1/7/08 - 1/11/08

January 11, 2008

The Benefits of Vitamin C

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It is a beautiful Friday, sunny and comfortable. Just the right type of weather for a good walk, run, bicycle ride or other exercise. I plan to get in a good walk immediately after work. I am already looking forward to the time change so that we actually have some sunlight to enjoy after work.

There has been a lot written about vitamin C and how much of it our bodies need. We all learned in school about the relationship between vitamin C and scurvy. Sailors learned that if they ate oranges and lemons, they could avoid scurvy. They didn’t know why because vitamin C was not isolated until the 1930s. They just knew it worked.

Oranges and other citrus are an excellent source of vitamin C. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University has tons of information about vitamin C, which I have been reading. It almost makes vitamin C sound like a wonder drug. In addition to being an antioxidant, as we discussed earlier this week, vitamin C seems to play a role in the structural component of blood vessels, ligaments and bone. In reading through the information about vitamin C, I was amazed at how vital this vitamin really is. But just how much is enough? And is there too much of a good thing?

One of the recommendations was that adults over 19 need about 90 milligrams per day for males and 75 milligrams for women. Apparently, women can get off easier. Most of that amount can come from diet. For example, ¾ cup or 6 ounces of orange juice contains about 75 milligrams of vitamin C. A medium orange contains about 60 milligrams. A half cup of my favorite vegetable, broccoli, contains about 58 milligrams. Some people are convinced they need to take massive doses of vitamin C. But there appear to be some potential problems with large doses, such as a risk of kidney stones. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, a tolerable upper level of vitamin C for adults 19 and older is 2,000 milligrams per day.

Since I’ve had a kidney stone and do not wish to have another one, I definitely keep the vitamin C level safe. I take a multiple vitamin that contains vitamin C. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends a vitamin C intake of 400 milligrams per day. I’ve adopted this as my target and think that with my multiple vitamin and good nutrition planning, I get enough vitamin C without getting too much.

I would consult your local dietitian and verify this information before getting too carried away with vitamin C intake.

On Monday, I have a real treat for you. One of our AgCenter people has a wonderful story to tell about her weight loss journey. Our guest blogger, who will remain a mystery until Monday, will wow you with her accomplishments.

Have a great weekend.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Vitamin C is one of those nutrients that has been researched quite a bit and has had ups and downs throughout its recent history. Initially, when Vitamin C was garnering a lot of attention, it was thought that many diseases could be cured by high doses of vitamin C. Today, we know that it is essential in human nutrition; we know what the food sources are; and we know what its functions are. It is still under research to see if high doses can offer additional benefits under certain conditions.

It is recommended that we keep the intake of vitamin C at a fairly constant level over time. It is not a good idea to take high doses for some time and then stop. The reason is that the body adapts to the high levels of vitamin C. Once the supplement is withdrawn, as in the case of an individual running out of supplements, the person can actually have deficiency symptoms at higher than normal levels. Research shows that there is no additional advantage at higher than 400 milligrams a day.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and can help delay and prevent many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Vitamins C and E actually work together in removing free radicals from the body. It is easy to obtain adequate levels of vitamin C from the diet. A diet high in fruits and vegetables can easily lead to an intake of 200 milligrams a day or more. Citrus fruits and juices are the best sources, but strawberries and tomatoes are some of the best sources too. All berries and fruits and vegetables of the cabbage family are excellent sources of vitamin C.

Heli Roy

January 10, 2008

The Obesity Epidemic

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Today I was going to share with you some statistics about obesity and diabetes. However, one of the good things about blogging is that I can change my mind at will. Today I have chosen to do that.

We received a response from a mother desperately seeking help for her son who is very overweight. To protect their privacy, I will not divulge names or where they live. When I read the various messages we received from the mother, it struck a chord with me about the real purpose of this blog. Although it is nice to tell about my daily travails in trying to live a healthy lifestyle, the purpose of the blog is to reach people like this family and see if we can’t provide guidance and help. I wish more parents would seek help for their children!

Just how many more cases like this are out there? Each of our parishes has agencies that offer assistance. We know that obesity is epidemic in our state. What is it that we are missing in reaching the people who need the assistance? The impact of obesity and its relation to chronic diseases is well-documented. This story I mentioned above has provided me even more motivation to make this blog as effective a tool as I can to reach as many people as possible and get as much help to as many as we can. I will not give up my personal struggle (not really a struggle when compared with this young man’s struggle) and will not back off from writing about the obesity issues that our state faces.

I found out this morning that our readership is picking up after the holiday break. We had 300 return readers, 1,309 page views and 988 unique visitors. Can you imagine what would happen if those 300 return readers decided to take on the obesity issue in our state?

Bill Richardson

 Nutritionist's Response

This is the response to the mother mentioned above.

I would recommend that you first approach your pediatrician and discuss your concerns about your child's weight with him or her. I would discuss this when your child is not in the room with you and the doctor. Bring up your concerns and ask for additional tests if the weight gain is due to a medical condition. If the excess weight is not due to a medical condition, ask for a referral to a local dietitian. Most large hospitals have a dietitian on staff.

Be prepared to change the whole family's lifestyle: food preparation and eating habits, exercise habits and free-time activities. Think about how you are preparing your meals and if there is a way to make them healthier. You may need to remove a TV from your child's room, monitor the hours spent playing video games and make sure your child has possibilities for physical activity around and near the house. Check about installing a basketball hoop. Does he have a bike? Find out about available group sports in your town and engage in active weekends with the whole family.

Below are some links to help you get started with healthy meals:

Heli Roy


January 9, 2008

Desire For Lifestyle Change

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Is this refrain still ringing in your ears? “Should auld acquaintance be...” It’s been a week since that song faded away, and we now face the realities of returning to work, trying to find out where we wrote down those resolutions and testing the resolve of our nutrition and exercise commitments. The health clubs were full the first week and already are starting to thin out. We realize that maintaining our pledge to a healthy lifestyle does indeed mean we cannot return to former eating patterns. We struggle with our inner motivation to stick with it. To me this is the most challenging time of the year as you make decisions to improve yourself. Now you come face-to-face with maintaining the course. What motivates us to keep with it?

I’m not about to give you a primer on motivation. The fact that you’re reading this blog indicates you have the skills and ability to study motivation and draw your own conclusions. Like many of you, I have started and stopped diets and exercise programs more times than I can recall. In the ’70s, I got involved in the running craze, lost 30-40 pounds and ran thousands of miles. In the ’90s, I got too busy and stopped exercising consistently but maintained poor eating habits and gained the weight back. So why now did I decide to get serious and stop kidding myself that some magic “pill” would come forth and solve the nutrition and exercise issue all of us face? Eating right and exercising are things no one can do for you. We have to do it ourselves and be motivated to stick with it – for the long haul.

I was motivated by starting to think about the things that came out of my own mouth as I went about my daily life and work. Be honest about the approach you take with issues. Provide leadership to your organization, truth in advertising; i.e., do what you say you are going to do. And, finally, make things happen. Also, I had to face the fact that I was not 30 anymore, and my health was now a real issue. My personal focus was a burning desire to live my remaining years in as good a state of health as possible. I want to take advantage of the health blessing that I as an individual have been given. Finally, it was time to stop talking about it and do something about it. I wanted to look better, feel better and do all the things that a healthy person should and could do. I will not give up. Period.

What motivates you? What makes you decide to make lifestyle changes and stick with them once started. These are the tough days as the newness wears off. As we face the issues together, please pass along to me how you plan to deal with the realities of lifestyle changes. I’ll pass along those suggestions to the other readers. See elsewhere on this page how to post a comment.

In the next few weeks, we will have some guest bloggers share with us their personal struggles and the life-altering changes they undertook – how they succeeded and how they overcame obstacles.

Hang in there. I, too, have had my difficult days but am making sure that if I take one step back, I take two steps forward. 2008 will be the year that I turn the corner and never return to the overweight, unhealthy lifestyle.

Tomorrow we will discuss diabetes and obesity. Our state has a real challenge on its hands.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

We all have our own personal motivators. When things get tough and I don’t see the results I expected, I turn to quotes to keep me motivated. Sometimes I simply tape one on my refrigerator. Below are some of my favorites:

  • "Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after another." Walter Elliott

  • "Consider the postage stamp; its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there." Josh Billings

  • "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." John Quincy Adams

Dig deep and find out what will help you persevere in your quest for a healthy lifestyle. What motivates you? Post them to this blog. Others will benefit!

Denise Holston


January 8, 2008

Amazing Antioxidants

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What a wonderful evening! Not only did I squeeze in an intense and satisfying workout on the treadmill, but the Tigers came through and capped off a rather cardiac season with a win in the big one. You know you are taking football too seriously if you know how many days before the opening game this fall. If you know the hours and minutes in addition to the days, you might need to seek help. Seriously, congratulations to the Tigers for a wonderful and historic season.

There has been a lot written and a lot of discussion about antioxidants. I surfed through the LSU AgCenter Web site and found some interesting information. Antioxidants are substances that may help with prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease. We hear that a lot, don’t we? It seems antioxidants protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. I found this information in a fact sheet published by the National Cancer Institute. In like manner, the American Heart Association has a fact sheet on antioxidants. Examples of antioxidants are Beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E and A, and some other substances. When I looked over the list of foods that naturally contain antioxidants, I saw a who’s who of fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat products. I would assume that if you follow the type of nutrition plan that we have been recommending and that I am attempting to follow, you will get your fair share of antioxidants. So should I take supplements? The scientific data don’t seem to support consuming more antioxidants than are found in fresh fruit and vegetables.

I do take vitamins. And the more mature I become (notice I didn’t say old), I think I need to make sure that my body is getting the nutrients it needs. While I have become diet-conscious with this blog and nutrition plan that I am following, I haven’t always been so and have used vitamins to fill the void. I know that it is not scientific, but it seems to work. I’ll let the specialists analyze my nutrition plans and see if I’m getting what I need. You might want to do your homework and see if you come to a similar conclusion.

Tomorrow I want to expand on what motivates us. Why start eating healthy, exercising and generally improving your lifestyle? What motivates us?

I am also contacting some guest bloggers to share their views with you.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response
As the chancellor pointed out, antioxidants are substances that remove free radicals from our bodies. Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that form during regular metabolism. Free radicals are also created due to sun exposure, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, drugs and other substances. Our bodies have several mechanisms for keeping free radicals in check because levels too high can lead to cancer and other chronic diseases. We have both water-soluble and fat-soluble antioxidants so no matter where in the body free radicals form, we can eliminate them. Water-soluble antioxidants are vitamin C and zinc. Fat-soluble antioxidants are beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamin A and vitamin E.

There are many different forms of vitamins A and E in foods, and studies of just one or two forms of vitamins A or E supplements have not proven to be effective in reducing chronic diseases. In fact, the reverse was true. Just supplementing one form of vitamin A was found to increase the risk for cancer in a large-scale study.

Therefore, it is important to eat foods that have a natural mixture of antioxidant vitamins in them rather than take a supplement to get the maximum effect. It may be that there is synergism among the different forms, and isolating just one or two is not as effective as the complete mixture of forms found in foods. Good sources of beta-carotene are dark orange and green vegetables. Lycopene is a type of carotene, and tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene. Vitamin A can be obtained from liver, dairy products and eggs. Vitamin E sources include vegetable oils, nuts and green leafy vegetables. Protein foods are excellent sources of zinc – such as beef, pork, chicken – but also peanuts, peanut butter and legumes are good sources of zinc.

The best way to get an adequate amount of antioxidants is to eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables and avoid the things that cause an increase in free radicals such as excessive sun exposure, cigarettes and alcohol.

Heli Roy


January 7, 2008

Still On Track

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Tonight is the big night for the Tigers. My personal prediction is LSU 28 – OSU 14. Geaux Tigers!

The baseline numbers are in and on track. I survived the month of December which offered several challenges for a nutrition-conscious person. First, the Chancellor’s two-day duck hunt filled with an abundance of duck camp cuisine. Then the holiday season and all those New Year’s things. I have to say I am pleased with the outcomes.

I did the weigh-in and DEXA test on Friday. I was down 2 more pounds making it 21.5 since the start of the program on Oct. 1. My percentage body fat dropped a little as well. I also lost another half inch in the waist. Given the December challenge, I feel good about that result. To summarize, 21.5 pounds, 3.5 inches in the waist and a BMI now below 30.

I also got the results of the blood test, and again things were good. The total cholesterol, however, was up 5 points to 173, and the other LDL, HDL and triglycerides were all in acceptable ranges. I did note, however, that the HDL/LDL ratio was not where it should be. Mine was a ratio of 4, and it is recommended that the ration be 3 or less. What this means is that I need to get my HDL higher and the LDL lower. I am giving the specialists an update on the food log, and we can then make adjustments as recommended. If you recall, my total cholesterol has dropped from 206 to 173 since starting the nutrition and exercise program. My initial LDL was high – about 135. It fell the first month to 114, and now is 104. Things are going in the right direction. The HDL, however, has remained mostly constant in the 37-44 range. The ratio was 5 in the first two blood tests and 4 on the last one. It is going in the right direction, and maybe with nutrition and exercise discipline, I can report a ratio at 3 or below in February.

Another challenge in December was maintaining the consistency and intensity of my exercise goals. Recall that the goal is 4-4-4, or exercising four times a week on the treadmill at level 4 for 40 minutes. While I stayed at level four and for 40 minutes, I was a little under the four times a week. Fortunately, January will give me the opportunity to get back on track and get in four workouts per week.

My layman summary is that the nutrition changes I have made are smart choices and the increase in consistency and intensity of my exercise program is working. The recommendations that comprise the smart choice program advocated by the LSU AgCenter when followed will achieve the desired results.

One of the things I have been reading a lot about recently is antioxidants. Tomorrow, we will explore this area and determine if I am meeting the needs for antioxidants.

Watch all the chip/dip and other junk food tonight! Let’s win the big one!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

The results are in. After only three months of sticking to his exercise and diet plan, the chancellor has continued to improve his health. Here are his latest numbers:

Desirable range

Body mass index (BMI)


25 - 29.9

Waist circumference


< 40

Percent body fat


< 25

Total cholesterol


< 200

HDL cholesterol


> 60

LDL cholesterol


< 100 - 129

What an inspiration! He’s lost more than 21 pounds, half of which was pure fat. And the chancellor accomplished all this through the holidays! He told me that December was tough, but that he had still managed to exercise 10 times and was able to maintain his 2,200-calorie diet put together by the LSU AgCenter nutritionists. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you stick to your goals.

So cheers to you, Mr. Chancellor. Three months down, and the dawn of a new year is upon us. May you continue to achieve success one step at a time.

Geaux Tigers!!!

Michael Zanovec

2/10/2009 1:16:39 AM
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