February Newsletter


In This Issue
Beat the Winter Blues with Vitamin D
Is Collagen Worth the Cash?
Nutrition Energy
In the News!

Lauren Antonucci, MS, RDN, CSSD, CDE, CDN
Nutrition Energy

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New York, NY 10019

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Issue: #112 February 2020

Beat the Winter Blues with Vitamin D

Your alarm clock rings, it's still dark outside, and it's time to get ready for another workday. You quickly go through your morning routine, and rush out of your apartment, happy you remembered to grab your breakfast as you balance it in your hand and lock up.

After another long day at work, it's finally time to go home. It's 6:00 pm, and the sun is already fast asleep. Yet another winter day has passed. When the weekend arrives, and you are finally ready to spend time outside! However, when you get outside, you remember it's still cold out there, and very quickly either your children start crying or your fingers are frozen, and you head back inside, soon to be warming up with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

You are bummed you didn't get a workout in, but it was sunny outside, so at least you got some vitamin D right?

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

During the summer months, it takes approximately 15 minutes of direct sunlight per day to meet your daily vitamin D requirements. But, unless you are among the lucky snowbirds who get to migrate south for the winter, your body will struggle to absorb any vitamin D from your brisk winter (and all bundled up) stroll. Getting outside is still always a great idea; in terms of improving mood, and promoting cardiovascular health, but what about vitamin D?

Especially during the winter months, most of us need to rely on diet and supplementation to meet our vitamin D needs. You can pump up your breakfast with a fortified cereal, orange juice, or milk. And choose whole eggs and low-fat (not non-fat) milk as vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which requires intake of dietary fat for absorption. You might want to think about including a vitamin D rich piece of swordfish, salmon, tuna or sardines as well....or ! Get in the habit of taking a swig of cod liver oil each day until we are well into spring.

Now that we are on this topic, you might be wondering why we even care about vitamin D. One thing you might already be aware of is that Vitamin D helps calcium absorption in the gut, which in turn promotes bone growth and repair. Lesser known facts include that vitamin D is also used to regulate cell growth, strengthen your immune system, improve muscle recovery, and decrease inflammation. If these reasons aren't reason enough to increase your vitamin D levels, how about to prevent a common cold through the tough winter months?

I am sure the last thing you need is yet another case of the sniffles.

The reality is that 50% of people living in the northern hemisphere can be vitamin D deficient throughout the winter. Common signs of deficiency include muscle cramps, fatigue, joint pain, decreased immune system, and more. Since these symptoms are vague and can apply to almost every diagnosis you might google on WebMD, it's advisable to have your labs checked and speak with your doctor and/or a Registered Dietitian to determine how much YOU really need. As applicable, a health professional will prescribe an individualized vitamin D supplementation dose and duration. Just remember, in the case of dietary supplements, too much of any one thing can turn into something that does more harm than good.

*Side Note: The form of vitamin D that one gets through sun and food and sunshine will never result in toxicity.

In the end, if you are one of many people who do lack sunshine exposure during the winter months, it's time to turn to your diet and/or supplementation to fill in those gaps. Next time that you are rushing out to work with your breakfast in hand, consider making a breakfast sandwich with whole eggs, cheese and fortified bread, include sardines in your mid-day meal or salmon for dinner. If you are unsure of when you last had your vitamin D level, (or other important laboratory values for that matter) checked, please make an appt. with your MD to do just that, then bring those results in to your Dietitian here at Nutrition Energy for our clinical nutritional perspective on whether a vitamin D supplement, or any other dietary modifications would be right for you.

Is A Collagen Supplement Worth the Cash?

Who doesn't want healthy, ageless, glowing skin and pain free joints that allow us to run and move with ease? Advertisements and commercials for yet another expensive face cream or joint healing supplement are everywhere-but do you really "need" them?
Over the years, collagen has spread its wings from its start as an inject-able face filler, and has flown into the dietary supplement world. But, is collagen worthy of its new status, or should this supplement have remained grounded (and in the store, rather than in your kitchen!)?
First, it's important to understand the role of collagen in the body. Collagen is essentially the scaffolding of the human body, providing it both structure and strength. In fact, it's the most abundant protein in the body, and is predominantly found in the skin, tendons, bones, and joints. Unfortunately, we start to lose 1% of our body's collagen stores per year beginning in our 20's, and this increases to as high as a loss of 30% per year during menopause.
Before you start to panic and imagine the worse, keep reading and we will lay it out for you.
Collagen is used to help maintain the elasticity in your skin, prolonging the onset of wrinkles. It has also been found to reduce pain in athletes with joint pain. Previous research has found that recreational athletes with functional knee pain had significant improvements in their symptoms after 12 weeks of supplementation with 5g of bioactive collagen peptides (BCP). Additional research showed that collagen hydrolysate aids joint tissue repair and reduces joint pain in college athletes, after 10g of supplementation for 6 months. While it is not a "miracle cure," the research does show a decreased need for other pain management therapies with collagen supplementation. Sounds great-so now what?
Inspired to make 2020 your best running year yet, you head to your local supplement store, only to be overwhelmed by the endless shelves of different collagen supplements.
Do I want pills...powders...gummies?
Bovine...vitamin C...hyaluronic acid...bone broth?
Do I need type I...type II...type III...what are all these types?
You look around the store for help, only to see equally stumped faces of other previously excited customers comparing labels of different supplements. Frustrated by this entire process, you decide to leave this task for another day.
Rest assured, this will NOT happen to you. If you want to try a collagen supplement, we are help you avoid an overwhelming shopping experience. Follow these easy tips to find which product is right for you!
Step 1: Choose a peptide or hydrolyzed product!
The body does not digest collagen in its whole form. Talk about a money waster! Instead, opt for these already broken down forms of collagen, which are more easily absorbed.
Step 2: Skip the pills! Choose a powdered supplement.
While pills may be more convenient, the body struggles to break down those thick capsules. This means both slower and less collagen absorption, in comparison to a powdered product.
Step 3: Choose a collagen supplement that targets your needs!
While research is ongoing, much is already known about the different types of collagen. Use the chart below as a starting point to help you determine which collagen type might be right for you.
Collagen Type
Food Source
-Found in skin, bones, connective tissue, and cartilage
-May help wound healing and improve skin quality
-Egg whites
-Bone broth
-Promotes joint health
-Easiest to absorb through oral ingestion
-Bone broth
-Improves muscle structure and growth
-Supports skin health
-Aids with kidney function
-Egg whites
-Supports cell membrane formation
-Helps bone formation
-Egg whites
What if supplements aren't your thing or you don't want to spend the money on them-does that mean you will be missing out on radiant skin and strong joints?
            As food-first Dietitians, we say no way!
Your body makes collagen by binding different amino acids from proteins found in your diet. So choosing plenty of lean protein sources and also ensuring you consume plenty of foods rich in vitamin C, copper and zinc, will do the trick! To get what you need for these 3 vitamins and minerals you could eat 2-3 servings of fruits or veggies, including ¾ cup of shiitake mushrooms, and 4oz of lean beef per day.
Based on the available scientific studies, an appropriate dosage is seemingly 5-10g of collagen per day. Keep in mind, that as with many supplements, it may take a few months of consistent supplementation before you really notice any improvements. While more research is always needed, if collagen supplementation seems to be something that might be worth trying, you are now armed with the knowledge necessary to navigate the endless shelves of supplements, understand which foods can help you meet your needs, and are ready to decide what is right for you.

A Note from Lauren...

We're a few weeks into the new year - have you mad e the changes you've always talked about doing - or did they take a backseat again?  March is just around the corner and a perfect time to get back on track - and we're here to help!  Whether your goals are to lower your cholesterol, lose some weight, or train for a marathon, the Nutrition Energy Team is here to support and guide you! Our dietitians have experience in all areas of nutrition and will help you start the new year off right!

If you need any help with creating or altering a nutrition plan (or keep 2020 going in the right direction!), please contact us via email or call the office at 646.364.6803 to schedule a consultation and we will get you on the right track!

What are your 2020 health or fitness goals?  Tag us in your social media updates or let us know on Twitter  @NutritionEnergy , Instagram ,  or  Facebook !

Lauren Antonucci, Director
Nutrition Energy