Healthy Cove

Vitamin D Deficiency: The Truth Revealed

Let’s get down to business—vitamin D business.

What is it?

Vitamin D is a micronutrient that our bodies depend on for a variety of functions. Besides being important to keeping bones strong and healthy, vitamin D supports your healthy muscles, heart, lungs, and brain function. Oh, and it helps your immune system, too. Pretty cool, right?*

Vitamin D DeficiencyThe problem with this stuff is that we don’t produce it naturally. Yep, it’s kind of a bummer, I know. But vitamin D comes from only three sources: through exposure to the sun, certain foods, and supplements.

What’s the Best Way to Get it?

Turns out, relying solely on your diet is not a good idea when it comes to maintaining proper vitamin D levels. There just aren’t enough foods with high enough levels to get what your body needs. And that leaves us with the sun and supplementation as our go-to resources for avoiding vitamin D deficiency.

Now before you go off to bask in the beautiful sunshine, let’s talk about how it can impact your health.

Every time we expose our bare skin to direct sunlight, we use ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to produce vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Sunlight can be a tricky thing, though, because too much can be a bad thing. You need to monitor how much sun exposure is needed for healthy vitamin D levels. Otherwise, you might face some scary skin issues later in life.

Oh, and the amount of vitamin D you actually absorb from sunlight differs depending on the time of day and year, where you live, and the color of your skin. So those winter rays don’t necessarily produce the same amount of vitamin D that summer rays do.

See what I mean about tricky?

How Do you Know You’re Running Low? (signs of vitamin D deficiency)

Okay, the truth is that the only surefire way to know if you’re dealing with vitamin D deficiency is to have your blood tested by a physician. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye out for symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency. Below are the symptoms and signs I was able to dig up (you’re lucky to read it here, but since USANA is a trusted partner and sponsor of The Dr. Oz Show, our own Brian Dixon, Ph.D., explained a lot of this on television as well).

Vitamin D DeficiencyFeeling Down and Out

Turns out, when you run low on vitamin D, it takes a pretty serious toll on your mood. This is because our brains produce serotonin—a hormone that affects our moods—at a higher rate when we’re exposed to sunshine or bright light. And as I mentioned, more exposure to sunlight means more vitamin D.

Skin Color

Those with darker skin are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency, because skin pigment has a direct correlation with how much vitamin D is absorbed. Some research suggests that those with darker skin may need up to 10 times more sun exposure than those with lighter skin to produce a comparable amount of vitamin D.

Age

Besides the fact that older people usually spend more time indoors (okay, maybe that’s just my grandparents?), aging correlates to vitamin D deficiency in a couple of ways. First, the skin loses its ability to absorb as much vitamin D as we get older. And second, our kidneys slowly become less effective at converting vitamin D into the form used by our bodies.

Vitamin D DeficiencySweat

Excessive sweating (specifically, on your forehead) is a very common symptom of those facing vitamin D deficiency. So if you’re constantly wiping the sweat off your brow (outside of the gym), you might want to look into that blood test I mentioned earlier.

Achy Bones

Many people who are unknowingly deficient in vitamin D will complain of bones and joints that are achy or painful. This is because vitamin D is very important for maintaining strong bones.

Calcium and phosphorus are essential for developing a healthy structure and strength of your bones, and you need vitamin D to absorb these minerals. There’s no “bones” about it. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a bad pun.)* For more on that, take a look at this handy bone health infographic.

Excessive Weight

Vitamin D DeficiencyThe thing about vitamin D is that it’s fat-soluble—meaning that the fat in our bodies is how we collect and store it. So if you’re overweight, the excessive amount of fat in your body needs a comparable amount of vitamin D to absorb. So you’ll need a lot more vitamin D than someone with a low percentage of body fat.

Gut Problems

Like I just mentioned, vitamin D is fat-soluble vitamin. So certain gut conditions that cause a lower absorption of fat can also lower your absorption of vitamin D. Sorry, I need to get my mind out of the “gutter.” (You can’t stop me.)

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough?

Okay, so now you know all about vitamin D and why it’s important. But do you know what it means if you happen to be someone struggling with vitamin D deficiency? It’s not good, people.

As doctors continue to discover the benefits of healthy vitamin D levels, more and more research indicates that a lack of vitamin D may lead to other health issues other than the ones I mention above. Some people even believe that because vitamin D deficiency often goes undiagnosed, doctors attribute a person’s vitamin D deficiency symptoms to other health conditions that they don’t actually have.

So, if you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, vitamin D deficiency is not something you want to deal with…like ever. Visit the vitamin D council’s website to see what their research has uncovered. I used a good chunk of their research to write this post.

So How Much Do You Need?

Okay, are you ready for me to stop talking at you and tell you just how much vitamin D you need? Well, let me explain…

As far as how much you need, that depends on who you’re asking. Every person has different needs, but many researchers believe that further research will eventually prove that the U.S. government recommendations aren’t high enough. Your safest bet is to talk to your doctor and have your vitamin D levels tested every three months.

Check out the fancy chart I snagged from the Vitamin D Council below to see the different vitamin D recommendations, and be sure to share this important information with your friends and family.

Vitamin D Council - How Much vitamin D

Oh, and don’t forget that supplementation is a super reliable way to get your vitamin D. Just one of USANA’s Vitamin D tablets provides 2,000 IU of vitamin D3, which is the same type of vitamin D your body produces when exposed to sunlight. And guess what else? For most people, vitamin D is easily absorbable and always important to maintain. So you could probably reap some of the benefits of taking a vitamin D supplement on a daily basis.

If you interested in purchasing high quality Vitamin D .

Healthy Cove

THE WORST FOODS FOR YOUR WAISTLINE

 

worst foods for your waistline

Newsflash! Potato chips still aren’t good for you. That’s probably pretty obvious. And you already know a healthy diet and activity are important for maintaining your weight. But one large, long-term study got very specific about the worst foods for your waistline.

Researchers spent 20 years studying over 120,00 healthy people. Evaluations every four years helped the study pinpoint foods and behaviors that have the biggest impact on weight gain over time.

A More Complex Remedy

You probably already have some guesses. But before we start naming names, there were some interesting overall conclusions. They may reinforce what you know and add information to shape your healthy lifestyle.

Let’s start with the one you might guess. Highly refined or processed foods, liquid carbohydrates, and alcohol consumption were found to contribute to weight gain. But fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains showed the opposite effect—limiting weight gain.

That’s kind of a no-brainer, but the next one is less obvious. Mostly because it’s common to hear “eating less and exercise is all you need.” It’s an easy way to describe the change to a healthy lifestyle. But the study adds some nuance.

Their analysis suggests “dietary quality (the types of foods and beverages consumed) influences dietary quantity (total calories).” So it shifts the conversation from “less is more” to “the right amounts of the right foods.” Overall, it means choosing better, healthier options help keep your overall energy balance in check.

Weight Gain Can Sneak Up on You

Weight management is inextricably tied to the laws of thermodynamics. It all comes back to the conservation of energy—total energy in a system remains constant. Basically, you can’t make energy disappear. If you eat calories and don’t use them, they’re stored.

That reality makes weight gain easy over time. While a cheat meal won’t pack on five pounds of fat, constant calorie overruns impact your weight and health. And it doesn’t take much.

The study found that consistently having an extra 50–100 kcal per day is enough to add weight. Those small increases stack up over time. That’s how the average study participant gained 3.35 pounds during each four-year interval.

Findings like this underline the importance of daily dietary diligence. And shows the wisdom of taking the long-term approach of lifestyle change over quick-fix, fad diets.

Top 6 Worst Foods for Your Waistline

Now the part you’ve been waiting for—time to see how close your guesses were. Here are the worst offenders:

  • Potato chips: The absolute worst—of the foods in the study, at least. Increased servings of these snacks contributed a four-year average gain of 1.69 pounds.
  • Potatoes: You can’t have potato chips without potatoes. It’s probably no surprise that increased servings of the starchy root tacked on a four-year average of 1.28 pounds.
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: Exactly one pound was added for study participants who increased sugary-drink intake.
  • Unprocessed red meats: The study found an 0.95-pound average gain for those who increased red-meat servings over four years.
  • Processed meats: You hear about how bad these are for your health. And the study found processed meats accounted for 0.93 extra pounds on average.
  • Alcohol: An additional drink each day meant participants added 0.41 pounds, on average, over four years. Again, that’s almost half a pound for each drink you add per day.

How did you do? Hopefully the clues above about starches, refined grains, and processed foods helped you out. Or maybe you were tipped off by other studies that have found similar results about these types of food.

The authors suggest the satiating inability of starches and refined grains may be to blame. Since they don’t make you feel as full, you eat more to fill yourself up. That could account for the constant extra calories that can really add up.

Foods to Stock Up On

The study didn’t just have bad news for carb cravers. It also identified some of the food types that showed positive effects on weight over each four-year period. Here’s what they found:

  • Yogurt: Kind of surprising that this was the study’s best of the best. The authors admit it could be confounding factors or maybe the bacterial benefits could be to blame. Other research over two decades has linked calcium-rich foods and weight. Whatever the cause, the results showed a four-year average of -0.82 pounds for participants that increased servings of yogurt.
  • Nuts: Nothing crazy about this one. Nuts are constantly mentioned as a part of a healthy diet. The study showed an average of -0.57 pounds for these protein-packed snacks.
  • Fruits: Those who ate more fruit ended up -0.49 pounds, on average over four years. The study didn’t find the same results for 100-percent fruit juice.
  • Whole grains: Unlike their processed cousins, whole grains showed a four-year average of -0.37 pounds.
  • Vegetables: This large variety of this category might explain why vegetables only accounted for an average of -0.22 pounds. But that’s still another reason to eat more vegetables.

The results probably reinforce your ideas about what a healthy diet looks like. The authors list some reasons why this group of foods showed benefits for keeping weight gain in check. And it goes beyond simple calories.

The study suggests satiety may to blame again. With higher fiber content and slower digestion speeds, these foods make you feel full. And if you’re eating more whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, you may not feel the need to fill up on other more processed, higher calorie foods.

Time to Start Healthy Habits

Diet is only a piece of a healthy lifestyle. And this study took a look at behaviors and habits that impacted weight gain over time, as well.

Health isn’t as simple as diet and exercise. But physical activity did have a huge, positive impact. Across all groups, physical activity accounted for a four-year average of -1.76 pounds. So, those who got moving fared well in the battle against weight gain.

A sedentary activity—watching television—had the predictably opposite effect. Study participants added 0.31 pounds per hour, per day. Some of this was tied to the snacking that happens during television session. Either way, it gives binge watching a new meaning.

For most of us, sleep is a pretty physically idle experience. But your sleep was tied to positive outcomes. Those whose nightly sleep averaged less than six hours or more than eight hours showed more weight gain.

The study’s advice might sound familiar—eat a fresh, healthy diet, sleep, and get off the couch. But it adds some complexity to the common “just eat less and lose weight” idea.

And whether your guesses about the foods were right, it’s a nice reminder. Checking your progress towards a healthy lifestyle can have an impact. The authors say repeated assessment over time is important. So use the information to make changes and build your health lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

Coast Lifestyle

GROWING HEALTH IN THE GARDEN

gardening

All the benefits of Gardening

The garden is a great place to grow healthy produce. But the harvest is just the beginning of gardening’s health benefits. From exercise to stress relief, see how a garden can be good for you.

Exercising and eating right are said to go hand-in-hand, but when you work in a garden, they actually do. Gardening is one way to maintain your health and enjoy time outside. It’s a great way to keep fruits and vegetables in your diet, and get some exercise. Growing your own food is also healthy and sustainable for the environment. See how learning to garden can improve your quality of life.

Gardening Improves and Promotes Healthy Nutrition

Gardening is a hobby that can easily and effectively increase your daily access to healthy foods. Nutritious snacks and delicious dinners are only a stone’s throw away when you regularly keep a garden. Whether you garden at home or with your community, regular access to fruits and vegetables improve your nutrition.

Surveys of children whose schools have after-hours gardening programs illuminate how beneficial gardening can be for individual nutrition. Teachers at schools with these programs can utilize the garden in developing health and nutrition curriculum.

A 2005 study of fourth grade classrooms with after-school gardening programs provides a great example. In the study, teachers reported the eating habits of their students had improved with regular access to their school’s garden. Principals reported a nearly two-fold increase in use of the cafeteria salad bar by students.

The students also illuminated the health benefits of the school garden in their personal nutrition. Fourth graders were surveyed before and after the incorporation of the school garden into the curriculum. They answered two yes/no questions: “I eat vegetables every day,” and “I am physically active every day.” There was a significant increase in the proportion of students answering affirmatively after participating in the gardening program.

gardening

Gardening Provides Exercise on a Daily Basis

It should be noted that in the study mentioned in the previous section, children who participated in after-school gardening programs increased their daily vegetable intake AND their daily exercise. Gardening gets your body to work and gets you into nature.

Gardens require daily care in order to produce plentiful crops. Harvesting the rewards of a diligently kept garden can motivate gardeners to get up and move. Gardening provides the body with moderate cardiovascular exercise. Regular exercise of any kind, including gardening, reduces the risk of heart disease and can improve strength and stamina.

Older-aged populations can have trouble finding regular exercise regimens for which they feel well-suited. Gardening is great functional exercise for everyone, including the elderly. Functional exercise refers to activities that include: stretching, pushing, pulling, lifting, squatting, etc. These activities all improve muscle tone and flexibility, and improve general well-being.

Gardening Improves Self-Perception of Mental Health

Gardening has been called good for the soul. There are actually several aspects of this hobby that make that description accurate.

Gardening promotes mental and physical health. When you garden, you interact with nature on a regular basis. It also gives you a chance to serve others. Simply put, gardening makes us feel good.

A number of studies have recently reinforced the importance of our relationship with nature. Being immersed in nature, including a garden, opens the door for creativity to bloom. Unplugging from technology and stepping outside to do work in the garden is refreshing for the mind and spirit.

The physical exertion required in gardening helps maintain blood pressure in the normal range and increases your production of endorphins. Endorphins have been referred to as “feel-good” hormones because they help us feel happy and full of life. Endorphins are also crucial in reducing stress. That’s why so many people take up gardening as a stress-relieving hobby.

Gardening Can Establish Community and Boost Civic Engagement

In addition to relieving stress, gardening also provides opportunities to serve others. After working in a community garden, many gardeners give their extra fruits and vegetables to friends and neighbors. This kind of community engagement and service encourages a healthy mental state and helps build strong communities.

Community gardens have been increasingly popular in neighborhoods far from a dependable source of produce, like farmer’s markets and grocery stores. Community gardens are also almost always free to use or require very little in order to participate.

These gardens are funded through grants and city budgets, and are staffed by volunteers and garden experts.

Community members have access to cooking classes, healthy meal-preparation instruction, and gardening help through these local programs. Skill-building opportunities for participants, involvement of volunteers, and commitment of local leadership have made especially successful community gardens.

Community gardens have continued to flourish in cities across the globe because they promote public health and a high quality of life. They encourage healthy living and eating, community engagement, and civic and neighborhood pride. These gardens also promote sustainability and the local environment.

Summary

Gardening, in your own yard or as a community, is a great exercise in proper health and nutrition. Being active in your garden relieves stress and provides your body with regular exercise. Gardening can also give you the chance to build a deeper relationship with nature, which has been shown to improve mental health. Community engagement and neighborhood pride come as a result of spending quality time in your garden. Take the chance to develop your green thumb and try gardening.

 

Coast Lifestyle

Back to School Health Tips

Back to School Health Tips Feature

It’s that time of year for many of us. No, I’m not talking about football season and new television shows. Back to school season is here. We make sure they have appropriate school clothes, all the important supplies they need, and we send them off to learn and make new friends. Often overlooked, an important factor for success is their nutrition and overall health. Are we arming them with everything they need to be successful?

Picky Eaters

You have probably heard it before, but the majority of us don’t eat as healthy as we should. Research shows it is even more unlikely that children eat an optimal diet. No matter how hard we try, some kids are just picky eaters, making it even more difficult. The consequences of a less than stellar diet are not always obvious, especially in adults. The results of a poor diet are much more obvious in children, though, and can have a long-lasting impact on their future.

Supplements for All Ages

Do your children and teens need supplements? If they are like most kids they do. It is very unlikely they are even meeting the minimum recommended dietary standards during the most important time for growth and development in their lifetime. If they are, they are definitely the exception according to a government review. Across the entire age range, both males and females were unlikely to get adequate vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Adolescent females tended to have low reported intakes of nearly all the nutrients investigated by the committee.

Taking a good quality multivitamin/mineral helps ensure adequacy of many of the nutrients that may be missing in their diet. In addition to simply preventing a deficiency, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that multivitamin/mineral supplements actually support aspects of brain function in healthy children, improving performance and
accuracy on tests of attention.

Individual Nutrients

There are individual nutrients which can have a big impact on several aspects of health and learning. Vitamin B12 deficiencies have been shown to impact neurological development and negatively impact cognitive performance years later. Zinc deficiencies are relatively common and can slow normal growth and development. A study in Thai school children actually showed zinc supplementation resulted in greater gains in height compared to a placebo group after 2 months. Other research shows that inadequate omega-3 fatty acid levels may be associated with an increase in behavior problems, emotion regulation, and anti-social traits.

In addition to their role in neurological development and effect on emotional health, a new study by Swedish research has shown that omega-3s may improve reading ability in mainstream and healthy schoolchildren.

A Healthy Immune System

Another common concern with children returning to school is good immune health. Good hygiene practices (hand washing), adequate sleep, and a nutrient rich diet (which likely includes a multivitamin/mineral) are important in maintaining good immune health.

Probiotics are another consideration when it comes to supporting immune health. Research published in the Clinical Nutrition journal showed that Lactobacillus GG (LGG), a strain of probiotics, decreased the risk of upper respiratory tract infections in children attending day care centers. The researchers also found that the rate of absence due to infection was lower in children receiving LGG when compared to placebo.

Whether your kids are in daycare, preschool, or K-12 schools, optimal learning, and cognitive health is dependent on more than books and teachers. Make sure they have the advantage of a healthy diet and superior nutritional support for overall mental and physical health.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.