Nutrition Articles

In the news: Report sets new dietary intake levels for vitamin D and calcium

Studies suggest that we take much more vitamin D than we do now — especially those of us living in northern climes who may get too little sunlight to produce adequate amounts in the skin. Many scientists have advocated vitamin D doses much higher than the present recommended dose to prevent a host of chronic conditions. But the report of an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that high doses of vitamin D aren't necessary and might even be harmful. Many people — including many clinicians and researchers — were taken by surprise. (Locked) More »

New thinking on saturated fat

The evolving understanding of the different types of fats in foods has changed the perception of saturated fat. Eaten in moderation, it is a useful part of the diet and is unlikely to affect cardiovascular health. More »

Strategies for cutting back on salt

The Institute of Medicine's newly released report, Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States, focuses on big-picture strategies for reining in America's salt habit. Although the report's recommendations represent an essential step forward, there are many things that individuals, chefs, and organizations can do right now to reduce sodium. Many of these guidelines offer a "stealth health" approach to sodium reduction — ways that sodium can be reduced with no change or minimal change to consumer food experiences or choices. Others suggest ways to rebalance and re-imagine food choices as well as introduce new foods that can easily translate into satisfying meals. More »

What you need to know about calcium

Starting on your 51st birthday, current government guidelines say you're supposed to consume 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily. At about that age, both men and women begin to experience osteoporosis, a decline in the density of bones that makes them weaker and more likely to break. In essence, your bone becomes more porous, and calcium supposedly fills in the holes. But the amount of calcium adults need continues to be debated. The critics say there's little evidence that high intake has more than a marginal effect on bone density and fracture prevention. They say exercise and vitamin D are not promoted enough and are more important for bone health. They also argue that over consumption of dairy foods are a bad overall influence on many people's diets because of the saturated fat, calories, and other factors. Professor Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, is one of the leading lights in the critical camp. Naturally, the proponents see the evidence quite differently — and they set the government recommendations, so they're hardly a fringe group. They say dozens of studies have shown that high calcium intake builds up bone and prevents fractures. And they cite calcium's other possible benefits, such as modest protection against colon cancer. More »