Did you know that the 2010 U.S. Census results show that approximately 36% of the American population belongs to a racial or ethnic minority group? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some minority groups experience higher levels of preventable disease, death, and disability as compared to non-minority groups. Therefore, it’s important to realize that not all health information applies to all racial and ethnic groups. If you are looking for health information specific to a particular American minority group, or if you need health information in a language other than English, then look no further. There are some excellent free resources available on the internet for minority health information.
Who remembers those commercials for Flintstones brand chewable multivitamins from back in the day? As a kid, I was happy to take one a day because, let’s face it, they tasted like candy. Now that I’m an adult, it’s definitely a little harder to feel like I should be taking a daily vitamin or other dietary supplement. There are so many bottles sitting on the shelf at the grocery store and so many labels; it can be overwhelming when you’ve just come to pick up some eggs. Understanding a bit more about these supplements and how they work can go a long way towards helping you determine whether or not they should be a part of your life. As National Nutrition Month comes to an end, we’re providing you with an overview of dietary supplements to help you decide whether you need to boost your nutrition this spring.
What exactly is a dietary supplement?
Dietary supplements can contain one or more dietary ingredients like vitamins, minerals, herbs, or other substances. They usually come in pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form, but can also come as powders and bars, too. They’re meant to supplement (not replace) the nutrition you get from your daily diet.
Do I even need to take a dietary supplement?
It depends. Your nutritional needs should technically be met as long as you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet full of a variety of foods. The foods we eat are full of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and other substances that are good for your health, but sometimes you might not be getting enough of a particular nutrient. This can be due to lots of reasons even outside of what you eat. For instance, if you’re getting insufficient exposure to sunlight, you might not be getting enough vitamin D; this is where a dietary supplement could be helpful.
What should I take then?
Before you pull every bottle from the shelf, it’s a very good idea to talk to your doctor first to determine what supplement may be right for you, or if you even need one. It can be dangerous to exceed the level of nutrients you can safely intake. Your doctor can tell you just how much of a particular supplement will be beneficial to your health. If you’re already taking one, make sure your doctor is aware – some supplements may not play nicely with prescription medication.
How much of a recommended supplement should I take?
The manufacturers label will suggest a serving size as it relates to the potency of the supplement ingredients, but this can get a little confusing depending on what your doctor has recommended for you. You don’t want to take more (or less) than what you need. Read the labels as carefully as you can, and follow up with your doctor to make sure you’ve picked up the right thing. You can also ask your local pharmacist for help with interpreting supplement labels.
Where can I find more information about the types of supplements that are available?
A good place to start is MedlinePlus. Powered by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MedlinePlus presents information in an easy to read format and provides you with lots of links to other safe places to look for health-related information. The NIH also has a number of helpful Vitamin and Mineral Fact Sheets that can provide you with scientifically-based overviews about the many vitamins and minerals that are out there.
Knowing our family health history is often the key to our own personal health. Many chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, are often inherited. But we can also inherit genes from our family that can increase our chances of developing certain serious diseases such as cancer. Understanding genetics can be confusing for anyone. Luckily there are many resources available to help you make sense of this important topic.
In this digital age we live in it is nearly impossible to raise a child without exposing them to technology at a very early age. Even before they are born they’ve come in contact with more sophisticated devices than most of us did in our first decade of existence (those 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds are wild, #amiright #justme). Knowing the rate of your child’s development and what technology to use to foster their growing mind can be a daunting challenge. I’ve attempted to wade through the amalgam of information out there about technology and children and siphoned out a few things that seemed important.
Much like television, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) believes technology use should be limited for young developing minds. I personally believe in a “everything in moderation” approach. That said, it’s also important to realize that as a parent, it’s solely up to you and what you believe is best for your child. As no child is the same, nor is any parent, you shouldn’t feel pressured to let a magazine or journal tell you how to raise your child – instead, feel free to look to these mediums for inspiration and light guidance.
Did you know that November is National Veterans and Families Month? Veterans Day is still observed November 11th, but this year the Department of Veterans Affairs decided to have the 98-year tradition of observance and appreciation for veterans last throughout the whole month of November! There are a number of events planned all around the country, so check the official calendar to see if something is happening near you if you’re interested in participating in some way.
This is also a good time to talk about some of the important health-related issues our veterans might face. If you or anyone in your family has ever served in the military, you may be familiar with some of the health risks that are associated with a career serving our country. Some are more obvious, like injuries resulting in disability or chronic pain. Others might be harder to pin down, like post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse. It’s important to remember that each service member will return home with their own range of experiences. Knowing how and where to go to address any issues that may present themselves is key! There are lots of helpful resources out there for veterans and their families should they need access to them.
Did you know that September is Food Safety Education Month? Food safety might not normally be on the forefront of our minds, but I know after losing power for several days after Hurricane Irma blew through Florida, figuring out what I could and couldn’t eat from my refrigerator was a real concern. Many of you might have found yourselves in similar situations. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans get sick from eating contaminated food every year. Today we’re sharing some tips from the CDC on how to keep you and your family safe from foodborne diseases.
We may not all be physicians here at the College of Medicine, but there is one thing that all of us can relate to: each and every one of us has been a patient at some point. As patients, it’s so important that we listen to the advice of our health care providers so that the we get the best outcomes for our own health. But it’s equally important for us to be informed patients. And that means knowing where to look to find reliable health information. These days, we all turn to the internet, and we all know that everything on the internet is true, right? Today we’re going to steer you in the right direction and show you some great health information sites you can actually trust.
An oldie but a goodie: this post was originally published on February 12, 2015.
Did you know you can access up to date, authoritative information on nearly 1,000 health topics in easy to read (i.e., non-medical jargon) language for FREE? The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine have a terrific resource called MedlinePlus geared toward the general public, and not health professionals.
Traveling alone or with family can be a stressful enough activity without the added worry of how to stay safe and healthy during your trip. There are many ways you can make sure you’re prepared to handle just about any mishap traveling can throw at you. Before you go, plan on taking these tips into account.
If you’ve ever found yourself wandering down the aisles of your local grocery store staring pensively at the rows upon rows of vitamins, natural remedies and supplements, you’re not alone. It can be difficult to determine if any of these products can safely support your health and wellness goals. To wrap up this month’s focus on nutrition, we’d like to introduce you to a database you may not know much about which can help you tackle those tough questions. Here are some ways the Natural Medicines database can help you out, and why you should add it to your arsenal of reliable health resources.