Nutrition Glossary (cont.)

Gluten: A protein found in wheat or related grains and many foods that we eat. Gluten can be found in a large variety of foods including soups, salad dressings, processed foods and natural flavorings. Unidentified starch, binders and fillers in medications or vitamins can be unsuspected sources of gluten.

HDL cholesterol: Lipoproteins, which are combinations of lipids (fats) and proteins, are the form in which lipids are transported in the blood. The high-density lipoproteins transport cholesterol from the tissues of the body to the liver so it can be gotten rid of (in the bile). HDL cholesterol is therefore considered the "good" cholesterol. The higher the HDL cholesterol level, the lower the risk of coronary artery disease.

Herbal - 1. An adjective, referring to herbs, as in an herbal tea.
2. A noun, usually reflecting the botanical or medicinal aspects of herbs; also a book which catalogs and illustrates herbs.
The word "herbal" was pronounced with a silent "h" on both sides of the Atlantic until the 19th century but this usage persists only on the American side.

Infant Vitamin Requirements - Vitamins are organic substances that are essential in minute quantities for the proper growth, maintenance, and functioning of the baby. Vitamins must be obtained from food because the body cannot produce them. The exception is vitamin D, which can be produced by the skin when it is exposed to the sun.

There are four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and several water-soluble vitamins (the "B" vitamins - niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and biotin). These vitamins have been added to infant formulas to ensure proper nutrition. Unless otherwise directed by their pediatricians, routine vitamin supplementation is not necessary for healthy full-term infants taking formulas.

High doses of certain vitamins can have adverse effects. For example, high doses of vitamin A can cause headaches, vomiting, liver damage, brain swelling, and bone abnormalities. High doses of vitamin D can lead to high levels of calcium in blood and kidney and heart damage. Therefore, high doses of vitamins should NOT be given to infants and young children without supervision by their pediatricians.

Infants who are low birth weight (LBW) or premature need supplemental vitamins (and iron) and special formulas. These specialized formulas contain more calories per ounce than routine formula, but are manufactured in a special way so as to be easily absorbed by the immature digestive system. There are several brands of this type of formula (for example, Similac Special Care and Similac LBW (Ross Pharmaceuticals)). Part of preparing an infant for discharge from the neonatal ICU involves establishing proper nutrition, which must be continued by the parents at home. Individual recommendations will be made by the infant's neonatologist.

Iodine: Essential element in the diet. The thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. The two most important thyroid hormones are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroxine (T4) has four iodine molecules attached to its structure, while triiodothyronine (T3) has three iodine molecules attached. Iodine is found in seafood, bread, salt, and seaweed.

Iodine deficiency: Iodine is a natural requirement of our diets. Iodine deficiency can lead to inadequate production of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). For example, in some parts of Zaire, Ecuador, India, and Chile, remote, mountainous areas, such as in the Alps (in the past), Andes and the Himalayas have a particular predisposition to severe iodine deficiency, goiter, and hypothyroidism. Since the addition of iodine to table salt, iodine deficiency is rarely seen in the United States.

Iodine excess: Too much iodine may lead to the development of a goiter (swelling of the thyroid gland) and hypothyroidism (abnormally low thyroid activity). Certain foods and medications contain large amounts of iodine. Examples include seaweed; iodine-rich expectorants (such as SSKI and Lugol's solution) used in the treatment of cough, asthma, chronic pulmonary disease; and amiodarone (Cordarone), an iodine-rich medication used in the control of abnormal heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias).

Iron deficiency: Deficiency of iron results in anemia because iron is necessary to make hemoglobin, the key molecule in red blood cells responsible for the transport of oxygen. In iron deficiency anemia, the red cells are unusually small (microcytic) and pale (hypochromic). Characteristic features of iron deficiency anemia in children include failure to thrive (grow) and increased infections. The treatment of iron deficiency anemia , whether it be in children or adults, is with iron and iron-containing foods. Food sources of iron include meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables and cereals (especially those fortified with iron). According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Recommended Dietary Allowances of iron are 15 milligrams per day for women and 10 milligrams per day for men.

Iron excess: Iron overload can damage the heart, liver, gonads and other organs. Iron overload is a particular risk for:

  • People with certain genetic conditions such as hemochromatosis; and
  • People receiving repeated blood transfusions.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Recommended Dietary Allowances of iron are 15 milligrams per day for women and 10 milligrams per day for men.

Iron poisoning: Iron supplements meant for adults (such as pregnant women) are a major cause of poisoning in children. Care should be taken to keep iron supplements safely away from children.

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