Dietitians and Nutritionists

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

As we say goodbye to the winter months, we welcome the spring time with open and bare arms. We get to say goodbye to sweaters, scarves, and 4pm sunsets, and hello to sun dresses and sun-kissed cheeks. So for this Nutrient Spotlight, I thought I might talk about a vitamin we get from the wonderful, amazing, nutritious rays of the SUN! Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin responsible for an array of crucial bodily functions — maintaining bone density may be the most talked about. The primary role vitamin D plays in bone density involves allowing absorption of Calcium.

So, where do we get Vitamin D?

Did you know that most of the Vitamin D that our bodies make comes from sunlight? Now, it doesn’t take a day of sunbathing on the beach to reap the benefits of the sun’s nutrient-saturated rays. All you need is about 5-10 minutes of direct, UNPROTECTED sunshine (that means no sunscreen, with some skin showing) per day to get enough exposure. So, if you can make that happen, you’re covered! After your allotted Vitamin D time, definitely throw on that sunscreen to protect yourself from irreparable skin damage, which can lead to visible changes and skin cancer.

Here’s the process, from sun through skin:body-vitaminD

If 5 minutes of sunshine per day is not possible for you, as is often the case in the summer months here in San Francisco, do not fear. There are other ways to meet your D-quota for the day!

What are good dietary sources of Vitamin D? How can we make sure to get enough when the sun doesn’t want to come out to play?

The good news for those of us who won’t be getting to soak up the sun during summer months, or for those dreading the winter’s gloomy return, is that there are alternative sources of Vitamin D. Food sources are limited, but do exist. They include fatty fish, mushrooms, and fortified milk; egg yolks provide a small amount as well. A number of other foods may also be fortified with Vitamin D, including cereals and milk substitutes like soy. Just be sure to read the labels on these items, and try to avoid adding highly processed foods into your diet in the pursuit of added nutrients — my opinion is that it’s not worth the trade off.

mushrooms

 Keep it natural!

There has been some controversy over the use of UV (ultraviolet) lamps to increase vitamin D production. On one hand, the rays have been shown to increase the nutrient concentration in mushrooms, which produce Vitamin D the same way we do. Also, users of these devices have reported noticeable improvement in mood, and fewer symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during winter months. However, these lamps also come with risk of skin damage and cancer. It may be best to discuss the risks and benefits with your doc to determine if a UV lamp is right for you.

If you are still having trouble getting enough quality sun time, and feel your diet may be lacking, speak with your physician about getting a simple blood test to check for Vitamin D deficiency. Your MD may then recommend a Vitamin D supplement if you are deficient. I highly recommend checking your levels before starting a supplement, and always check with your physician before starting any kind of regimen to avoid dangerous interactions or toxicity (too much Vitamin D). Remember, supplementation will typically only provide benefit to those who are deficient in a nutrient. Otherwise, you might as well be swallowing capsulized cash.

 

What do you think?

What are some ways you clock some outdoor hours to make sure you get enough sun time? Do you take supplements, or use a UV light? Want to share your favorite recipe using Vitamin D rich foods?

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2014: Year of the Trailblazer

2013 –

I can’t say you and I didn’t have our moments. You certainly didn’t make things easy on me. Over the last year, there have been some major peaks, coupled with significant valleys, each accompanied by imperatively important lessons to be learned.

This year I’ve seen what makes me tick, what makes me smile, what makes me giggle until I cry, and what makes me cry until there’s nothing left to do but laugh.

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I’ve learned that most of the time I’m bubbly, but it doesn’t mean I don’t also feel anger. And I’ve learned that I love Star Trek, and I’m totally ok with it.

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I’ve found that I love myself more when I’m sober than I thought I ever could. And I’ve learned that one should be ridiculously, laughably, wildly in love with his or her own life — and even more important, I’ve seen how within my control that is, and have had to remind myself multiple times that this control ironically often comes from accepting the things over which we have no control.

let it go ballooon

2013 in summary – I moved to the city of my childhood dreams; landed jobs I never thought I was qualified for (and did just fine); matched to a dietetic internship, solidifying my plans to become a registered dietitian, and met clinical cases I thought I wasn’t capable of solving (sometimes excelled, sometimes looked utterly foolish, but after all I turned out ok); I cried a lot, laughed a little bit more, moved on from a wonderful relationship that had run its course, letting go of someone I loved deeply, learned to handle my emotions without alcohol to numb them, and determined who some of my real friends were whether I was ready for it or not.

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Oh, and finally got to try poutine (Canadian french fry dish with cheese curds and gravy goodness that has been on my bucket list for some time).

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(It was delicious, of course)

All in all, 2013, it’s been REAL. No other phrase seems quite as fitting. And to your successor, 2014, I say BRING. IT. ON. I’m ready, and can’t wait to dive in, blazing my own pathway from here to Happinesstown. I am open and ready to receive the bliss I deserve. Let’s do this!

An Email Address Means This Is Now a Real Blog, Right?

New contact information! If you have any questions related to nutrition/dietetics/soul searching/the Universe, any comments about the blog, constructive criticisms, or you’d like to be a contributor, you may continue to leave comments on posts, or shoot me an email at the blog’s new address: thenourishedsoulblog@gmail.com.

 

This is me attempting to compartmentalize my life’s never-ending tasks. I look forward to hearing from you all!

 

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