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dietary supplements

Sensa: Just another senseless supplement

Shake. Eat. Lose weight. Really? That’s all you have to do? According to the Sensa weight loss supplement advertisements—yes.

After years marketing and selling their product, Sensa was charged $34 billion along with a few other companies for false and misleading weight loss advertising by the Federal Trade Commission as mentioned in this NY Times article Weight loss companies charged with fraud.supplements-neily

On Your World with Neil Cavuto, my colleague, registered dietitian nutritionist Rebecca Scritchfield debated Melissa Francis (host of Fox Network’s MONEY with Melissa Francis) on the need for government involvement. Melissa remarked, “We don’t need the government to save us from this stupidity.” Oh Melissa, but we do. People will forever look for the latest greatest magic pill that will melt away unwelcome fat. Continue reading

Do you need a sports dietitian? Dave Ellis, sports RD, answers

Dave Ellis pic

Why do athletes need a sports RD? A message from sports dietitian Dave Ellis

Dave Ellis and I had a chance to talk recently when he was in town for an EAS Sports Performance seminar at Athletes’ Performance Training Center. (To watch the video, scroll to bottom or click here.)

Neily: I’m with Dave Ellis, veteran sports dietitian and we’re at the Athletes’ Performance in Frisco, Texas. I have the privilege of interviewing Dave because he is here for a seminar. So, let’s talk a little about sports nutrition. Why are dietitians so important in the world of sports?
Dave: I think there is no shortage of nutrition advice out there when it comes to athletes but very few people can bring food to life and give it value like dietitians. That’s what they are specially good at. So, at the end of the day, athletes’ success is really built around whether they are eating properly, whether their meal patterns are appropriate. And you can have the best supplement systems in the world but at the end of the day, under-fueled athletes are very vulnerable. That’s what sports RDs do—bring home that food first message.
A diet rich in soy and whey protein, found in ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Neily:  Excellent. What do you see is the biggest challenge when you first start working with an athlete?

Dave:  Well, a lot of them have been eating on the fly their whole life. Multi-sport athletes probably didn’t grow up in the “Beaver-Cleaver” house with meals every night at home as a family. So they’ve been eating on the fly and eating at drive-thrus. Some of them don’t even know how to eat fresh produce. It is the weak link in their diet. We have bad quality meals with no fresh produce and we have very poor meal patterns—there is meal skipping going on. They don’t have much of an appetite in the morning. At a very fundamental level between their sleep, their meal patterns and the quality of the meals they have, we have our hands full.

Neily:  That’s great information. What would be the take home message for somebody listening? Just one thing that you can tell somebody that would be most important, you think.

Dave:  For the athlete, my advice would be don’t reach for some dietary supplement  when you don’t have the fundamentals buttoned up. If your sleep and your diet quality and diet pattern and your lifestyle are all frazzled at the ends, don’t think a dietary supplement is going to patch everything up for you. I have seen too many young athletes fall prey to that thinking

Neily:  Great advice—thanks!  Dave can be reached at Thank you for watching Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video.

Vitamin D. Do you need to supplement? An interview with Todd Whitthorne of Cooper Aerobics Center

Chemical structure of cholecalciferol, aka vit...

Vitamin D – part 2 w/ Todd Whitthorne, Cooper Aerobics Enterprises – Do you need to supplement?

To watch video scroll to bottom or click here.

Neily: I’m with Todd Whitthorne—an executive at Cooper Aerobics Enterprises in Dallas. He also oversees the supplement line Cooper Complete. We are outside today appropriately because we are talking about the sunshine vitamin—vitamin D.
Todd: Yes. The vitamin that’s not a vitamin.
Neily: Exactly. And why is that?
Todd: Most vitamins we can’t manufacture; we have to get in supplements or ideally in food, obviously. But vitamin D we can make and we’ve been making it for a long, long time. When that sun hits our skin, beautifully we manufacture vitamin D. We synthesize it in the kidneys and liver and what is interesting is that it’s really not a vitamin. It’s a steroid hormone and it is so important in all aspects of overall health because about 10% of the human genome is regulated by vitamin D. So, it’s just a messenger hormone. It flips on the switch or turns off the switch depending on what’s supposed to happen within the cell and if your bucket is low in vitamin D that’s a problem. And a lot of people have empty buckets.
Neily: I get from my clients how do I know if I need a supplement or not and the answer is…
Todd: There’s only one answer and that’s to get a blood test because you can never ever guess what your vitamin D level is. You have to ask your doctor. Sometimes doctors will do it; now more and more routinely doctors will automatically measure it. But not all doctors are created equal so you have to ask. The test is called 25 hydroxy-vitamin D but just ask your doctor for a vitamin D test; he’ll know what you’re talking about and get it measured.
Neily: Okay.
Todd: The data is really fascinating. We know at the Cooper Clinic where we see about 7,000 patients a year that 82% of our first time patients are lower than we would like them to be in vitamin D. The cut point—the bare bones cut point for vitamin D is 30 nanograms per milliliter and the research indicates nationally in NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 77% of American adolescents and adults are low in vitamin D. That means they’re below 30, sometimes below 20 and even in the single digits. So don’t be surprised if you’re tested and it’s really really low. But it’s not where you want to be. You absolutely want to get your blood level vitamin D up to at least 30. You can do it from the sun or from supplements as you certainly know. And the great thing about vitamin D supplements is they are cheap. They are not expensive.
Neily: Right. So, the bottom line is the only way to know is by getting a blood test from your physician.
Todd: Exactly.
Neily: Great take-home message. Thanks Todd. Thank you for watching Neily on Nutrition and we’ll see you in the next video.

Disclosure: I was employed at Cooper Clinic from 2004 – 2009 but have no financial affiliation.

Why vitamin D? And do animals need it? Part 1 of 4

Todd W professional photo

Vitamin D—the Sunshine Vitamin: Part 1 with Todd Whitthorne, Cooper Aerobics Enterprises

I was with Todd Whitthorne—executive at Cooper Aerobics Enterprises in Dallas—discussing vitamin D on a beautiful sunny afternoon. (Scroll to bottom to watch video or click here.)

Neily: So tell me about vitamin D, Todd.
Todd: Jennifer, as you know, it’s a very hot topic in the world of nutrition and I think for two reasons. One is the studies show that most people are very low and two is that it’s very correctable. It’s related to a number of health conditions—cancer, heart disease, depression, chronic pain, bone health, diabetes and on and on. It’s just incredible with all the factors involved. We were designed to make it and we have been for a long, long time—a couple of million years. The reality is that we just have to be proactive. Our environment is causing issues that have been defined as an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency because we don’t live like we lived fifty or a hundred years ago. We work inside. We live inside and if we go outside we wear sunscreen. An SPF of 15 or greater in a sunscreen will block 99% of the synthesis of vitamin D—no one wears 15 anymore.I will admit this—I am old enough to remember when sunscreen came out. There was 2 and then 4 and if you were really nervous, 8. Now it’s like a 50 or a 100 right, and it’s in clothing and make-up. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. No one wants to get skin cancer. I understand that and I totally agree with that; but the sun won’t kill you. The sun is life giving and we are designed to get some sunshine. That’s the way we make vitamin D. So don’t just knee-jerk the opposite way because really the impact could be very, very negative.
Neily: Important information! Question—do animals make vitamin D?
Todd That’s a great question. For those who don’t know Jennifer, she really, really loves animals. About four years ago I got a brand new baby black lab by the name of Emma and she is as black as black could be. I could not figure out why—in the middle of summer here in Texas when it is like 140 degrees—Emma would want to go out in the backyard and just lay in the sun. When she had enough, she would come and knock at the door. So I had that question.There is a researcher at Creighton University, Robert Heaney. I called Dr. Heaney and asked if animals make vitamin D? He said yes, they do—they have receptor sites in their fur. He said he knew a bit about it but the guy that really knows about it is at UCLA. His name is John Adams—not the president—but a doctor. Since I went to school at UCLA and am not shy as you can probably tell, I called Dr. Adams and started talking about animals and vitamin D. The reason he was brought to Los Angeles, (he came from Harvard) was because the LA zoo was having problems with their New World primates. These monkeys they brought to the zoo from central America were lethargic and just out of energy. The first thing he did is put sun lamps in the cages. In a week, they perked up and they were back to their old selves.

So even though there is a lot of sun in Los Angeles it’s not nearly as powerful or as strong as in Central America along the equator where the UVB light is really intense. So you’ve taken that creature out of its natural environment, put it in a different environment and it wasn’t performing well. That’s exactly the way we work. Animals get it. Probably not consciously but Emma knows and your dogs know and your dogs probably know—go outside, get a little sun and feel better. So animals need it, as do humans. It just makes sense.

Neily Interesting! Thank you, Todd. I love learning things I don’t know! (Stay tuned for the next 3 segments with Cooper Aerobics exec Todd Whitthorne) Thanks for watching Neily on Nutrition.

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Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Wellcoach® Certified Health Coach

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