Increasing Vitamin B12 Intake

Boosting Vitamin B12 Intake

Experts believe the recommended dietary allowance should be higher for vitamin B12.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines included vitamin B12 as one of the nutrients in which supplementation may be warranted for older individuals. Because many people over the age of 50 lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods due to a decreased production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, the guidelines recommend people in this age bracket consume a B12-containing supplement for B12- fortified foods because those sources don’t require stomach acid for absorption. The RDA is 2.4 mcg/day but some nutrition experts are questioning whether that amount is enough.

Normal ranges for B12 vary slightly among different labs and can range anywhere between 200 to 900 pg/mL. The general consensus is values less than 200 pg/mL constitute a B12 deficiency.

B12 screening typically now relies mainly on serum B12 values, one potential solution is to aim for a higher serum B12 level within the normal range.

Vitamin B12 food sources

The Benefits on Vitamin B12

B12 serves important roles throughout the body. It’s required for proper RBC formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. While neurological problems and certain anemias, such as Megaloblastic and pernicious, are the same the B12 deficiency, other possible health consequences may arise due to inadequate levels. These include the follow:

Cognitive Impairment

  • Research links B12 and brain function over the years. Declines in cognitive function can be a possible fore-runner to Alzheimer’s disease, a direct link between vitamin B12 levels and this disease’s development is lacking. Brain atrophy is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s theorized that higher B12 levels may modify risk.

Depression

  • A cause-and-effect relationship between B12 and depression remains elusive, but an association between intake and incidence of depression has been shown.

Osteoporosis

  • Vitamin B12 is important for aiding in osteoblasts and lowering blood levels of homocysteine, which may interfere with collagen cross-linking. Remedying B12 deficiency may be a factor in reducing osteoporosis risk.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The bottom line is that when RDs are counseling patients or clients, regarding their vitamin B12 status, advise anymore with blood level less than 350 pg/mL to take a B12 supplement or, at the least, a MVI  formulated for people over the age of 50. For all others, encourage them to eat routinely B12-containing foods, including at least some B12-fortified foods.

B12 comparisons

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RDs and Restaurant Opportunities

Exciting Restaurant Opportunities

Menu labeling laws are creating new jobs for RDs in nutrition analysis, menu development, and more. Despite challenging economic times, people are eating out more than ever.

Obviously, today’s eating-out scene isn’t what it used to be. It’s no longer an occasional treat. In fact, it’s become mainstream. Part of the reason is that reason is that restaurants are reaching more people in more powerful ways. Social media, big-batch couponing, and targeted marketing and advertising are wildly popular, and restaurants often promote nutrition and health-related messages.

Food is a competitive business, and restaurants stand out offering what people want. Weight-conscious consumers demand tasty, low-fat, low-carb, and low-calorie. Eco-conscious customers seek restaurants that promote social responsibility and sustainability and offer local selections. Health-conscious clientele ask for nutrition and allergy info as well as options for special diets such as low sodium, vegan, gluten-free, and oil free. In fact, according to a National Restaurant Association (NRA) survey of 1,800 chefs, health/nutrition, gluten-free/allergy-free fare, children’s nutrition, and healthful kids’ meals are among the 20 hottest restaurant trends of 2012.

The sky’s the limit for RDs in restaurants nowadays. Some of the most important roles RDs can play in the restaurant industry include providing nutrition information, developing menus for special needs customers, helping with food safety and label regulation compliance, and marketing.

Nutrition analysis is one of the many menu-consulting services RDs can provide to restaurants. Others include recipe creation, menu development, recipe makeovers for improved nutrient profiles, identification and development of selections that meet guidelines for specific diets and dietary restrictions, adaptation of recipes for health conditions, and assistance with increasing perceived healthfulness of menus.

RDs with strong culinary backgrounds are ideal for assisting restaurants with developing new flavor profiles and ingredient combinations while meeting calorie and nutrient targets, sourcing fresh/local or unusual ingredients, and even helping with food budgeting. RDs also can train staff on topics that bring together nutrition and culinary arts in unique and interesting ways.

Menu development is another new avenue for RDs in today’s food industry. Niche markets provide consulting opportunities for RDs, like identifying and designing gluten- and allergy-free menu options; developing low-carb or low-fat dishes; promoting healthful kids’ meals; procuring local, organic, or sustainable ingredients; and developing vegetarian/vegan fare.

Developing, defining criteria for, and implementing special dietary meal, such as heart-healthy choices, are other opportunities requiring RDs expertise. In some cases, programs with nutrition criteria already exist, and the restaurant simply needs help identifying and developing menu items that meet the criteria. One example is the NRAs Kids LiveWell program, which already has established criteria for its participating menu items.

Another critical area of opportunity for RDs in the restaurant industry is food safety. Becoming ServSafe certified is one way to get your foot in the door. RDs also can become involved with state-specific compliance measures with the department of health, front- and back-of-the-house food safety training programs, food allergen labeling, and food allergy protocol training, which entails the prevention of allergen cross-contamination.

Food Safety at its finest!

RDs with experience in public relations and marketing are valuable additions to restaurant teams. For example, experts in customer relationship management give restaurants an edge with the use of social networking tools and social influence marketing. Being the healthy voice of a restaurant can be accomplished through marketing materials, becoming a spokesperson, interviews, food demos, tastings, seminars, workshops, health fairs, lectures, and trade shows.

RDs are in high demand to help restaurants comply with menu labeling laws. In addition to providing soon-to-be-required nutrition information, like calorie counts on menus, menu boards, food display tags, and at drive-thrus, restaurants will need assistance understanding health claims, FDA legislation, requirements, exemptions, and recommendations. Chain food establishments, including grocery store cafés and convenience stores, as well as those managing vending machines soon need to comply with the laws too. These businesses may know less about menu labeling than traditional restaurants and will be receptive to RDs expertise.

Despite mixed study findings on the effectiveness of menu labeling on food choices and behavior and its influence on the obesity epidemic, no one can ignore the fact that people want nutrition information. They also want healthful, tasty, balanced meals. Smart restaurants appreciate the value that dietitians bring to the table and understand the importance of customer loyalty. For nutrition professionals to effectively sell their services to restaurants, they need to be armed with persuasive evidence that illustrates their value.

RDs make the perfect partners for restaurants that care about the accuracy and quality of nutrition information they provide. A restaurant needs to protect its credibility. Restaurant nutrition consulting involves a high level of skill, knowledge, education, experience, and responsibility, and RDs are the best fit to ensure that nutrition information is accurate and doesn’t mislead consumers. And if food labels or nutrient claims are involved, RDs are familiar with FDA regulations.

RDs understand the bottom line.

RDs know that a restaurant is a business, and businesses must turn a profit. They know that being sensitive to the financial challenges of restaurateurs is an important part of forging a successful working relationship. When setting fees, a little creativity and flexibility regarding bulk pricing, package deals, and other compromises may, depending on the situation, result in a win-win.

RDs are also aware that chefs are passionate about the tools they create and may be resistant to standardizing recipes and following guidelines that ensure consistency and accuracy in recipe analysis. It’s important to respect the need for creativity and agree on ways to retain the food’s high quality while providing accurate, reliable information.

As for nutrition professionals, there is no better time to explore career opportunities in the restaurant industry. Restaurateurs need our expertise on many levels to provide healthful foods and accurate nutrition information in creative, innovative ways during a time when obesity and chronic disease is at an all-time high. Without a doubt, our generation has to make a difference….

RDs can be in the most unexpected places in your favorite restaurant!

Prostate Cancer and Diet

Prostate Cancer and The Diet

So, recently one of my Dad’s best friends (which means he’s referred to as an Uncle), was diagnosed with stage 2 Prostate Cancer. So, naturally this was pretty hard news to handle, especially being so close to this family friend. I started looking into more information on the specific cancer and these are some things that I found…

Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor in the prostate, the male gland that produces fluid that makes up part of the semen. The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut. It is attached to the bottom of the bladder and surrounds the urethra. The growth and function of the prostate are controlled by male hormones, like testosterone. Prostate cancer is often slow-growing, and is sometimes present for years before symptoms appear. The five-year survival rate for patients with early diagnosis and treatment is close to 100%.

Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States after skin cancer. More than 200,000 new cases occur annually. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men, after lung cancer. Roughly, 27,000 deaths are attributed to prostate cancer each year.

The cause of Prostate Cancer varies. A man’s age, ethnicity, and family history are all risk factors that cannot be changed. Research is underway to clarify how risk linked to hormone levels, including testosterone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), may be changeable. Current research suggests that you can reduce your chances of developing prostate cancer by making healthy dietary choices.

Making diet and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of cancer. Research shows that eating a mostly plant-based diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular physical activity lowers risk of prostate and other cancers.

Experts suggest that some food choices may be linked to prostate cancer. Foods that probably offer protection against prostate cancer include:

  • Foods containing lycopene, an antioxidant. Lycopene is most commonly found in tomatoes and tomato products, and fruits like red or pink grapefruit, watermelon, and guava.
    • Lycopene supplements don’t necessarily provide the same health protection benefits as lycopene from food.
    • Foods containing selenium. This mineral is plentiful in Brazil nuts, seafood, meat, and poultry.

Foods that are a probable cause of prostate cancer are:

  • Foods high in calcium. However, as the evidence of cancer risk and diets containing cow’s milk, cheese, and other foods high in calcium seems to be in conflict with findings on other types of cancer, there is no recommendation to change how much you consume.