Vitamin D Deficiency & Daylight Savings

By: Amanda Blount

It is around this time of the year where Daylight Saving Time means you can start getting excited about an extra hour of sleep, but it comes with a drawback: your exposure of sunlight decreases. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble, necessary nutrient that our skin synthesizes when exposed to the sun. With the sun is the major natural provider, a decrease of sunshine due to shorter days and cooler weather means that winter can be a serious problem for people with vitamin D deficiency.

Depending on your location sunlight may be an issue. Through sunlight exposure, the body is designed to change vitamin D into a substance called 25-hydroxyvitamin D.  Your body must have vitamin D to absorb calcium, promote bone growth and regulate other body functions. But, winter months can be harsh enough to keep people indoors, limiting your body’s ability to produce the calcium you need for optimal health.

Due to the winter season, the body’s ability to produce the ideal vitamin D levels may already be subdued.  This is a concern because you become at risk for a weakened immune system, rickets, or the development of bone abnormalities such as soft bones and fragile bones if your body doesn’t get adequate vitamin D.

While being mindful of UV radiation, thirty minutes of sun exposure to the face, back, or legs at least twice a week can provide you with a sufficient amount of vitamin D.  If you find yourself in a place where direct sunlight isn’t a possibility, there are two alternate methods of fulfilling your body’s vitamin D needs. These include food and supplementation. Foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D are fatty fish, eggs yolks, liver, and cheese. They are perfect to add to your diet during the colder, cloudier months of the year.

If you follow a plant-based diet or simply aren’t getting enough vitamin D from your dietary intake, you may need to look to supplementation and fortified foods. Cereals, yogurt, and orange juice are commonly found with added vitamin D, and there are a number of types of non-dairy milk that offer fortified options as well.

Vitamins D2 and D3 two great forms of vitamin D to look out for, although D3 is more commonly recommended because it is the naturally occurring form of vitamin D found in the body.  While time-of-day doesn’t seem to have much impact on the absorption of this supplement, it is fat-soluble which means your body will make better use of it if taken with a meal.

As Daylight Saving Time approaches, don’t forget to be sure you’re getting the vitamin D you need for optimal health this holiday season!

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"Bad" Cholesterol vs "Good" Cholesterol

So what do those cholesterol numbers really mean? Here is some information to provide you with a general understanding between “Good” and “Bad” cholesterol.

“Bad” Cholesterol     (aka LDLs are "L"ousy)
Low density lipoproteins, or LDLs, are the second smallest of five lipoproteins in the body and carry lipids and triglycerides through the body. LDLs have a lower density of proteins compared to lipids. Low density lipoproteins cholesterol (LDL-C), or “bad cholesterol,” is cholesterol that travels through the body while attached to LDLs. LDL-C can have very negative effects on the body, as increased levels can lead to clogged arteries, which in turn can initiate heart disease.

Reducing “bad” cholesterol
It is important to maintain low levels of LDL-C. There are a number of ways that a person can decrease LDL-C, including lifestyle changes and prescribed medication.

Lifestyle changes: One should decrease fat intake and avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and instead include those with monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats (found in peanut, canola and olive oils) and soluble fiber. In addition to modifying your diet, regular exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and cessation of smoking can decrease LDL-C levels and increase HDL-C levels, which combat the negative effects of “bad cholesterol.”

Prescribed medicine: Since higher levels of LDL-C have been linked to increased risk for heart disease, doctors may prescribe drugs that counter increasing levels. Drugs that, in conjunction with diet and exercise, may work to increase HDL-C levels include statins and nicotinic acid. Triglycerides, other harmful materials that may be transported by LDL, can be decreased with fibrates.

“Good” Cholesterol            (aka HDLs are "H"appy)
High density lipoproteins, or HDLs, are the smallest of five lipoproteins in the body and carry lipids and triglycerides through the body. High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) is cholesterol that travels through the body while attached to HDLs. The body benefits from increased levels of HDL-C because the HDLs remove cholesterol from the arteries and prevent excess buildup which can lead to heart disease. HDL then carries cholesterol back to the liver, where it can be used effectively. HDL-C is thus labeled “good cholesterol” for its ability to push the travel of lipids and triglycerides through the blood stream.

Increasing “good” cholesterol
It is important to maintain higher levels of HDL-C to combat the effects of LDL-C, or “bad cholesterol.” Generally speaking, a healthy person will have about 1/3 of their cholesterol carried by HDL. Women generally have higher levels of “good” cholesterol than men. However, men and women can both increase HDL-C levels with the aid of lifestyle changes and prescribed medication.

Lifestyle changes: Diet and exercise can also serve to raise HDL-C levels. One should decrease fat intake and avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and instead include those with monosaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats (found in peanut, canola and olive oils) and soluble fiber. In addition to modifying your diet, regular exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and cessation of smoking can increase HDL-C levels.

Making small adjustments on a regular basis to "re-steady" your Balance

It's about Balance.  Even the most "practiced" yoga instructor cannot hold a tree balance pose "constantly". Its about making small adjustments on a regular basis to "re-steady" our Balance. The more practiced you are at "re-steadying" yourself.. for Balance... the more habitual it will be.  Take your time... and practice some Balance.  Need help..? Classes are offered regularly on Mondays starting at 645pm.