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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.

Roasted Fig and Goat Cheese Recipe with Video!

The Fig: Sweet. Succulent. Sensual.

Lucious-FigsOne of the “Seven Spices of Israel” and referenced in many religious texts as a sacred fruit, the fig (Angeer), is rich in nutrition and history.
For centuries, figs have been referenced in mythology and traditional medicine as a powerful sexual supplement. While they have yet to be adequately studied as an aphrodisiac in humans, some animal studies show figs can increase sperm count and motility. Additionally, they are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, and the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E.
The fig offers a unique combination of textures – chewy flesh, smooth skin, and crunchy seeds. California figs are typically harvested June through September. European varieties are available into the fall months. The majority of figs are dried fruits that can be enjoyed anytime of the year.
When selecting dried figs, they should be plump and soft. They will keep for long periods in a cool, dry place. When choosing fresh figs, which are beautifully delicate, select those with deep color, little bruising and sweet fragrance. Keep them in the fridge and plan to eat them in one or two days; don’t wash until ready to eat. If figs are not yet ripe, keep them at room temperature to ripen.

Figs can add a sweet sensation to just about any dish. But the high fiber can produce a laxative effect, so don’t over do.

[su_vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/176868829″ width=”720″]

Roasted Fig and Goat Cheese

You can swoon over the delectable combination of sweet, ripe fig filled with creamy goat cheese and drizzled with tangy balsamic and honey. All natural and gluten free, perfect for a romantic appetizer or healthy snacking after a little love in the afternoon!
Ingredients
12 Black Mission figs, halved vertically
1 Tbs unsalted butter
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs honey
2-3 ounces fresh goat cheese
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
While the oven preheats, melt the butter in a small saucepan, along with the balsamic vinegar, honey, and a hefty pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Place the figs, cut side up, in a baking dish the size of a pie pan. Top each fig half with a 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of goat cheese. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar syrup over the figs.
Roast in the oven until very soft, 10 to 15 minutes.
Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with flaky salt.

Calcium Essential for Strong Bones, Sound Sleep

Supplement_CalciumDid you know that Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the human body, is not only essential for strong bones, it also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems? Research shows a relationship between Calcium intake and risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, and managing a healthy weight. When it comes to sound sleep, insufficient dietary Calcium has been associated with insomnia. Calcium is instrumental in the way our brains cycle through the stages of sleep and in the ability to generate brain chemicals, including tryptophan, associated with deep sleep.

The best way to get calcium is through whole foods. Dairy products are abundant in the mineral in a form that’s easy for most people to digest. Vegans sources of this mineral include almonds, dark leafy greens, and tofu. However, figuring out how much calcium you’re actually getting from veggies is tricky. If a vegetable contains oxalic or phytic acid, then the calcium may be poorly absorbed because of the acids. For example, 1 c. of frozen spinach contains nearly as much calcium as 1 c. of milk, but only a tenth as much is absorbed because of the oxalic acid.

For a healthy adult, the recommended intake for a Calcium supplement is 1,000 – 2,000 mg daily, depending on health status and lifestyle habits including exercise. There are many factors and forms of calcium supplements (e.g., carbonate, citrate), that affect how well the body absorbs the mineral. Also, calcium supplements can interact with other medications. Too much calcium can stress other bodily systems, leading to health problems. For these reasons, consult with a health practitioner as to which type and dosage of calcium is best for you.