Vitamins: The Basics

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From cereal boxes to juice cartons, it seems like every food and beverage products is boasting its vitamin content. But what roles do vitamins play and why are they so important? Read on as we help decode some of the most common terms used in the vitamin world.

Essential Vitamins VS Non-Essential Vitamins

“Vitamin” which stems from the Latin word, “vita”—means life. They actually do not provide energy…but are crucial to life in the sense that they are needed to turn food into energy. Every vitamin is absorbed differently in the body. They fall into two categories 1) essential vitamins and 2) non-essential vitamins. They key differences between the two are found in the name. “Essential” refers to the fact that the body cannot make this vitamin (or rather, not an adequate amount that is needed for our bodies to carryout bodily functions) and “non-essential” refers to the body being able to synthesize it.

Fat Soluble Vitamins VS Water Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are only absorbed by foods with fat and thus adequate intake of dietary fat is very important to ensure proper absorption. Once the vitamin is absorbed, it is stored in adipose tissue, otherwise known as body fat, and the liver. Since we are able to maintain stores, we are less likely to be deficient deficient in these vitamins. On the contrary, we should be more cautious of our levels of these vitamins since it is possible to build up toxic levels. Note that consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables rarely leads to the build up of toxic levels. In most cases, people should be more cautious when taking supplements, powders or consuming fortified beverages.

Water soluble vitamins are directly absorbed by cells and if we consume them in exces, they will be flushed out of our system. Because we do not build up stores of these vitamins in our fat cells, water-soluble vitamins need to be restored more often.

The “Fat Soluble Vitamins”:

·      Vitamin A

·       Vitamin D

·       Vitamin E

·       Vitamin K

 

The “Water Soluble Vitamins”:

These are collectively known as the “B vitamins”:

·       Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

·       Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

·       Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

·       Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)

·       Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

·       Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

·       Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

·       Vitamin B9 (Folate or Folic Acid) —-***side note next blog folate vs folic acid?

And last but not least…

·       Vitamin C

 

Biggest Takeaway? 

Be sure to take your multivitamin with food. Vitamins and food work like a lock and key. If you don’t have food for the vitamin to “latch onto,” the vitamin will not get absorbed!

Wheatgrass

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Stepping into a juice bar or health foods store and you may see signs of “add a shot of wheatgrass” to any drink on the menu. With it’s dark green color, this superfood typically conjures a variety of expressions–from skeptical, grossed out, or intrigued! Read on to learn more about wheatgrass and if it’s as nutritionally beneficially as they say?

At first glance, wheatgrass may look like the same lawn grass that grow in the parks and your backyard, but there is quite a difference between the two. Wheatgrass is grown through a sprouting process. During this process, wheatgrass  develops the live enzymes and becomes a rich source of nutrients, which when consumed, enter the bloodstream quickly. Wheatgrass provides a natural, concentrated amount of vitamins, and nutrients, including iron, calcium. It is high in antioxidants, iron and chlorophyll. However, to date, it is important to know that there are very few studies that support a wheatgrass diet to be beneficial in curing or preventing diseases.

It is grown in soil or water and typically consumed raw. Because of these conditions, it is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Consuming wheatgrass juice is similar to eating other dark green veggies but as with many foods, depending on your health and dietary habits, wheatgrass could cause increased bowel movements, nausea or headaches.

A shot of wheatgrass is a quick way to gulp down your nutrients but it can also be added to juices or smoothies. Fresh-pressed wheatgrass oxidizes quickly, so gulp it down quickly to reap the most benefits. It is available in most health food stores and juice bars as  a supplement, planted trays, capsules, liquid extracts, frozen tablets, and even kits to grow-it-yourself.

New to Wheatgrass? Here are some tips for incorporating it into your meals:

  • Boost your smoothie/fresh-pressed juice with a shot of wheatgrass
  • Add wheatgrass powder to a protein drink
  • Mix wheatgrass powder into a soup or oatmeal

Pumpkinlicious

Tis the the season of pumpkin. Pumpkin is delicious and a great source of Beta Carotene and Vitamin C. So go ahead and try these pumpkinlicious recipes.

 

Pumpkin Hummus

 

Ingredients

1 15-ounce canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons tahini

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon lemon juice

 

Directions

In a food processor, combine ingredients until smooth and creamy. If hummus is too thick, you can add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency.

 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 102 Calories; 5.5 g Fat; 0.9g Sat Fat; 13.1g Carbohydrates; 2.8g Protein; 4.4g Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 306mg Sodium

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Ravioli

 

Ingredients

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

24 wonton wrappers

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Chopped parsley

 

Directions

Combine 1 cup pumpkin, 1/3 cup Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Spoon about 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten edges of dough with water and bring the 2 opposite sides together to form a triangle, pinching edges to seal. Place ravioli into a large saucepan of boiling water with 1 teaspoon salt and cook for 7 minutes. Drain in a colander. Place 1/2 cup broth and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in pan and bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6

 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 162 Calories; 5 g Fat; 4g Sat Fat; 22g Carbohydrates; 6g Protein; 2g Fiber; 17mg Cholesterol; 505mg Sodium

 

 

 

Pumpkin Enchiladas

 

Ingredients:

3/4 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 10-ounce can of red enchilada sauce

1 15-ounce can pumpkin

1cup black or kidney beans

Large bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 cup shredded cheese

5 ounces 0% greek yogurt

5 6” whole wheat tortillas

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté onion and garlic in a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Stir in enchilada sauce. Add pumpkin and stir until combined. Add cilantro, cumin and chili powder.  Spread a light layer of sauce on the bottom of an 8×8 or 9×9 pan. Fill tortillas with an even amount of sauce and beans. Roll tortillas and place in the pan with the folded edges facing down to keep them closed. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 235 Calories; 7 g Fat; 2.52g Sat Fat; 33.6g Carbohydrates; 12g Protein; 7.9g Fiber; 11.9mg Cholesterol; 604mg Sodium