Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D, that odd vitamin we get primarily by exposing ourselves to the sun. And while we tend not to have such low levels that we need to worry about contracting rickets, our lack of D can lead to such health problems as depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and increased risk for some cancers and autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D occurs naturally in very few foods: wild salmon, herring, organ meats, egg yolks, and lard (!) are about it. Milk, of course, has D added, as do some types of OJ and cereal. But it’s extremely tough to get enough D just from food.
Okay, so sunlight. Nowadays the mere word makes us think of skin cancer. We dutifully slather on our SPF 50, or, better yet, we don’t even venture outside. But by avoiding or blocking with lotion the sun’s UVB rays, we’re also cheating our bodies of the vitamin D we so desperately need.
Many dermatologists are dead set against us sunning ourselves for even a minute without sunblock, and suggest we take vitamin D pills instead. But a growing number of experts, led by Dr. Michael Holick, author of “The Vitamin D Solution,” are recommending that we do go sunblock-less once in a while. Sunblock should always be used on the face, but it’s beneficial to expose your legs and arms for five to 10 minutes in mid-day summer sun, two or three times a week. And fortunately, our bodies can make enough vitamin D in the summer to last us all year, which comes in handy in sun-scarce winter when our bodies make virtually none.
So by all means, hang on to your sunblock. But just give the sun a few minutes now and then to do its thing, and you’ll get all the D you need.
This is simmering on my stove right now. A delicious comfort dish with minimal prep prior to actual cooking time:
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium-large onion, diced
1 red, yellow, or green pepper, diced
2 lbs. ground turkey
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, well rinsed
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
3/4 tsp. basil
3/4 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sea salt
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, pressed
Optional grated cheddar or jack cheese
In large pot, heat oil over medium heat and add onion and bell pepper. Saute just until soft. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink.
Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. When ready to serve, top each bowlful with grated cheddar or jack cheese if desired. Serves 10.