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Various Nutrition Posts

Part Three

by Gary F. Zeolla
(a.k.a. Reepicheep)

Note: The material on this page has been revised and incorporated into the book Creationist Diet: Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible: It is available in paperback and eBook formats from AuthorHouse.


This compilation of posts I have made in the "sci.med.nutrition" Newsgroup is continued from Various Nutrition Posts - Part Two. In posts where I am responding to another's comments, their comments are summarized in brackets.


Calcium Supplement?

[I'm looking for information on calcium supplements. Which forms are best?]

The most absorbable forms of calcium are calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. So look for a supplement with either of those.

I would also recommend getting a calcium/ magnesium supplement. Calcium and magnesium should be in about a 2:1 balance in the diet. If you supplement just calcium you could upset the balance.

Moreover, calcium and magnesium should be in balance with various other nutrients as well. So if you're going to supplement calcium and magnesium, then you should also take some kind of multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement as well.

As for specific products, I take a "RealAge" calcium/ magnesium supplement I order from Drugstore.com. Two tablets have 400 mg of calcium and 150 mg of magnesium, along with some vitamin D. A similar supplement is available from WholeFoods.com.

Along with my calcium/ magnesium supplement, I also take a Men's One-a-Day. It has 100-150% of the RDA for 20+ nutrients. However, it has only 25% for magnesium and no calcium. Hence why I take the calcium/ magnesium supplement. Also, the Men's One-a-Day has no iron, which men generally don't need, and in excess could be harmful.


White Bread vs. Whole Wheat Bread

[Is there really a significant difference between white bread and whole wheat bread?]

I think you'll find the following info to be helpful. It is taken from the book, The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. (Harper, 1992):

"The term 'enriched' traditionally refers to the addition of three vitamins (vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and niacin) and one mineral (iron) to processed grain. Breads and rice that have been been processed and then "enriched" contain the same amount of these four nutrients as did the original whole wheat or brown rice.

The term is deceiving, however, as it implies added nutrition when in reality the other nutrients and fiber lost in processing have not been replaced. These 'enriched' products are poor substitutes for the original whole grain items, which are also better sources of fiber, pantothenic acid, folic acid, vitamin B6, chromium, selenium, magnesium, zinc, and other nutrients."

The book then gives the following chart:

The Vitamin and Mineral Content of White Bread Compared to Whole Wheat Bread

White bread contains:
22% of the magnesium in whole wheat bread
38% of the zinc
28% of the chromium
42% of the copper
12% of the manganese
4% of the vitamin E
18% of the vitamin B6
63% of the folic acid
56% of the pantothenic acid (p.263).

Note especially the figure for vitamin E: only 4% of what is in whole wheat bread. This loss is especially significant given the study I discussed in a recent post that showed smokers who consumed the most vitamin E from whole grains and nuts and seeds (not from supplements) had the lowest rates of cancer.

And finally, this book might be a little "dated" given it's from 1992, but overall it is truly excellent. And I got it for only a couple of dollars from BookCloseOuts.com!


Osteoporosis

[Check out the following Web site: The Doctor Will See You Now]

I looked at the site. It looks very good! I particularly liked the article "Taking Osteoporosis Out of Your Future - A Major Challenge for Women," by Susan C. Stewart, M.D. located here.

Dr. Stewart makes some good points.

She starts out by saying:
Given what we know today about osteoporosis, there is really no reason why contemporary young women should suffer the deformities and fractures of osteoporosis when they reach old age. Spine, hip and wrist fractures are not the inevitable consequences of aging. Proper diet, exercise and a number of new medications can be used for both prevention and treatment of primary osteoporosis.

Very true statements. The problem, of course, is convincing teenagers they need to watch what they eat and to exercise today so as not to develop osteoporosis decades from now. I have a niece who is 13. So now is the time she is laying down the bone density that will determine her risks for osteoporosis later. But trying to talk to her about nutrition and exercise is very difficult, to say the least. One of the problems is the influences she is under, especially from advertising.

This problem can be seen in the section in the article subtitled, "Diet Sodas and Couch Potatoes"

Stewart writes:
Two trends in modern life are great hazards to bone formation: phosphoric acid-containing diet soda drinks and the sedentary lifestyle. Diet sodas have a high acid content that the body must neutralize with alkaline substances, notably calcium carbonate, which is leached from the bones. Frequently, girls and young women have made matters worse by trading in their milk for diet sodas and have thus deprived themselves of the single most important source of calcium.

This paragraph confirms a point I made in an earlier post, it is the intake of pop, with its high phosphorous content, that is responsible for the high rate of osteoporosis in the US, not the consumption of milk as some in this group try to claim.

Stewart next writes:
All women need milk products in their diets but it is especially critical for women who drink diet sodas. An 8 oz. glass of milk, 8 oz. of yogurt, a 1.5 oz. serving of cheese all provide 300 or more milligrams of calcium, providing a big boost to the daily requirement.

I find it interesting that doctors consistently recommend milk for its calcium. Along with Web sites such as this one with articles written my MDs, I am also now reading a book published by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine on nutrition. One of its authors is Victor Herbert, a contributor to QuackWatch. The books specifically states that milk contains the best absorbable, dietary source of calcium.

However, many in this group claim that the calcium from milk is not absorbed, for various reasons, the most recent being someone who claimed pasteurization made the calcium un-absorbable.

So who am I to believe, the MDs who consistently recommend milk for its absorbable calcium, who those who make unsubstantiated statements against milk? I'll go with the MDs until I see solid, scientific studies done on humans that show the calcium in milk is un-absorbable.

Stewart next writes:
Calcium and Vitamin D are two crucial nutrients for bone formation. Without enough of each, the medicines for osteoporosis don't work as well. Americans, for example, consume a notoriously low calcium diet, estimated at no more than 400-600 mg/day for most adults. The recommended daily intake for mature, menstruating women is 1000 mg/day and for women who are postmenopausal or have had their ovaries removed, 1500 mg/day, the equivalent of three to five servings of dairy products per day.

The figures here again confirm what I have posted previously. I stated the average American adult only consumes about 500 mg of calcium per day, which is about half the recommended amount. Moreover, given that Americans consume twice as much pop as milk, they consume, on average, twice as much phosphorous as calcium. Meanwhile, phosphorous and calcium should be in a 1:1 ratio in the diet. So excessive phosphorus coupled with insufficient calcium, and lack of exercise, is what leads to osteoporosis.

Finally, Stewart writes, "Calcium is also present in green leafy vegetables, canned fish with bones (salmon or sardines), tofu prepared with calcium and orange juice with added calcium."

So, of course, there are dietary sources of calcium besides dairy products. So those who say it is not necessary to consume dairy products are technically correct. However, it is also true, despite the many claims to the contrary, that low-fat dairy products remain the best source of dietary calcium.


Brown Rice: No Good?

[Is Brown Rice fattening? One cup has about 80 grams of carbs and 320 calories. Will this much rice cause an insulin spike?]

Actually, you're looking at the values for uncooked brown rice. Cooked brown rice, according to a box I just looked at, has 170 cals in 2/3 cup serving.

Eating this serving size would not be an excessive amount of rice, and would not cause an insulin spike, especially if it is eaten as part of a regular meal which includes some protein and fat.

And whether such a meal would cause someone to put on fat would depend of the total calories one eats throughout the day. But I would say a 2/3 cup serving of rice would easily fit into a weight loss program.

Moreover, brown rice is a reasonably nutritious food, having decent amounts of B vitamins, fiber, and other nutrients. It might not be as nutrient dense as some foods, but it is definitely more nutritious than many others. IOW, I would not consider brown rice to be "empty calories." So to answer the subject line, brown rice IS a good food overall (much better than rice white), and would fit into a healthy diet. Of course, one should not eat just brown rice, but that should go without saying.


Time on Low-carb

When I was waiting in the doctor's office, I started reading Time magazine's cover story on low-carb diets. Since I didn't finish it (my doctor surprisingly wasn't running too late!), when I got home I searched for the article on Time's Web site. If anyone is interested, it is posted in four parts beginning here.

There are also links on that page to a chart comparing different diet plans, and an article about a "believer" in low-carb diets.


Water with Meals

[I just read in a vegetarian cookbook that you shouldn't drink water with meals. It keeps you from digesting the food and absorbing nutrients properly. The title of the cookbook is The American Vegetarian Cookbook from the Fit for Life Kitchen, by Marilyn Diamon.]

Thanks, now I know what cookbook NOT to buy. Cookbooks are written by, well, cooks, not by nutritionists or scientists. The purpose of the authors is, of course, to sell books. They should not be getting into giving unsubstantiated, nutritional advice.

That said, I can remember discussing this very question during one of my nutrition classes at Penn State. The teacher, who had a doctorate in nutrition by the way, found the idea laughable that drinking water with meals is somehow harmful. The body is more than able to compensate for some water intake with a meal.

What irks me is how often I hear people changing their eating habits based on them "having read something, somewhere that something was somehow bad" -- never mind that the source was questionable, and the claim unsubstantiated.

To substantiate what I just said above, I tried searching PubMed (which indexes abstracts in Medline and other sources) for relevant abstracts. I couldn't find anything specifically on the question of the absorption of nutrients. But I did find a couple interesting studies.

One study with rats determined concluded, "The results are similar to those found in humans and suggest that food intake is modified by fluid intake, whereas, fluid intake is primarily determined by food intake" (Physiol Behav 1989 May;45(5):861-70 The interactions of fluid and food intake in the spontaneous feeding and drinking patterns of rats. de Castro JM).

So if one is trying to loose weight, then drinking water with meals is a good idea.

Another showed that water ingestion did not alter glycemic and insulin responses in diabetics (Water volume and consumption time: influence on the glycemic and insulinemic responses in non-insulin-dependent diabetic subjects. Gregersen S, Rasmussen O, Winther E, Hermansen K. Am J Clin Nutr 1990 Sep;52(3):515-8).


Ideal Weight?

[I am a 5'11" male, early 40s, losing weight well on a low-fat diet. What would be the ideal weight I should aim for? The weight charts say my "ideal" weight range is between 71.5 kgs and 81.3 kgs (158 lbs and 179 lbs). But I have really broad shoulders and very muscular legs. Because of these factors I have been told that my "perfect" weight would be higher - 85 kgs (187 lbs). Is this accurate?]

A basic formula I learned a long time ago for determining one's "ideal" weight is as follows:

For men: Allot 106 pounds for the first five feet, add six pounds for each additional inch.

Women: Allot 100 pounds for the first five feet, add five pounds for each additional inch.

Then plus or minus 10% for bone size and musculature.

So in your case, 106 pounds + (6 x 11) = 172. Plus or minus 10% would give a range of 155 to 189 pounds. Given your bone size and musculature, your ideal weight would probably be at the higher end of this range. So the figure you've been told of 187 pounds seems about right.

Of course, these are only estimates. Probably the best you could do is "aim" for 190 pounds and see how you look and feel then. And then decide how much, if any additional weight you want to loose.


Excessive Vitamin C

[The safety and effectiveness of high vitamin C doses has been well established by medical physicians and decades of practice. Before accepting scare-stories about ascorbic acid, interested people will want to investigate for themselves.]

I have investigated, on myself, and I have found that even moderately high doses of V-C has undesirable side effects. My diet contains over 200 mg of V-C, plus I take a One-a-Day multi-vitamin/ mineral supplement that has 90 mg. So I'm consuming about 300 mg a day. At those levels I have no problems.

But when I tried taking a 250 mg V-C tablet, I ended up with side effects, namely frequent urination. That may not sound seriously, but I really did not like getting up 2-3 times a night to go to the bathroom! And more importantly, if my body is reacting in such a manner it tells me that I am already consuming sufficient V-C from my diet and the One-a-Day supplement. Any additional V-C simply creates expensive urine.

My experience fits well with studies I've seen posted here an elsewhere that about 200 mg a day saturates the tissues. Any additional is useless. So probably I don't even need the One-a-Day supplement. But I take it just in case. But I am sure I don't need any V-C on top of it and my diet.

[Increased urination from vitamin C? The water has to come from somewhere, right? Are you simply drinking more water than before?]

The simple answer to your question is, the water initially comes from the tissues. This leads to increased thirst, and hence increased fluid intake. So yes I did increase my fluid intake, but it was in response to the increased urination, not vice-a-versa.

But to provide a few more details, I began taking the 250 mg of V-C this past summer when I got home from a week long stay in the hospital after a a bicycle accident. I sustained multiple fractures in the accident, numerous cuts and bruises, along with a concussion and a collapsed lung (hence the hospital stay). So I starting taking the extra V-C figuring it was needed to help heal the injuries.

But then I started having the increased ruination, followed by the excessive thirst. At first I thought it was a result of the accident, that I had bruised my bladder or something. But while I was recuperating from the accident I began reading several books I had order from BookCloseouts.com right before the accident. One of the books was Antioxidant Revolution by Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper.

Throughout the book he writes about the benefits of taking moderate amounts of antioxidants, namely, V-E (400 - 800 I.U.), V-C (500-1500 mg) beta carotene (10,000-50,000 I.U.s), and selenium (150 mcg). He makes a lot of sense in the book. So I thought I was on the right track by taking the 250 mg of V-C, which coupled with my diet and the 90 mg of V-C in my mulit, would give me over 500 mg of V-C daily.

However, he waits until near the end of the book to talk about the potential side effects of such amounts of these nutrients.

About V-C he writes:
A side effect of 1,000 mg or higher may be diarrhea. Even at 500 mg per day, a few patients report frequent trips to the bathroom, abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, heartburn, headache, flushing, dry ears, nose, and throat, nose-bleeds, or sleep disorders (p.169).

The words "frequent trips to the bathroom" jumped out at me. I had never thought that V-C could have that side effect. Could it be that my "frequent trips" were not due to my accident but the V-C? The only way to find out was to stop taking the V-C. So I did, and within a couple of days the "frequent trips" were gone.

Just to be sure that was in fact the V-C causing the problem, I recently tried taking extra V-C again. and within a few days I began having the increased urination. So I stopped the V-C and was back to normal .

The moral of the story is, anytime you take mega-doses of any nutrient it can have side effects, even if you are taking it to try to compensate for some "stress" (physical or emotional) in your life. I simply didn't need the extra V-C, even with the multiple injuries from the accident.

[I take 4000 mg of vitamin C, and I don't have any side effects. I'm only 17; could age be a factor?]

First off, what on earth do you need 4 grams of V-C for? There is no need for such large amounts. Even those who promote taking antioxidants for cancer prevention usually "only" recommend 500 - 1500 mg/ day.

Now if you've been taking such large amounts for an extended period of time, then maybe your body has "adapted" to needing such amounts by greatly decreasing its absorption rate. I mention this as I don't want you saying when you stop taking it you feel terrible. You probably would as it would take a while for your body to adjust to more normal amounts.

Unless you have a specific medical reason for taking such amounts, and under a doctor's care I would hope, then I would strongly recommend you gradually reduce what you're taking down to at least the 500 - 1500 mg level, and that includes what you get from supplements and diet combined.

As for why you don't have side effects, I don't believe age is a factor. Different people react differently to supplements. Some experience side effects that other don't, just as some experience side effect to drugs that others don't.

This compilation of posts is continued at Various Nutrition Posts - Part Four.

Creationist Diet: Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible. This book is available from the  publisher AuthorHouse and from conventional and online bookstores. ISBN: 1587218526

Various Nutrition Posts - Part Three. Copyright 1999 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Disclaimer: The material presented on this page is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet or exercise program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.

The above items were posted on this Web site November 16, 1999.

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