Vitamins and Your Health

“On need of supplement & vitamins- If you eat a balanced diet you get all the vitamins and minerals you need and you don’t need any supplement and overdosing can actually be more harmful.”

― Subodh Gupta

I don’t know about people in other countries, but we Americans love our dietary suppliments, otherwise known as vitamins and minerals; we spend some $28 billion a year on them, injesting them daily in the single multi- pill, or handfulls of individual vitamin/mineral types.

Even though the federal Food and Drug Administration does not test or regulate them and their efficacy is unproven beyond advertising claims.

They are touted to make or keep us healthy, fend off the common cold or flu (or reduce the length and severity of one, should one be caught anyways) or reduce or eliminate the risks of major diseases like heart disease or cancer.

And, I admit, I’ve recently been caught up in them as well – once I read about the especially severe outbreak of flu and even had my flu shot – I started the daily multi- pill and packaged high-dose of Vitamin C when one of the grandkids was showing the signs and I’d had a couple of nice hugs with him (the risk of catchin’ something is far outweighed by gettin’ a little lovin’!)

But to what avail? Apparently, none, I still caught the flu. Then I read this article:

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/articles/2012/02/24/popular-but-dangerous-3-vitamins-that-can-hurt-you

Seems some 50 large-scale studies have shown that – for the most part – suppliments do no good, we’re flushing our money spent on them down the toilet – literally, experts tell us that a body can only hold and process limited amounts of vitamins and minerals, and when once the saturation threshold is reached for those that are water-soluable, any excess is excreted in our urine.

Like Vitamin C. There’s no good evidence that mega-doses of C can prevent a cold or the flu, or reduce the severity or duration and, as a water-soluable, any amount in excess of need is urinated out. And in large doses can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, even kidney stones.

And the non-soluables aren’t excreted and continue to be stored and built up until they reach toxic levels that can become highly dangerous to our bodies and health. Like Vitamin A (especially in pill form) which can cause liver fibrosis, or make lung cancer more likely for some. Or Vitamin E’s effect for prostate cancer.

Excessive amounts of suppliments, even otherwise benign, can also cause headaches.

According to Dee Sandquist, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “As Americans, we think more is better, but that’s not the case with vitamins,” and we are putting our health at risk. “The best strategy is to follow the ‘choose my plate” method,” she says, referring to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s healthy food guide. If people do that, she says, “then they probably wouldn’t have to worry about a vitamin supplement unless they have a specific medical condition.”

But, all that said, if you still believe in daily suppliments, I would suggest that you not take any that are “100%” of the “daily recommended amount” of any vitamin or mineral – it will guarantee you’ll be taking excessive amounts when combined with your regular food intake.

Better yet, spend your money on eating healthier food.

And hope for the best when exposed to sick people.

– Bill

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Enfants Terribles

“It’s not safe to know how to swear but not how to deal with people… It’s like walking around with your mouth loaded and the safety off.”

― Katie Kennedy

The title of this post (for those of you who are unfamiliar with the French language) refers to (according to the dictionary), “Incorrigible children whose behavior is embarrassing.” It also applies to adults who are “Outspoken or bold persons who say or do indiscreet or irresponsible things”, as a child might.

A case in point is the bruhaha that has arisen over our president and his alleged public use of – pardon my French (and why is it that “my French” is a euphemism for cussing?) – the word “shithole” as descriptive of a certain non-white nation (Haiti) and an entire continent (Africa) in a discourse with congressional leaders over our immigration policies.

If it’s true he used that word (there is at least one who was present and swears he did, and several others who neither confirm nor deny it), then he opened his mouth before putting his brain in gear, his filters – he apparently has none – were “mouth loaded and safety off”.

Perhaps he should be given another title, Enfant-Terrible-In-Charge. He does seem to have penchant for saying and tweeting things boldly (or to use his vernacular, “bigly”) that most people find childishly embarrassing coming from a person in his position of authority, lessening respect for his public office, both here and internationally.

A year ago (Jan 2, ’17), I posted “No $#/+?”, a semi-humorous, thought-provoking musing about cussing in general, and its mental/emotional healthful therapeutic benefits at times. But like all things, it has its proper time and place and that doesn’t – or shouldn’t – apply to its use indiscriminately in public, or where it can be exposed to the public.

Swearing (cursing) in public is indiscreet and irresponsible, embarrassing to those who hear it, or of it, as it should be also to the sayer, once uttered, if they have any shame, and should elicit an immediate “I’m sorry I said that, please forgive my rudeness!”

Trump isn’t the only politican, past or present, to publicly curse or slander. President Johnson once said the difference between a Senator and a Representative is “the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit” and President Nixon (considered the most potty-mouthed of all presidents) called Mexicans “dishonest”, blacks live “like a bunch of dogs”, that San Francisco is full of “fags”. President George W. Bush called New York Times reporter Adam Clymer “a major league asshole.” Vice President Dick Cheney shouted “Go f___ yourself” to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor. This past March, ex-Vice President Biden called the then proposed health care reform bill “big f______ deal”.

Swearing knows no limits these days, so it seems. Seems more people do it than don’t. I haven’t a problem with it so long as it’s only ocassional and limited to private conversations, or in public as the result of some exceptional, horrific emotional or physical assult, but as an automatic “go-to” useful thing in ones vocabulary?

No. I don’t give a $#/+ (pardon my French, please forgive my rudeness) what provokes you, unless you suffer from arrested adolesence, are an enfant terrible, cussing at or slandering others is not how you deal with people publicly.

– Bill

Resolving Resolutions

“Trying to change old habits is like fighting a war in your head—a draining and exhausting skirmish that makes you wonder at your chance of survival.”

― Richelle E. Goodrich

Did you make a New Years resolution last year? That you actually kept? If you’re like most people, yes you did and no, you didn’t. Why is best summed up here:

“I will do it tomorrow. How often we all do so and what a pity it is that when morning comes and tomorrow is today we so frequently wake up feeling quite differently. Careless or impatient and not a bit inclined to do the fine things we planned to do overnight.”

― Susan Coolidge

Once when I was young, but old enough to comprehend what it meant and what I was doing, I made a New Years resolution (since everyone was sure to ask if I had and I didn’t want to disappoint) to do/not do (blank) in the new year, only to discover I’d forget (or if remembered, fail) early in the new year, much to my chagrin. I soon learned (I was a quick study) that self-flagellation over my failure to change isn’t my style, so on subsequent New Years I resolved to not make any resolutions. That solved the problem, no self-recriminations, no fear of public failure. Nothing and no one could entice me to do otherwise.

Like Seneca, I tried to be quite the Stoic about it. I would stand as a rock – or a better analogy, a sea cliff – even as I might be battered by the pounding waves of (implied or inferred) rebuke and scorn over some (accused) shortcoming of mine, something I could change but chose not to. I stood firm, resolute, manly. I thought myself even as…heroic. I was invulnerable, the opinions of others could not harm me, I would stand defiant, I would not be moved by the passion of others, I would endure. In fact, I applied that philosophy to every aspect of my life. That attitude won me no accolades over the years. Still, I persisted.

And yet, I was not invulnerable, no more than that wave beset cliff; water will always win, it willl, in time, either eat away at the hardest rock and reduce it to nothing or find a way around it leaving it stranded amidst the raging sea. So became my resolve, I found myself bereft of close friends and tolerated only by family.

So I then adopted more of the Taoist (or Daoist, if you prefer) philosophy, more of a “go with the flow”, to yield and adapt, to acquiesce and allow change in myself in areas people disliked (so to keep them off my back).

But I found myself mentally abusing myself. In trying to please others I wasn’t pleasing myself. Maybe they were happier with the new “me”…but me? I thought, not so much. Trying to please others was at war with pleasing myself, “a draining and exhausting skirmish that” made me “wonder at” my chance of mental “survival”, as I seesawed back and forth.

Then I recalled another adage, “In matters of principle, stand firm like a rock; in matters of taste, go with the flow.” I needn’t be stubborn, there is room for compromise – as Emerson said, “foolish consistancy is the hobgoblin of little minds” and in some areas I may need to accomodate and change, but in others – those areas important to me – I would stand firm.

With that in mind – where to stand firm, and where to change – I was glad to see a Facebook posting by one of my two favorite daughters-in-law, since it spoke to how we should realistically interact with others (the parenthetical additions are my take):

8 Things to Quit in 2018 –

1. Trying to please everyone. (To try is futile, there aren’t enough hours in the day to help everyone who asks and still do what you need to do in your own life. Besides, no matter what, there are some people who can never be pleased. Stop trying.)

2. Fearing change. (Change is sometimes scary, the unknown is…well…unknown. If you’re happy, no need to fear, no change needed. But if there’s something that isn’t working, what’s there to lose by changing? It might make things better, you never know.)

3. Living in the past. (I’m an historian by bent, and while I recognize that life in the past holds great fascination and understanding of why things are now, I also recognize that – for any number of reasons – it wasn’t always as good or pleasant as it is recorded, or as we remember. And we can never go back to it, reclaim it, relive it. It is dead and gone. There is only today, tomorrow‘s past, to live, to make a better tomorrow.)

4. Overthinking. (Sometimes the best solution to a problem is the simplest one, the one we overlook because it seems too easy. Sometimes we let ourselves complicate things that aren’t all that complicated.)

5. Be afraid to be different. (Accept that you are different – you are unique, there’s no one on Earth just like you. Be proud of those differences that make you who you are. How boring it would be if we were all cookie cuttered. And remember the axiom, idols have feet of clay – he/she you’d wish to emulate isn’t all they appear to be under the surface and image they project.)

6. Sacrificing your happiness for others. (It’s applaudable to try to bring a measure of happiness to others – see #1 above – but not if it means neglecting your own. It’s said charity begins at home, and in this sense it means taking care of your own happiness first.)

7. Thinking you’re not good enough. (There is no one who’s good for nothing. You may not be good at everything, but there has to be something you are good at. Think about it, find your talent, develop it, use it. You have worth others can benefit from.)

8. Thinking you have no purpose. (Re-read #7 above. Read it again, over and over again until you believe it, because it’s true. And then make it your goal – your purpose in life – to be the best at it.)

So there you have some New Years Resolutions. Stand firm where necessary, go with the flow when needed, and don’t wait until tomorrow to start.

– Bill

Please don’t be offended when I say…

“Some people looove to feel offended because it makes them feel important. When your only tool is a hammer, suddenly every problem starts to look like a nail. And when the only time you feel relevant is when you claim to be offended, suddenly everything looks offensive.”

― Oliver Markus Malloy

I’m not often offended by the actions, thoughts or beliefs of others – an action has to be really egregious to set me off and thoughts and beliefs I can just ignore if I dislike them. But to each his own, live and let live, and I do not want anyone to think for even a second that I think my beliefs are somehow superior to theirs or that theirs are not relevant in the scheme of things.

There are some folk, however, who feel threatened by others’ beliefs – think those others are sometimes “disrespectful” to theirs – and they protest that they are offended because their beliefs get short-shrifted (especially if by a dominant culture) socially.

And so it has come to what is expected (and demanded) of everyone, “political correctness”, by well-meaning, well-intentioned but benighted souls who endeavor to ensure nobody is ever “disrespected”, made to feel “unimportant” or “not revelant”, offended in any way (as if that is humanly possibly).  And in their attempt to enforce “correct” speech and behavior on everyone, they discipline publicly by denouncing those who are “incorrect”.

They fail to understand that some people just get their jollies poking others, self-centeredly.

I said above that I’m not easily offended, but I find that offensive. They may not want to hear what I have to say, but it’s egregious to tell me I can’t say it.

Especially at this time of year. 

So I had to laugh at the “B.C.” comic strip by Johnny Hart in the paper a couple of days ago. (The dialogue between two characters):

“Happy nondescript holiday greeting of your liking.” 

“Merry general, cover-all response back to you!”

“I feel all warm inside.”

“Careful now. Don’t want to offend anyone in hotter climates…”

Why can’t we just say it, whatever it is?

Happy Hanukkah? Happy Solstice? Happy Bodhi Day? Happy Mawlid el-Nabi? (And please, in the name of whatever you hold holy, don’t get all pissy by the order I used – it was strictly random, no disrespect meant, no relative revelance implied.)

I promise not to be offended if I’m greeted with any religious wish for my happiness. I’ll take good wishes from any source.

So, it is not my intent to imply any disrespect to whatever you may believe in (or don’t), I’m not trying to nail you (so put your hammer away) and I ask, if it does, please forgive me and just accept it as simply my wish for your happiness at this time of the year…

…please don’t be offended when I say…

Merry CHRISTMAS!

– Bill

Don’t Fret Over Sugar During the Holidays

“A life without sweets is not much worth living.”

― Pawan Mishra

I’m not a real sweets fan, especially first thing in the morning. In my post “Sugar Time” (last June 1st), I explained why sugar-laden foods for breakfast are not healthy. But I do enjoy a few, though, as desserts after dinner. My favorites are old fashion southern bread pudding with hard sauce (whiskey, please), cold lemon curd pudding (hold the meringue), tiramisu (heavy on the coffee), rum cake/baba (soaked, thank you), or fudge (soft but firm). If they’re not on the menu I’d rather have pie (cinnamon-apple with vanilla bean ice cream or pumpkin without the whipped cream). I’m not a fan of cakes.

But during the day, when the urge to have something sweet hits me, it’s cookies (snickerdoodles, dark chocolate chip, oatmeal and raisin, or coconut macaroons) I want.

Just like you, in all probability. Studies have shown that 99+% of Americans say they love cookies; four out of five say eating a cookie makes them feel happy (two-thirds consider cookies a comfort food, and one-third say a cookie helps them relax.)

The average American adult consumes some 19,000 cookies – about a cookie a day – from ages 18 to 70. 

So it’s little wonder that now that the High Holy Days are upon us, cookies rank right up there with fritters and sufganiyot during Hanukkah, and gingerbread during Christmas (and every child knows how Santa loves a plate full of cookies with a glass of milk!)

(That other Christmas staple, fruitcake, that everyone professes to hate and has become the subject of jokes – no thanks to Johnny Carson – has actually been loved forever – literally: in biblical times, Moses ate fruitcakes, the Romans ate fruitcakes and, in fact, one was found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. Personally, if made right, is fresh and saturated in brandy, I love them! And no need to hurry in eating them, they have a very long shelf-life – according to Wikipedia, since fruit cake contains a good deal of alcohol, it can remain edible for many years: A 106-year-old fruitcake discovered this year was described as in “excellent condition”.)

Since it’s the holidays, set aside any guilt you feel for indulging in whatever:

• It’s just food. Take pleasure in it.

• If you eat well during the rest of the year, a few days of celebatory food won’t hurt you.

• Do be mindful of how much and how often, however, as excessive sugar intake in a day can cause digestive problems.

• Should you overindulge, accept that and move on.

• Don’t restrict yourself to “healthy” recipes. Relax! It’s just once a year, and who likes sugarless sugar cookies?

The holiday season is stressful enough without worrying about what the scale may say come January – you have an entire year to atone in preparation for next year’s delights.

So, have a cookie!

– Bill

Recognizing the Educators

“It’s strange to think about…teachers as being people.” 

― Stephen Chbosky

I believe most people never really think about teachers, or school librarians and such, they way they do others whose valued services are readily apparent, the results of their interaction with us immediate, observable. It’s not so with teachers, we don’t enjoy the fruits of their labors until years after. Everything you know is the knowledge they implant(ed) to your mind, even if it was only the ability to understand and use what you learn(ed) from life experiences long after you’ve left school.

They are the least appreciated, last to be acknowleged, less likely to be remembered. Oh, there is always one or two that we’ll never forget from our school years for who they were and how they taught, that left a lasting impression on us, but – for the most part – most are faceless, nameless in our memories. Yet each one of them had a hand in making us who we are.

And they deserve recognition. Just as much as anyone who does us a service. 

We recognize those others who give us good service usually at Christmas time, with an envelope containing a few dollars as a bonus, a thank you. But we rarely offer so much as a verbal “thank you” to our – or our children’s – teacher(s).

If you can see that and feel somewhat contrite, remiss in overlooking all they have done (do), the holiday season is a good time to atone and let your thanks be known, especially to that one teacher that has made (is making) the most of your (or your child’s) educational experience. But doing the same at anytime during the entire year is always an option!

How might you do that, how to show your appreciation? Unlike to others, perhaps, cash is not appropriate, but there are a number of other ways to express your thanks:

• A simple handwritten note (or the less personal email). Even better, a letter.

• A gift card to a local coffee shop or eatery near the school where they could take lunch, or a gift certificate to a resturant for after one of those long after-school days spent grading papers or preparing lessons for the next.

• A movie pass for some R&R.

• Volunteer a few hours or a day to help out in the classroom.

• Offer to purchase some needed classroom supplies.

Teachers, librarians, custodians, other school staff, are the less sung heros in our (and our children’s) lives. They are rarely thought about for the service they give.

And, just like all people, they deserve (and appreciate) a sincere “thank you” once in a while.

Why not let that special teacher from your past, or that one of your child today, know how much you appreciate them for their caring efforts?

– Bill