Handout Sneak Peek: Vitamin and Mineral Chart

You know what has been flying off the shelves lately?

The Vitamin and Mineral Chart. This poster highlights particular foods that are rich in certain vitamins and minerals. Since most consumers need to eat a more plant-based diet in order to avoid excess saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars while somehow managing to get enough nutrients in the calories allotted, it’s wise to have a few materials that could make that transition easier. This chart has been an eye-catching tool for inspiring and maintaining motivation, along with teaching key nutrient lessons.

As a special bonus, I want to share the printable educational handout that comes with the poster. Normally you could only access this if you had already bought the poster, but today I’m going to make an exception. The Eat Your Nutrients handout features macronutrients and micronutrients alike, highlighting the health benefits of these vital food elements.


Vitamin A: Prevents eye problems. Necessary for normal vision, immune function, and reproduction.

B-Vitamins: This group includes B-1 Thiamin, B-2 Riboflavin, B-3 Niacin, B-5 Pantothenic Acid, B-6 Pyridoxine, B-7 Biotin, B-9 Folic Acid, and B-12 Choline. Necessary to metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids. Activates B-6 and folate, which is essential for red blood cell growth and maturity.

Vitamin C: Antioxidant that protects against cell damage; boosts immune systems; forms collagen in the body.

Vitamin D: Aids absorption and usage of calcium and phosphorous ; necessary for growth and calcification of bones and teeth. The best source is the sun.

Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant that protects cells against damage.

Vitamin K: Important for blood clotting and bone health.

Calcium: Essential in bone and teeth formation, muscle contraction, absorption of B-12, blood clotting, and growth.

Copper: Necessary for absorption, storage, and metabolism of iron; key to formation of red blood cells.

Iodine: Regulates rate of energy production and body weight. Promotes growth and health of hair, nails, skin, and teeth.

Iron: Hemoglobin and myoglobin formation, oxygen and CO2 transfer, red blood cell formation, and energy release.

Magnesium: Helps heart rhythm, muscle and nerve function, and bone strength.

Phosphorous: Helps cells to function normally. Helps your body produce energy. Key for bone growth.

Potassium: Important in maintaining normal fluid balance; helps control blood pressure; reduces risk of kidney stones.

Selenium: An essential trace element; protects cells from damage; regulates thyroid hormone.

Sodium: Primarily controls the body’s osmotic pressure, hydration, and electrical activities.

Zinc: Supports the body’s immune and nerve function; important in reproduction.

Protein: A necessary major nutrient in the diet, providing amino acids, which are necessary for growth and development.

Carbohydrate: Provides basic source of energy; stored as glycogen in all tissues of the body, especially the liver and muscles.

Fat: Also known as adipose tissue. Serves as an energy reserve.

Fiber: Aids digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol.

And here’s a free printable copy of the handout!

Whats In Your Food Handout

Looking for more nutrition education materials? Here are some of the newest resources to hit the store!

Digital MyPlate Poster and MyPlate Food Photo Collection

Sodium Math Handout

Floor Sticker: Make Your Salad a Rainbow

Why whey? Or why not?

IMGP0198A couple weeks ago I posted about my Great Greek Yogurt Experiment, where I strained regular plain yogurt and made a simple version of Greek Yogurt.  What was amazing to me was the amount of whey that came out during the straining—almost ½ the product.  When I talked to people about this “experiment” the question I frequently got was “so what did you do with the whey?”

I’ll confess. I threw it down the drain.

But since so many people asked, I started investigating possible uses for this whey.

Whey from yogurt is different than whey from cheese. Sweet fluid whey is a byproduct of making cheese and contains protein, milk sugars and some minerals.  There are many commercial uses for this sweet whey.  The whey that comes out of the yogurt is called “acid whey”.  It contains lactic acid from the yogurt fermentation, a small amount of protein and minerals.

It takes two to three times as much milk to make Greek Yogurt as it does to make “regular” yogurt so you would think you get double the nutrition. Not necessarily.  Nutritional analysis shows that the Greek Yogurt has double the protein but not double the calcium. Greek yogurt is also low in potassium and magnesium.  Where did they go?  Into the whey.

Note:  Greek Yogurt is not completely void of calcium.  According to package labels 1 cup of Greek Yogurt  gives you 25% of your % Daily value of Calcium where as plain regular yogurt provides 30%.  Both are still excellent sources of calcium—it just isn’t double in the Greek Yogurt.

So, what could you do with this acid whey? A quick search through Google revealed that some folks use the acid whey in cooking and others put it on their plants.  I’m thinking it could be easily added to smoothies for some additional liquid and calcium. Perhaps you could use it as a liquid ingredient in place if water when baking yeast products.  It could be used as a substitute for buttermilk in quick breads or for marinating meat before barbequing.  Try mixing it in with your dry dog or cat food (I bet some cats are too finicky for that!). Be sure to keep it refrigerated and treat as if it were a fresh dairy product until use.

I talked with an agricultural expert and he cautioned about getting too carried away using it to fertilize your indoor plants.  He said, yes, it would be good for the plants, but it may also smell if you used it in large quantities—after all it is a dairy byproduct.

While making Greek Yogurt at home yields just small amounts of whey—the disposal of this acid whey is also a concern of the large yogurt manufacturers that have one to two pounds of whey for every pound of Greek Yogurt they make.  Most of their “waste” whey is used by farmers as fertilizers or feed for animals.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Confused About Calcium?

_FHC0790sEarlier this week the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released new recommendations regarding calcium supplements.  They are recommending AGAINST daily supplementation with 400 IU or less of vitamin D3 and 1,000 mg of calcium carbonate for healthy older women, stating that it doesn’t work to prevent bone fractures in post-menopausal women.  However, they say that the data is insignificant to make recommendations for larger doses of these supplements or for younger women or men. See the statement here:

The National Osteoporosis Foundation responded by encouraging all individuals to get the recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D to protect their bone health.  They especially urged people not to stop taking supplements they are currently taking without checking with their health care provider first.   http://www.nof.org/news/903

After reading these documents I understand why consumers and educators alike are confused about this issue. There is an excellent article on diet and osteoporosis here in our CPE library and it is very clear that osteoporosis prevention is more about a healthful diet than supplements. The author of that article, Dr. James J Kenney, PhD, FACN, agrees with the US Preventive Services Task Force, “I’ve long believed that calcium supplements and low doses of vitamin D are largely useless so I have no real problem with that recommendation change.”

One thing both groups did agree upon is that the best place to get the calcium needed for good bone health is from food. That’s all well-and-good if you like dairy products since they are the best food sources of calcium. But not everyone likes milk or can drink it. If you’re not a milk person, there are other food sources of this important mineral. Some may surprise you.

Take a look at what I found:

  • Some green vegetables naturally have calcium. One cup of broccoli contains about 75 milligrams of calcium. Other vegetables sources are collards and turnip greens. There are 226 mg. of calcium in a cup of cooked collards and 197 mg. in a similar amount of cooked turnip greens.
  • For the record, an eight-ounce glass of 2% milk has about 297 mg. of calcium. So you’d have to eat about four cups of broccoli or a cup and one-half of greens to get the same amount of calcium as in a glass of milk.
  • A quick note here. You may be thinking about spinach. It’s a green leafy vegetable; does it have calcium, too? No, sorry. Spinach, rhubarb stalks and beet greens are examples of foods that are high in a substance called oxalate. Foods with high amounts of oxalate reduce your body’s ability to absorb calcium. While spinach, rhubarb and beet greens can be part of a healthy diet for other vitamins and minerals, they are not good sources of calcium.
  • Some other sources of calcium include seeds and nuts. One ounce (about a ¼ of a cup) of almonds has 75 milligrams of calcium. The same amount of sesame and sunflower seeds has 37 mg. and 33 mg. respectively.
  • Another surprising source: figs. Ten dried figs provide 270 mg. of calcium. But use some care here, they are also loaded with sugars. Those ten figs provide about 477 calories. I checked the Nutrition Facts label on fig cookies. Yes, they do contain some calcium. Two Fig Newtons have 6% of the Daily Value of calcium. That’s about 60 mg. That’s not a great source, but it’s better than nothing and every little bit adds up.
  • There are also calcium-fortified non-dairy foods that may be helpful. These include orange juices, breakfast foods, soymilk, cereals, snacks and breads. Even some bottled water contains calcium.

It is important for children to have a healthy diet. In children, the growth of new bone exceeds bone breakdown. During this stage of life the osteoblast create new bone faster than the osteoclasts are breaking it down. Around age 30 most people attain what is called peak bone mass. By age 40 the activity of the osteoblasts starts to slow down to the point where new bone formation falls behind the breakdown of old bone by the osteoclasts. It is primarily the drop in osteoblast cell activity with age that sets the stage for osteoporosis. The result is that bone mass starts to decline in all people with increasing age.

Try smoothies for snacks and desserts. A combination of skim milk and fresh fruit is just like ice cream.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Here is the NutritionEducationStore.com show on Osteoporosis, updated with the new guidelines: