All Entries For vitamins

In Post-Menopausal Women, 'the Sunshine Vitamin' is One to Watch

Vitamin D is a hot topic in nutrition, and one that's become a focus in menopausal bone health.  There are two forms of the vitamin, D2 and D3 (cholecalciferol), with D3 the form best metabolized by the body. Vitamin D is found in foods such as fish, eggs, fortified milk and the old remedy, cod liver oil. 

Although this nutrient is found in foods, the greatest source for obtaining vitamin D is through the skin.  When bare skin is exposed to ultraviolet light, it synthesizes vitamin D3 that is then stored in the liver.  You only need 10-15 minutes of sun exposure during peak sun hours (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in most locations) during the summer months to produce up to 10,000 IUs of the nutrient.  After that short exposure you can continue with safe sun habits and slather on a broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

How much vitamin D do you need? According to SparkPeople's resident dietitian, Becky Hand: In the last few years, many experts and health organizations urged the Institute of Medicine to revisit the DRI set for vitamin D and re-evaluate the latest research. After a thorough review, the recommendations for vitamin D did go up by two or threefold in some age groups. The current Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D (as of November 2010) is:
  • Ages 1-70: 600 IU (International Units) daily
  • Ages 71 and older: 800 IU daily
  • Tolerable Upper Intake Level: ages 9 and up: 4000 IU daily
Read more: How to Get Your Daily Dose of Vitamin D

Current research on vitamin D and its role in health suggests that there may be a correlation between low blood levels of this nutrient and the development of diseases such as osteoporosis, some cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and even obesity and depression.  There are estimates that up to one half of all Americans are deficient in this vitamin, with an increased risk of deficiency in people who have one or more of these risk factors:
Posted 1/25/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Cathy Cram : 23 comments   15,453 views
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Are You Getting The Most From Your Calcium Supplement?

I have previously shared that calcium is an important nutrient you may be missing in your diet. The newly released 2010 Dietary Guidelines lists calcium as a nutrient of concern because intake by many Americans is lower than recommended. There are also reports that getting too much calcium later in life can be detrimental.

Calcium is an essential nutrient, necessary for nerve transmission, hormone secretion, and muscle function in addition to vasodilation and constriction. Ninety-nine percent of the body's calcium supply is found in the bones and teeth. By the time we reach our 30's, we have reached the end of our bone building years. That means the bone building teen and early 20's are important ones for eating right. We can maintain healthy bone mass through healthy eating and this is especially important during our 40's and beyond. Adequate calcium from healthy eating becomes critical especially for post-menopausal women to limit bone breakdown and loss that increases osteoporosis risks. Male and female adults, ages 19-50, need 1,000 milligrams daily and those over age 51 should increase their intake to 1,200 milligrams daily. Males and females between the ages of 9-18 require 1,300 milligrams of calcium each day. A safe daily upper intake level has also been established as 2,500 milligrams for individuals between the ages of 19-50, and 2,000 milligrams for those over the age of 51.

There are many ways to boost your calcium intake but sometimes supplements are still necessary. Are you getting the most from yours?

Posted 3/21/2011  5:24:33 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 43 comments   19,666 views
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New Update Encourages Increase in Vitamin D

In 1997, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a new way to look at Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) by creating the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) system. Since that time, the DRIs for essential nutrients have remained the same. They serve as a guide for healthy eating and provide health professionals like Registered Dietitians with a framework for use when meeting with individuals for dietary evaluation and counseling. Governmental agencies use DRIs as reference for things such as nutrition labeling or setting school meal standards.

The IOM (Institutes of Medicine) was asked by the United States and Canadian governments to evaluate scientific data and health outcome research related to calcium and vitamin D. In response, the IOM and their evaluation committee reviewed nearly one thousand published studies and scientific testimonies and issued their report last month. While the IOM report confirmed that most Americans and Canadians select foods and supplements that supply adequate amounts of both calcium and vitamin D, they did issue updated recommendations for vitamin D. To reduce risks of potential harmful effects related to excessive amounts of the nutrients, safe upper level intake recommendations were also shared. So what do these findings mean for you?

Posted 12/13/2010  11:04:51 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 35 comments   14,037 views
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Folate Levels Influence Depression Symptoms

Previous studies have found an inverse relationship between B vitamins and homocysteine levels. Likewise, higher homocysteine levels have been linked to atherosclerosis and higher risks of fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) and strokes. CHD studies have found a reduction in the average level of homocysteine since folic acid fortification was instituted in the U.S. A new study ties low serum folate levels with increased risk of depression symptoms as well. The cross-sectional population-based study is one of the first conducted among U.S. adults since the mandatory fortification of folic acid. The study also looked at vitamin B12 and total homocysteine (tHcy) levels as well.

Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin naturally occurring in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form added to foods for fortification or in supplements. Diets rich in whole foods typically are rich in folate since leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and dried beans and peas all provide natural sources. Since the 1996 FDA requirement of folic acid fortification, enriched breads, cereals, flours, pastas, rice, and other grain products, provide other popular sources to the American diet. Since depression is a common medical condition, surrounded by myths and misconceptions about its causes, symptoms and seriousness, learning more about its relationship with folate levels could be beneficial for those that are trying to cope.

Researchers for the study, published online last month in Psychosomatic Medicine, used cross-sectional information from NHANES data collected from 2005-2006. Data from more than 2,500 adults between 20-85 years of age were included. In addition to folate, vitamin B12, and total homocysteine levels, researchers also looked at data related to demographics, diet, physical activity, smoking habits, blood pressure, and depressive symptoms. The study indentified a significant association between folate levels and elevated depressive symptoms as well as elevated homocysteine levels especially in people over the age of 50.

So what do these results mean for those dealing with depression issues?

Posted 10/11/2010  6:08:15 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 21 comments   18,572 views
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