Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Often combined in a single supplement, lutein and zeaxanthin (zee-ah-zan-thin)are carotenoids. Carotenoids are pigments that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant red, orange, yellow and green colors. Lutein and zeaxanthin absorb excess light energy to prevent damage to plants from too much sunlight, especially from high-energy blue light rays.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in high concentrations in the macula of the human eye.   It is believed that lutein and zeaxanthin in the macula block blue light from reaching the underlying structures in the retina, thereby reducing the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration (AMD).

The best natural food sources of lutein and zeaxanthin are green leafy vegetables and other green or yellow vegetables. According to the USDA, cooked kale and cooked spinach top the list.  (Non-vegetarian sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include egg yolks).

I take lutein primarily for eye health, but lutein and zeaxanthin also have anti-oxidant properties and may help protect against atherosclerosis — the leading cause of heart attacks.

Note: I am not advocating any particular brand of supplement, nor am I recommending that you take any particular supplement.  These posts are just me explaining what supplements I take and why.  You should always consult with your physician prior to taking any supplement.

D and B12 — Important Supplements for Vegetarians

Continuing on with my posts of supplements, I want to mention two important supplements for vegetarians — Vitamin D3 and Vitamin B12

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is commonly found in foods such as oily fish like salmon, codfish, mackerel, and blue fish. Other food sources of Vitamin D2 include fortified milk.

Known as “The Sunshine Vitamin”, vitamin D is made by the body naturally when skin is exposed to sun.  However, using sunscreen blocks our ability to absorb vitamin D from the sun!

Getting enough vitamin D is important for normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved immune system functions. Research suggests that adequate amounts of vitamin D can protect against multiple sclerosis, heart disease and the flu

So…. since I follow a mostly vegan diet, and live in the northeast where the sunlight isn’t strong, my physician recommended that I take Vitamin D supplements.

 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is required for proper formation of red blood cell, of DNA, and for proper neurological function. Vitamin B12, bound to protein in food (i.e.: meat) and is released by the activity of gastric acids in the stomach.  Vegetarians and people taking medication to reduce stomach acid do not get enough B12 from food and it recommended that they take a B12 supplement. As B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, the body doesn’t store it and so it is important to take the supplement regularly.

 

Mote: I am not advocating any particular brand of supplement, nor am I recommending that you take these or any supplement.  These posts are just me explaining what supplements I take and why.  You should always consult with your physician prior to taking any supplement.

 

Some of My Favorite Supplements — Quercetin with Bromelain

Through the years I have learned about supplements from nutrition experts, doctors friends and relatives. I take a mixture of several which work for me.    People often ask me what I take and why and so I thought I’d develop a few posts about my favorite supplements.

Note: Everyone is different and what works for me, may not work for you.  Additionally, while there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of supplements, according to many physicians, there is no clear evidence that supplements work.  But as long as you don’t overdo them, I figure they can’t hurt! The worst case is that you will have very expensive pee!

Note: I am not advocating any particular brand of supplement, nor am I recommending that you take any particular supplement.  These posts are just me explaining what supplements I take and why.  You should always consult with your physician prior to taking any supplement.

Quercetin with Bromelain 

Quercetin is a flavonoid ). – A family of nutrients that give plants and fruits their color. Quercetin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Quercetin is found in foods such as onions and apples.  It reduces the manufacture and release of histamine and other allergic and inflammatory mediators.  Quercetin is often paired with Bromelain.

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples.  Bromelain supplements are yellow and smell like pineapple. Bromelain is used for reducing swelling (inflammation), especially of the nose and sinuses, and after surgery or injury.  Bromelain seems to cause the body to produce substances that fight pain and swelling (inflammation).

According to WebMD , Bromelain also contains chemicals that interfere with the growth of tumor cells and may help prevent cancer.

Prophetic Poetry

“You Learn”

I was digging through some old papers and photos and I came upon this poem which I copied down in high school.  WOW. It must have been a message from the teenage me to my future self!

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth…

And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.”

― Jorge Luis Borges

Lowest Calorie Alcoholic Beverages

I had a weekend full of socializing, eating and drinking.  So I’m going to take a break from posting about exercise and super food and look at how we can have our drinks and diet too!

All alcohol has calories — 7 calories per gram of alcohol.  (Compare this to 4  calories per gram of carbohydrates or protein and 9 calories per gram of fats).  A standard glass of wine, bottle of beer or shot of liquor has about 100 calories.  But “standard” and what we actually drink may vary!  And the real trouble comes in when we order cocktails with high calorie mixers.

One 4 oz. glass of wine has 100 calories, but who drinks only 4 oz of wine?  Most wine glasses aren’t even half full unless we have 6 or more oz. — bringing the calories to 125.  A bottle of beer can have from 80-125 calories. A standard shot of   80 proof liquor ( 1 1/2 oz. ) has about 96 calories.  This appears to be a low calorie choice, but the problem comes in when we add the high calorie mixers.

Check out this post from Check out this great post from PositiveHealthWellness.com for 8 delicious, low calorie summer cocktail recipes to enjoy like this Pinot Grigio Melon Ball Spritzer:

Just in case you aren’t convinced, here is a list of calories in some popular cocktails:

  • Pina Colada (6 oz): 378 calories
  • Mojito (8 oz): 214 calories
  • Cosmopolitan (4 oz): 200 calories
  • Chocolate martini: (2 oz each vodka, chocolate liqueur, cream, 1/2 oz creme de cacao, chocolate syrup): 438
  • Margarita (8 oz): 280
  • Skinny Girl margarita (4 oz): 100
  • Martini (2.5 oz): 160
  • Port wine (3 oz):128
  • TGI Friday’s Giant Sized frozen mudslide 1,100
  • Bloody Mary (5 oz): 118
  • Red wine (5 oz):120
  • White wine (5 oz): 120
  • Beer (12 oz): 150-198
  • Champagne (5oz): 106-120
  • Coffee liqueur (3 ounces): 348
  • Godiva chocolate liqueur (3 oz): 310
  • Eggnog with rum (8 ounces): 370
  • Hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps (8 oz): 380
  • Vodka and tonic (8 oz): 200
  • Screwdriver (8 oz): 190
  • Mimosa (4 oz): 75
  • Gin and tonic (7 oz): 200
  • Long Island iced tea (8 oz): 780
  • White Russian (2 oz vodka, 1.5 oz coffee liqueur, 1.5 oz cream): 425
  • Mai Tai (6 oz) (1.5 oz rum, 1/2 oz cream de along, 1/2 oz triple sec, sour mix, pineapple juice): 350
  • Rum and Coke (8 oz): 185
  • Rum and Diet Coke (8 oz): 100
  • Mike’s Hard Lemonade (11 oz): 98