MVI part 2

Part 2 is kind of going to be a Debbie Downer, but I want to be blunt and truthful about multivitamins and the manufacturing companies that push them.


We left off talking about products…What about all the kinds of multivitamins? One-a-day, three-a-day, six-a-day, a gajillion-a-day? With iron, without iron? Centrum©, GNC©, Nature’s Way©? Have you been to Whole Foods lately and experienced the shelves on shelves of multivitamins?? It’s overwhelming to say the least. I consider myself ucky that I previously had a job where I learned a lot about different supplements and got to know the reps and the research, so I feel pretty legitimate in giving you advice in this area. So let me give you the low-down.

What to know about the FDA

First of all, something you may not know is that the FDA does not regulate supplements. There are no guidelines or quality controls placed by the FDA like there are for pharmaceuticals. And unfortunately, US manufacturing companies want the cheapest materials possible so they can stay competitive and maximize profits, possibly at your health’s expense. Most companies do little or no testing of their raw materials or finished products.  In 2007, the FDA finalized the current dietary supplement Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) which allows individual US manufacturing companies to come up with their own guidelines. There are certain guidelines companies must follow to ensure safety, consistency, quality, purity, and potency of their dietary supplements, but they are loose and, like I said, determined by the company. The FDA is highly unlikely to enforce compliance and the only time the FDA gets involved is after voluntary re-calls. Aka after the damage is done. Does this freak you out?! Freaks me out!

What to know about products

Now that you are warned let’s discuss what to look for when shopping for a multivitamin. Individual preference will determine how often you want to take a pill. Technically taking a three or six-a-day will contribute a larger safety net, because as I eluded to earlier, sometimes vitamins compete for absorption and taking a pill with food will also change how you digest the nutrients in the supplement. Taking it multiple times spreads out the opportunity to meet your needs. Taking multiple pills a day may be easier on your digestive tract if you are sensitive, as some consumers report discomfort from consuming such a high dose at once. But if you are like me and can’t remember to take a pill to save your life, than a one-a-day would be better for you.

Iron or no iron? Men don’t need added iron because 1) men tend to get enough iron from high biological value sources like meat (pass the bacon) and 2) men have a harder time excreting the extra iron beyond what is needed and that can cause hard black poop. Sorry to be blunt. Women need the extra iron because we don’t tend to be meat-heads and we lose a lot during a certain time of month. Again, sorry to be blunt.

If you are a planning or expectant mother, look for a multivitamin that has DHA added. This is a by-product of omega-3’s that supports brain and spine development. Some multis might even list it as added fish oil. Or you can take a fish oil separate in addition to your multi if you don’t want it all combined, but DO NOT forget to take fish oil at this time. You want your baby to be sharp and developed!

Now for the brands. No labels will say FDA approved or give you any insight as to how the manufacturing went down, so this can be real tricky. But this is what I like and learned from my previous job. This brand Mega-Food© is pretty awesome. When you read the label instead of reading “ascorbic acid” or “beta-carotene” or other sciency terms, you will read “oranges” or “carrots”. This supplement is made from actual food sources, not synthetic things created in a plant. The foods are all from organic produce, spirulina, and yeast. The doses are much lower than what you typically find on a label as well. Because the vitamins and minerals come from actual food sources, they absorb much easier and naturally in your body. Meaning you will likely get what you think you are getting and you won’t experience any discomfort in the process. Also, as of summer 2011, this brand was the only brand that made a children’s multivitamin with zero sugar. If that’s important to you as a parent, keep this brand in mind.

megafood-vitaminsI also like Vitamin Code©, I worked with their reps a lot and they are good people and represent a good company (unless they are fooling us all!). Their multi’s are considered “raw” meaning they add live probiotics and enzymes in addition to the vitamins and minerals. This helps the absorption and will help your gut stay healthy! Alive© is another good brand that has raw products and actual fruit and vegetable ingredients. So I would say those are my top 3.


In conclusion I will quote Michael Pollan:

“If it is a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t”

But as a second conclusion I would like to reiterate myself and state that at the end of the day you have the choice to do whatever you want. I don’t want to be too pessimistic about multivitamins because they can be great. I order them for patients who need them at the hospital all the time. But take this new information I have provided you and consider these points when choosing a multivitamin. And if you can help it, just eat good food instead.



MVI- medical slang for multivitamins.

What do you think about multivitamins: yes, no, maybe so?

WARNING: This post may be a bit long and broken up because I want to focus on two parts:
1) Who should take multivitamins and why  &

2) What to be weary of when choosing a product

Tens of millions of U.S. adults take multivitamins. In fact, I read somewhere that around 47% of the US population take multi’s. But why? Of course we know that vitamins are quote “life sustaining amines (minerals)” for our bodies and without the essentials like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A or biotin we would have scurvy, rickets, night blindness or hair loss, respectively-  but why take a supplement? My answer: I have no idea.

You see, I am a foodie. I believe in food, not pills. We can easily get all the vitamins and minerals we need from eating good food. Sure some may be harder to get then others (i.e. vitamin D only comes from fortified dairy or the sun, while b vitamins are in almost any fruit or vegetable, grain, or enriched product), BUT it is completely possible to avoid deficiencies by  consuming edible things. If you can, save your money and skip the supplement aisle and go straight to the produce aisle.

Now there is a caveat, some population groups do need to supplement. Woman who are/ have any chance of being pregnant benefit from taking a multivitamin. This is a time of life where the demand for nutrients is (obviously) increased and a supplement can ensure the extra requirements are met. Especially to make sure you get the right amount of folate to avoid spina bifida, cleft palate, or other congenial defects. Same goes for old folks. Elderly experience a lot of physiological changes as the years wear on, and one consequence is decreased digestion and absorption capabilities. So even if you are 90 years old and eating your fruits and veggies like a boss, you might still need to supplement- especially Vitamin D and calcium or vitamin b12 or folic acid which are better absorbed in their synthetic form. Also any sort of conditions that prevent you from getting enough vitals orally. Such as illness, a diagnosed deficiency, metabolic disorders, etc. Or if you are straight up picky and refuse to eat fruits and vegetables, then you better take a multivitamin for your safety net.

If you are currently taking a multivitamin, and based of the previous paragraph, you feel you don’t actually need it, I’m not forcing you to quit. If you want that comfort each day knowing your gums won’t start bleeding and rot out or you will have super vitamin B energy, I wont take that form you. But be wary…

If you are getting more than enough water-soluble vitamins (the b’s, and vitamin C) you will just pee it out. A lot of times your blood will saturate with a vitamin at a certain dose and anything beyond that just goes to waste. For example: most vitamin C tablets or chewables come in 500 -1,000 mg doses, but your blood levels saturate at 250 mg and excretes the rest. So if you actually want to get your 500 mg in, cut the pill in half and take it twice a day. But this makes a good point here: are you actually absorbing or getting what you think you are out of a multivitamin? Or are you literally wasting your money? And what about vitamins and minerals that compete for the same absorption sites- are you going to absorb the calcium or the iron when you take your multi? Because it’s most likely going to be one or the other.

This will lead us into what kind of product to look for. So I will cut here. Please stay tuned. Happy Saturday.


Garlicky Delicious

photo(8)This week in our CSA basket we got some delicious green garlic! Also known as spring garlic, it’s a little more mild than the softneck variety you get at the grocery store. I also love green garlic because it is dug up in the spring as soon as the green top comes up and so it can be used more like a green onion. No peeling individual bulbs! We’ve been cooking with garlic all week. Check out the “Recipe” page for some of our recipes. So let’s talk about garlic shall we?

Garlic is in the aromatic vegetable group (no surprise there) and cousin to the onion. Aromatic vegetables deliver a deep flavor when heated or crushed. Garlic is the most pungent of all the aromatics and can be enjoyed raw or cooked- although if consumed raw please wear a mask. Nutritionist get pretty stoked on garlic and other aromatic vegetables because it offers a great substitute for fat or salt. In fact, the earlier on you can learn to substitute salt for garlic or other flavorful herbs and spices, the happy your vascular system will be!

And even more great things about garlic...

Garlic is an immune booster and loaded with Vitamin C and B6. Garlic may reduce atherosclerosis and is touted as being a heart healthy super food. As little as one clove a day may cut the risk for prostate cancer in half! Studies have also shown garlic to be protective against stomach and colorectal caner. Garlic is rich in phytochemicals which causes the cholesterol-lowering and cancer-fighting characteristics.

While researching garlic I came across some stuff that was news to me and totally interesting. John A. Milner, chief of the Nutritional Science Research group at the National Cancer Institute, said that the only way to obtain the cancer-fighting benefits of garlic is to chop or crush it. Crushing garlic releases the active allyl sulfide compounds (the good phytochemical), BUT immediately heating garlic inactivates the crucial enzyme in the chemical cascade. So although your food may smell amazing while cooking and taste even better in your mouth, you miss out on the health benefits. Hold up, WHAT! I saute garlic and oil for every meal, and all this time I’ve been missing out?! Well the answer is yes, but I learned if you crush or mince the garlic and let it sit for 10-15 minutes the chemical process has time to complete before being disrupted by heat. So a good tip is to let it sit, pre-crush/mince your garlic and store so it’s ready and on hand for cooking, or consider buying the jars of minced garlic at the store.

I also learned that garlic does not need to be refrigerated necessarily. It stores best between 32-38 degrees, so depending on how cold you keep your fridge, maybe keeping it in a cool storage room or space is better. So there it is folks, garlic. Please stay away if you can’t stand the garlic breath because I will sporting it like perfume for the next couple weeks!

Celebrity Night

You guys. Last night was the greatest night! I got to meet my long time hero!! This dude.

photo(5)If you don’t know who this is, you should get to know who this is. It’s

Michael Pollan!

Michael Pollan is an author of several amazing books including: Food Rules, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food. He is in documentaries including: Killer at Large and King Corn. Plus he writes regularly for the New York Times. I love love LOVE all of his books and articles. A couple weeks ago I had a job interview and they asked me who my hero was and I said Michael Pollan- no joke. He is my hero because he knows what’s up when it comes to food and nutrition. He is so versed and his research is pretty ground breaking. But not only that, I idolize him because of his ability to connect with the average Joe. He has this really easy-going yet highly motivating way about him. He was completely captivating to listen to, and he reinforces my passion for nutrition and explains why I do what I do. (I didn’t get the job by the way, maybe I should have said my mom or Mother Theresa)?

But that’s enough of my public display of affection. I was able to hear him speak last night on his new book Cooked. To sum it up, Michael Pollan has discovered and decided that the way to attain good health is to spend more time in the kitchen. There’s so much confusion in regards to nutrition and diet and so much all muddled in between. But maybe the answer to good health is really as simple as cooking more. And not the type when you nuke something in the microwave for 2 minutes and call it good. In fact, he made this interesting point: His research has found that the average amount of time people spend cooking each day has decreased over the past 2 decades to a mere 37 minutes. Total. With 4 minutes a day for cleaning up. So what can you assume about that type of cooking? Ahem, Fridays potatoes skins and Stouffers lasagne… And look whats happened to our obesity rates over the same time period…

I can’t give a thorough review of the book because I am not quit finished. I just have about 415 pages left. BUT I am already captivated. There are recipes, humor, nutrition facts, etc. You will laugh and cry and mostly want to get off your butt and spend more time in the kitchen!

photo(4)Did I mention in 2010, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world?

photo(1)I was so giddy when I met him! I wanted to tell him I used his research to complete a policy analysis on school nutrition, and that I used his articles to debate the reorganization of government agriculture subsidies, or at least tell him that he is my hero, but instead all I got out was: “Thank you, thank you so much, really thank you.” I didn’t even take a breath in between those three identical phrases. Gah!

photo(2)We love each other already.

Also, I cannot fail to mention that during the question/answer portion I was selected to ask my question. ME. Out of 15 people raising their hands. And it was like magic because as he was answering my question, he stared right at me. He literally granted me 5 minutes of uninterrupted eye contact. It was like no one else was in the room. Just he and I. Now would also be a good time to mention that I am happily married to my #1. MP comes next though!

P.S. I titled this celebrity night because Ty Burrell was also there. Local celeb night.

Spinach for Breakfast

Let’s talk about breakfast. Why is it sooo many of you don’t eat breakfast!? I guess I can’t relate because hunger comes simultaneously with waking up for me. But still, after all the excessive research (good luck with the thousands of articles there), people still struggle.

{Key high lights of the research include:}

breakfast jump starts your metabolism

breakfast increases focus and concentration at work and school

breakfast can promote good blood sugar control

breakfast is associated with fewer calories consumed over the day

breakfast can add more energy throughout the day

breakfast can control excessive hunger, etc

It’s not really news that when you skip breakfast or wait until the afternoon to eat, you will likely over-eat to compensate for the missed meal. Breakfasts skippers or two-meals-a-day-ers almost always eat more for lunch and dinner or from the handful of snacks in between then they would have otherwise if they just ate a good breakfast.

But let’s talk about the quality of breakfast as well. Say you are in a hurry to get to work, and low and behold sitting right on your counter in front of you is some left over lemon cake from the night before. So you crab a slice and chug down some o.j. (at least you were thinking of Vitamin C). By about 10-10:30 you start to feel a little sluggish. You’re even starting to feel hungry and some unknown gravitational force is pulling you towards the vending machine. The problem here is, although you ate breakfast and got a pretty good amount of calories down, the nutrients in your breakfast = straight sugar. Sugar or simple carbohydrates digest in your body very quickly and leave your stomach empty and feeling hungry in about 2 hours. Typically, when eating a healthy balanced diet, we should feel satiated for around 4 hours post meal. Feeling hungry so soon will cause snacking and/or starving and then binging at lunch.

So what’s a healthy breakfast? Anything that has some complex carbs -which take longer to digest because of the ridiculously long carbon chains- or protein and fat which slow gastric emptying and digestion. It also doesn’t hurt to get some fruits or veggies (yes I said veggies) in at breakfast because if you need >5 servings a day, you better start packing them in! What I really encourage people to do though, is get protein in first thing in the morning. It’s the only way I ever make it to lunch time without collapsing in hunger.

Breakfast ideas:

  1. Scrambled eggs– Although I am not a huge egg fan and this sounds boring, I have found this to be the golden breakfast. For one you get the good protein, but also it’s the best way to use up your left over produce! Throw in some spinach or leefy greens, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, potatoes, you name it. Scramble it all up with a little cheese and s&p and you have a healthy recycled breakfast!
  2. Green smoothies- I am all about this trend. No you do not need a Vitamix or crazy expensive utility, I use my $30 hand-me-down Oster blender. Throw in any leafy greens you have (expect maybe not ice berg lettuce…) some milk or juice, berries, bananas, oranges, some greek yogurt or protein powder, some peanut butter, some flax, etc and blend a delicious breakfast together.
  3. Oatmeal– high fiber= feeling full for a while! Add berries, milk, and nuts to add some extra something something. Instead of brown sugar try some agave, a little goes a long way.
  4. Left Overs- This isn’t a joke. When you are in a hurry, why not have left over salad or soup for breakfast? I have even had cold chicken breast and potatoes (something about not reheating it makes it seem more breakfasty). Try it sometime- I dare you.
  5. Greek yogurt and fruit- there are a million varieties on the grocery store shelves these days. Greek yogurt provides more than double the protein content as your regular yogurt. This stuff is designed to keep you full and focused. And definitely satisfied because it’s delicious!
  6. Protein bars- this is my go to when I am in a hurry. Take one on the road or snack on it throughout the morning. My favs are Cliff bars, Balance Bars, and Think Thin bars.
  7. Breakfast salad– a little combination of all the above. Combine fruit (apples are a really good one to have for this), some nuts, some sprouts, and a dollop or two of greek yogurt to make a fruit salad of sorts.

Now that you have some recipes to get you through the week, go out and do it! IMG_2933** cut down the time it takes to prepare your green smoothie- chop up all the ingredients before in individual baggies, freeze, and add to the blender with milk and juice and you’re on your way!

IMG_2934I am pretty serious about my protein bars!

Changes. Suggestions Welcome.

I’ve decided to make some changes to this blog. I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback and I have some ideas…

First off, I think I will start including some clinical nutrition into this blog. Many of you may be surprised to know that what I do from 9-5 to bring home the bacon is not what you would typically think of when you think dietitian or nutritionist. I spend a lot of my days ordering milkshakes for grannies, writing orders for feeding tubes, and counseling the h-word out of heart failure patients. It might be fun to share some of those experiences, so you have a better idea of what clinical dietitians do-in case anyone is wondering.

Second, I am going to try to make this blog more personal. I always have my phone to snap pics, so I don’t know why I have been using photostock pics from the internet? Plus maybe it will make you all feel better to hear my food-fails. Or triumphs. Or why I think any of the stuff I post on here is even important. But don’t worry, I am not going to make this too personal. I am not in it to be the next Taza or quit my day job to make money off my blog full of any and all the thoughts in my head. There’s quit enough of that.

Finally, I am going to make the post more short and sweet. So far I am failing, but I promise to try to be more concise. NOW, what do you guys want to see? I am always trying to think of topics that everyone wants to hear about or can apply to their lives, so don’t hesitate to tell me if what I write about is boring, what do you want to know?

Comments Welcome.