Vitamins for College Students

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Vitamins are a group of organic compounds with regulatory functions. Vitamins cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by the body; therefore we must obtain them in adequate amounts from food. There are 13 universally recognized vitamins: 9 water-soluble vitamins and 4 fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in body (except Vitamin B12), and mostly are non-toxic when we intake them excessively. On the contrary, fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in body, and most of them are toxic at excessive doses. Generally it is not recommended for people without malabsorption issues to take vitamin supplements, because we can get enough through a healthy diet! While every vitamin is essential,today our emphasis is on vitamins that are beneficial to college students.

Vitamins D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and has many functions that help people stay healthy. Vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin from the sun, and helps the body absorb calcium. Along with calcium, vitamin D helps to keep our bones healthy and strong. Vitamin D also plays an important role in our immune system, which protects us from illness and infections. Good food sources of vitamin D include: liver, beef, veal, eggs, dairy, some saltwater fish, and foods fortified with vitamin D. College students have large amounts of physical activities, so intaking enough vitamin D can help students have healthy bones to do daily activities.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another fat-soluble vitamin, and it is stored in the liver. Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy eyes, keeping the immune system strong and helping cells function properly. There two forms of vitamin A: retinoids and provitamin A, also known as carotenoids. Retinoids are found in animal products such as liver, dairy, eggs, fish oils, tuna, and sardines. Carotenoids are found in plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables that are bright colors to yellow, orange and red. Since we have stressful academic works everyday, it is really important to take adequate vitamin A to protect our vision.

B Vitamins

B vitamins include a group of 8 water-soluble vitamins called the vitamin B-complex. Vitamin B-complex has a very important role in energy releasing. One or more B vitamins are involved in every aspect of catabolic process, and provide energy to us by breaking down molecules through process. Vitamin B12 is one of the most important vitamins in this process. Vitamin B12 also has functions in the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. Good food sources of vitamin B12 are meat and dairy products. We also can choose foods that are fortified with vitamin B12.

All 13 vitamins are essential for our health, so it is important to follow the “My Plate” template and choose a wide range of foods to get enough vitamins, as long as they are not in any serious diseases or conditions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d–vitamin-d-deficiency-

 

Sustaining Your New Year’s Resolution

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By Jackie Ahern

It’s a little over a week into 2018: a perfect time to reflect on the successes and struggles of those pesky New Year’s resolutions we all seem to make. For those of you that have stuck to your goal of going to the gym more often, or eating more leafy greens, congratulations! Research has shown it takes 21 days to make something a habit, so you’re halfway there! For those of you that haven’t been so successful, you’re absolutely not alone.

New Year’s resolutions are tough. For one, there are a lot of expectations and hype surrounding becoming a newer, better version of yourself, al starting on January 1st (or the 2nd if that NYE party was a real rager); however, in reality, time is relative. There’s no difference between starting a new habit on January 1st or June 1st, other than those 6 months. Granted you live for at least 20 more years (here’s hoping), 6 months is a pretty small fraction. What I’m trying to say is that January 1st isn’t the end-all-be-all for changing your life for the better. If you aren’t able to stick to your first resolution for whatever reason, whether it be that it’s too expensive, too time-consuming or just too difficult to keep up, that’s okay. You don’t have to abandon the resolution; just modify it. When an engineer designs a building but it gets painted the wrong color, they don’t tear down the whole building. They just repaint it.

A good New Year’s resolution, or any lifestyle change for that matter, needs to be something you can see yourself being able to continue for the rest, or most, of your life. For example, I know I cannot completely cut out desert forever (have you ever had ice cream?) but what I could do is cut down on my portion size, or only have it a couple times a week instead of every night. Additionally as a student, working out every day at 7am isn’t exactly sustainable, but working out after class 3 or 4 times a week could be. If down the line you find yourself suddenly hating ice cream, or craving more workouts, you can definitely switch some things up, but in the beginning, its best to start small with more attainable goals.

So what is a good way to assess an attainable, smart goal? Well, there’s a convenient acronym for that. It’s called SMART: Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Specific refers to a clear definition of the goal, such as “I will take a 30-minute walk in the morning, 3 times a week” versus just, “I will get in shape.” Measurable means having a way to evaluate how thoroughly the goal has been met, such as marking exercise days on a calendar or keeping a food journal. Achievable means the goal must be within the realm of possibility; for example, “I will lose 1 pound a week” instead of, “I will lose 20 pounds this month.” Talking to a professional like a doctor, dietitian, or personal trainer can help to navigate how achievable a health-related goal is. Relevant refers to how much the goal fits in with your lifestyle and other pursuits. For example, while in school, a resolution such as “I will learn how to swim” may be more relevant than “I will learn how to scuba dive.” Lastly, timely means that the goal should have some defined checkpoint or endpoint, such as “I will eventually be able to meditate for 20 minutes by adding 5 minutes to my meditation every 2 weeks.” Of course, from there you can decide to modify the goal.

And finally… Think about where you were 3 months ago. If you had made just a small lifestyle change then, today could a very different day. With time flying by the way that it does, who knows where you could be in just a few months by taking a small step towards a healthier future, today.

I don’t have time…

 

 

you always have time

By:  Jackie Ahern, Nutrition Peer Counselor, Fitness and Wellness, UC Davis

“I don’t have time to…” fill in the blank with whatever old New Year’s resolution or healthy habit you’ve been wanting to implement in your life. Think: exercise, meal prep, take baths, or catch up with a friend. I find myself saying this a lot, meanwhile I somehow always find the time to binge watch Friends until 1 am, when really I should have taken the extra minute to floss. We’ve all been there.

So what does it mean to not have time? Is it that there really isn’t enough hours in the day to take a 30 minute walk, or cut up some extra vegetables for the week? When you do the math, there’s 1440 minutes in a day and 30 minutes is only 2% of that. This calls for a change in perspective.

Let’s talk about priorities. I’d like to challenge you to shift your way of thinking from, “I don’t have the time” to, “It’s not a priority for me right now.”

“I don’t have the time” is an absolute negative, where there is no possible way you could achieve this task and it is out of your control. It also removes yourself from the issue, ridding yourself from the responsibility of your own choices. It seems like an innocent enough mindset, but it is not a good strategy to live with intention.

Meanwhile, “It’s not a priority for me right now” is an acknowledgement of your own decision, that whatever you’re not doing (me personally: flossing) is a result of your own choices. This isn’t a negative thing, it’s an opportunity for self-reflection. You are in control of your priorities. Shifting your mindset in regards to your choices gives you the power to question if your current habits are your true priority. Ask yourself, is watching Netflix a priority over exercise? Is scrolling through social media a priority over cooking a balanced meal? If it is, great! If it isn’t, reflect on that and make a change.

With finals around the corner, studying will definitely be a high priority item for myself and other students; however don’t forget to make self-care a high priority as well. Take study breaks, fuel your body with good foods, and practice deep breathing if you feel stressed out. Good luck Healthy Aggies!

Making healthier choices eating out

eatout

By: Debbie Dang, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

As students trying to survive the brutality of the quarter system at UC Davis, we sometimes find ourselves having little time to cook during the week. This forces us to go out and buy foods that are fast and easily accessible. But how can we eat healthy AND optimize our time simultaneously, living this lifestyle? Here are 10 tips to achieve both!

  1. Check what is in the food you’re considering ordering

The first step to eating healthier is to scan the ingredients. Doing this will help you make a decision that supports your nutrition goals.  Keep choosemyplate in mind and look for entrees with a balance of grains, protein and fruits and veggies. If you can’t find one, order a side of veggies.

  1. Go with a plan

People tend to arrive at a restaurant or food joint without a plan. This increases the chance of buying impulsively. Looking at the menu ahead of time can help you decide on a healthier meal and decrease that risk of buying an extra order of fries! So, take a quick study break and peruse the online menu.

  1. Practice portion control

Restaurants will often serve two to three times more than what is considered a serving on their food label. Instead of eating that whole platter, ask the restaurant to box up half of the meal into a to-go box. Or if you’re eating with a friend, share a meal.

  1. Watch your fat intake

Many processed and restaurant foods contain saturated fat in order to increase storage life and enhance the taste and mouthfeel. Eating too many of these fats can increase your chances of coronary heart disease. Avoid eating more than 10% of your calories from saturated fats.  That would be about 22 gms per day maximum.  Sometimes this information is difficult to find at restaurants.  Beware of large quantities of fatty meats, cheese and butter.

  1. Minimize your sodium intake

Salt is used to reduce microbial growth and enhance the taste of foods, but eating too much can be detrimental to your health! A high salt intake can result in hypertension or high blood pressure. Limit your salt intake to less than 2,300 mg/day. When eating out, ask the restaurant to minimize the salt and use herbs and spices to add flavor instead!

  1. Skip the sweetened beverage

Sweetened beverages like boba milk tea or soda have a high sugar content, which can increase your risk for Type 2 Diabetes over time. Skip these sugar-laden drinks and drink water instead! If water is too bland for you, an alternative is to drink water that is infused with vegetables or fruit.  Most restaurants will provide a lemon wedge. 

  1. Substitute some items on your plate

Making simple changes by substituting foods with healthier choices can make a big difference in the long run. For example, when ordering a taco bowl at Chipotle, you can choose brown rice instead of white rice. Or instead of buying a side of fries, ask for a side of vegetables.

  1. Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets

It’s easy to fall into the temptation of all-you-can eat buffets. Eating at a buffet oftentimes invokes students to “eat their money’s worth.” But the foods at buffets are usually high in fat and salt. Overeating these foods may increase your risk for high cholesterol, hypertension, and heart disease! Take the opportunity to load up on veggies at the salad bar.

  1. Ask for sauces and dip on the side

Restaurants will often mix your salads or fries with the sauce for your convenience. Some of these sauces can make your healthy meal unhealthy! Asking for sauces on the side will help you monitor how much you use. 

  1. Practice mindful eating

It takes time for your body to send cues to your brain to tell you you’re full. Oftentimes distractions like your phone or favorite TV series may cause you to be less attentive to your body cues. This can lead to overeating. However, being mindful of your body cues will help you avoid this. To practice mindful eating, eat slowly and without distractions. Listening to how much your body actually wants will help you practice eating only until you’re full.

Try these tips the next time you go out to eat! Choosing healthier choices will be beneficial in the long run and help you take control of your life.

 

Oh crap.

poo

By: Monika Ax, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

Hey Healthy Aggies! I know you love reading about different health topics and learning new ways to improve your daily lifestyle, but today I’m here to talk about something a little more personal, and a little nastier…going number 2! It is something that EVERYBODY does (surprise), but for some reason, people are too shy to talk about. Doing your business is one of the most important things you can do in the day for your body. We need to poop every day to get rid of wastes and toxins! If you are continuously having trouble in the toilet, it might be your body’s way of telling you something is wrong in your diet or lifestyle. The average person goes to the bathroom 1-3 times a day (sometimes more if you’re lucky), and the health of your cycle can tell you how well your digestive track is working.

For those of you that struggle with a irregular cycle, do not fret! Ditch the coffee and laxatives, because I’m here to give you some tips and tricks that have been proven to get your digestive tract back on track.

Tip 1: Eat more fiber!

It is recommended that you get 25-30 grams of fiber a day from your foods. However, the average adult is only getting about 15 grams of fiber. Fiber is a weird nutrient because we don’t actually digest it, but it aids in getting your digestive tract flowing. Soluble fiber (oats, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans…) dissolves with water and helps lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Insoluble fiber (bran, lentils, vegetables) absorb water and bulk up your digestive tract, which helps to get things moving along. Try switching to whole grain products over refined grains, and consuming WHOLE fiber from fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils.

Tip 2: Drink more water!

Going off of tip one, it is important to make sure you are drinking enough water every day to actually get your GI tract moving. Otherwise, all the food/ toxins/ fiber will just get clogged up inside you. Water helps flush out toxins and push your stool right on out! Try drinking 8 oz. of water 30 minutes before a meal, and 30 minutes after. Avoid drinking water during meals because this can cause unwanted bloating!

Tip 3: Get more sleep, and keep a regular sleeping pattern!

Our bodies run on clockwork. For most people, certain times a day are associated with meal time. The same goes for our digestive tracts! If you are consistently getting enough sleep, and going to bed and waking up at the same time, your body and digestive tract will catch on to that. You will start to develop a regular bathroom schedule, as your body knows when it wants to go. If you throw off your sleeping pattern, your digestive tract will be thrown off as well. A well-rested body makes everything function better!

Tip 4: Get moving!

If you’re sedentary all day, it’s more likely that your tract will get backed up. If you get outside, jump around, run, or do any type of physical activity. It will help to get your engine running! Not to mention it will help you feel better all around. Try going on a walk first thing in the morning, or mid after-noon if you’re feeling a little bloated.

Give these tips and tricks a try! I can assure you that your body and gut will thank me later.

 

Grocery 101

Grocery BlogpostBy: Joely Zeng, Nutrition Peer Counselor, UC Davis Fitness and Wellness Center

As college students, finding the motivation and time to cook everyday can be a nightmare. Meal prep as you may know is a great option to solve this dilemma but do you ever think, how do I start? Or do you have an idea of what you want to cook for the week but are unsure of how to maximize your grocery shopping? Here are some tips on how to get started and to get the best bang for your buck.

  1. Plan Beforehand

Arrive at the grocery store with a plan in mind of what your menu is going to be. I always like to think that I can make up a menu on the spot if I see ingredients like on an episode of Chopped. But it ends up being a task that is unrealistic, time consuming, and can make you spend more, so stick to at least having an idea of what you would like to meal prep. Another method to save money is to think of or pick recipes where ingredients can overlap with other recipes. This means that you can either meal prep more than recipe or you can reuse the ingredients for a future recipe. Using seasonal produce in your menu for the week can also help cut down on costs as those ingredients are sold at cheaper prices because of large abundance.

  1. Make a List and Eat a Snack

Make a list of all the ingredients you need to purchase. I’ve definitely been a victim of going back to the same grocery store to grab an ingredient I forgot. Lists are not only satisfying to either check off or scratch off, but they’ll help prevent you from forgetting anything. Before you head out the door with your list also try to eat a snack. This will help you avoid buying extra snacks or foods you thought looked super appealing at the store. What’s even more dangerous is that when you’re hungry, the snacks or foods that are so attractive tend to also not be the healthiest like pizza or chips.

  1. Location Location Location!

Location is also something you should be thinking about when buying the ingredients on your list. Unfortunately not all grocery stores have the same pricing for ingredients. So let’s breakdown the available major supermarkets that you could possibly shop at in Davis and you can decide which one is the right one for you.

From my experience..

Trader Joe’s  

  • Cheapest produce
  • Great selection of prewashed and precut fruits/vegetables
  • Raw meats & cheese are a bit pricier
  • Missing name brand products

Savemart  

  • Cheaper dairy products (i.e. cheese)
  • Good selection of cheap sliced bread
  • Cheap raw meats
  • Produce is relatively cheap

Safeway

  • Expensive produce
  • Has the most coupons/sales
  • Convenience of being open 24/7

Grocery Outlet

  • Cheap produce, meats, snacks (basically everything)
  • Best-by/ Expiration dates very near on most products
  • Lack of variety

For the best results, mix and match to save the most money.

TLDR

To be efficient and get the most bang for your buck, plan accordingly and go to the grocery that best fits the specific ingredients. In addition, show up at the grocery store not hungry with a prepared menu in mind and list in hand.

Mysterious Secret InGredient: What is MSG?

MSG

Mysterious Secret InGredient: What is MSG?

We have a few notions about MSG. It’s salty. It makes an appearance in Asian cuisine. And it may not be good for us. But what exactly is it? Can we really experience side effects from eating it? And overall, could it actually cause harm so that we can never eat instant ramen and Chinese cuisine again?? HELP!

What exactly is MSG?

To explain it in a way that is not terrifyingly scientific, MSG or monosodium glutamate is a compound of glutamic acid (a non-essential amino acid) and a sodium molecule.

You can find glutamic acid naturally in foods like tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. MSG on the other hand, was manufactured by a University of Tokyo chemistry professor Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. The discovery of MSG, added to the four basic tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter with a new taste called umami. Umami is used to describe a meaty and savory taste like in a juicy cheeseburger hence the popular burger chain called UMAMI Burger.

What about Side Effects? How did MSG gain a bad reputation?

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome, or MSG symptom complex is a group of conditions some people report after having a meal that includes MSG. Symptoms reported included nausea, headaches, and numbness.

However, these symptoms were not reported until 1968 after a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine became popular. Ironically, a Chinese-American man, Dr. Robert Ho Man Kwok in the letter theorized that MSG was the culprit for his symptoms of numbness, general weakness, and palpitation after eating at Chinese restaurants. What adds to this interesting history is that MSG was actually quite popular prior to letter and not just in Chinese cuisine as it was heavily used in World War II to add flavor to bland soldiers’ rations.

Since 1968, studies have been done to confirm the safety of MSG as a food additive.

Harmful for my health?

The FDA has determined that MSG is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

Double blind studies have shown little correlation between MSG and negative symptoms. The amount of MSG you eat in foods is also typically a very small amount so it’s not likely to cause any problems. But pun intended, take this information with a grain of salt. Because those that are against MSG claim that MSG producers fund these studies (and skew results…), while those that are for MSG claim those that are anti-MSG are just instilling fear in the public.

TLDR

Studies indicate that MSG is generally safe for most people. There may be an occasional person who is sensitive to it. If that is the case, read labels and avoid foods with added MSG. In addition, the FDA’s designation for MSG doesn’t mean that other aspects of the ingredient, like the sodium level are not of concern. So even though MSG is safe, it does not necessarily mean no consequences can come from eating a spoonful of it everyday. But feel free to enjoy your instant ramen with MSG flavoring as a treat once in awhile!

Resources:

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20151106-is-msg-as-bad-as-its-made-out-to-be

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/its-the-umami-stupid-why-the-truth-about-msg-is-so-easy-to-swallow-180947626/