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Iron-fortified cereal with milk

I am trying to make sure I get enough calcium and iron in my diet. Is it bad if I am eating iron fortified mini-wheats with milk–am I messing up my absorption of iron and calcium since they seem to cancel each other out? I got the cereal because it had lots of iron, but I wondering how much I absorb if I drink it with milk–so I didn’t know if it just better to get a non-fortified to better absorb the calcium.

Answer:

Thanks for your question. First recommendation would be to suggest you do not skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast can slow your metabolism and lead to fat gain, not the kind of weight gain that I would recommend. If your goal is weight gain, then I would recommend trying to gain weight in the form of muscle. Muscle has numerous health benefits going beyond the cosmetic aspect. Research indicates that adding strength through resistance training may positively affect risk factors like insulin resistance, glucose metabolism, metabolic rate and blood pressure. You didn’t complete your profile so I cant tell if you do any exercise or what your activity levels are but looking at your diet, you are only consuming meat in one of your daily meals. Whilst you will source some protein from nuts, seeds and beans in your diet, if weight gain is your goal, I would suggest adding a bit more protein to at least one of your meals. Add a few servings of fatty fish such as salmon or sardines per week. Adding some cottage cheese or eggs as well to boost protein intake, unless you are specifically choosing to avoid these foods. All of these protein sources are slow digesting as they contain fat within them which slows their digestion rate.

Sodium and Potassium

I monitor everything I eat so carefully; I get 7-12 servings of vegetables and fruits in a day (usually about 2:1 veg:fruit ratio, although on the especially high produce days its more like 3:1) and I make everything at home, avoiding almost all pre-made foods. I never eat out. My diet is around 1600-1800 calories a day (5’11 female, 24, 160 lbs, 24% body fat) but my sodium intake is still usually around 2500 mg and my potassium is only around 3,600 mg. A couple times a week I will have turkey bacon, and I do eat eggs, skim milk and reduced fat cheese which is fairly high in salt. My diet is around 40-44% carb, 25-30% protein and 30-32% fat (I make sure sat fat stays under 10%). If I am doing everything right, why are nutrition forums saying my K:NaCl ratio should be 4:1 when mine is closer to 1:1 or 2:1 on a really good day? Is this bad?

Answer:

I would not get too concerned about these ratio values, whilst your sodium intake is a little high, the American 2010 Dietary Guidelines outlined that dietary sodium should be limited to 2300 mg/d and potassium limited to 4700 mg/d. These are figures that less than 0.1% of the population meet, so you are doing pretty good. In addition to this there is still plenty of conflicting evidence as to the risks of consuming excess salt, only recently a study involving 6,250 subjects found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death. Its easy to look at the details too much and miss the big picture, maintaining a balanced diet with adequate fruit and veg and avoiding processed foods is the key. You are following your diet quite closely which is great, and you are only slightly over the recommended sodium allowance. You mentioned that you are consuming some products that are fairly high in salt, if you want you can reduce these. However I would say as your diet is very rich in fruit and vegetables and your meals are home cooked and non processed, I think you can afford to have a few treats from time to time!!

Low nickle diet

I am wondering if whey protein contains any traces of nickle in them? And should I be avoiding whey that has traces of soy?

Answer:

It is difficult to comment regarding whey without knowing the specific product. Whey is processed in a variety of ways and in some cases other substances are added to the final product such as minerals, flavourings and sweeteners. If the product is pure without additives I would not expect whey to contain any significant amount of nickel as it is derived from milk which is permitted on low nickel diets. Soy should be avoided and some protein powder formulations contain soy protein. Some whey protein products may include Soy Lecithin which is a fat used as part of manufacturing process of the product. Soy Lecithin could potentially contain some trace of nickel as Soy is a rich source of Nickel so you may need to be careful. I have seen whey protein products that are free from most additives so you will need to do a little research to find a product that’s best for you.