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Ask an RD- You've got questions? We've got answers!

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At Jamieson, we believe it’s important for Canadians to make informed health and wellness decisions, but we know that making sense of the endless amount of nutrition advice available can be overwhelming.

Whether you want to know more about diet and meal planning, understand more about the role of certain vitamins and supplements, are seeking prenatal or children’s nutrition advice, or even want to know when to take your vitamins, Registered Dietitian Michelle Latinsky, RD is here to help!

How does Ask an RD work?

Want answers? It’s simple. All you have to do is email your question to askanRD@jamiesonvitamins.com, and you’ll be notified if your question is selected. Each week, we’ll post a question and answer to this page and on our Facebook page. Your identity will be kept confidential. 

Everyone who submits a question will be entered to win a monthly draw for $100 worth of vitamins!

Got a question? Submit it to Michelle Latinsky, RD, at askanRD@jamiesonvitamins.com.

Disclaimer:

Ask an RD is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and should not replace the advice from your trusted healthcare practitioner. We do not provide any medical diagnoses or individualized health counselling.

You asked, we answered! Here are some of this month’s responses to some of your questions: 

Q: I notice that when the winter comes, it's hard to get motivated to get active and I get sleepy quite early on in the day. What are some tricks to help boost my energy and my mood in the winter months? - Stefanie L.

A: Try “mood foods”.  Carbohydrate-rich foods have a soothing effect on the body because they boost serotonin levels, the “feel-good” hormone that declines in the darker fall and winter months. Try a bowl of whole-grain cereal with milk, or soup with brown rice to help you cope when you’re feeling the winter blues.

Omega-3 Essential Fats. Fish is also an excellent mood food because it contains omega-3 essential fats that help balance emotions. Including two to three servings of fish in your diet every week may help ward off feelings of sadness and anxiety, especially common during the dark winter months. Try wild salmon grilled, poached or baked for dinner with a side of steamed vegetables and brown rice. If you’re not a fan of eating fish or can’t seem to consume it at least twice a week, take a purified omega-3 fish oil supplement daily.

Vitamin D. Limited sunshine during the fall and winter makes it difficult for our bodies to produce vitamin D, a nutrient which has been shown to have a positive effect on mood. While vitamin D is found in fortified dairy products and fatty fish, it’s difficult to obtain the recommended amount through food alone, so now is the time to start taking a supplement. Aim for 1,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily.  Taking a daily walk outside during daylight hours can also have a positive effect on your overall mood and energy levels.

 

Q: I always feel sluggish; what can I use to build up my energy? - Tina D.

A: If you regularly feel your energy levels are low and can’t figure out the cause, you may want to look into the possibility that you may have low levels of iron or vitamin B12. One of the eight water-soluble B vitamins, vitamin B12 in particular is responsible for everything from making DNA (the genetic material in our cells), to forming new red blood cells, and helping to convert the nutrients in the food we eat into useable energy. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin B12, you may feel fatigued, experience changes in mood, or suffer from a lack of concentration.
Iron is an essential trace mineral that has many important functions in the body. It forms part of hemoglobin, the pigment that carries oxygen in red blood cells to all parts of the body, and part of myoglobin where it supplies oxygen to the muscles. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when a lack of iron causes a decrease in the production of red blood cells. Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include tiredness, shortness of breath, lack of concentration, and impaired learning ability. This occurs because without an adequate number of red blood cells, the body is unable to carry sufficient oxygen to the tissues and cells in the body.

Talk to your healthcare practitioner about whether you may be deficient in one of these nutrients. Other lifestyle changes that can help boost your energy levels include getting more exercise, ensuring you are getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night and managing your levels of stress.

 

Q: I noticed that although I get an extra hour of sleep when the clocks go back an hour, I'm still tired and groggy in the morning and it takes me awhile to adjust to the change in my sleeping pattern. Do you have any recommendations for helping my body cope with the effects of Daylight Savings Time? - Diane R.

A: It is normal to feel groggy and tired for several days after the time change, as your body needs time to adjust. About a week before Daylight Saving Time begins, try getting yourself to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual.  After the time change, get as much exposure to sunlight as possible (even a 20 minute walk outside at lunch can make a big difference – and the exercise helps too!).

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the nighttime (which is then contributing to morning grogginess), you can also try a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone naturally secreted by a tiny gland in your brain. Melatonin’s role is to help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, or in other words, your sleep/wake cycle. When you first start taking melatonin, keep in mind that it doesn’t have an immediate effect. Ideally, you would want to take it at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime, and will need to use it for a minimum of 3-4 nights to help restore healthy sleep patterns and feel more rested.  Start with a slow dose such as 3 milligrams, before working your way up to a higher dose. If you find you are waking in the middle of the night, unable to get back to sleep, you may want to consider a time-released formula, which will release small quantities of melatonin over a period of several hours. Talk to your healthcare practitioner to ensure a melatonin supplement is right for you.

 

Q: Which vitamins would you recommend to improve my bone density? - Nadir N.

Calcium plays an important role in the formation and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. The risk of osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease, increases when the diet does not provide enough calcium. Osteoporosis generally strikes older adults, but it is a particular concern for post-menopausal women.  Daily calcium supplementation, along with regular weight-bearing exercise, can help to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.

Vitamin D helps to boost calcium absorption in the body. Theoretically, your body can make all of the vitamin D it needs from sun exposure. Unfortunately, many factors limit our ability to do so. For example, in northern latitudes such as Canada, sun exposure is limited during the fall and winter months from October to March. Sunscreen use, wearing heavy clothing, dark skin pigmentation, a cloudy sky and air pollution also reduce vitamin D synthesis. In addition, the body’s ability to produce vitamin D declines with age. These factors make it especially important to ensure that you obtain enough vitamin D in the diet and by taking supplements.

Magnesium provides additional support for healthy bones. One of the added benefits of taking it with calcium is that it can prevent the constipating effects of taking calcium on its own.

Other nutrients that play a supportive role in helping to maintain bone density include zinc and vitamin K, which can be obtained through food or supplements. Always talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine which of these nutrients is right for you.

 

Q: I heard that one should take calcium and vitamin D as a preventative measure against osteoporosis. How much should one take of each and should they be taken at the same time or at different times?  Also which type of calcium tablet (calcium magnesium, calcium citrate, or some other combination) should one take? And when is the best time to take the tablets, before a meal, after a meal, at bedtime, in the morning, etc? - Faye L.

A: Calcium and vitamin D both play an important role in osteoporosis prevention. Below are the guidelines from Osteoporosis Canada regarding how much of each nutrient you need to get each day.

Calcium Requirements (Osteoporosis Canada)

 

Age

Daily Calcium Requirements

(total intake from food and supplements combined)

19-50 years

1,000 mg

50+ years

1,200 mg

Pregnant or lactating women 18+ years

1,000 mg

 

Vitamin D Requirements (Osteoporosis Canada)

Age

Daily Vitamin D Requirements  

19-50 years

(including pregnant or lactating women)

400-1,000 IU

50+ years

(or younger adults at high risk, i.e. with osteoporosis, multiple fractures, or conditions affecting vitamin D absorption) 

800-2,000 IU

 

Calcium and vitamin D can be taken at the same time (in fact, many supplements contain both of these so you don’t have to take separate pills) or at different times. As long as you are getting the recommended amounts on a daily basis, calcium and vitamin D will work together to support bone health.

There are a number of different types of calcium available in supplement form. Two of the most common forms are calcium citrate and calcium carbonate. Here are some helpful tips to decide which form is right for you:

Calcium Citrate dissolves at a neutral pH, therefore it is better absorbed in individuals with low stomach acid (i.e. adults over 50, those who take antacids or proton pump inhibitor medication).  This form of calcium is easily absorbable, making it an ideal choice for people who want to take their supplements without food. It is also good for people who find regular calcium too hard on their stomachs because calcium citrate is easier to digest. However, calcium citrate has a lower level of elemental calcium (the amount of calcium actually available for absorption), so you need to take more pills to meet your calcium intake goals.    If the formula contains calcium citrate, it can be taken on an empty stomach at any time of day. If the formula contains calcium carbonate, it should be taken with a meal (both morning or evening are fine).

Calcium Carbonate contains a higher amount of elemental calcium, therefore you would need fewer tablets per day to meet your recommended intake. However, it needs to be taken with food for optimal absorption, and individuals with low stomach acid will have a harder time absorbing it.

Once you’ve selected the type of calcium that is best for you, you can then choose to take it in combination with other bone-building nutrients. Calcium is commonly found with vitamin D and magnesium. Vitamin D is needed to help your body absorb calcium. Magnesium also supports overall bone health; one of the added benefits of taking it with calcium is that it can prevent the constipating effects of taking calcium on its own. If your formula also contains magnesium, it is best to take it in the evening since magnesium also has a relaxing effect on your muscles and can help promote good sleep.

 

Q: What are the best joint support formulations for osteoarthritis? - A.Crawford

A: There are a number of formulations beneficial for people with osteoarthritis, so that you can experience healthy joints without side effects. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound in the body, a building block of cartilage. Supplemental glucosamine helps slow the development of mild to moderate osteoarthritis. By protecting and strengthening cartilage, glucosamine helps cushion and lubricate the joints. It also plays a role in preventing further joint damage, reduces inflammation and supports pain-free movement. Keep in mind that glucosamine can take up to eight weeks until you feel an effect, as it takes some time to re-build cartilage in the joints.

If you’re looking for a fast and effective supplement to reduce joint pain while supporting strong bones, Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM®) is an innovative ingredient that can do just that. NEM® comes from the thin membrane right between the eggshell and the egg, and it naturally contains the same nutrients that make up joint cartilage. By delivering these nutrients straight to the joints, it helps reduce joint pain and stiffness fast. You’d need to eat 12 or more eggs per day to get the 500 mg equivalent of NEM® found in Jamieson’s BodyGUARD™ Joint & Bone formula. And since bone and joint health go hand-in-hand, this ingredient, when combined with bone-building vitamin D, will help you get up and keep moving comfortably.

If you suffer from joint pain and stiffness caused by inflammation, a formula with anti-inflammatory herbal ingredients may be the solution for you. This type of formula provides a natural alternative to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, which can have negative side effects when used on a long term basis. Jamieson BodyGUARD™ Anti-Inflammatory contains curcumin (the main spice in curry!), ginger root extract and boswellia, all of which are safe and effective anti-inflammatory herbs.

Always check with your healthcare practitioner before taking any joint health supplement, particularly if you are currently taking pain medication.

 

Q: I am having a difficult time finding food to reach my daily protein count, which I have read should be 90 g per day at 30 g at each meal. If this number is correct, how do I eat to reach this? -Barbara O.

A: The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight). The RDA is the minimum requirement to prevent deficiency – so it is not to say that this is necessarily the “optimal” amount, and some evidence exists that a higher intake may be beneficial. If you’re at a healthy weight and not engaged in above average levels of physical activity/weight training, then aiming for 0.36 to 0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a reasonable daily target.

Here is an example of how to use the RDA to calculate your specific protein needs:

For a 140-pound woman:

140 lbs x 0.36 grams of protein per pound = 50.4 grams of protein daily.

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, nuts and beans are all good sources of protein. Try to include at least one source of protein at each of your three meals (plus 1—2 snacks) daily and you should easily reach your protein intake goal. 100 gram chicken breast has about 31 grams of protein, but if you’re vegetarian or trying to limit your meat intake, here are some simple and tasty ways to boost your protein intake:    

  • Start off your morning with a hearty bowl of oatmeal (¼ cup oatmeal = 3 g protein) and increase the protein content by topping it off with a handful of almonds (¼ cup almonds = 8 g protein)
  • Incorporate vegetarian sources of protein such as beans or lentils to make a heartier soup or salad at lunch (3/4 cup black beans = 11 g protein; 3/4 cup lentils = 13 g protein)
  • Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with some fruit makes an excellent mid-afternoon snack (3/4 cup yogurt = 8 g protein)
  • Turn a vegetarian stir-fry into a protein-rich dinner by adding sautéed cubes of tofu (3/4 cup tofu = 16 g protein)

 

Q: What are the benefits of taking Vitamin B12 and what is the daily dosage required? -Lauren D.

A: Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a member of the B Complex family. Some of the key benefits are that it helps your body break down the food you eat into energy that you can use, and helps form red blood cells in the body. If you are deficient in vitamin B12, taking it in supplement form can also reduce feelings of tiredness and weakness associated with that deficiency. Vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and fortified beverages. Those who may benefit the most from supplementation with vitamin B12 include vegetarians; adults over 50 (we produce less stomach acid as we get older, and stomach acid is required to absorb vitamin B12   from food); and individuals who are taking medications to reduce stomach acid.

Jamieson offers a variety of vitamin B12 products formulated with different strengths. Talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine the dosage that is best suited to your needs.

 

Q: I’m considering a vegetarian diet, but concerned I won’t get enough iron. If I take an iron supplement do I have to take anything else in order for it to be absorbed or work more efficiently in my body? - Ruth J.

A: Iron is a major mineral that helps form red blood cells, needed to carry oxygen throughout the body. One type of iron, called heme iron, is found in animal products such as meat, fish and poultry. Iron can also be found in non-animal foods such as dried fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. However, the form of iron found in these foods (called non-heme iron) is less absorbable than heme iron.  

Vitamin C can help to boost the absorption of iron. From a food perspective, you can increase the absorbability of non-heme iron by including a food source of vitamin C with meals – some good examples include adding tomato slices into a sandwich or adding some orange segments to a spinach salad. A vitamin C supplement can also help boost the body’s ability to absorb iron supplements. One other thing to keep in mind is that iron should not be taken at the same time as calcium, because calcium can inhibit iron absorption.

 

Q: I seem to get colds a lot. What is the best vitamin or supplement to ward off the common cold? -John W.

In addition to following a healthy diet, getting plenty of rest, and managing stress, there are a number of natural health products that can help you stay healthy and keep your immune system strong throughout the cough and cold season:

To prevent a cold:

Vitamin D. Nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D may help prevent colds and flu by boosting the body’s own immune defense system to fight off bacteria and viruses. To compensate for the lack of sunshine during the fall months (which limits the body’s ability to produce vitamin D naturally), be sure to supplement with 1,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily.

Vitamin C. Always a cough and cold “favourite”, a vitamin C supplement may help to shorten the duration of a cold and reduce the severity of your symptoms.

At the onset of symptoms:

Echinacea.  This is an herbal product that can help minimize the duration of cold and flu symptoms and alleviate sore throats. It is best if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, and works by increasing the production of infection-fighting cells so that your body is better prepared to fight off cold and flu viruses.   

 

Q: What is the best combination of daily intake supplements for women over 50 who are going through menopause? Thank you. -Patricia S.

A: During menopause, it is important to focus on symptom relief (e.g insomnia, heavy bleeding) as well as reducing the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease, which become significant health concerns for women in the post-menopausal years. Here are some natural health products that may be beneficial for women over 50 years of age:   

  • Vitamin B12 – A deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause disturbances in melatonin release, a hormone that regulates the body’s internal clock. If you are having difficulties sleeping, you may want to consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement. Good food sources are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, fortified soy beverages and breakfast cereals.
  • Iron – for heavy menstrual flow. Good food sources include lean beef, chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, legumes and enriched cereal. You will need 18 mg per day if you are still menstruating, and 8 mg daily after menopause.
  • Calcium & Vitamin D – these two nutrients are important for bone health and helping to prevent osteoporosis. For women over 50 years of age, Osteoporosis Canada recommends 1,200 mg of calcium daily (total from food and supplements) along with 800—2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
  • Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids from fish oil support cardiovascular health. Cold-water fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are rich in a special type of “healthy” fat known as omega-3 essential fatty acids. Two of these omega-3 fats, known as EPA and DHA, are key to regulating your heartbeat, reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. If you’re not eating two 3.5-oz. servings of fish each week, taking a purified fish oil supplement is a good way to ensure you are getting the omega-3 fats that your heart needs.
  • A multivitamin is a good foundational supplement because it provides key vitamins and minerals that many people may not be getting insufficient quantities in their daily diet. Jamieson 100% Complete Multivitamin for Women 50+ provides 100% of the daily required vitamin needs for women over the age of 50.

Q: Are multivitamins necessary for toddlers or children who do not eat fruits and vegetables? – Meetul S.

A: Vitamins and minerals are important nutrients children need for growth, development, and proper daily function. Although the human body synthesizes many vitamins and minerals, a number of these nutrients must be obtained from the diet.

Parents give their children daily multivitamins for a variety of reasons:  some do so to maintain or improve their child’s general overall health. Special consideration for multivitamin intake is given to children who are underweight (if the child is not consuming enough food, they may also be at higher risk of nutrient deficiencies), have food allergies, follow a restrictive diet (e.g. gluten-free, vegetarian), or have an illness that may place them at risk for vitamin or mineral deficiencies. 

Pediatricians may also suggest a daily multivitamin if a child has a poor appetite or erratic eating habits. While a multivitamin is certainly not meant to replace a healthy diet, it can act to supplement any gaps in nutrient intake that can occur when a child does not consume any foods within one particular food group (in this case, fruits and vegetables). Talk to your child’s healthcare practitioner to determine if a children’s multivitamin is right for them.

Learn more about Jamieson Multi’s for Kids: http://www.jamiesonvitamins.com/collections/multivitamins/kids

 

    Q: What is the best supplement for someone with sleep problems?- E. Frank

    A: A melatonin supplement is a good option for individuals who are having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Melatonin is a natural substance secreted by your brain when the surrounding environment is dark, gradually inducing a feeling of sleepiness. Exposure to light results in a rapid breakdown of melatonin and prevents any more from being produced. Melatonin plays a key role in our sleep/wake cycle and irregularities in its production can cause sleep problems, lethargy and mood disorders. Plus, melatonin does not have the same side effects of traditional sleep aids. 

    Jamieson offers melatonin in a variety of potencies and formats. Talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine which formula is right for you. 

    Learn more about Jamieson melatonin supplements here: http://www.jamiesonvitamins.com/pages/sleep-support-and-melatonin

     

    Q: What are the best formulations to take for joint pain and osteoarthritis? – A.C

    A: There are a number of formulations beneficial for people with osteoarthritis, so that you can experience healthy joints without side effects. Glucosamine is a naturally occurring compound in the body, a building block of cartilage. Supplemental glucosamine helps slow the development of mild to moderate osteoarthritis. By protecting and strengthening cartilage, glucosamine helps cushion and lubricate the joints. It also plays a role in preventing further joint damage, reduces inflammation and supports pain-free movement. Keep in mind that glucosamine can take up to eight weeks to feel an effect, as it takes some time to re-build cartilage in the joints.

    If you’re looking for a fast and effective supplement to reduce joint pain while supporting strong bones, Natural Eggshell Membrane (NEM®) is an innovative ingredient that can do just that. NEM® comes from the thin membrane right between the eggshell and the egg, and it naturally contains the same nutrients that make up joint cartilage. By delivering these nutrients straight to the joints, it helps reduce joint pain and stiffness fast. NEM® is the active ingredient found in the Jamieson BodyGUARD™ Joint & Bone formula, and you’d need to eat 12 or more eggs per day to get the 500 mg equivalent of NEM® found in just one capsule. And since bone and joint health go hand-in-hand, this ingredient, when combined with bone-building vitamin D, will help you get up and keep moving comfortably.

    If you suffer from joint pain and stiffness caused by inflammation, a formula with anti-inflammatory herbal ingredients may be the solution for you. This type of formula provides a natural alternative to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, which can have negative side effects when used on a long term basis. Jamieson BodyGUARD™ Anti-Inflammatory contains curcumin (the main spice in curry!), ginger root extract and boswellia, all of which are safe and effective anti-inflammatory herbs.

    Always check with your healthcare practitioner before taking any joint health supplement, particularly if you are currently taking pain medication.

    Also note: These supplements do not contain peanuts or tree nuts. However, the facility in which they are made is Not Allergen Free. If you have a nut or tree nut allergy, please consult with your healthcare practitioner to ensure that it is suitable for your needs.

    Learn more about Jamieson joint care products here: http://www.jamiesonvitamins.com/pages/joint-care-and-glucosamine

     

    Keep posted to our page as we’ll be adding answers throughout the month! Do you have a question? Send it now to askanRD@jamiesonvitamins.com.