Skip to main content

D UP

You've done all you can. You're eating right. Exercising. A firm believer in the power of positive thinking. You're getting enough sleep, maybe even practicing some relaxation techniques. And still you feel down in the dumps. Don't go reaching for the anti-depressant just yet. Try deep breathing. Often people hold their breath in stressful situations, the result of which can be a hypoxic state depriving the brain of oxygen and causing a build-up of carbon dioxide, which can make you feel sleepy and heavy. But if taking several deep breaths on a regular basis fails to lift your spirits, you may be vitamin D deficient.

This essential vitamin is involved in calcium absorption and plays a part in the development and maintenance of strong bones. However, it has many other non-bone-related functions which are important to your health. In fact, studies conducted by the NIH have shown that a large percentage of the population is vitamin D deficient, and that deficiency is associated with mood disorders and with cognitive dysfunction.


Now, the best source of vitamin D is the sun (your skin synthesizes the vitamin in the presence of solar radiation); however, to make enough vitamin D, you need to be getting about 20 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight several times per week, more if you are darker skinned. And hold the sunblock, which blocks out helpful rays along with the harmful ones. If you fail to get enough sunlight, you may find your vitamin D levels to be less than optimal, since food sources of this essential vitamin are scarce (fatty fish, fortified cereals and other vitamin-enriched foods about round out dietary sources).

You may consider getting your levels checked. Vitamin D deficiency is defined as a 25OHD level less than 24 ng/mL. Optimal levels are between 25 ng/mL and 80 ng/mL. If you can't get to the doc and believe your levels may be low, it is a good idea to go ahead and take a supplement. Make sure to take vitamin D3, which is also called cholecalciferol. Aim for 2,000 IUs per day. Don't worry about taking too much. Toxicity is not seen in levels up to 10,000 IUs per day, which is much much more than you'll get in your standard vitamin tablet.

Vegans should keep in mind that most supplemental D3 is derived from animal sources, most often cold-water fish (plant-based D2 is available but may not be as effective). If you are against ingesting the small amount of fish derivative found in the capsule, opt for plant-based D3 products, which are harder to find but available.

 
And take note that the health benefits of vitamin D extend far beyond the realms of bone and mood. The vitamin is a powerful immunomodulator that may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of a variety of conditions, from autoimmune disorders to cancer. In a recent article published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluating the prevalence of breast cancer in Saudi Arabian women, subjects with lower levels had the highest rates of breast cancer, supporting the cancer-protective benefit of this very important nutrient. And in another study, higher concentrations of vitamin D were associated with lower risk of death from heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. So D up!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAY MATTERS

I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…

EVERYTHING'S INTENTIONAL

There is no such thing as screw-ups.

Case in point. My excellent friend Deej comes over to help me beautify the garden. He immediately dives in, crouching down on his knees and weed whacking with his bare hands. Before I can say yay or nay, he proceeds to remove a huge clump of daisy greens from the oblong patch of Earth adjacent to the driveway. The area instantly looks bare. Like the back of Woody Allen's head. Smoothing out the soil and shaking his head Deej mutters to himself "I fucked it up!" over and over again. We try everything. Planting succulents in the daisy's place. Covering it with rocks. But still the area looks barren. And every time you water it the water trickles down onto the sidewalk in the absence of roots to hold it in place. It's getting dark so we go back inside. The next day I return to the spot with a clear perspective and remove all the other daisies, leaving only rose bushes and the succulents that DJ planted, and depositing 10 bags of m…

SOUL CYCLE

This is not a commentary on the latest fitness fad. Because if it were, the little I'd have to say on the subject would be largely derogatory. I simply cannot see see how crouching in a stuffy, dark, cramped room surrounded by sweat-drenched strangers while expending a lot of energy and going nowhere deserves to be called fun, though aficionados tell me it is (fun). I tell these aficionados that if no pain no gain is your thing, discomfort can be had for a lot cheaper than $50 an hour. Try plucking your nose hairs. What we don't do for the sake of beauty. This endurance heir to the Stairmaster and elliptical is all hype. There's a name for the type who likes to run (or otherwise move) in place. It's called a hamster. 

This reminds me of a joke my father likes to tell, about what living with a woman turns a guy into. You go from a wolf to a sheep to a hamster. After nearly 40 years of married life, my dad has added cockroach to the zoological lineage. Which I'm sure …