Teaching the vitamins

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This week my classes are covering the vitamins - which can be a bit of a challenge to teach in an engaging and effective way.  Vitamin discovery peaks my interest and I've found is a good way to introduce the role of vitamins, the consequences of inadequacy, and the connection to health and disease.   Here are a couple of videos I've integrated into online quizzes.   1) short video on the history of vitamins.   Among the multiple fun facts to ask students  - What year was vitamin C first proposed as an essential vitamin?   Name one of the five letters in the alphabet after which a vitamin has not yet been proposed or named.  2) And yes, it says "6th grade video", but I've open the water-soluble vitamin class with this video for years 🙂  "In the early 1900's a "mysterious" disease ravaged the American south resulting in tens of thousands of institutionalizations and deaths.   As addressed in chapter 8, watch this interesting video about the investigation and exploration of what came to be identified as a vitamin deficiency."   The online "quiz" includes questions like:   

  1. What were some of the early theories considered as cause for the mysterious disease found primarily in the rural south in the early 1900's?
  2. What was the disease called and what vitamin was the deficiency and the resulting effects ultimately attributed?
  3. Deficiency of the vitamin you identified in the preceding question is very rarely observed in the U.S. since the mid-1900s.   In addition to improvements in the availability of a more varied diet, comment on why you think this deficiency, likely along with other possible deficiency conditions, was essentially eradicated in the U.S.   A hint can be found here.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446222/

Another assignment is: 

  1. Visit the National Institutes of Health website for factsheets on vitamins and minerals.   Choose one of the fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble B-vitamins or vitamin C and click on the vitamin's name in the list.   Choose "health professional" fact sheet.   Which vitamin did you choose?
  2. Skim the fact sheet for the vitamin you chose as you scroll down to the section on "Vitamin ____ Intake and Status".    According to survey data (NHANES) comment on the intake of this vitamin in the U.S. (i.e., do most people meet recommended intake levels or fall short?)
  3. Continue to scroll down the fact sheet to the section of the vitamin you chose under "Vitamin ____ and Health".    Identify at least two conditions or diseases that are listed as having a possible association with this vitamin?   You will note that often evidence is lacking for a strong association with conditions/diseases listed.    
  4. Scroll down to the section on "Health Risks from Excessive Vitamin _____"   Recall that not all vitamins have an established Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) - if provided, what is the UL for the vitamin you chose?   What, if any, health risks are associated with excess intake?  (in most cases, excess intake comes only through inappropriate supplementation not through food alone)
  5. These fact sheets can be of value to practicing health professionals and the public when evaluating dietary supplements or to learn more about vitamins and minerals.  In reading through the fact sheet on the vitamin you explored, was there any other information that was of interest?   


About the Author
Jamie Pope, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Assistant Professor of Practice in Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University, has worked in the areas of obesity research, health promotion, heart disease prevention, and since 2000 teaching introductory nutrition. Beyond the classroom, she adapted portions of her nutrition courses to produce a Massive Open Online Course attracting more than 175,000 participants from around the world. This experience earned Jamie an Innovation in Teaching award from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She is the co-author of the textbook entitled Nutrition for a Changing World. Now in its second edition, the text is in use in over 140 universities across the U.S. and the recipient of a 2020 Textbook Excellence Award. Most recently she developed and produced an audio course for Learn25.com (Nutrition 101: Understanding the Science and Practice of Eating Well) that is also featured on platforms like Apple Books and Audible. Jamie holds a Master’s of Science degree in Nutrition and post graduate work in Health Psychology. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has authored or contributed to numerous scientific and popular press publications. Jamie also held several corporate positions, serving as nutrition consultant and media representative.