I know Spring is a little confused this year – some of you have had daffodils in bloom since Christmas, but one thing’s for sure, longer days, lighter evenings and most importantly warmer sunny weather will mean the onset of the dreaded Hay Fever season. Click on the link if this is you, to read more about what you can do to address the root causes of this and other allergies: http://bit.ly/1Rorj1r
For those looking to cook up a treat this Easter, look no further than my yummy Brownie recipe, I think they’re the best: http://bit.ly/1RonTf4
Meanwhile, the gut microbiome, is slowly creeping in to public consciousness, and several clients have been asking about probiotics, so I thought I would share with you some of the latest research, as it transpires the flora residing in our guts are doing a lot more than simply hitching a ride. Click here to read more: http://bit.ly/1S0fNqF
Another word on Vitamin D testing
I wonder how many of you took the test after reading my Christmas newsletter? A few clinic attendees wanted to discuss the issue further, (see the previous newsletter http://bit.ly/1ObLFGg if you missed it), so read on for more information on vitamin D
Having previously tested my own vitamin D status two winters ago, and discovered it was as low as the sun on which it depends, I have taken to supplementing from December through to April. The literature is unequivocal in terms of the benefit of maintaining adequate serum levels for bone health and the immune system. Twice this winter I have felt the niggling symptoms of a cold starting, and on both occasions it disappeared before ever really surfacing.
Curious to see what my supplementation was actually achieving, I recently did another blood-spot test, posted the card off and eagerly awaited the result.
Ideally, optimum serum levels would be between 75 nmol/L and 100 nmol/L though the NHS regards 50 nmol/L as ‘adequate’. I have been supplementing less than the recommended dose, and my new result (90 nmol/L), showed significant improvement from the 35 nmol/L level of two winters ago. Without such testing I would not have confirmed the dose that suited me as an individual. (I should state here that I have no financial interest in these tests).
Why is establishing your optimum dose important? Because both deficiency AND excess need to be avoided. Whilst water soluble vitamins are easily excreted if consumed in excess of the body’s requirements, fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K are stored and if supplemented for long enough in excess of need, may have adverse health effects. The upper limit for vitamin D is 150 nmol/L, with toxicity occurring at 500-600 nmol/L.
In clinic, I discovered one new patient had been happily supplementing high doses for the past 3 years without ever testing, after reading an article in the popular press that extolled the virtues of vitamin D for all senior citizens who were deemed most likely to be deficient. He thought a higher dose might mean even better protection and was unaware of the ‘bell curve’ whereby too much could be as bad as too little.
Of course nature is very sophisticated and one simply can’t get Vitamin D toxicity from sun exposure, but excessive over-supplementing can result in your calcium regulation going awry. So whilst we need good levels for our bones to absorb Calcium, too much can result in calcium being pulled out of the bones and being deposited into soft tissue like the organs and arteries. An early indication can be kidney stones.
The active form of vitamin D3 is more like a steroid hormone than a vitamin and regulates other minerals in the body as well as Calcium, affecting bones, blood pressure, insulin secretion and much more. However maintaining an optimum level of vitamin D may protect against osteoporosis, colon cancer and cardiovascular events, so we see – balance and professional advice is so important!
Dr Morton’s medical helpline
Some of you may have seen my Mental Health article recently posted on the NEWS page of Dr Karen Morton’s medical helpline site, I’m very excited about being able to reach a wider audience on this platform, especially the opportunity to reach some mainstream doctors, where awareness of nutrition is at last growing:
– this article covered the specific nutrients that studies have shown protect us from age-related cognitive decline and the anxiety/depression disorders.
Last word on Easter & Chocolate
Keep it dark! Dark chocolate contains more cocoa and therefore more antioxidants, which is why it’s associated with better mood, cognitive function, cardiovascular benefit and skin protection from oxidative damage. But I wouldn’t be a good health professional if I didn’t add that it still contains sugar – so nibble don’t binge!
Thank you for signing up for my newsletter, and if you know of any friends, neighbours, relatives or colleagues that you think may be interested in nutrition news or the real facts behind headline-grabbing pieces in the popular press, do encourage them to sign up at www.eleanorstrangnutrition.co.uk
Holick MF et al., (2011) Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. Journal of Clinical & Endocrinology & Metabolism. 96(7):1911-30