Filed under: Chronic Disease, Eggs, Healthy Lifestyle, Meat, Mushrooms | Tags: Vitamin D
Whenever one of my clients tells me that they recently saw their doctor for a general checkup, they also tell me that their blood work indicated they were low in Vitamin D. I’ve just come to expect this.
Vitamin D occurs naturally in very few foods: wild salmon, herring, organ meats, egg yolks, mushrooms, and lard are about it. Milk has D added, as do some types of OJ and cereal. But it’s tough to get enough D just from food. The most effective way to get our Vitamin D is actually from the sun: 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.
There have been a plethora of reports stating that a 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. The problem is that the medical community is not clear on exactly how much Vitamin D we need, or what constitutes “low” Vitamin D. For this reason, in the Annals of Internal Medicine the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended against even getting our D routinely tested, unless you have bone-health problems or a condition that can affect fat absorption, such as celiac disease.
According to a report from Harvard Medical School, even if you test low for Vitamin D, there’s little evidence that taking a D supplement will do you any good. And too much D can actually cause calcium to accumulate in your blood, which can damage your heart, blood vessels, and kidneys.
Speaking with your own doctor about the D issue and how it affects your body would be a good course of action, as well as getting outside in this glorious summer sun. (And if you happen to like liver, go for it …)
Filed under: Chronic Disease | Tags: calcium, supplements, The New York Times, Vitamin D
A new report by the Institute of Medicine indicates that not only do we likely not need calcium supplements, but that perhaps doctors have been going overboard in declaring pretty much everyone vitamin D deficient.
Most people get enough calcium from food, the report indicates, and we actually need less vitamin D than we’ve been told in recent years.
Of course, this report is further confirmation that there’s a lot of conflicting, confusing information about nutrition out there. There seems to be a study to support every point of view about how we should eat. Regarding vitamin D, though it is suspect that suddenly everyone appears to have a deficiency, I do have clients who have noticed a real difference in their health when they’ve addressed what their doctors told them were low levels of D.
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.
Filed under: Food/Health Blogs, Mushrooms | Tags: Dr. Andrew Weil, Mushrooms, Vitamin D
Looking to get more Vitamin D into your diet? It turns out Vitamin D–which helps create strong bones, boosts our immune systems, and helps ward off cancer, autoimmune diseases, and hypertension–is created by mushrooms (even picked or dried ones) that have been exposed to sunlight. Place your mushrooms gills up in the sun for six hours, and they’ll provide you with a megadose of this crucial vitamin.
For more nutrition surprises, visit Dr. Andrew Weil’s site, where, in addition to offering this mushroom advice, he extols the virtues of orange tomatoes, crushed garlic, and more.