Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Nutrition Guidelines will Affect Homeless People

The Food & Drug Administration has shaken up its determinations of what vitamins and minerals we need to stay healthy and what food and beverages we should consume to reduce our susceptibilities to certain diseases.

This new set of protocols won't be listed on packaging of foods or vitamin pills for a long while -- labels don't have to use the new DVs [i.e., Daily Values] until July 2018 -- but the new "values" make use of research from recent decades and are, thus, much, much better than the current values and, thus, is what people should go by, now.

Why does a change in what quantity of vitamins and minerals we put in our body have to do with homeless people?

Well, in a more-ideal world, attention paid to what nutrients homeless folk consume would get better attention. In our current less-ideal world, the food given to homeless people is highly dependent on what food is donated to charities with soup kitchens. If there is a great over-supply of white rice in the supply chain, homeless people are likely to eat lots, and lots, of surplus white rice for a long period of time. Ditto, other foods. Too much cheese in the grocery-store supply chain? Give it to the homeless. Beans and wieners in high supply? Make that the food that homeless folk can have for lunch for many, many days in a row.

I am not meaning to knock soup kitchens. They can be heavily dependent on food donations to fill meal trays. But, perhaps more-so than most people, homeless folk can benefit from healthy food to get them through their often difficult -- sometimes crazy -- days.

Another reason that nutrition is especially important for homeless folk is the prevalence of cigarette smoking (where proper nutrition can deter or deflect cancer) and instances where homeless folk are overweight (where proper nutrition can avert diabetes).

Let me go through some of the more -important or -interesting changes in the coming DV protocol:

VITAMIN A: The Daily Value of "A" is dropping from 5,000 IU to 3,000 IU. The risk of too much "A" relates to birth defects if taken by pregnant women AND if smokers or former-smokers get too-high doses of beta-carotene [a source of "A"] it can raise the risk of lung cancer.

VITAMIN D: The Daily Value of "D" is doubling, from 400 IU to 800 IU. A large trial is testing whether "D" can PREVENT cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, memory loss, depression and more bad stuff. [Wouldn't it be SPECTACULAR if this vitamin is proved to do all the great good that is thought possible!? You Rock, Vitamin D!]

VITAMIN B-1 (Thiamin), B-2 (Riboflavin), B-3 (Niacin), B-6. The Daily Values for the Bs is dropping. High intake of niacin can cause flushing of the skin. [This happens to me!] Very high intake of B-6 can cause nerve damage and skin lesions (albeit the damage is reversible).

VITAMIN B-12: The Daily Value is dropping more than half, from 6 mcg to 2.4 mcg. Quoting Nutrition Action Healthletter, "Adults over 50 and vegans should get most of their B-12 from supplements or fortified foods because they may not make enough stomach acid to digest or absorb B-12 from meats, eggs and dairy foods. A B-12 deficiency can cause anemia and irreversible nerve damage that can masquerade as dementia."

MAGNESIUM: The DV is going up, slightly, from 400mg to 420mg. Half of Americans get less magnesium  than recommended, which can raise risk of diabetes.

IODINE, MANGANESE, MOLYBDENUM, CHLORIDE, BORON. Centers for Disease Control warns that many women in their 20s and 30s may not be getting enough iodine, which the developing brain of a fetus needs. Dairy foods and seafood are good sources for this. We get an abundance of the other minerals mentioned from our food.

VITAMIN C: The DV is rising from 60mg to 90mg. Many Americans, currently, get too little C. Smokers and those who inhale a lot of secondhand smoke should get 125mg of C each day, through supplements, to play it safe, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

VITAMIN E; The DV is falling from 30 IU to 22.5 IU. Reason? High doses of E may not be safe. A 5.5 year study where men took (a whopping) 400 IU/day of E found that risk of prostate cancer increased 17%.

CALCIUM; DV is rising from 1,000 mg to 1,300 mg, based on what 9- to 18- year-olds need. For adults, here is risk of kidney stones, hip fractures and prostate cancer from very high consumption of Calcium.

POTASSIUM: The Daily Value of Potassium is increasing from 3,500 mg to 4,700 mg -- which few people get because there aren't all that many good sources for the alkali metal. Quoting Nutrition Action Healthletter, "Potassium can help lower blood pressure, but a typical multi-vitamin has less than 100 mg. And the kind of potassium in most supplements -- potassium chloride -- won't help prevent kidney stones and bone loss like the potassium citrate in fruits and vegetables. Banana, anyone?"

Nine other good food sources (in addition to bananas) that supply potassium: Avocados, Coconut Water, Crimini Mushrooms, Acorn Squash, Sweet Potatoes, regular potatoes, Prunes, Raisins & Spinach.

Several homeless people I know have high blood pressure readings. For them to get more potassium in their diet would be very beneficial for them. Red beets, including a juiced drink made from the tubar, is high in nitrate, which makes it an excellent other source for lowering blood pressure.

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The November 2016 issue of Nutrition Action Newsletter has been the prime source of information for this blogpost.

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