Blogs on various topics
Vitamin D is such a cool vitamin since it can be synthesized in the body with a little help from sunlight. Today, is actually the perfect weather to go outside and soak up some vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a steroid vitamin, a group of fat-soluble pro-hormones, which encourage the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous. It is assumed that people who are exposed to normal amounts of sunlight don’t need vitamin D supplements. However, data collected in Miami, Florida where sun exposure is high showed a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. Some common reasons include: sun block, clothing, skin colour and age.
How It’s Made
People obtain vitamin D from sun exposure, food and supplements. It is biologically inert and has to undergo two chemical reactions to become active in the body. The active form of vitamin D in the body is called Calcitriol (1,25-Dihydroxycholecalciferol).
Five forms of vitamin D have been discovered.
Vitamin D1, D2, D3, D4, D5. The two forms that are well-known to the public are vitamins D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol).
- Vitamin D2, (ergocalcifero - made from ergosterol)
Vitamin D2 is produced by invertebrates (animals without a spine), fungus and plants in response to sunlight. Humans and other vertebrates do not produce vitamin D2. Ergosterol is a good absorber of ultraviolet radiation, which can damage DNA, RNA and protein; consequently many scientists believe it may serve as a sunscreen that protects organisms from sunlight damage.
- Vitamin D3, (cholecalciferol- made from 7-dehydrocholesterol)
Vitamin D3 is made in the skin when 7-dehydrocholesterol reacts with sunlight
People require 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure at least twice a week on the face, arms, hands, or back without sunscreen with a greater than 3 UV index for adequate amounts of vitamin D3. Longer exposure results in the extra vitamin supply being degraded as fast as it is generated.
Benefits of Vitamin D
The best-known role of vitamin D is a member of a large cast of nutrients and hormones that interact to regulate blood clacium and phosphorous levels
It is an immune system regulator
May help maintain a healthy body weight
Various studies have shown that poeple with adequate levels of vitamin D have a significantly lower risk of developing cancer, compared to people with insufficient or deficient level
May help maintain blood pressure
Vitamin D & Nutrition
Not that many foods contain vitamin D. Some fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils are considered to be the best sources. Some vitamin D is also present in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks. Most of these are Vitamin D3. Some mushrooms provide variable amounts of vitamin D2.
Most of the food source vitamin D in the western diet comes from fortified foods - where vitamin D is artificially added.
Vitamin D & Supplementation
Over the last few hundred years human lifestyles have changed. The industrial revolution resulted in more indoor work and less exposure to sunlight. Many societies around the world wore more clothing over the centuries, further reducing skin exposure to sunlight. These changes have brought with them a significant reduction in the natural production of vitamin D and subsequent diseases.
There is so many vitamin D supplements on the market. To help you make the right choice, you should first find out what your blood level is and get your vitamin D measured either at NutriChem or your general physician. After understanding your results, pick up the recommended dosage to help you obtain optimal health. You can talk to our Nutritionistsat NutriChem to help you get the necessary amount of vitamin D for your body.
1. Grosvenor M. and Smolin, L.(2002)Nutrition From Science to Life, Harcout College Publications, pgs 241-245
2. Levis S, Gomez A. et al. (2005) Vitamin D Deficiency and Seasonal Variation in an Adult South Florida Population, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.
3. Vitamin D (Calcitriol) http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/otherendo/vitamind.html
Speculation of fish oil benefits has been swimming through the papers - “Omega-3 fish oil supplements questioned”. The results published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed no benefit for cognitive function with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation among cognitive healthy older people. What they did not underlie in the papers is the method of the study.
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most extensively studied nutrients for their potential cardiovascular and cognitive benefits. A large body of evidence from experimental, clinical and epidemiological research has demonstrated the potential benefits of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) rich and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) rich fish oil for proper body functioning and development.
Method of Study & Observations
DHA is proven essential to pre- and postnatal brain development, whereas EPA seems more influential on behavior and mood. For cognitive development, the focus should be on the DHA amount.
The study that illustrates that Omega-3s are not beneficial had participants receive either 1 g of Omega-3 fatty acids containing 465 mg of EPA and 375 mg of DHA or placebo containing about 1 g of olive oil.
Firstly, the amount of DHA is low compared to supplements you see on the market today. In one teaspoon of Pure Premium Fish Oil you receive 1825 mg of EPA and 925 mg of DHA. Other studies have shown the DHA and EPA combinations have benefited ADHD, autism, dyslexia and aggression. For the affective disorders, meta-analyses confirm benefits in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder. And finally studies on accelerated cognitive decline and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) correlate with lowered tissue levels of DHA/EPA, and supplementation has improved cognitive function! These studies show promising methods and compared to the negative study on fish oil, the duration of the trail is longer than 2 years.
Benefits of Fish
Research suggests these benefits from fish or fish oil as part of healthy diet:
Against heart disease (supported by most studies)
- Reduce abnormal blood clotting, help sustain more regular heartbeats, and reduce inflammation of many body tissues, including the arteries of the heart
- Reducing blood triglycerides
- Delay hardening of the arteries
- Relaxation of blood vessels, mildly reducing blood pressure
In infant growth and development (well researched and accepted)
- Normal brain development in infants. DHA concentrates in the brain’s cortex, the conscious thinking part.
- Normal vision development in infants. DHA helps to for the eye’s retina
1. The New England Journal of Medicine http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1203859?query=featured_home#t=articleMethods
2. M.Laidlaw et al.(2003) Effects of supplementation with fish-oil derived n-3 fatty acids and gamma-linolenic acids on circulating plasma lipids and fatty acid profiles among women, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
3. Kidd. PM Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.
4. Harper, Charles et al. (2001). The Fats of LifeThe Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease Arch Intern Med.161(18):2185-2192.
You're gaining weight around the middle, your blood pressure is higher than normal, your blood sugar is creeping upwards...just signs of aging? No – these are signs of a serious metabolic disorder that can have significant life consequences.
Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors linked to overweight and obesity. These risk factors include:
1. Fat "around the middle", also known as abdominal obesity. This type of fat is a greater risk than fat found elsewhere on the body
2. Higher than normal blood pressure
3. Higher than normal blood sugar - an early warning sign for diabetes
4. Elevated triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood)
5. Low HDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol
If you have at least 3 of these 5 risk factors, you have metabolic syndrome, and have a significant increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
So what can you do? The best things you can do are lose weight, eat better, and get active. Pretty simple advice, although many people find it very difficult to put this into practice.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health have suggested that in the future, metabolic syndrome may surpass smoking as the top risk factor for heart disease. We all know how bad smoking is for you - so why are we not doing more to combat the obesity epidemic?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a fat-soluble substance that is found naturally in the body and is important for its role in energy metabolism. CoQ10 is found in almost every cell in the body, and is a powerful antioxidant.
Antioxidants fight damaging particles in the body known as free radicals, which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Scientists believe free radicals contribute to the aging process, as well as a number of health problems, including heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants, such as CoQ10, can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause. CoQ10 is well known for its ability to support cardiovascular health, slow atherosclerosis, prevent heart attacks, and lower blood pressure.
For a small vegetable, garlic sure has a big, and well-deserved reputation. Although garlic may not always ward off vampires, it is guaranteed to transform any meal into a bold, aromatic and healthy culinary experience.
The arrival of gourmet sea salts on store shelves has many people wondering about how it compares to table salt, and whether it is healthier and worth paying the extra money.
Healthfulness can be evaluated based on its sodium content and mineral composition. So, in comparison, sea salt does contain minerals and its’ texture, taste and the way it is processed varies from table salt. However, both sea salt and table salt have the exact chemical make-up. They both contain sodium chloride and research indicates that it’s around the same amount.
Listen up generation X & Y, it’s time to get back into bed and go to sleep. Insufficient sleep is being called a ‘global epidemic’. Recent research suggests that 35% of Canadian youth aged 12 to 17 and 61% of adults get fewer than 8 hours of sleep a night.
Recently publicized on CBC News was the amount of salt in fast foods in Canada. If you read “Shake Your Salt Habit and Boost Your Potassium ” you know that too much salt is a contributing factor to elevated blood pressure and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). With a high sodium intake, the body retains more water, which increases the blood volume and in turn, drives up the pressure. High intake of potassium seems to regulate water retention and lower the pressure.
Canadian Sodium Levels Amongst the Highest
A report, released by World Action on Salt, found that sodium levels in a selection of processed and fast food was higher in Canada compared to other countries. For example, the report found that for every 100 g of Kellogg’s All Bran sold in Canada, there was 861 mg of sodium. Compared to the U.S., 100 g of that same cereal contained 258 mg of sodium.
Recommended Adequate Sodium Intake
Consuming more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day increases your risk of health problems. Canadians consume about 3,400 mg of sodium every day, mostly through processed foods.
Here are the daily recommended intakes for Canadians:
• 1,000 mg for children age one to three.
• 1,200 mg for children age four to eight.
• 1,500 mg for people age nine to 50.
• 1,300 mg for adults age 51 to 70.
• 1,200 mg for seniors over 70.
Sodium and You
If you don’t add sodium to your foods, you shouldn’t be too concerned, unless you have a liking for foods like pizza, sandwiches, potato chips or pretzels or if you eat soup, pasta, cheese, sausage, poultry or beef. Hmm…maybe we should be concerned with our sodium intake? These foods all contain varying levels of sodium and account for more than half of the sodium Canadians consume according to Stats Canada.
How to Limit your Salt Intake?
Start by reading the label on food products. The ingredient list will tell you how much sodium is in a serving.
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Choose fresh, frozen or canned without added salts.
Season your foods with herbs and spices (it tastes a lot better).
CBC News (2011) Salt levels in fast foods higher in Canada http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/04/16/salt-fast-food.html
Strength training enhances health and well-being. Yet, some people think that strength is necessary only for highly trained athletes, and fitness enthusiasts. In fact, a well-planned strength training program leads to increased muscle strength, endurance, muscle tone, tendon and ligament strength and bone density – all of which help to improve functional physical capacity.
Benefits of Strength Training
Strength is a basic component of fitness and wellness and is crucial for optimal performance in daily activities, such as sitting, walking, doing housework and enjoying recreational activities. Strength is important becuse it improves posture, appearance and self-image. Regular strength training can also help control blood sugar. Much of the blood glucose from food consumption goes to the muscle where it is stored as glycogen. When muscles are not used, muscle cells become insulin resistant and glucose cannot enter the cells, therefore increasing the risk for diabetes.
Changes in Body Composition
A benefit of strength training, accentuated even more when combined with aerobic exercise, is a decrease in adipose or fatty tissue around the muscle fibres. The decrease in fatty tissue is often greater than muscle hypertrophy – an increase in the size of the cell. Because muscle tissue is denser than fatty tissue, people, especially women, often become discouraged because they cannot see the results readily on the scale.
Strength Training FIT TIPS
As you prepare to design your strength training program, keep the following in mind:
1.) Select exercises that will involve all major muscles groups: chest, shoulders, back, legs, arms, hip and trunk.
2.) Warm up properly before lifting weights this will increase your body temperature and reduce likliehood of injury.
Make sure you know the appropraite lifting technique
4.) Exercise larger muscle groups (chest, back, legs) before exercising smaller muscle groups (arms, abdominals, ankles).
5.) Exercise opposing muscle groups for a balanced workout. When you work your chest, also work your back. If you work the biceps, also work the triceps.
6.) Breathe! Inhale during the eccentric phase (bringing the weight down) and exhale during the concentric phase (lifting or pushing the weight up) and avoid holding your breath!
7.) Stretch it all out at the end of your workout to help your muscles return to their normal resting length and to minimize muscle soreness and risk of injury.
There is so much to discuss when it comes to strength training: mode of training, resistance, sets and frequency. Tune in next Wednesday when I discuss how much weight you should be using to stimulate strength development.
1.) Delmonico, MJ, Harris, TB, Visser, M et al. (2009) Longitudinal study of muscle strength, quality, and adipose tissue infiltration.
2.) Hoeger, Locke, Lauzon (2009) Principles and Labs for Fitness and Wellness Pages 134-161
What is known as ‘The Silent Killer”, hypertension (or high blood pressure), is the number one changeable risk factor for stroke and heart disease. High blood pressure is a silent epidemic that threatens one in every three Canadian adults. And with age, the risk of developing hypertension increases.
The idea of limiting sodium has received a lot of attention when it comes to lowering blood pressure. However, there is another player in the blood pressure challenge – potassium – but this time the goal is to consume more.