Figuring Out Fiber

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By now the secret is out. Fiber keeps you-um- regular. But fiber gets a bad rap, because it promotes images of your grandma’s prunes and weird, grainy orange drinks. Not so yummy. It’s no wonder that according to National Health and Nutrition Examination survey (NHANES), 9 out of 10 Americans aren’t getting enough fiber. It may not have the most glamorous role in a healthy diet but trust me, it’s important. So let’s take this intriguing lesson from the top.

There are two types of fiber. Insoluble and soluble. The basic rule of thumb is that soluble fiber dissolves in water and insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fiber is attracted to water so it’s best to drink lots of water in order for it to work most effectively. When it is ingested, the fiber pulls in water from the body, forming a gel which pulls out cholesterol and delays digestion. By slowing the rate at which the stomach empties, soluble fiber gives the body a better chance to control blood sugar levels. This has been shown to be extremely beneficial for those with insulin sensitivity and diabetes. Delayed stomach emptying from the ingestion of fiber is also useful in keeping you fuller for longer periods of time. Recent research shows that even a small increase (5 to 10 grams) of soluble fiber per day can reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) by 5 percent.  Soluble fiber can be found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, bran, nuts and seeds.

Insoluble fibers consist mostly of compounds found in plant cells and bran layers in cereal. They play a vital role in keeping your gastrointestinal tract on track. Because they do not dissolve in water, they pass through the digestive system intact and relatively quickly. This in turn promotes regularity by stimulating the movement of the intestinal muscles, pushing out waste and cleaning out your intestines. Insoluble fiber can be found in the skins of fruits such as apples and pears, root and leafy vegetables.

Use these three meal ideas below to get you started! Just remember, work yourself up to a high-fiber diet and drink at least one full glass of water with each meal to avoid stomach discomfort, cramping and bloating.

Breakfast:

A guaranteed way to amp up your intake is to start your day with a ½ cup of oatmeal, topped with 3 tablespoons of GG Bran Sprinkles and a ½ cup of sliced strawberries. That’s 11 grams of fiber for less than 200 calories! This breakfast is sure to get you through until lunchtime without a case of the mid morning munchies.

Lunch:

Take your typical lunchtime sandwich order and kick it up with some fiber! Switch to 100% whole grain bread, top turkey with spinach, tomatoes and sprouts and swap chips for carrots and cucumbers.  By making these 3 small changes to your sandwich you can add 5 to 7 grams of fiber without sacrificing taste. When packing lunch for myself or my family I rely on Trader Joe’s 100% Mulitgrain Fiber bread. One slice has 6 grams of fiber and only 100 calories.

Dinner:

Change up the typical green starter salad by adding some extra ingredients. Toss in ¼ cup of navy beans and you’ll add 4 to 5 grams. Add in hearts of palm, which is the tender cord taken from the center of a cabbage palm, as an easy way to increase fiber content. They typically are sold canned, so remember to rinse thoroughly to lower the sodium content before loading them onto your salad. One cup contains 4 grams of fiber and less than 50 calories!

For an entrée, cook up a cup and a half of Al Dente BonaChia Fettuccine  and toss with marinated artichoke hearts. Instead of refined white flour, this pasta is made with chia grain and provides 4 grams of fiber per serving. By adding in a half cup of artichokes you’ll amp up the fiber content by 7 grams. This delicious pasta dish is only 300 calories and packs in 11 grams of fiber!

The moral of the story?  Fiber is very important to health, digestion and weight loss. But there’s no need to rush out and buy a chalky powder or supplement to increase your fiber intake. It’s just as easy to obtain fiber through food, and so much tastier! If you’re curious to try some of the fibrous products mentioned check out my June Bestowed box for GG Bran Sprinkles and Al Dente BonaChia Fettuccine. Eat Well!

Eat Your Illnesses Away

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Before you pick your poison, albeit Advil, Excedrin or TUMS, you may want to take a trip to your refrigerator, pantry or spice rack before you pop a pill. There are certain items in there that can treat your everyday ailments. They may not work for everyone but these easy home remedies often work better than over the counter drugs with way fewer chemicals and potential side effects. It should ‘t come as a surprise that food has the power to heal because what you eat and drink dictates your long-term wellness, so it only makes sense for it to be medicine too. Read up on these easy Secret Kitchen Cures from Whole Living and find out why you should reach for the sesame oil instead of sleepy time for your insomnia and so much more!

The Big C

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We hear and talk about the big, bad C word all the time. It unfortunately affects millions of people all over the world; we now live in a world where having or knowing someone who has been diagnosed with cancer is as common as catching a cold. So why be the rule, when you can be the exception? All over the world, studies are being conducted on possible prevention methods and the most convincing and astonishing evidence is stemming from nutrition and physical activity. While they may not be cure alls, they definitely don’t hurt.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I am going to focus primarily on decreased risk factors specific to breast cancer, especially those who have a heightened risk due to genetic factors (having a first degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer or having the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation). Thankfully, however, these are also many of the prevention tips for other cancers as well as a general healthy living guideline for any and everyone.

Did You Know…?

  • About 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • In 2010, there were more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer besides lung cancer.
  • Postmenopausal women who decreased their weight 4 to 11 pounds, decrease their risk by 20%.
  • For postmenopausal women, every 11 pounds gained, you increase your risk by 3%.
  • Just being overweight postmenopausal, increases your risk by 30-60%.

So now that you know, it’s time to do something about it. Since just being a woman and aging are the two biggest risk factors and completely unavoidable (unless you’ve found the fountain of youth, and if you have… do you mind sharing?), I think it only appropriate to start with something that is controllable: weight. Being as lean as possible without becoming underweight is one of the preventative measures you can take to decrease your risk. Avoiding weight and waist gain, especially through adulthood, may decrease your risk up 20% and in order to do so, you must adopt a healthful diet. A study following 86,000 nurses over 26 years was just published in the American Journal or Epidemiology in August showing a correlation between a diet high in plant foods, and decreased red meat, sodium and processed carbohydrate intake decreased their risk of developing estrogen-receptor negative invasive breast cancer by 20% (estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer is responsible for 25% of all malignancies and is a type of cancer that currently has no effective treatment). Start by cutting out red meat little by little and replacing it with tons of vegetables, fruits and legumes to reduce your risk too. Are you nuts for nuts? Another study published in the August/September issue of Cancer and Nutrition indicates that there may be a correlation between walnuts and decreased breast cancer risk as well, but you need to eat 2oz of walnuts daily to see benefits.

What else can you do? Take Action. Studies have showed that being physically active for at least 30 minutes every day can reduce your risk as well. Increasing your physical activity decreases your body fat, decreases insulin and IG-1 levels, reduces inflammation as well as reducing free estrogen levels, which are all potential body fat mechanisms for cancer. And that’s not all because it’s not only for weight control. Physical activity, even if it’s just walking 10-15 minutes around the block, limits sedentary and TV time, can relieve stress and help sleep, all of which are relative risk factors for developing cancer.

Now for the take home messages…

  • Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (at least 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables and fruits daily)
  • Increase your dietary fiber, foods high in antioxidants (vitamin C, lycopene, beta-carotene, flavonoids, magnesium, folate, allium) and cruciferious vegetables
  • Avoid sugary drinks, high fat foods, salty and processed foods, red meat and alcohol

Avoid long term use of estrogen replacement therapy at menopause

 

Gluten Freedom

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Health crazes and diet trends may come and go but every so often there are advances in the nutrition and medical field that are true game changers. For decades, individuals diagnosed with Celiac disease were simply characterized with ghastly gastrointestinal problems, but with further research this multisystemic autoimmune disorder is now known to be caused by permanent intolerance to gluten, predominately found in genetically susceptible individuals. Gluten is the main storage protein of wheat, rye and barley. While gluten is mainly found in foods, shockingly it is even an ingredient in everyday products such as medicines, vitamins, lip balms, play dough, toothpastes, and adhesives. Gluten wears many hats- it provides elasticity to dough, acts as a binder in many recipes, adds flavor and protein and lends that much beloved chewy texture to delicious baked goods.  With the increasing prevalence of diagnoses of Celiac disease in America, the demand for gluten free products has skyrocketed; the food industry has strongly met those demands by putting out numerous gluten-free products, making the life of sensitive to gluten easier. But, those burdened by this disease are not the only ones scooping the gluten-free brownies off the shelf of your supermarket, health conscious individuals are buying them too. So should you reach for your inner gluten freedom as well?

Well, truth be told, the only incontrovertible evidence showing the benefits of a strict gluten-free diet have been a result of research investigating its effectiveness in individuals with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease. These individuals, when introducing gluten into their diet for a prolonged period of time, have flattened villi in their small intestine, meaning they are unable to absorb many of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are necessary for optimal health. Including gluten in their diet leads to a slew of gastrointestinal problems and, more often than not, can cause iron-deficiency anemia, reduce bone mineral density and chronic fatigue, and that’s only the beginning. Currently, the only scientifically proven treatment for Celiac disease is a strict lifelong adherence to a gluten-free diet and after sticking to this diet for a few months, the villi of the small intestine return to normal and the signs and symptoms begin to disappear.

Gluten-free diets have also been put under the microscope as possible treatment options for individuals with autism, ADD/ADHD, and IBS. Some parents, doctors and researchers say that children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome have shown mild to dramatic improvements in speech and/or behavior when following a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet. Also, while a gluten-free diet may alleviate some symptoms, it is not proven effective as the sole treatment option for ADD/ADHD and IBS, and it is best to consult your dietician and physician before completely removing gluten from you or your child’s diet.

So what about the rest of us? Oprah eliminated gluten from her diet during her “21-day cleanse” and claimed astounding results, is she personally responsible for deeming gluten the latest dietary bad boy? While doctors estimate just 1% of the population have Celiac disease, marketers estimate that 15% to 25% of consumers want gluten-free foods. Why? Surprisingly, even if you don’t have full-fledged gluten intolerance you still may be slightly sensitive to it, causing symptoms ranging from bloating and discomfort to rashes. So, if you think you and gluten don’t mix, you may actually be right. However, the health craze may not even be gluten-related but rather a placebo effect. Gluten shunners may actually be feeling better and lose weight because they are consuming fewer processed and fast foods and reaching for healthier options like fruits, vegetables and certain whole grains. A high gluten diet may mean that you are over-consuming simple carbohydrates and sugars, two things that are digested quickly making you eat more often than you should, upping your caloric intake causing you to gain weight.

Clearly there is a fad aspect to the diet, but if it gets college kids off pizza, bagels and beer, in my opinion, the fad doesn’t seem to be so bad. What we have learned is that what is more important than minimizing your gluten intake, is what you are replacing it with. A well-balanced diet full of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean protein will do the trick. And you have to be weary of gluten-free products. Many of them have an outrageously high fat content to compensate for the lack of flavor in gluten free products. Also, giving up too much gluten when you aren’t gluten-sensitive may actually put you at risk for not getting enough vitamins, most commonly iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate, and decreasing bone mineral density.

But enough talk about gluten this and gluten-free that, what we all really want to know is which gluten-free products are best. And to save you from having to read a novel, I’m not going to list everything that gluten-sensitive people cannot eat, and rather the things they can. As I mentioned before, cutting out or reducing your gluten consumption has never been easier. Restaurants and bakeries have gluten free options on their menu, some have even devoted their entire menu to being gluten free, there seem to be more gluten-free products in your grocery store than not and gluten-free blogs are among the most visited on the internet. There are some things to be mindful of when choosing gluten-free foods, mainly fat content and fiber, so always check your nutrition labels on the packaging. Here is a little gluten-free cheat sheet to start you on the right foot and remember all fresh fruits, vegetables, fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, battered or marinated) and most dairy products are gluten free! Reach your inner gluten freedom by trying out these delicious and healthy products.

 

Gluten Freedom Foods

Gluten-Free Grains and Starches:

-        Amaranth

-        Arrowroot

-        Buckwheat

-        Corn/Cornmeal

-        Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)

-        Hominy grits

-        Polenta

-        Pure corn tortillas

-        Quinoa

-        Rice

-        Tapioca

Bars: Renew Life Organic Fiber bar, Oskri Fiber bar (both offer 50% fiber), and The Simply Bar

Cereal: Mesa Sunrise Gluten Free cereal

Bread: Food for Life Wheat and Gluten Free breads

Waffles: Van’s Natural Foods Waffles Gluten-Free Mini’s

Crackers and Rice Cakes: Health Valley Original Rice Bran Crackers and Mother’s Natural

Nut Butters: MaraNatha

Snacks: Sea’s Gift Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Frozen Meals: Amy’s Brown Rice and Black Peas and Organic Bistro Sesame Ginger Wild Salmon Bowl

Sauce: Amy’s Premium Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce (Light in Sodium)

 

The Skinny on Fats

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I always feel like Dr. Seuss when I bring up the topic of fats. He has “One Fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” and I have good fats, bad fats, saturated fats and trans fats. Unfortunately, the majority of the population believes fats are responsible for our expanding waistlines, when really the culprit may primarily be sugar, with fat coming in at a close second. For some reason, we all have it engrained into our brains that if we completely cut out fat from our diets all of our weight would just fall off. And who hasn’t tried it. While you do lose weight, it never has long-term success and there’s a reason why it doesn’t work. We actually need fats, and no it’s not the same as needing chocolate- we actually can’t live without them… well without some of them.

Fats are an important part of our diet because they are integral in many of the biological processes that keep you going every day. For example, they provide essential fatty acids, deliver fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K), and are an extraordinary source of fuel. The USDA recommends we get 20%-35% of our calories from fats, and we need at least 10% of our calories to come from fat in order to maintain homeostasis. But that 20%-35% should come from good fats, not bad ones. So how can you decipher which ones are good and which ones are bad? Do all “bad” fats taste good and “good” fats taste bad? While that seems like an easy solution, it’s thankfully not the case. Here is the skinny on fats, how to avoid the artery-clogging trans fats and how to incorporate the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

I bet you think consuming 20%-35% of your calories from fat is absurd, but actually Americans over consume fats every day. On average, around 40% of our calories come from fat and you probably don’t even realize it- they hide in many of the foods we eat all the time like steak, cheese, processed foods, and sweet desserts. As I mentioned above, over consuming fat is yet another piece of the equation that leads to obesity, which soon triggers a slew of obesity-related disease such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers (breast and colon cancer in particular) and heart disease. But before we get into good versus bad, there is one thing you should know. All fats have the same number of calories, regardless if they are good or bad. This macronutrient is the most calorically dense at 9 calories per gram (carbohydrates and protein come in at 4 calories per gram and alcohol has 7 calories per gram), so it pays to proceed with caution on the amount of fat you’re consuming, even if you stick to good fats. This translates into weight loss if you cut back on all types of fat in your diet as well as a longer and healthier life.

Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture, the simplest way to categorize fats is in two groups: unsaturated (good) and saturated (bad); however I think that trans (evil) fats lend themselves into a category all their own. So we have the good, the bad and the evil. Let’s start with the good guys…

Unsaturated fats are what people are referring to when they say “good” fats. There are many subdivisions within unsaturated fats but we are going to keep it simple- this isn’t biochemistry. Within unsaturated fats you have polyunsaturated (PUFAs) and monounsaturated (MUFAs). Both, when eaten in moderation and in substitution of bad and evil fats may help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for coronary heart disease. PUFAs help lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and the attention grabbing omega-3 fatty acid is actually a PUFA (polyunsaturated fat). Omega-3s are known for their potential heart-health benefits and are found in fatty, oily fish (salmon, trout), nuts (walnuts) and seeds (flaxseed). PUFAs are also found mostly in vegetable oils and plant sources. Omega-3’s have such a beneficial impact on your heart that the American Heart Association recommends two servings of healthfully prepared fatty fish each week (no not deep fried fish and chips). MUFAs (monounsaturated fats) are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and are primarily liquid at room temperature and solid when refrigerated; they are good sources of vitamin E and can be found in many oils (olive, canola), nuts (almonds) and fruits and vegetables (avocado).

Now the bad guys- saturated fats. Saturated fats can raise cholesterol levels, clog arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. They are primarily found in animal products (meat, butter, poultry skin) and are liquid at room temperature when they come from vegetables (coconut oil). It is recommended to keep your daily caloric intake from saturated fats below 7%.

And onto the evil, dun nuh nuh… trans fats. Trans fats have been, rightfully, targeted as the all-encompassing demon responsible for America’s obesity epidemic and declining health. They increase your risk for heart disease (the number one killer in America) by increasing bad (LDL) cholesterol and decreasing good (HDL) cholesterol, which leads to clogged arteries. There are actually two types of trans fats, the naturally occurring ones that are found in small amounts in meat and dairy, and the artificial kind that were accidentally created by Wilhelm Normann in 1911, and are solid at room temperature. These artificial trans fats were once unsaturated fats that underwent a man-made chemical conformational change when liquid oils are hardened into “partially hydrogenated” fats. Due to their long shelf life and extremely inexpensive cost, they have shown up in everything- every processed food, fried food, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn and even some margarines, and are worse for you than lard.

So how do you choose the good, and avoid the bad and the evil? It’s as easy as reading a label. Check the nutrition panel that is required to be on every packaged food in your grocery store. Avoid anything with partially hydrogenated oils and only choose foods whose labels explicitly state 0 g trans-fat. Opt for whole foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans/legumes, and low-fat or skim dairy options. And remember, even when consuming good fats, do so in moderation.

 

Sugar: Exposed as The Sweet Culprit for Obesity

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Doctors, nutritionists and researchers alike have all been searching for the culprit responsible for our current childhood and adult obesity epidemic, as well as the skyrocketing rates of nutrition related chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, cancer and metabolic syndrome). Finally, one well-known scientist, Robert Lustig, may have come up with a convincing and bittersweet answer: Sugar. Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It and Good Calories, Bad Calories, covered Lustig’s convincing argument, research and lectures in a recent New York Time’s Magazine article Is Sugar Toxic?. Between Taubes’ nutrition background and eloquent writing style, and Lustig’s seemingly incontrovertible evidence and compelling public speaking abilities, you will most likely finish this article not only as a believer, but will also think twice before adding that spoonful of sugar to your next cup of coffee. While the evidence may not be conclusive just yet, Lustig and Taubes’ make one thing certain: sugar may be sweet but if cutting it out (or cutting down on its consumption) means a healthy, longer life, then count me in.

Color me Healthy!

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March is National Nutrition Month (NNM). While we need to be nutri-aware all twelve months of the year, this month hands us a magnifying glass to bring everything into focus. For all encompassing purposes, I want to claim NNM the first month of your new nutrition year, making March 1st Nutrition New Years Day! (Happy belated nutrition new years day!) As we all literally or mentally scribbled down our New Years resolutions on January 1st, we also have a resolution for NNM. Good thing I can’t hear what you’re saying as you read this post because I’m sure that there were plenty of “Ugh, more resolutions? I can barely keep the original ones.” Well, before you jump ship there is something you should know, the American Dietetics Association has already come up with the resolution for you (drum roll please)… “Eat Right with Color.”

So look, the hardest part is over and the resolution is out there for everyone to know, but how do we do it? First, let’s interpret it. Just as peacocks fan out their beautiful feathers to attract their mates, whole fruits and vegetables wear their colors proudly as indicators of their nutrient density. Thankfully, fruits and vegetable are peacocking all of time, not just when they want you to eat them! Each color specifically represents different vitamins and minerals they contain; the list of all of the color associations could literally stretch from New York to California so here is a great cheat sheet of the most common ones.

Food-Color Chart

Now that you have the information, let’s figure out what to do with it. Some people can’t get enough of fruits and vegetables; it’s like candy from the earth! But those people aren’t a dime a dozen and were probably the only 4 year old who begged for more brussles sprouts, opposed to the majority of people who are now thinking that those Firecracker® popsicles are pretty colorful which means you can start eating more of those (this just in… those unfortunately don’t count).

Not only has the USDA and HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) told us to increase our fruits and vegetables in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, but now the ADA is also telling us we have to broaden our horizons. The easiest way to increase your fruit and veggie intake is by adding them in small quantities to each meal. Most individuals don’t buy fresh produce that often in fear of them spoiling, but I’m going to let you in on a secret, if you eat them they won’t spoil! But be realistic; don’t buy a pound of green beans for just you (especially if you hate green beans). It’s always a great idea to buy the loose produce opposed to the pre-packaged versions so you are able to control the quantity.  The complaint associated with the cost of produce (especially if they rot) is usually what follows, and the answer to that is even simpler, buy frozen! Not only does it last longer but you can buy them in larger quantities and not use it all at one time. Lastly, I don’t usually promote canned vegetables due to the mounds of salt and unidentifiable preservatives, but if you drain and rinse them well before use I am not entirely opposed.

After buying the fruits and vegetables, the next step would be integrating them into your meals, since it is recommended to eat anywhere between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Some easy ways to accomplish this are—starting at least one meal with a small salad, choose an apple (or apple slices) for a snack instead of a bag of chips, throw in a handful of mixed greens onto your sandwich or wrap, and trade in your chocolaty dessert for mixed berries. These are just a few ideas, and since NNM declared March 9th Registered Dietician day, speak with your dietician on ways to up your fruit and veggie count in your diet.

Produce purchased? Check. Integrating them into your diet? Check. Now, you’re telling me I have to hit every color on the spectrum in my fruit and vegetable choices? Yes! And here’s why. As I mentioned earlier, color is extremely important when it comes to food because, as a general rule, the brighter the color of food, the higher concentration of nutrients it contains. Not all fruits and vegetables are created nutritionally equal. Some vegetables, such as corn and potatoes are loaded with starch placing them in the starch column instead of the vegetable one, when it comes to health benefits. Such vegetables so happen to part of the popular crowd and get eaten a lot, so consider having on starchy vegetable and swapping the rest for a dark-green, red or orange vegetables.

So it doesn’t matter which slogan you adopt, whether you eat right with color, taste the rainbow, color yourself healthy, or circle around the color wheel, adopting this thought into your diet will bring about a healthier you.

Vitamin D-ependent!

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Snow days, ski trips, ice skating and hot chocolate with marshmallows aside, there is one thing about winter that I don’t love… being pale! This isn’t because I look and feel better with a little color, but rather there is a lack of moderate, natural sun exposure that normally keeps my vitamin D levels in check. In the winter, it is imperative that we make up for the lack of vitamin D our skin produces via the sun through our own diet. A well rounded, healthful diet is one that should fulfill our daily requirements for vitamins and minerals. However, during the winter in colder regions, it is difficult to fulfill our requirement for vitamin D.  This may seem alarming, but the majority of American’s aren’t receiving adequate amounts of vitamin D, actually 40% of the US’s population is Vitamin D deficient!

Vitamin D is not truly a vitamin but actually a hormone that is fat soluble and is integral for bone health. Since it is fat soluble, it can be stored in the body for later use. Its function may help prevent bone disease, breast and colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and help prevent pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. There are also studies showing a possible correlation with lack of vitamin D and type I and type II diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal health and fertility. The active form of Vitamin D directly or indirectly controls over 200 genes in your body (talk about a hard worker!).

Moderate sun exposure is one of the best ways to get vitamin D because the skin has the capacity to synthesize it. 15-20 minutes of moderate sun exposure in the summer months (or vacationing to warmer climates during the winter) is equivalent to taking up to 20,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D. Unfortunately, when the winter months hit, sun exposure rapidly declines and we have to make up for our lack of vitamin D. The best way to do this is through your diet, although if you are having extreme difficulty vitamin supplementation is also adequate. The daily recommended intake for vitamin D is 600 IU with the upper limit being 2,000 IU per day; and in the absence of sun exposure, 1,000 IU daily of vitamin D may be necessary. Nutritionally speaking, when you begin to drop below the required amounts of vitamin D your body will not absorb as much calcium either, because vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium and phosphorus which are vital for metabolic functions, bone health and neuromuscular functions. So it is important to keep up your vitamin D levels to maintain calcium and phosphorus levels in your body.

When people think of sources of vitamin D, most shop in the dairy aisle of their supermarket, but there are actually other non-dairy food sources that have higher amounts of vitamin D. Nowadays, many products such as cereals and juices are fortified with vitamin D so you can find it there as well. If you are interested in maximizing your diet with vitamin D here are some natural and fortified foods that can help you achieve adequate vitamin D levels, even when the sun is shining!

Food Sources:

-Wild Salmon (3.5 oz) = 650 IU

-Tuna, canned (3.5 oz) = 230 IU

-Sundried Shitake Mushrooms (8) = 500 IU

-Egg (1 whole) = 20 IU

-Fortified Sources:

oMilk/Orange Juice/Yogurt (8 oz) = 100 IU

oCereal (3/4 – 1 cup) = 40 IU