Supplements – The Great Debate

Whether or not to take a vitamin supplement has been a source of debate for decades. Between the health food stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, gyms, infomercials, and network marketing companies, the public is bombarded with ads on what and how much they need. Sifting through all the literature is a bit overwhelming, and determining what and who you can trust just muddies the waters. But, what exactly are these vital dietary elements?

Vitamins — What are they?
Picking Rasberries
Vitamins the Natural Way

They are essential organic (meaning carbon-containing) substances the body needs in the diet in small quantities for the normal growth, maintenance, and function of the body. Although vitamins do not produce energy for the body, often they are key components in reactions that are energy yielding. Some are fat soluble (vitamins A,D,E, and K) and others are water soluble (the B vitamins and vitamin C).

Vitamins — Why are they essential?

Generally, vitamins are essential in the human diet because the body can

The Sun & Vitamin D
The Sun — A Source of Vitamin D

not synthesize them or because environmental factors can decrease their synthesis. Of course there are exceptions, such as:

  • vitamin D which can be synthesized through the skin with adequate exposure to the sun,
  • vitamin A which can be synthesized through certain plant pigments, and others.

In order for a compound to be classified as a vitamin, certain criteria need to be met.

  1. The body cannot synthesize enough of a particular compound to sustain health.
  2. Deficiency symptoms arise if the compound is absent from the diet for a specific amount of time and these symptoms are cured upon its administration.
Vitamins — Where did they get their names?
In the Lab -- Supplements
Vitamins — Discovered

Just because the body can’t make it does not mean it is a vitamin. Interestingly enough, the vitamins primarily received their name alphabetically in the order they were discovered. At this point, most scientists believe that all vitamins have been discovered, although some optimistic researchers persist.

How about that vitamin supplement?

But the question remains, should you take a vitamin supplement? Because most people do not eat a proper diet on a regular basis, for the most part, vitamin supplements are recommended by the health care profession. It is important to recognize however, that although scientists have identified the majority, if not all compounds that can be classified as vitamins, certain unidentified trace elements beneficial to the human body for optimal health may still exist. Additionally, in nature, vitamins and minerals are usually paired with other compounds that maximize their absorption and therefore utilization by the body. Therefore, ideally each person should focus on those foods rich in these important nutrients. Some fruits and vegetables are classified as “superfoods” — they contain high doses of critical vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds, such as phytochemicals. More on that next week.

What is your opinion on taking supplements?

(C) 2016 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer


Motivated? Tips for Calorie Control!

When the desire to get that extra weight off means more than the desire to eat an extra bite or two, than you’re not only ready to lose weight, but you’re ready to keep it off — you are motivated! Congratulations! Since calorie control is a critical factor in successful weigh loss, modifying problem behaviors is essential.

The following principles of Behavior Modification will start you on your way to success:

  • Do not skip meals — eat snacks & meals at scheduled times.
  • Limit food intake as needed.
  • Make a substitution — physical activity for snacking.
Italian Orzo: Lemmon & Garlic
Italian Orzo: Lemmon & Garlic
  • Use smaller utensils & dishes.
  • Discourage impulsive eating by storing food out of sight (a freezer is best).
  • All food should be eaten in an area designated as “dining.”
  • Serving dishes should be kept off the table — especially gravies & sauces.
Eating Behavior:
  • Leave food on the plate.
  • Dining

    In the middle of a meal, pause.

  • Before you take the next bite — chew thoroughly.
  • Put your fork down before you take the next mouthful.
  • While you are eating, don’t do anything else (reading, working on your computer, watching t.v.).
Parties & Holidays:
Party Time!
Party Time!
  • Before parties, plan your eating behavior.
  • Drink less alcoholic beverages.
  • Before you attend a party, eat a low calorie snack.
  • Practice ways to decline food.
  • If you have an occasional setback, don’t get discouraged.
Your Reward:
  • As the basis for rewards, use self-monitoring records.

    Reward Time!
    Reward Time!
  • Make a “Behavioral Contract” — Plan specific rewards for specific behaviors.
  • Ask for help from your family and friends. Make suggestions as to how they can help you.
  • Encourage them to give this help in the form of material rewards and praise.
Monitor Yourself:
  • Document the place and time you eat.
  • Write down the type and the amount of food you eat.
  • List who is present and what you ate.
  • Use your journal to document your problem areas.
Shopping the Old Fashioned Way
Shopping the Old Fashioned Way
  • Do your shopping after you eat — focus on nutritious foods.
  • Make a list before you shop — this helps you to limit what you buy that may be “problem” foods. What may help first is shopping for fresh foods first from around the perimeter of the store.
  • Ready-to-eat foods should be avoided.
  • Don’t shop for food until you need to.

Goal-setting, portion control, and energy balance are easier to achieve with these simple adjustments. Lifelong changes to lifestyle will go a long way toward reaching and maintaining your weight loss goals. What changes have you seen work?

(C) 2016 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer