With vitamins, you can have too much of a good thing, actually

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

March 21, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

To keep my body strong for running and my energy level up, I eat fortified cereal in the morning, take a multi-vitamin with lunch and have an energy bar or two as an afternoon snack. A co-worker tells me I'm overdoing it. Am I?

Today's "fortified food" fetish can be troubling. While everyone's tolerance is different, high doses of vitamins and minerals can definitely tax your system.

You may have been told, for example, that Vitamin A is good for your eyes, but with too much you risk weak bones, osteoporosis and liver abnormalities. If you are pregnant, birth defects are another potential danger. Food sources are the best way to get your vitamins, but supplements are great if your diet falls short of the government's recommended daily allowance. To avoid exceeding your limit, start reading labels and try not to combine supplements.

I want to cut trans fats out of my diet. Besides french fries and Oreo cookies, what foods should I stay away from?

Bravo for trying to remove trans fatty acids from your diet. While it's nearly impossible to eliminate them entirely, cutting back will do wonders for your heart. The foods listed below are loaded with trans fats, so the next time you come face-to-face with them, just walk on by.

Bagged or boxed baked goods (doughnuts, cakes, cookies)

Fried fast foods

Soup cups and Ramen noodles

Frozen foods (pizza, waffles)

Spreads (shortening, margarine)

If you're checking labels, steer clear of foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats).

What is subcutaneous fat?

Also called subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), subcutaneous fat is the fat located just beneath the skin. The other form body fat can take, visceral fat, is deeper and protects your inner organs.

Studies have shown that exercise has more of an impact on subcutaneous fat (the opposite is true of dieting, which has more of an influence on visceral fat). This explains why some who lose weight through dieting alone are still unhappy with their body shape. Subcutaneous fat also insulates against the cold, which is why those who over-exercise often find it hard to stay warm.

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