Vitamin D: What You Need to Know for Your Health

Florida sunshine vit D

Sun exposure for Vitamin D

Worldwide interest in the health protective benefits of Vitamin D has increased exponentially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We now know that low Vitamin D levels are common among people of different ethnicities, geographic regions, and age groups. More importantly, low Vitamin D status has a strong association with serious, chronic health conditions including infectious disease. As this is emerging research, it’s easy to feel confused by conflicting scientific opinions. Here are answers to many ofthe key questions surrounding Vitamin D.

 

Is Vitamin D Good for More than Healthy Bones?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin essential to maintaining calcium balance to support bone health, muscle contraction, and cardiovascular function. Over the past 20 years, particularly during the last few years, low serum Vitamin D level (the level of Vitamin D circulating in blood) has been associated with many chronic health conditions, among them:

  • Ricketts
  • Bone loss leading to osteopenia or osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer, including breast, colon, and ovarian
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Infectious disease, including respiratory tract viral infection and coronavirus

How do you test for Vitamin D Level?

Vitamin D sufficiency or deficiency is evaluated by the measurement of serum 25-hydroxyVitamin D (25-OH-D3). This is a simple, quick blood test a physician can order.

What is a ‘Normal’ Level for Vitamin D?

Optimal serum levels for Vitamin D are a matter of debate. Different medical organizations recommend different threshold levels. For example, the Institutes of Medicine report that people with less than 25 ng/mL are deficient and 50-75 ng/mL is sufficient. The Endocrine Society, on the other hand, agrees with the 25 ng/mL for deficiency but states that levels should be higher than 75 ng/mL. Most holistic practitioners strive for a circulating level > 50 ng/mL.

When you hear “low Vitamin D,” that can mean either severe deficiency – a value so low that a person can develop a disease like Ricketts or suffer from bone loss. But it can also mean insufficient, which are levels that are not necessarily as high as they need to be for optimal function but not low enough to develop a disease.

Who Is Low in Vitamin D and Why?

Since 2008, research interest in Vitamin D expanded from a focus on the implications of simple deficiency to looking at the role of Vitamin D in the prevention of health problems. Research has revealed important findings including a detailed picture of who is most lacking in Vitamin D:

  • Affects both the developing world and industrialized world.
  • Rates are higher among women than men.
  • 50 -70 % of the European adult population.
  • 20% or higher for non-Hispanic whites, and up to 70% for non-Hispanic Blacks.
  • Even in countries with plentiful sunlight year-round, levels can be below recommended levels. An example is India, a country with a prevalence rate of 50-94% Vitamin D deficiency. As of May 2021, India was experiencing a high rate of infection of COVID-19. The role of Vitamin D in these high rates of infection is an interesting research question.

Over the years, studies on Vitamin D have focused on deficiency, rather than optimal levels for optimal function. This has changed as the association between insufficient Vitamin D and chronic health conditions continues to appear in more varied and large-scale clinical studies.

Can Vitamin D Help Prevent Viral Infection?

The research is not conclusive nor final…but it is compelling. Scientists have seen in both human and animal studies that Vitamin D plays an important role in immune system regulation, including how the immune system mounts a defense against viruses that invade the body. Recent studies suggest that people who are low in Vitamin D have greater risk for, and worse outcomes from, respiratory infection. Vitamin D seems to up-regulate or kick into high gear the immune response around certain types of viruses. It also is being studied for its role in treatment of viral infections.

Can I Boost My Vitamin D Level, Naturally?

To boost Vitamin D level naturally, experts recommend a minimum of 15-minutes, up to 30-minutes, of daily sunlight exposure without applying sunscreen. Your skin produces more Vitamin D when you spend time in the sun during the middle of the day at the time the sun is at its highest point in the sky. While this type of sun exposure can elevate Vitamin D levels, it is not a permanent solution for maintaining an optimal level of Vitamin D throughout the year. Other factors such as weather, geography, elevation, and personal health concerns come into play.

Ultimately, the ideal level for you should be discussed with Dr. Myra Reed, who will identify your need based on health history and lifestyle factors. Together you can decide how much sun exposure to get and/or how much and what kind of Vitamin D supplementation is needed. Since Vitamin D can build up to toxic levels if you take too much, it is very important to follow your doctor’s guidance.

Vitamin D has garnered a great deal of attention during these past two years. As research continues and the science evolves, we will understand more about the role Vitamin D plays in the immune response and protecting us from serious illness.

FODMAP Diet for IBS

Digestive Distress Diet

Digestive complaints are among the most common health concerns. If you’re experiencing distress, Dr.Myra Reed will evaluate the foods and substances you are eating to identify where a reaction exists. There are many ways to conduct a dietary analysis, including food diary, food allergy testing, muscle testing, and elimination diets. The FODMAP Diet is often recommended by healthcare practitioners.

What is a FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for fermentableoligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. This scientific term is used to identify groups of carbohydrates – also known as “fermentable carbs” – that trigger digestive problems such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea.

FODMAPS in Food?

You will find FODMAPS in a variety of foods:

  • Oligosaccharides: in wheat, rye, legumes, garlic and onions.
  • Disaccharides: in milk, yogurt and soft cheese. Lactose (milk sugar) is the main carb culprit.
  • Monosaccharides: in many different fruits, including fig and mango, and sweeteners such as honey and agave nectar. Fructose (fruit sugar) is the main carb culprit.
  • Polyols: in blackberries and lychee, as well as some low-calorie sweeteners like those in sugar-free gum.

Why the Low-FODMAP Diet?

Research and clinical experience demonstrate that following a diet low in fermentable carbs reduces digestive distress, improves enjoyment of eating, and supports gut health by promoting the growth of good gut bacteria.

Starting a Low-FODMAP Diet

There are several stages, briefly outlined here:

Stage 1: Restriction of high-FODMAP foods. This involves strict avoidance of foods that have been identified or are suspected to be irritants to the digestive system. This stage lasts eight weeks for most people. You will record food intake and monitor symptoms and health variables, which you will discuss with your doctor/ nutritionist.

Stage 2: Reintroduction. You systematically reintroduce high-FODMAP foods to learn which ones you can tolerate and in what amount, or if you are sensitive to several/ all FODMAPS.

Stage 3: Personalization. With the data collected in the first two stages, you and  Dr. Myra will establish a personalized low-FODMAP diet. You will progress over time to ensure you have a diet that is flexible, manageable, and provides a variety of nutrients and flavors.Remember: check with Dr Myra Reed before you try adopting this diet because it has to be customized to your specific food intolerances/ allergies.

References

Fermented Foods

You can support your gut health with fermented, nutrient-potent foods. Ranging from tangy to bitterly-sweet in flavor, these foods originated decades ago in the cultures of Japan, China, India, and Germany.
Fermenting imbues foods with the health-enhancing properties of live bacteria, providing an ample source of probiotics, which are essential to a strong digestive tract. Probiotics help build up antibodies to pathogens and provide for a strong “gut immunity” which is key to maintaining overall vibrant health.
Fermented Foods Short List

  • Cultured Dairy: Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sour cream, and some cheeses
  • Veggies: Beets, radishes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kimchi, green beans, sauerkraut
  • Condiments fermented at home or commercially: ketchup, relish, salsa, chutney
  • Other: Miso, tempeh, tofu, soy sauce, and kombucha (check that sugar content is not high on any pre-packaged or bottled fermented food).

Tips for Choosing & Storing Fermented Food

  1. Food labels must be marked “fermented.”
  2. Fermented and “pasteurized” do not go together. Pasteurization kills live cultures.
  3. Pickled is not the same as fermented (unless indicated on the label). Pickled foods are soaked in vinegar or brine.
  4. Choose organic, non-GMO items or locally farmed products.
  5. All fermented foods must be kept cool to maintain the live cultures.

Adding Fermented Foods to Your Daily Diet

When introducing fermented foods to your daily diet, start with small servings such as 1-2x a day. A few easy ways to sneak in fermented foods: Toss fermented veggies into salads or rice dishes. Enjoy fermented food as a snack or as a side dish (e.g., beets, tempeh, kimchi). Add a spoonful of a fermented food to your morning smoothie (e.g., beets, kefir)

.References

Fermented foods not your thing?

An alternative to fermented foods are quality probiotics and prebiotics in tablet, capsule and powder forms. Our office has researched the most effective probiotics tailored to specific needs like weight loss, women’s genitourinary health, detoxification, and brain support such as mood disorders.  Though we carry many quality refrigerated brands, not all types need to be refrigerated. Talk to our team about which product suits you best. 

  You can also order these pure products from Klaire Labs 1-888-488-2488  code W-11
Order supplements


Fermented Vegetable Medley

When you hunger for something tangy, nutritionally potent, and full of beneficial bacteria to help heal an aggravated digestive tract, fermented veggies are a wonderful option. They’re a great side to any meal (vegan or carnivore) and can be added to a hearty stews. This recipe gives you a variety of options, with a focus on veggies that are least likely to irritate those with sensitive digestion.

Equipment Needed for Preparation & Storage

  • 1-gallon or 4-liter glass, enameled or clay jar which will be your fermentation jar
  • 1 small plate that fits into the fermentation jar
  • 1 small glass jar, filled with water

Ingredients 

  • 1 head of red cabbage, roughly cut
  • 1 medium-size beetroot, sliced
  • Handful of garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 T of sea salt
  • 1 t. dill seeds or dill herb (fresh or dry)

Personal Choice of Additional veggies & herbs: carrots, bell pepper, fennel, parsnip, radish, shredded broccoli, etc.

Preparation 

  • Combine all the vegetables and herbs and put them into the fermentation jar. The amount of vegetables should not go beyond the half-way mark on the jar.
  • Fill the rest of the jar with filtered water and add salt.
  • Float the small plate on top and submerge it with the small jar (filled with water to keep it down). This way the vegetables won’t float to the top and get moldy.
  • Leave to ferment for 1-2 weeks at room temperature.
  • You will know the medley is ready when the vegetables are soft and tangy.
  • To stop the fermentation process, transfer the medley to smaller jars and keep them in the fridge; they keep well for weeks.

References

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Digestive Distress: Holistic Approaches to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When the smooth rhythm of the muscles of the digestive tract is disrupted, either moving too quickly or too slowly, we experience digestive distress. For some of us, this distress can be frequent and painful, creating a major disruption in our life and in our lifestyle.
Several health conditions are marked by severe digestive distress including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). While all of these conditions involve inflammation of the lining of the bowel, IBS can be healed through careful shifts in diet and lifestyle.
What is IBS?IBS is marked by abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, and a cluster of symptoms that last for three months or longer. Symptoms vary for each person and can include:

  • Stomach gas and bloating
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Nausea after eating
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night
  • Weight loss not explained by dieting or other health concerns

IBS can be caused by one or several underlying health factors that cause a disruption in the digestive tract. These factors can include:
   Food Allergy or Sensitivity. Research has shown that IBS can be triggered or made worse in people who are consuming foods to which they have a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity. For some people a specific category of carbohydrate foods known as “high-FODMAP” create symptoms of IBS. For a list of food culprits, read the article below and see how you can help determine what is causing your distress.
  Imbalance in Gut Flora. In the digestive system, we have friendly gut flora that support the process of digestion, nutrient absorption, and immunity. If we don’t have enough friendly flora, or there is an overgrowth of unfriendly flora, or an “invader” yeast or bacteria, then inflammation, nutritional deficiency, and digestive distress can result. Toxins, processed foods, stress and antibiotic use can also increase inflammation and trigger or worsen IBS.
  Hormones. Changes in hormones, particularly for women, can cause a cascade of changes in the body, including digestion. Dr Myra Reed has many years of experience in bio-identical hormone treatment and replacement.  Please email  info@drmyrareed.com or call our clinic  850-249-5000 for more information, especially if interested in hormone pellets. Pellets are easy to replace and give a steady natural release of testosterone over time without the hassle or inconvenience of topical, oral or shots. 
A Holistic Plan for Healing IBSDr. Myra Reed assess for IBS using diagnostic tools such as physical exam, lab tests, stool and urine tests, food allergy or intolerance testing, dietary assessment, and assessment of lifestyle factors including stress level, fatigue, etc. The goal is to identify sources of inflammation that have set the stage for developing IBS. Once identified, Dr Myra and you, the patient, along with our health coach, Abby Pease, will develop a plan to minimize/ eliminate exposure to triggers, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
The “healing plan” for IBS will be different for every person because so many factors interact to produce inflammation and symptoms. This plan can include following a Low-FODMAP or elimination Diet (useful for a variety of GI conditions), nutritional and herbal supplementation, stress management, avoiding smoking and caffeine, moderating alcohol intake, adjusting sleeping habits and exercise.
 If you suspect that you are affected by IBS, contact Dr Myra Reed about an evaluation and put yourself on the road to wellness. It is possible to enjoy food again and heal from Irritable Bowel Syndrome by getting to the root cause.