Archive for the ‘Vitamins & Minerals’ Category

Vitamin D and Its Impact on Your Health

 Vitamin D also known as the “sunshine vitamin” is a fat-soluble vitamin required for normal growth of teeth and bones, and many other systems. It is found in foods such as fish, eggs and fortified drinks. Skin production of vitamin D depends on exposure to sunlight. Active people living in sunny regions produce most of the vitamin D they need from their skin. In less sunny regions, the skin production of vitamin D is greatly diminished especially during the winter months, during which time vitamin D supplementation becomes vital.

Vitamin D is activated in the kidneys and it works as a hormone, regulating, among other things, the concentration of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream, and promoting normal growth and strength of bones. Vitamin D deficiency can result in thin, brittle or misshapen bones, while enough vitamin D helps prevent rickets (softening of bones in children potentially leading to fractures and deformity) and osteomalacia (milder form of the same disease) in adults. These are extreme cases of vitamin D deficiency, but today, the impact of vitamin D deficiency is evident in every system of the body, from the immune to the nervous system.

It is very important to have your vitamin D levels tested so that you know if your current lifestyle, nutritional intake, and overall health are providing you with the adequate levels of this vital nutrient. First you need to know how low you are, which will determine how much you need to take, and then you need to be retested after a few months so that you know when to reduce the amount you are taking.

Vitamin D and Infection

The role of vitamin D as an infection fighting nutrient is now obvious. Researchers have shown that vitamin D plays an essential role for activating immune defenses from T cells in the body. A study published in 2009, by the researchers at the EMNet Coordinating Center in Boston, linked vitamin D deficiency with increased risk of respiratory infections and asthma. Another study done in 2006 by the UCLA researchers showed that vitamin D deficiency is connected with higher susceptibility of tuberculosis. Vitamin D increases the body’s production of naturally occurring antibiotics, namely the antimicrobial peptides. Antimicrobial peptides are produced in numerous cells in the human body where they directly and rapidly destroy the cell walls of viruses and bacteria.

Researchers have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and the flu. Most vitamin D is created from exposure to sunshine, therefore vitamin D deficiency is more common in winter exactly when cold and flu levels reach their peak. A large study appearing in the February 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine found that people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having more recent colds or flu. Vitamin D plays an important role in the prevention of common respiratory infections such as colds and the flu.

Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention

A study published by the Journal of American Dietetic Association in 2010, showed that the role of Vitamin D in overall health including cancer prevention is undeniable. There is a lot of scientific evidence showing that the risk of colorectal cancer is reduced with adequate Vitamin D status. The sunshine vitamin has also been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Vitamin D may help prevent cancer in several ways, including maintaining healthy cells with normal life spans, discouraging out-of-control cell reproduction, and hindering the formation of new blood vessels for tumors.

Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease in which the nerves of the brain and spinal cord are damaged by one’s own immune system, resulting in loss of muscle control and sensation. One environmental factor influencing the risk for developing MS is sunshine, and in particular a vitamin D deficiency, therefore people in parts of the world that get less sunlight (such as Canada) are more likely than others to get multiple sclerosis. Studies showing the involvement of vitamin D in immune and nervous system functioning bring evidence to support this. It has also been shown that Vitamin D helps control a gene known to increase the risk of multiple sclerosis. Thus adequate levels of vitamin D taken during pregnancy and early in life may help prevent the disease in those predisposed to MS.

Vitamin D and Lung Function

A study published in August 2010 by researchers from the University of Cincinnati, showed a high occurrence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with interstitial lung disease and connective tissue disease, and thus vitamin D deficiency has been connected with reduced lung function. Another study conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado in April 2010 showed that in asthmatics, reduced vitamin D levels are associated with weaker lung function, suggesting that supplementation with vitamin D may improve the severity of asthma symptoms. Vitamin D has potent anti-inflammatory properties, one more reason why vitamin D is useful for asthmatics.

Vitamin D and Diabetes

Recent studies show that vitamin D supplementation is beneficial for people with diabetes or insulin resistance and may prevent or delay symptoms of diabetes. While increasing vitamin D levels is not considered a cure for diabetes, vitamin D supplementation have been shown to be helpful in treating diabetes, improving insulin secretion and reducing insulin sensitivity.

Vitamin D and Mood

Vitamin D may help increase the brain’s serotonin levels, having a positive impact on depressive symptoms. In June, 2010, the researchers from the Loyola University in Chicago found that the effective detection and treatment of low vitamin D levels in depressive patients may be an easy and cost-effective therapy which could improve patients’ long-term health as well as their quality of life.

A recent study conducted by VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam showed that vitamin D may be an effective and intriguing possibility for the treatment of depression, especially in older patients. The study indicated that low levels of vitamin D may be linked to depression symptoms.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a situational mood disorder caused by decreasing daylight in the winter months. High doses of vitamin D during winter have been proven to be a very effective natural remedy for SAD.

Vitamin D and Pregnancy

In a very recent study, published in September 2010, researchers from the CHA University, School of Medicine in Seoul stated that an adequate vitamin D intake is essential for the health of the mother and child during pregnancy, and there is sufficient evidence that many pregnant women have low vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus and an increased risk for C-section delivery. Vitamin D has also been proved to decrease the risk of infection and improve the length of gestation, and infant bone mineralization.

Vitamin D and Kids

Vitamin D plays an incredibly important role when it comes to the growth and development of children. In an extreme case, vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a disease that results in soft, weak bones in children. But there are other cases such as impaired brain function and asthma in kids that have been linked to vitamin D deficiency.

A study published in April 2008 by the researchers from the Children’s Hospital & Research Center in Oakland, showed that vitamin D is vital for the brain development of children because of the wide distribution of vitamin D receptors throughout the brain. Hence, adequate levels of vitamin D have been shown to improve memory, learning ability and concentration.

A recent study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that asthma symptoms may be worse for children who had low vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D plays a critical role in all body functions, helping many systems including the immune, nervous and respiratory system. In order to enjoy the wonderful benefits of Vitamin D, such as healthy bones, lower cancer risks and better mood, make sure you get your vitamin D levels checked, take the appropriate dosage for your specific needs and also enjoy moderate sun exposure several times a week, weather permitting.

Vitamin D testing is available at the Wellness Naturopathic Centre.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.

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Concentration and Memory Improved with B Vitamins

B vitamins are necessary for proper brain functioning and they also help improve concentration and memory. There are different studies relating the role of B vitamin to brain health. In a recent study, British researchers from Oxford University showed that high doses of selected B vitamins (namely folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12) can significantly slow down the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people suffering from mild mental decline. The double blind controlled trial followed 168 volunteers aged 70 or over with mild memory problems. Half the participants took B vitamin supplements for two years, while the other half took placebos. The results were astonishing, the brains of those taking vitamin B tablets shrank at a rate of 0.76 per cent a year, while those taking placebo experienced brain shrinkage at a rate of 1.08 per cent a year. It was concluded that B vitamin supplementation helped lower the concentration of brain damaging homocysteine levels.

If you want to give your brain a boost, make sure your diet is high in B vitamins. B vitamins are found in foods such as beans, oats, spinach, brown rice, eggs, turkey, avocados, potatoes, lentils and whole grains. Even a simple step such as switching from white rice to brown rice can considerably enhance your vitamin B intake.

Always consult your naturopathic doctor before initiating a new regimen.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.

B Vitamins Help with Stress, Mood and Sleep

B-vitamins are water-soluble vitamins that play an important role in immune and nervous system function, cell growth and metabolism, energy production, mental health and stress management. Since water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, the excess being excreted in the urine, they can be quickly depleted from the body and must be replenished regularly. B vitamins are a group of eight individual vitamins, often referred to as the B-complex vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and vitamin B12.

B-complex vitamins are essential for mental and emotional wellbeing because of their significant role in regulating the nervous system and affecting mood. The brain operates by millions of neurons (brain cells) communicating with each other. Neurons communicate with each other through neurotransmitters. Among these neurotransmitters, the neurotransmitter “serotonin” plays a complex role in the way you eat, sleep, behave, and has a great influence on your overall sense of well being.

Serotonin is sometimes referred to as the “happiness hormone”. It helps to regulate mood, anxiety, relieve depression and promote healthy sleep patterns. When the level of serotonin in the brain is changed, a person’s behavior is also altered. A normal level of serotonin promotes feelings of happiness, but sometimes during periods of stress, the body uses higher levels of serotonin to compensate for being overwhelmed. Accordingly, the levels of serotonin begin to drop causing irritability, depression, anxiety and sleep problems. By facilitating the function and manufacture serotonin, B vitamins help fight stress, insomnia, depression, nervous disorders and migraines among other conditions.

Melatonin is another neurotransmitter in the brain that helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, the 24-hour internal clock that plays a critical role in the time you fall asleep and the time you wake up. It is sometimes referred to as the “darkness hormone” because when it is dark, melatonin production is increased, and in the morning the production of melatonin drops considerably. Since B vitamins enhance the production of melatonin, they facilitate healthy sleep patterns.

When the body is exposed to long periods of stress, B vitamins become depleted. This can manifest as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, fatigue, headaches, sleeplessness and inability to concentrate. This is why it is important to replenish the body with B vitamins especially during stressful times. Since B vitamins tend to work together synergistically, it is best to take a well balanced vitamin B complex formula to maximize benefits.

Always consult your naturopathic doctor before initiating a new regimen.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.

Pass the Sea Salt Please

Sea salt and table salt have a similar chemical composition, mainly consisting of the two minerals – sodium and chloride. The significant difference however, is that table salt contains 99.9% sodium chloride, whereas sea salt contains 98% sodium chloride, the remaining 2% consisting of trace minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iodine. These minerals make sea salt a healthier, tastier and more nutritious alternative to regular table salt.

Sea salt refers to the unrefined salt that is obtained by evaporating sea water. Due to its little processing, the trace minerals in its composition remain intact, and may differ according to the water source. Usually sea salt comes from the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea. Unlike many table salts, natural sea salt does not contain added anti-caking ingredients or potassium iodide. Sea salt is known for its diverse health benefits. Due to its mineral richness, sea salt helps clear toxins from the body, enhance energy levels, strengthen the immune system, and balance the body’s electrolytes.

Whereas sea salt is obtained from sea water, table salt is obtained from the rock salt found in mineral deposits. In its natural form it contains sodium chloride and other beneficial minerals, but due to its complex refining process, these healthy minerals are lost. Table salt may also chemical additives in order to prevent clumping.

Chemically processed table salt is found in considerable amounts in almost every processed food available. Health Canada recommends that adults consume between 1,500 mg and 2,300 mg of sodium per day. However, recent data from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey on Nutrition shows that Canadian adults consume an average of 3.092 mg of sodium per day, more than double the recommended level.

Salt has gotten a bad reputation over the years mainly because of its over consumption and being over processed, striped off of the its valuable minerals. In the old days, salt was so precious that in some cultures it was used as payment for wages hence the word “salary”. For optimum health, make sure your diet is balanced and your consumption of sodium is within the recommended levels. Salt in moderation is a good thing, just be sure to choose the sea salt as a healthier alternative to regular table salt.

Wellness Naturopathic Centre, North Vancouver, BC
www.wellnessnaturopathic.com

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for proper assessment and treatment by a licensed health care provider.