Vitamin Breakdown Series (Part 4: Vitamin B3)

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Welcome back for week 3 of discussing another B vitamin. This week I focus my time on the third child of the B vitamin family, B3. Just because it’s the third B vitamin in the B vitamin family it doesn’t become any less importance than any of the previous B vitamins. Let’s begin to discuss how this vitamin became known to the world.

Background History: 

So this little vitamin was discovered by Conrad Elvehjem originally as nicotinic acid in meat and yeast in 1937. This vitamin was a critical discovery because it helped create a cure for pellagra as mentioned last week in discussing vitamin B2 (Riboflavin). Vitamin B3 is often used interchangeably with Niacin so don’t get be confused if you hear niacin more often. The recommended daily dosage to this vitamin is anywhere from 2mg for kids to up to 16mg for adults.

niacin-300x295Basics that are not so basic:

This vitamin is a water-soluble vitamin that is critical to our bodies as it can help reverse high cholesterol by boosting the good kind of cholesterol and lowering the bad type of cholesterol. Individuals with high cholesterol should know that taking high amounts of this vitamin might reduce your cholesterol  but one big side effect is that it can potentially lead to stomach and liver problems. For other users you would have to consume 2-6 grams per day to feel those kind of side effects, so don’t worry. Like other B vitamins, it is important for growth and it also impacts our nervous system. So that means it affects our brain, spinal cord, and sciatic nerve. So you wouldn’t want to be deficient with this vitamin.

Food sources for Vitamin B3:

Niacin is prevalent in many foods it just depends on the type of food you want to eat them in. This vitamin can be found in animal sources such as chicken, fish, and eggs. Or if you prefer to eat just fruits and vegetables, niacin can be found in avocados, leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, and asparagus. So be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables because at the very least you can be helping yourself win the cholesterol battle and ensure you are getting enough niacin in your system. Like always feel free to leave any comments you may have otherwise feel free to connect with me on twitter. 

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Picking Protein Powders

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In our fast paced society, eating the right food can be difficult if we are very often on the go. I mentioned before that supplements are the perfect complement to our food. One supplement that I consume from time to time is a protein shake. I definitely like to drink a protein shake right after the gym but I also find myself also drinking a protein shake when I know I will have a busy day ahead and might not have time to eat a healthy meal. But how do you know what kind of protein powder you should be taking? Well the answer is simple but you must determine what you value in your protein powder and what your fitness goals are because there are literally hundreds of choices for protein powders and they all vary slightly. So in this blog post I will discuss some of the main protein powders out there.

To begin you must know where your protein powder is derived from. Is it an animal sourced protein or a vegetable derived protein? This is perhaps a fundamental factor that you must consider. Animal sourced protein are perhaps the most popular and better known proteins out there but plant sourced proteins are getting more buzz especially around the vegan and vegetarian communities. So lets begin with animal derived protein powders.

Animal Derived Proteinvs

  • Whey Protein: This is probably the most widely used protein out there. This is derived from milk and can be made into many different flavors. I personally love this type of protein because it offers a lot of bang for my buck. Plus this type of protein powder helps build up my immunity. However, there are three forms of whey protein out there that should equally impact your decision in determining if this protein is right for you. Essentially, the three different forms of whey protein relate to the amount of processing used to make the protein and how much protein per unit it contains. The three forms of this protein are whey concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. I discuss two of the three below.

1. Concentrate: This type of whey protein still contains fat and large amounts of lactose since it is derived from milk. However, it is the least processed of all of the whey protein powders and is a little less expensive than whey isolate.

2. Isolate: This whey protein has little to no fat and little to no lactose and might be better suited for individuals who have more delicate stomachs or are trying to remove fat from their diets. Keep in mind that although this whey protein has more protein content than whey concentrate it is more heavily processed and will cost you more at the register.

  • Casein Protein: Casein protein is also referred to as milk protein since the majority of this protein is derived from milk and shares many similarities to whey protein. This protein also comes in a variety of flavors but the biggest difference between casein protein and whey protein is when they are absorbed and digested in our bodies. Unlike, whey protein where it kicks in relatively quickly after consuming it, Casein protein takes a bit longer to be absorbed. If we use the rabbit and turtle race analogy, whey protein would be the rabbit and casein protein would be the turtle because of the slow and steady pace at which it is absorbed by our bodies. This is why this protein powder is perfect for later in the day if you like to snack late in the evening because it will keep you full so you won’t have to binge eat late at night.

Plant Derived Protein

  • Pea Protein: So now we discuss plant based protein powders. You might be thinking why would I consider this kind of protein powder. Well for starters this is an ideal protein powder if you are lactose tolerant but also if you get bloating from either whey or casein protein powders. In particular, pea protein is derived from peas that might better suit a vegan or vegetarian diet. Plus this protein protein plays well with other drinks in case you you might want to mix it with other drinks. Additionally, this protein powder has a low amount of carbohydrates so for folks trying to cut out carbs from their diet, this is a good protein powder to use. Again it comes down to your fitness goals.
Pea-Protein-Powder
Pea Protein
  • Soy Protein: This particular protein offers 8 amino acids and is derived from the soybean. Like whey protein, soy protein comes in different forms: soy concentrate, soy isolate, and in a textured soy protein. Each one of these soy proteins offers its own benefits and downfalls just like whey protein. More importantly this specific protein can be hard to mask if you are trying to mix with other drinks but it can be done. I would recommend using your favorite fruits or peanut or almond butter to accomplish this.
  • Rice Protein: Who would have thought that rice had protein right? Well as it turns out it does! In fact this protein powder shares many of the same characteristics as pea protein. This protein is perfect for individuals that are considered about their fat or calorie intake as this protein powder tends to be low in these categories.
  • Hemp Protein: This protein source is perhaps the most widely used source of protein that vegetarians and vegans use. Unlike soy protein, hemp protein is easier to digest and it also has low fat content compared to other types of protein powders specifically any concentrate powders. Some other advantages this protein has is that it contains no soy, dairy, or artificial flavors. So you either like the flavor or you don’t.

It doesn’t matter if your new to protein powders or if you’re a protein junkie like myself figuring out what protein powder can be difficult to determine. Hopefully, I have pointed in the right direction so you at least know what protein powder would work well with your body and be consistent with your fitness goals. I strongly recommend you sample a protein powder from each different type before finally settling on your favorite protein. Personally, I have tried them all of different brands and I would say it was a good experience to have. I highly recommend for everyone to do it too! Remember that selecting the type of protein powder is only one factor to consider when selecting your next protein powder. Other things to consider are flavoring, sweeteners, and other ingredients that are mixed in with the protein powder. Feel free to share below which type of protein powder you are currently taking and if you would recommend it or not.  

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Vitamin Breakdown Series (Part 1: Vitamin A)

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What do Vitamin A, retinol, and beta-carotene all have in common? They are all the same thing! I don’t know if you have ever had this feeling I am about to explain. It’s a feeling of receiving too much noise and clutter over the newest health claim. Specifically, I am talking about receiving constant bombardments of ads, commercials, and statements daily regarding why you should have more of a particular vitamin, mineral, or antioxidant, in your body.

Personally, it can get overwhelming. I have to admit that it can make you feel like you’re not doing anything right in regards to your diet and what you’re eating. This is why I am creating this vitamin breakdown series where weekly I will summarize all that you need to know about a particular vitamin.  My intention is to provide you with helpful information that can help you determine what vitamins, minerals, or other necessary supplements are lacking in your current diet.  This isn’t meant to be negative rant towards any particular group, community, or entity but rather as another way of delivering basic information without having an interest on what you decide to eat or not eat. So let’s get to it.

Background History:

This vitamin got its name after Elmer McCollum performed studies to determine why someGut-bacteria-to-battle-vitamin-A-deficiency-Could-probiotics-be-modified-to-produce-beta-carotene_strict_xxl essential nutrients were missing in mice and he referred to these as components as factors A and B. This would later be result in the naming this compound as vitamin A. The reason it picked up the named retinol is because of its huge impact it has on our ability to see.

Basics that are not so basic:

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which literally means it gets stored as fat throughout your tissues in your body. This a good thing because our bodies can store vitamin A for a rainy day. This storage occurs primarily in our liver but vitamin A actually gets processed in our small intestine. We should care about this vitamin because it helps with our eyesight as previously mentioned, growing healthy tissue, and keeping a healthy skin among other reasons. The bad news when it comes to vitamin A is that there is such a thing of having too much vitamin A. Having excess vitamin A can lead to hair loss, upset stomachs, and headaches among other more serious side effects down the road.

Food sources for Vitamin A:

Vitamin A is abundantly found in many fruits and vegetables. Some vegetables with high sources of vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and spinach. Fruits with high vitamin A content include apricots, cantaloupes, mangoes, cherries, and watermelon. This gives you the perfect reason to get your vitamin A through different fruits and vegetables.  Eggs and in milk products also are good sources of vitamin A.

Hopefully you learned something about vitamin A that you might have not known already. After reading this do you think you are getting enough vitamin A? Feel free to comment below, share with your friends and family, or follow me on twitter. 

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Supplements are Complements to your Food

 

Itumblr_l6b37l3Q6E1qa5a9kn a fast paced society, like today it can be difficult to do many things like finding a good place to eat without having to sacrifice your diet. What can be even harder to find is the right supplements that can complement your food. I will share with you the questions that I asked and that you should also ask about every supplement before you buy and begin to use them.

So before I list the questions that I asked when I did my supplement research I think its appropriate for me to share why you should take supplements of some kind and why I decided to take supplements.

So why should you care about taking supplements? Well for starters, the food that you are eating everyday does not contain as many of the nutrients they once did. This is due to our food containing more pesticides than ever before, the soil not containing as many nutrients as it SupplementPillonce did, and the cooking method can also release many of the nutrients within our foods. These are all different factors that affect the quality of our food today. Secondly, do you really eat all your vegetable and fruit servings per day? I would find it hard to believe if I were to walk up and down a random street in America and find an individual that has had all their fruit and vegetable servings for the past day let alone a week. Supplements just help fill in the blank on lost or missing nutrients that our bodies need.

Personally, the reason I decided to take supplements was when I heard that the United States and Mexico were “the two fattest countries” back in 2013. This statement definitely peaked my interest, as I have lived in the United States my entire life but my ethnicity is that of Latino with Mexican-American parents. Reading that statement had a profound impact on me, that I began to research ways so I would not become part of that obesity statistic. In doing that research, I came across supplements and that turned into a research project in itself. I now share with you the due diligence I did by giving you a starting point on the questions to ask.

I found these set of questions to be helpful in determining and filtering what supplement was right for me. Please keep in mind the supplements that worked for me might not be the best supplement for you based on previous medical conditions, physical activity, fitness goals, and other life style factor. Here are the 5 questions, I started my research with. Are-supplements-necessary-226x300

1. What is the best form to take this supplement? Pill, powder, or in liquid form?

2. Where is the supplement manufactured in?

3. Do I really need this supplement? If so, what are the benefits to the supplement?

4. What are some of the best brands out there for each supplement?

5. Are there any side effects or consequences to taking this supplement?

At minimum, I highly recommend you ask these questions about every supplement you might take. These questions should serve as a guide in selecting the right supplement for you. Although, I didn’t mention price as a question that I was concerned with, I didn’t believe back then and I don’t believe now that price should be a factor in why you decide you should or shouldn’t take a particular supplement. The way I look at my health is that I would much rather make tiny investments in my body for the rest of my life instead of making a last-minute effort to fight for my life when it might be too late. What supplements are you currently taking? Would you recommend that supplement you are taking? 

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How to Breakfast Right!

 

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Muffins, eggs, and orange juice. What do all of these foods have in common? One word: breakfast! In my last blog post, I discussed how eating breakfast can literally be saving your life. I also mentioned that I would be offering simple tips on how to incorporate this important meal into your everyday life. Keep in mind these tips I am about to share are simply the habits that I have created for myself. They have worked great for me and my morning routine and hopefully they work for you as well.

1. Always start your morning with a glass of water. It’s important because you have to think about the last time you drank something. Most of the time this occurred the night before and chances are it wasn’t water to begin with. Not only is your body dehydrated and craving some water but a glass of water can help determine how much you eat for breakfast. I discuss this later in tips 3 and 4.

2. Eat the foods that you like to eat during this meal. Yes, this includes eating the bad food too. The reason I say to eat anything is because you have to get yourself accustomed to eating this early in the morning. This is especially important for those who don’t eat anything until their mid morning snack or by lunch and by then its too late. Eventually, you will  filter out the unhealthier foods out of your breakfast meal but this shouldn’t be done in the first step. Otherwise, you still might dread breakfast the way you dread going to the dentist.

3. I believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So why not start with the correct portion size for your breakfast? I know that you’re probably thinking Juan, you just said in the previous tip  that I could eat anything. That is very true, I did say that you could eat any food but I didn’t say to eat unlimited portions of the food you’re about to eat. After all, we don’t have bottomless pit as stomachs. This might be the hardest part for some individuals like it was for me but when you have control of your portions during breakfast you will have control of every other meal for the rest of your day because you set the tone with your first meal. This leads to my next point.breakfast-buffet

4. It’s called BreakFAST not BreakFEAST. I alluded to this in the previous tip but most of us have an image of a sit-down breakfast meal like you would find at any restaurant. There isn’t anything wrong with that but this isn’t realistic to think you will always have that kind of meal in the morning. Breakfast is meant to give you the proper nutrition to get you ready for your upcoming day and not bloat you up and make you feel so full that you want to go back to bed.

488175_282682185173793_1460523613_n 5.  Take the time to shop around for your favorite fruits at your local grocery store. This is my favorite time of day to eat fruits because they are not heavy foods and won’t upset your stomach. Plus each fruit has its own unique perks and reasons for why you should be eating them. Personally, for me this was when I discovered how much I actually loved fruit.  If you’re serious about breakfast, I dare you to try to eat a different fruit a day. It sounds hard to do but its quite fun and entertaining way of eating your fruit because each day can be different. After trying this a few times you will get a great sense of what fruit preference you have. And if you ever get bored of a specific fruit you are always free to make a change for a new fruit.

 6. Another key reason why fruits are important is because they are also a great way to make smoothies and shakes. There are some key differences between frozen and fresh fruit but the the biggest takeaway is that you’re having breakfast on the go. I highly recommend this for everyone to try because this is something you can prepare the night before and still have it taste amazingly fresh.

7. The last tip I can give is to simply imagine of all of the different food options you can have for breakfast. With eggs alone you can have them scrambled (my preference), eggs over easy, sunny side up, hard boiled, or perhaps in an omelet. Now toss that in with your favorite fruit and a small glass of your favorite milk or juice and you’re off to the races to a great breakfast.

Now you have some tips on how to enjoy breakfast daily. You don’ have an excuse on why you can’t make time to enjoy this meal. Trust me, I have definitely skipped some breakfasts myself but I pride myself on eating this meal daily because you don’t know when you will be free in your day to eat again. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or post any questions or comments you may have. 

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