What are you up to this weekend?
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We’re being home-bodies
The weather’s been picture perfect the past few days, and it’s starting to feel like fall. My husband spent the afternoon raking leaves (the first time this year!) and picking up walnuts. My goodness, do we ever have walnuts.
I stayed in my pajamas most of the day, puttered around in the house, with the radio tuned to the ISU/Iowa game for background noise. I absolutely love college football, whoever’s playing
Admittedly we’re catching our collective breath after a busier than usual week. In between work and life, my desk was filled with open textbooks as I studied for my oral exam, marking the end of my Micronutrients class
I also spent some time doing orientation type things; a new volunteer position with our local Youth and Shelter Service’s Residential Treatment Program. For those who follow The Veggies, you’ll know addiction has left a lasting mark on our family. I’ve always wanted to repay a fraction of the kindness shown to us over the years
(much more to come .. )
But, the best part of the week? My brother and his wife were visiting from Texas, which was such a treat(!) How I love to see them. We spent evenings as a family, telling funny stories, and catching up.
There’s nothing better than seeing someone in person, and I already miss getting to hug them every day.
The final installment today of a short series about the world of supplements
Part I included information about the sources of raw materials, manufacturing practices, and if the companies are regulated. Other topics included the anatomy of a supplement, common additives (there can be a lot!), and different things to look for if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the choices out there.
Part II .. Natural vs. synthetic, is there really a difference? Also, some things to be on the lookout for when it comes to how supplements are packaged and reading their labels.
How do we know if the product contains what’s stated on its label?
Good question, in light of the surprising reality, that dietary supplements sold throughout the U.S. aren’t required to be registered with any govt. agency
The Natural Products Association (formerly the NNFA, or the National Nutritional Foods Association) is a trade organization offering something called a true label program. Its mission is to assure accuracy when it comes to label claims. How does it work?
The NPA offers manufacturers the opportunity to independently verify the quality of their products. Members must submit the label of every supplement they produce. From there, the NPA will randomly submit products to independent labs for testing. What if there’s a discrepancy?
The NPA will notify the manufacturer and request immediate action to correct the situation. If no action is taken, the results will be published in their official trade newsletter. As a result, stores may drop the supplement or even the company’s entire line. Additionally, they may be barred from displaying products at national trade shows.
Want to find out if your supplement manufacturer is a member of the NPA? There is an extensive list on their website.
Why aren’t supplements labeled as to the conditions they could help us with?
By law, manufacturers of supplements aren’t allowed to make claims regarding the treatment or prevention of specific conditions. In fact, legislation passed in 1994, The Dietary and Supplement Health & Education Act (DSHEA), outlines what information they are allowed to provide
Structure-Function Claim – Is information that describes how the nutrients in the supplement could help our bodies. For example: if a supplement contains vitamin A they could say “helps maintain normal vision.”
Educational information – As long as it’s fair, balanced, and doesn’t mention a particular brand by name. It also has to have been written by a third party, a researcher, publisher, or reporter without a vested financial interest, or ties to the product.
What’s the right product for the job?
By now we’ve read the labels, as well as the literature, verified the manufacturer is part of the NPA, looked for natural vs. synthetic, made sure there aren’t any gotchas with fillers, binders, and the like. We’re still a bit stumped when deciding
what’s the best form to buy?
The choices are many(!) .. capsules, tablets, gel caps, powders, liquids, chewable, sublingual tablets, liquid sprays, and topical gels. Not to mention both time-release and rapid dissolution forms are available for many as well.
Several things come into play. One, the form should be the best for delivery and absorption, taking into account both dissolution of the supplement, as well as the strength of your digestive system. It should also be convenient.
For example, children, elderly, people who are very sick, or don’t like swallowing pills will probably gravitate toward liquids, powers, or chewables. (Use caution here though because these products are generally higher in additives, and sweeteners to mask the taste)
The most common delivery form, as they’re easy to store and have longer shelf-lives. One downside, because they’re pressed during manufacturing, they may not be the best choice for those with poor digestion.
Capsules generally dissolve and release their ingredients quickly. Like tablets, they’re easy to store, though they may be a bit more expensive. Also of note, enteric-coated capsules dissolve in the intestine, not the stomach. They’re best for those nutrients that won’t fare well in an acidic environment.
Soft gelatin capsules that many people find easier to swallow
Sublingual tablets, sprays, and topically applied products
These are absorbed through the skin and enter directly into the bloodstream. Certainly can be an advantage to bypassing the digestive system, though they may put an additional burden on the liver.
Normal digestion and absorption from the gut deliver small amounts of nutrients at a time. The rapid entry of these may overload the liver’s ability to process the nutrients
These products are designed to slowly release nutrients over a six to twelve hour time period. Their cost can be double the price of regular supplements, in fact, talk with your doctor, but it may be more cost-effective to choose a regular supplement and take lower doses at intervals throughout the day
Where do we go from here?
Thank you, so very much, for following along on this short introduction to supplements.
I feel there is so much left to say. My sincerest wish was to offer you a place to start, some of the key terms to be aware of when researching on your own or discussing options with your doctor.
If there is one over-reaching takeaway, I hope it’s this
While there certainly will be times in our lives that we need to consider supplementation, they shouldn’t be our go-to in place of a poor diet. There will never be a company who can manufacture the perfect replacement for
When Ina Garten lets us in on some of her favorite cookbooks, one should pay attention. I’ve yet to be steered wrong by one of their recipes, this one included
I made it on a whim really, a last-minute side to take to my parents this past week, the first night my brother and his wife were in town. Big and ripe tomatoes from the CSA, a crusty french baguette, sharpened with a little olive oil, garlic, basil, and cheese.
In the end, we ate it as a light main dish, along with a big garden salad. It was perfect
The second time around I added some black olives, though I image sautéed mushrooms would be wonderful as well. On our own, we enjoyed it for dinner as a side to broiled fish, and for breakfast the next morning with scrambled eggs.
A few additional notes: Crusty bread is really important for this recipe, otherwise you’ll run the risk of the bread becoming too soggy. I bet rye bread would be a great alternative, bringing with it an interesting depth of flavor
References used for this series: Navigating the Labyrinth: 3o Things You Need to Know About Nutritional Supplements by Jack Challem .. The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book by Shari Lieberman .. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements by Michael T. Murray .. Foundations of Nutritional Medicine: A Sourcebook of Clinical Research by Melvyn Werbach and Gail Leibsohn
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~ Adapted from Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase
- 5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 cups ½" diced French bread, preferably a crusty baguette
- 16 plum tomatoes, cut ½" dice, about 2 ½ pounds (use the best tomatoes you can find -- beefsteak will be juicier)
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced (~ 3 cloves)
- 2 Tbsp natural sugar, optional
- 2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Heat olive oil in a large (~ 12 inch) saute pan over medium heat.
- Add the bread cubes and stir to lightly coat them with the oil.
- Cook over medium to medium-high heat for ~ 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.
- Add the diced tomatoes, garlic and sugar (if using) to the pan and continue to cook, stirring often, for ~ 5 minutes.
- Season with sea salt and pepper, add the basil leaves and remove from the heat.
- Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (~ 6 to 8 cup) baking dish.
- Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
- Bake for ~ 35 to 40 minutes until the top has browned and the tomatoes are bubbly.
- Serve hot or warm.