic and olive oil for a simple and tasty meal.

Rapini is very high in vitamin K, calcium, and potassium. It is also a good source of iron and folate.  Continue reading “Dinner Tonight: Rapini and Pasta”

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Avoid Nutritional Deficiencies in the Athlete’s Diet

An athlete puts an enormous amount of strain on their body both physically and nutritionally. Eating a variety of foods can help supply the nutrients an athlete requires. Here are some nutrients to be mindful of if you are an athlete:

Calories – Signs of deficiency include weight loss, fatigue, and reduced performance. Increase intake of healthy, nutrient-rich foods and monitor your weight as exercise or training may increase calorie needs by as much as 1,000-1,500 calories a day. Avoid bars containing high-fructose corn syrup, chocolate or candy coatings, marshmallows or other candy-type ingredients, and unpronounceable ingredients.

Water – Signs of deficiency include dehydration, weakness, dryness, loss of performance, and thirst. Make sure that you are taking in lots of water before, during, and after endurance activities. You should aim for about 16 ounces of fluid for every pound lost during exercise.

Carbohydrates – Signs of deficiency include weakness, inability to continue endurance activity, irritability, weight loss. Eating whole grains, vegetables and dried fruits can help meet you carbohydrate needs.

Protein – Signs of deficiency include muscle wasting, fatigue, poor healing, and frequent infections. Good sources of protein include meat, dairy, eggs, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds.

Electrolytes – Signs of deficiency include dizziness, weakness, fatigue, and muscle cramping. Consume mineral-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, leafy greens, bananas; sensible use of sea salt and other seasoning salts. Electrolyte replacement mix or beverage can be very beneficial as well and easily added to water.

Iron – Signs of deficiency include paleness, fatigue, reduced ability to exercise, frequent infections, brittle nails, decreased appetite, irritability, sore tongue or throat, thinning and hair/hair loss. Foods that are good sources of iron include meat, iron-fortified breads and cereals, beans, tofu, dried fruits, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables. If you aren’t meeting your iron needs you may to take an iron supplement. Consult with your doctor first.

Magnesium – Signs of deficiency include agitation/anxiety, restless leg syndrome, fatigue, insomnia, poor memory, and confusion. Eat leafy greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, and legumes. Look into a supplement if you aren’t getting enough of these magnesium rich foods.

B vitamins – Signs of deficiency include anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, difficulty maintaining balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, soreness of the mouth or tongue.

Foods high in Bs include whole grains, dairy products, nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, beans, and legumes. You may want to consider B-complex supplement daily.

Calcium – Signs of deficiency include bone density loss, and muscle spasm. Green leafy vegetables, almonds, dairy products, tofu, tahini, sardines with bones are all good sources of calcium. Aim for 1,200-1,500 mg per day from food and supplements combined.

 

 

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Avoiding Nutritional Deficiencies in a Lactose-Free Diet

Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products and for many people it causes gas, bloating, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems. This is because they lack the enzyme lactase, which helps break down and digest lactose.

Although it is possible to get all nutrients found in dairy products from other foods, calcium and vitamin D deficiencies can be a concern, since many people do rely on dairy for these two nutrients.

Calcium:  Signs of deficiency include bone density loss and muscle spasms. Green leafy veggies, almonds, tofu, tahini and sardines with the bones are all good sources of dietary calcium. If you aren’t getting enough of these, then supplement with additional calcium. On average most people should aim for about 1000mg of calcium intake per day. Continue reading “Avoiding Nutritional Deficiencies in a Lactose-Free Diet”

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