Nutrient in the Spotlight: Choline

There are several nutrients that the average American doesn’t consume enough of: potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin D rank high on that list. A nutrient that also belongs on that list, but isn’t as well-known, is choline. Only about eight percent of Americans consume adequate amounts of choline (according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), and the past two editions of the Dietary Guidelines identified it as a potential nutrient of deficiency in most Americans. Why do you need choline? Choline is important throughout the development of a fetus, especially for the brain and spinal cord. Outside of that, it plays lifelong roles in muscle control, memory, mood, and the

Activated Charcoal: What You Should Know

Sometimes, I see a food trend build in popularity and wonder if it’s worth writing about. Activated charcoal has been on my list for a while, but I didn’t think consuming charcoal was a trend that had any real staying power. Apparently, I was wrong. Now that Wal-Mart and Walgreens are carrying activated charcoal in pill form, this is a product that probably isn’t going away anytime soon. For those of you who have only used charcoal with your grill (and not in your ice cream), the idea of consuming activated charcoal is essentially to remove toxins from your body. In fact, charcoal has long been used in medical settings to treat certain types of poisoning. It is effective in these cases by bi

Should I Stretch Before My Workout?

In my last blog post, I talked about building a proper warm-up before a training session, which brought up a few questions regarding stretching. Static stretching concentrates on relaxing the muscles so you are able to stretch them to their fullest potential. This may include a yoga class or simply 3-5 stretches before you go to bed. Once finished, muscles are relaxed and loose. There are a few unique cases where static stretching prior to a workout may be beneficial. Gymnasts and dancers work to the very end of their range of motion and, therefore, need to place a similar stretch on their muscles during a warm-up. This is best accomplished through static stretching before a workout or perfo

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