Extension and Ag Research News


Prairie Fare: Nutritious Foods and Supplements Promote Health

I look at vitamin-mineral supplements as a bit of inexpensive nutrition insurance, but I never consider them a replacement for a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“I want a purple one!” my 4-year-old daughter exclaimed.

“I want an orange one,” my 10-year-old daughter said.

“I guess mine don’t come in special colors. Peach-colored is fine with me,” I said.

“Here, Dad, yours is gray,” my son said.

“Why are my vitamins gray, anyway? Does this mean they think I’m old?” my husband asked.

Our three kids giggled in unison.

“That must be a joke at the vitamin company, I guess,” I said.

“Mom, why is your pill bigger than ours?” one daughter asked.

“My supplement has some added calcium because I want my bones to stay strong to keep up with you guys,” I said.

As a nutrition specialist and dietitian, some people might not expect me to condone the doling out of vitamin-mineral supplements in my home. After all, shouldn’t a nutrition specialist be serving perfectly balanced meals every day?

We try our best with our menus, but forcing children to eat their carrots and broccoli isn’t a good nutrition tactic, either.

I look at vitamin-mineral supplements as a bit of inexpensive nutrition insurance, but I never consider them a replacement for a variety of nutrient-rich foods. For the latest nutrition advice, visit http://www.mypyramid.gov.

According to a 2002 study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, all adults should take a vitamin-mineral supplement. Nutrition experts caution us to stay within 100 percent of the daily recommendations for nutrients and to purchase from reputable companies.

Read the Supplement Facts information on the bottle, and consider purchasing the type formulated for your age group.

Visit with your health-care provider about vitamins and minerals because some supplements interact with medications, which could affect the effectiveness of the medication. Check out the expiration date and store them in a cool, dry place, not in your bathroom medicine cabinet.

If you opt to take a supplement, have them at the same time each day, such as with meals. Some supplements, such as calcium supplements made with calcium carbonate, need stomach acid to be absorbed. Eating a meal prompts the release of stomach acid.

Calcium supplements are among the most popular of dietary supplements. Calcium, vitamin D and several other nutrients are needed for strong bones. Women have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, which is a disease characterized by weakened, fragile bones.

About 10 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis. Men, take note: 2 million men have osteoporosis.

Post-menopausal women who are not on hormone replacement therapy have the highest daily need for calcium at 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day. Men and women over the age of 51 need at least 1,200 mg daily or the equivalent of four cups of milk per day. Milk, at 300 mg per cup, is among the best sources of calcium.

Calcium supplements usually contain calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate, found in some antacids, is inexpensive and well-absorbed. For people with less stomach acid, calcium citrate is better absorbed. If you take a separate calcium supplement, have only 500 mg of calcium at a time.

For more information, visit the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements at http://ods.od.nih.gov/.

To celebrate June, National Dairy Month, here’s a calcium-rich recipe from the Midwest Dairy Council at http://www.midwestdairy.com.

Ragin’ Cajun Bean and Cheese Dip

1 14.5-ounce can chili-seasoned diced tomatoes

1/4 c. water

1 tsp. hot sauce

2 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1 (15-ounce) can pinto or red kidney beans, rinsed, drained and mashed with a fork

1 c. chopped green bell pepper

1/2 c. diced reduced-fat smoked sausage Cooking spray

4 c. (16 ounces) freshly shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, divided Baked tortilla chips

Combine tomatoes and next six ingredients. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Top with cheese and bake an additional five minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with baked tortilla chips.

Makes 16 servings. Each serving has 120 calories, 5 grams (g) of fat, 9 g of carbohydrate, 2 g of fiber and 200 milligrams of calcium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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