The Vitamin D Lowdown

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The Vitamin D Lowdown

  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, also categorised as a hormone. It is made by our bodies from cholesterol by the action of UVB from sunlight on our skin.
  • It helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies, which are needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
  • In this country, most people should get enough UVB in the summer months if they get outside in the sun, but UVB dwindles to almost nothing from October to March.
  • Vitamin D3 (the type we need) is also found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), egg yolks, red meat, fat, liver and fortified foods such as some dairy products and breakfast cereals. While it is wise to eat these, we would have to consume huge amounts to get enough – thus the need for supplements.
  • So how much vitamin D do we need? The recommended supplementary amount of vitamin D3 from the age of one to 70 is 400 IU (10mcg) and 320-400 IU for babies.
  • However, many experts believe 1,000 IU or higher is more appropriate for adults.
  • For people with diagnosed vitamin D deficiency, the recommended maintenance therapy (after testing to ensure an optimal level has been reached) is 800 to 2,000 IU daily.
  • Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends trying the Better You DLux 1,000 Spray, a sublingual spray that provides 100 doses of 1,000 IU.

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How To Settle A Sore Stomach

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When a friend had a bad bout of food poisoning with severe diarrhoea recently, I asked naturopath Ben Brown, technical director of Viridian Nutrition, for advice. He suggested she do the following:

  • Take an oral rehydration solution (available from chemists nationwide).
  • Avoid dairy food as transient lactose intolerance can develop and make diarrhoea worse.
  • Introduce a daily zinc supplement, containing around 20mg of elemental zinc. Try Solgar Zinc Picolinate (£9.91, victoriahealth.com).
  • Take 500mg of the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii, which has strong antimicrobial and anti-diarrheal activity, twice daily. Viridian Nutrition Travel Biotic (£20, victoriahealth.com) contains S. boulardii in a ginger-root base.
  • Sip strong black tea (the tannins help battle the infective bacteria and reduce inflammation), plus ginger tea if you feel nauseous. Eat grated or stewed apple with the peel on.

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Stress

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However much we love the festive season, most of us feel a tad frazzled. Practising mindfulness in any form (eg, yoga) always helps. Here are my other tips for reducing festive-season stress.

  • Have a protein-filled breakfast. Eggs are perfect.
  • Consider a supplement such as Siberian ginseng, a powerful adaptogenic herb that helps combat fatigue. Try HealthAid Sibergin.
  • Eat every two to three hours to keep your blood sugar steady – three meals and two snacks a day.
  • Keep a little tin of almonds in your bag for on-the-go boosts.
  • Don’t dry out. Sip still water or herbal teas throughout the day.
  • Keep your feet happy with comfy footwear. We’re mad about the new, super-chic FitFlop Chelsea boots in snake-embossed leather, which feel as though you’re wearing sneakers.
  • Wind down in a warm bath with aromatherapy oils. Try Neom Organics Perfect Night’s Sleep Bath & Shower Drops.
  • Rest your brain with needlework. My favourite book this year is Kaffe Fassett’s Bold Blooms by Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy with ideas for embroidery, tapestry, knitting, beading and much more.

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The Danger Of Painkillers

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Q. Like most people, I take an over-the-counter painkiller for aches and pains. Now, recent headlines say that these can cause a heart attack. Can you clarify this and suggest any safe alternatives?

A. Warnings about these painkillers are not new. In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that taking common, widely available non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen (both available without prescription), increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. They may also raise blood pressure and cause heart failure.

The warning followed the revelation that Vioxx, a prescription NSAID, had caused 140,000 heart attacks in the US over five years. It was withdrawn in 2004. NSAIDs were first launched over a century ago and most of them were registered at a time when there were few requirements for safety documentation. However, since the Vioxx scandal, there has been much more research, which showed that the risk is linked to all NSAIDs. Read More…

DVT: The Dangers

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Known as the queen of endurance cycling, Jasmijn Muller, 37, a management consultant, believed she was the embodiment of health until a pain in her leg proved to be a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

In May this year, I was recceing the route for my solo Land’s End to John O’Groats record attempt in 2017. The first three days were hot and I was cycling long distances at speed, so I became dehydrated. Then I got bad food poisoning and lost any remaining fluid in my body. The next day, I felt weak and took the train, but continued cycling on days five and six. I returned home sitting in a train and a car, then spent two days working round the clock at my desk. So I had six days of relatively strenuous activity and dehydration, followed by four days of sitting down. Read More…

My Organic Life

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Helen Browning OBE, 54, is an organic tenant farmer in Wiltshire and chief executive of the Soil Association. She has been chair of the Food Ethics Council since 2002. I grew up on the 1,350-acre livestock and arable farm that I now run. I always knew I wanted to farm and did a degree in agricultural technology.

I had all the usual aspirations about getting huge yields, but then I saw the countryside changing, hedges being ripped out, wildlife disappearing and poor welfare of farm animals – especially pigs and chickens. Organic farming seemed like a possible solution, so I started to experiment. Read More…