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.


Prudent Healthy Diet

I came across 12 tips to prudent healthy living in a nutrition book of mine. It sounds so pioneer right, prudent healthy diet? But anyway, the tips are great so I thought I would share with you today:

1. Balance the food you eat with physical activity to maintain or improve your weight. Consume only moderate food portions. Be physically active every day.

2. Eat a nutritionally adequate diet consisting of a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods. Let the MyPlate Food Guide guide your food choices.

3. Choose a diet moderate in total fat, but low in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol.

4. Choose a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, and legumes, which are rich in complex carbohydrates, phytochemicals, and fiber.

5. Choose beverages and foods that moderate your intake of sugars.

6. Choose and prepare foods with less salt and sodium.

7. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Pregnant women should not drink any alcohol.

8. Maintain protein intake at a moderate, yet adequate level, obtaining much of your daily protein from plant sources, complemented with smaller amount of fish, skinless poultry, and lean meat.

9. Choose a diet adequate in calcium and iron. Individuals susceptible to tooth decay should obtain adequate fluoride.

10. Practice food safety, including proper food storage, preservation, and preparation.

11. Avoid excess intake of questionable food additives and dietary supplements.

12. Enjoy your food. Eat what you like, but balance it within your overall healthful diet.

I love this stuff. It’s basically what I have been trying to express in my past 25 blog posts. So much for all that, this is everything you need to know! Especially the last tip. Best advice I could ever offer. So please print this out, hang it on your fridge, and let this be your nutritional mantra til death do us part.

And here is a picture of a kitchen that I very much do like.

Werk it

That’s right put in werk, move your bum, go wizzerk,

Eat your salad, no dessert, get that man you deserve.

-Kanye West

Well, despite what judgement I may have cast here, I know a lot of people really are interested in getting into shape for summer. The weather is nice, and people are out running, biking, hiking, climbing, and all that good stuff. So I have decided to do a little segment highlighting physical activity, weight loss, and sports nutrition! Hurray! Everyone’s favorite topic! I am mostly excited to include lyrics from The Black Eyed Peas, Pink, and the Ying Yang twins that are relevant and inspirational.

Today I thought I would start out by discussing fitness and it’s health implications. As we all know a calorie is a form or expression of energy. We need to consume calories daily to maintain a balance for the calories our bodies expend each day. Our bodies expend calories in 3 areas: basal metabolism, thermic effect of food, and physical activity.

Here is a helpful pie chart to help you understand what percent of energy is used where. Basal metabolism or resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy our body needs to function. Ya know, like to allow your heart to beat, kidneys to flush, lungs to expand, liver to detox, and eyelids to blink. Typically this takes about 800-1200 calories. Thermic effect of food is the amount of calories needed to digest and break down your meals. Did you know you technically burn calories (aka use energy) to digest what you eat? Nifty! And then there is physical activity, no brainer here, you burn calories when you work out. So can you guess which area is variable? If you guessed physical activity you are correct and please message me your address to redeem your prize! This folks, is why physical activity is important when it comes to weight maintenance. If you are in the market to loose weight, or eat more delicious foods because you love it and don’t want to gain weight, then learn to expend more calories through physical activity!

Some other benefits of physical activity include:

  • More restful sleep. I think more than half of people have sleep problems, so check you PA levels! (physical activity)
  • Nutritional health. Obviously
  • Optimal bone density and body composition
  • Resistance to colds and infectious diseases
  • Strong circulation and lung function
  • Lower risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers
  • Lower incidence and severity of depression and anxiety
  • Stronger self-image
  • A longer quality life!

And if that list isn’t convincing enough, do it for the endorphins. Hormones are the real drugs, let’s get high on life! But seriously, it’s amazing how many people recognize that a good work out is the cure for unhappiness, stress, and anxiety, every single time.

Please visit my favorite website that I have linked to at least 3 times on this blog : to learn more and find out different types of activities from moderate to heavy. The old MyPyramid program also gave these great tips to help you achieve fitness:

EVERY DAY – Be as active as possible

  • Use the stairs
  • Mow grass, rake leaves, garden, shovel snow
  • Walk or bike to class, work, or shops
  • Scrub floors, wash windows (yeah guys, you really should be doing this everyday..)
  • Walk your dog, cat, rabbit, or snake
  • Wash and wax your car (again, this should be a daily routine anyway)
  • Play with children

4-6 DAYS/WEEK- Engage in moderate activity

  • Aerobic actives such as: running, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, dancing, power walking, jump roping, roller-blading, rowing, curling, rigorous canoeing, fencing, Insanity©
  • Sports activities such as: soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis, football, racquetball, softball, etc.

2-3 DAYS/WEEK- Engage in strength and flexibility activities

  • Sit-ups, push-ups, curl-ups, pull-ups
  • Weight lifting
  • Stretching and yoga
  • Leisure activities such as golfing, bowling, table tennis, horseback riding, dancing in your bedroom, and leisure canoeing

DO SELDOM- Limit sedentary activities

  • Watch TV or movies
  • Leisure computer time
  • (Reading was not on this list, so I guess do that as often as you want…)

Good luck getting started on your fitness ventures! Consider making a SMART goal for yourself and check back often for more sports nutrition tips!

I’m so glad I am an army wife, cuz this is exactly what I look look like…