3 reasons to supplement with vitamin D this winter

Check out my latest blog post for the Ottawa Mommy Club!

3 reasons to supplement with vitamin D this winter

Enjoy!

Stock image purchased from Dreamstime.com

Stock image purchased from Dreamstime.com

3 reasons to take vitamin D this winter

Winter is approaching which means it is time to start thinking about supplementing with Vitamin D.  Of course, getting all your vitamins and minerals through food is ideal, however vitamin D is the exception and I recommend everyone should supplement with it for the following reasons:

1. Vitamin D is not available in food in the required daily amounts to maintain good health.  As an adult, you need 2,000-4,000 IU of vitamin D per day.  A 100 mg serving of tuna or salmon only contains 200 IU.  Certain foods like cereals, milk and orange juice are fortified with extra vitamin D, however the amounts are still minimal.  And we have all heard of cod liver oil, it contains vitamin D but doesn’t have the most pleasant taste. Incorporating these foods into your diet will prevent a deficiency, but may not be enough for optimal health.

2. Do you live in North America? Then you live far, far away from the equator and your amount of exposure to the sun in the winter is limited.  Are you familiar with waking up and going to work before the sun rises? And then leaving work and it is already dark outside? Even if you go outside on your lunch break, you will be all bundled up due to the frigid weather that the only part of your face exposed to the sun will be your face! Sunlight stimulates your skin to produce vitamin D, and limited exposure to the sun during the winter months can easily lead to a vitamin D deficiency.

3. Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety, frequent colds and flus, autoimmune conditions, eczema, psoriasis, asthma or allergies? Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to these conditions and people who have them often need higher therapeutic amounts of vitamin D to help improve their condition.

As always, taking a new vitamin or mineral supplement should be discussed with your primary health care provider before starting to make sure it is right for your individual situation and to determine what amount is best for you.

Have a happy winter season!

Maintain strong, healthy bones for life

Here’s a sneak peak at my next article in Healthy Directions Online Magazine called ‘Maintain strong, healthy bones for life’.

Stay tuned for the full length article coming out in the April/May edition!

At around age 40 bone loss naturally begins to occur and maintaining strong, healthy bones is crucial to preventing osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis is a medical condition where bones become thin, brittle and porous due to loss of protein and mineral content; calcium in particular.  Osteoporosis is characterized by reduced bone strength making them increasingly fragile and prone to breaking.  In older adults, falls and broken bones can significantly decrease one’s quality of life.

What increases the risk of developing osteoporosis?

  • Genetics and family history of osteoporosis
  • Decreased estrogen levels in women once they transition to menopause
  • Cigarette smoking and alcohol intake
  • Diets low in calcium
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Lack of exercise
  • Prolonged use of certain medications

Tips to maintain strong, healthy bones for life

  • Exercise: Aim to exercise 30 minutes per day, five days per week and include weight-bearing and strength training exercises such as weight lifting, running, climbing stairs, dancing, yoga, and aerobics.  Ensure you choose exercises at an intensity level appropriate for your abilities. The force exerted on the muscles and joints triggers your body to strengthen bone.
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarette smoking: These lifestyle behaviours are correlated with reduced bone density and increased risk of osteoporosis.
  • Avoid cola drinks: The phosphoric acid in these drinks binds to calcium preventing absorption.  They also increase the acidity of the blood and cause calcium to be released from the bones to neutralize the acid.
  • Get some sun:  20 minutes of exposure to sunlight, avoid peak hours 11 am to 3 pm, will increase skin’s production of vitamin D.  You need vitamin D to absorb calcium into bone.  Vitamin D supplementation may be necessary during the winter months.
  • Incorporate calcium-rich foods into your diet:  Dairy products do contain calcium however if you are vegan or have a food sensitivity to dairy there are a variety of other foods to choose from that are rich in calcium including: soy milk, soy beans, tofu, oatmeal, broccoli, kale, arugula, oranges, figs, sardines, salmon, white beans, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.

Here’s some delicious kale salad recipes to inspire you to add more calcium to your diet:

Kale and Arugula Salad

Kale, Orange and Avocado Salad

Kale and Broccoli Salad

3 natural ways to prevent the winter blues

Are the shorter days and colder weather leaving you feeling blue? Winter is coming and with the lack of sunlight comes the winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Common symptoms of SAD include: sadness, irritability, lack of interest in work and social activities, increased appetite, weight gain, increased sleep and decreased energy.

Here’s 3 natural ways to boost your mood this winter and prevent feeling SAD:

1. Supplement with vitamin D: Less sunlight means less vitamin D production in your body.  Vitamin D is required for a positive mood and supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of depression.  Speak to your naturopathic doctor for the appropriate dose of vitamin D required for your individual health situation.  Increased vitamin D can also be obtained from eggs and vitamin D enriched foods like milk products and orange juice.

2. Supplement with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement:  Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your nervous system and mood regulation benefiting symptoms of depression.  They are commonly found in fish, seafood, and flaxseeds.  Therefore including these foods in your diet can be helpful to prevent a deficiency.  However, if you do suffer from SAD and other mood disorders a much higher therapeutic dose is required to produce an improvement in your symptoms.  Speak to your naturopathic doctor for the appropriate dose of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

3. Get out there and exercise!  Exercise boosts your mood and increases the amount of endorphins (the happiness hormones) in your body.  There are many fun outdoor winter activities to take advantage of such as skating, snowshoeing, cross country or downhill skiing and snowboarding.  If these don’t interest you, investigate options for continuing your favourite summer activities indoors. Of course, there is always the gym and an unlimited amount of other exercise options available so figure out what you enjoy doing, get out there and move!

It is important to remember that the symptoms of SAD overlap with the symptoms of other health conditions such as major depressive disorder and hypothyroidism so it is always important to see your primary healthcare provider to have your symptoms investigated thoroughly.  It is also best to see them before starting any new supplements to make sure there are no interactions with medications you may be on.

Hopefully these tips leave you feeling happier this winter season!

Feel free to share your thoughts and other tips for preventing the winter blues 🙂