I liked this article on 13 health buzzwords we’re sick of….

Because I am sick of them, too, and throw in the word “artisan” to that list because all of these words have been overused in marketing and don’t always mean what a consumer thinks they mean.

But, it got me to thinking about a couple of words that you might think are bad when associated with foods, but both of these words are good words when used with a few nutrients that those of us 50+ need for good health.

The first is “irradiated.”  We don’t want our food irradiated (it smacks of radiation, but it isn’t the same thing). Researchers have found that mushrooms can be exposed to ultraviolet light and, voila, the irradiated mushrooms are bursting with vitamin D. Why is this a good thing for older adults? We are part of the “at risk” group for vitamin D deficiency because as we age our skin is less efficient at making vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. We need 600 IU of vitamin D a day (those over 70 years need 800 IU) but data from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) found that for women aged 51-70 the average intake of vitamin D from foods was 156 IU/day and was bumped up to 404 IU/day when supplements were added to their intake…but, still short of the daily recommendation.

Vitamin D does not occur naturally in too many foods. Salmon, tuna, and some other fatty fish, as well as eggs (but the vitamin D is in the yolk) contain vitamin D so some foods producers add or fortify foods with vitamin D. Milk and dairy foods, and some (but not all) yogurt has vitamin D but you need to read the labels to find out how much.

So, I was surprised when I bought some mushrooms to toss in a stir-fry and the label said “100% Vitamin D” in a 3-ounce serving. Not all mushrooms have been irradiated to boost vitamin D so look for labels that tout the added vitamin if you want to increase your vitamin D intake with a tasty, healthy food.

The second word is “synthetic” when followed by vitamin B12. I know what you are thinking, isn’t natural always better? Not when it comes vitamin B12 and those of us over 50.Vitamin B12 is needed for red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and neurological function and is found predominantly in animal foods. The vitamin is tightly bound to the protein in foods and it takes stomach acid to separate the vitamin from the protein before it can be absorbed. Therein lies the problem…10-30% of those of us over 50 have decreased secretion of stomach acid. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends synthetic vitamin B12 (synthetic vitamin B12 is used in supplements and fortified foods) for everyone over 50 because the synthetic vitamin doesn’t need stomach acid for absorption.

So, just as some words have been used to get us buy foods, some words might turn us off from buying a food or supplement that is actually good for us.