In the News: Backyard Chicken Coops, the Latest on Omega 3 Fats & Collagen Cocktails - Yum!

In this week’s round-up: Millions of kids lacking vitamin D, specialty drinks are the newest fast food trend, and Japanese women guzzling collagen in hopes of staying young
From this week's nutrition headlines: Millions of kids seriously lack vitamin D, specialty drinks are the newest fast-food trend and Japanese women are guzzling collagen in hopes of staying young. Weird, right?
"D" For "Deficient"

According to the first national study of its kind, our kids aren't getting enough vitamin D. An estimated 7.6 million kids between the ages of 1 and 21 are considered deficient by governmental standards. Why is this a big deal? Well, low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. The likely culprit for these deficiencies? Kids are watching more TV and going outside less (you get vitamin D from sunlight). Plus, they are drinking more sodas and juice drinks instead of vitamin-fortified milk.

Raising Your Own Chickens
With the recession in full swing, some folks have turned to raising chickens in their backyards to save money by collecting their eggs or using their meat. Not surprisingly, some neighbors aren't happy about extra noise and are demanding that no-poultry laws be put in place. In some states like Colorado, small flocks (without the noisy roosters) are allowed. As a dietitian and whole food advocate, it’s refreshing to see that people are getting back to those “Little House on the Prairie” days and getting closer to the source of their food. Would you ever raise your own chickens?

“Healthy” Beverages Coming to a Fast-Food Joint Near You

As if there aren’t enough places to get a specialty drink these days, more fast-food joints are serving up new signature drinks like jazzed-up coffees, teas and juices. Yogurt chain Red Mango recently launched three new iced tea drinks, and no doubt you've seen all those ads for McDonald’s McCafe line. Mickey D's also has more specialty smoothies and coffees in the works. Promos for some of these new drinks tout their inclusion of "super foods," but as I’ve said before, buyer beware -- boosted juice drinks are not all they’re cracked up to be.

Is Collagen the Real Fountain of Youth?

A hot new trend in Japan is eating collagen (a.k.a. "nabe" in Japanese), a substance that comes from the protective tissue, skin and bones of animals. Although it looks yellowish, clumpy and utterly unappetizing, Japanese women are falling for claims that the collagen will keep you looking young. Restaurants are cashing in, too. Collagen cocktails are appearing at trendy bars, and folks are even taking liquid collagen supplements. So is collagen really the next fountain of youth? If someone wants to add some to their diet, I say go for it -- the body treats it like any other protein and digests it with amino acids. But if you think you’re going to look younger and live longer by eating more of it, that's doubtful.

Updating Info on Omega-3 Needs

Debate has been brewing around whether omega-3 fats need their own official recommended dosage. There's been so much hype about omega-3 benefits (heart health, etc.) that you’d think some set recommendations would already exist. Well, omega-3 guidelines are finally in the works. In a paper recently released by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, experts suggest you get a minimum of 500 milligrams per day of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). We've previously explained what omega-3 fats are, how to get your fill and what those complicated names really mean here.

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