Vitamin D- Nutrition Series by Caroline Devine

Submitted by Carolyn Devin of Serenity of Body and Mind, CT, USA
The fourth in a series of talks about the importance of vitamins.

 

Hello everyone! This is the fourth part of my vitamin blog series and today I will be talking about Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is also called the sunshine vitamin but it isn’t actually a “vitamin” at all.  It is actually more accurately described as hormone-like.  When the skin is exposed to adequate UV light it can synthesize vitamin D from a type of cholesterol in the skin.  Many, many people in the United States, especially in the northern states, are deficient in this vitamin.

The best natural food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish such as sardines and salmon.  Cod liver oil was very popular in the 1930s as a supplement because of its high vitamin D content.  Two tablespoons of cod liver oil provide 680% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin D.  Three ounces of tuna provides about 50% and three ounces of salmon is about 150%.  Milk provides the bulk of the United States recommended amount as it is heavily fortified with vitamin D which helps with the processing of calcium.

For Connecticut people to get vitamin D from the sun we would need to be in the sun, unprotected (meaning without any sunblock), for 20 minutes, 4-5 times per week, and it would have to be between the months of March and October.  The rest of the year the sun is not strong enough to produce the vitamin D in the skin so we should be supplementing.  The problem is that many people don’t go in the sun in the summer or are entirely covered in sunblock.  Now I don’t recommend that people should be out in the sun for hours at a time with no sun protection but for a little while every other day will definitely be a health benefit.  And get tested for deficiency by your doctor so you’ll know what your vitamin D status is.

The function of vitamin D in the body is very similar to hormonal regulation.  Vitamin D regulates the body’s concentration of calcium and phosphorus which is extremely important for bone health and maintaining the pH of the blood.  In this society there is a lot of emphasis on calcium and bones but without vitamin D, calcium doesn’t really work as it should.  Calcium and vitamin D go hand in hand which is why milk is a good food for vitamin D fortification.

Vitamin D has also been found to be important in immune functions and cellular metabolism.  Adequate levels of vitamin D can help prevent infection and there are studies that show vitamin D can actually decrease the likelihood of certain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, hypertension, and possibly certain cancers.

Severe vitamin D deficiency in children causes rickets.  When children are growing and developing, calcium and phosphorus are very important to the mineralization of the bones.  When vitamin D levels are low the body cannot regulate the calcium and phosphorus which causes the bones to be weak and brittle.  A common trait of children with rickets is bowed legs, deformed pelvises, and enlarged heads.  Vitamin D deficiency in adults is called osteomalacia and is translated to “soft bones”.  This results in fractures of the hips, spine, and other bones.  This is not the same as osteoporosis as it has more to do with mal-absorption of vitamin D and calcium whereas osteoporosis is actual loss of bone mass.

Vitamin D toxicity can occur with too much supplementation.  It cannot occur with too much sun exposure as the body will self-regulate the amount of vitamin D it will produce.  Excess vitamin D can cause increased calcium in the blood which leads to calcium deposits in the kidneys, heart, and lungs.  Other symptoms are nausea, weakness, joint pain, and disorientation.  In early stages this can be treatable but continued excess supplementation can be fatal.

 

 

Vitamin C – Nutrition Series by Caroline Devine

Submitted by Carolyn Devin
The third in a series of talks about the importance of vitamins.

 

 

Vitamin C is an interesting vitamin because most of the animal kingdom can synthesize it themselves. Humans, guinea pigs and fruit bats are some of the very few species that need to supplement it in their diets. This vitamin is also known as ascorbic acid and we mostly associate it with citrus fruits such as; grapefruits, lemons, limes and especially oranges. While citrus fruits do contain quite a bit of vitamin C, guava fruit and red peppers actually contain much more. Half a cup of red pepper contains 160% of our daily recommended amount, half a cup of guava is 310%. Half a cup of orange juice is less than 75%. Green vegetables are also a great source of vitamin C but this vitamin is very heat sensitive and is easily destroyed in the cooking process.

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the body, helps in collagen production and helps with the synthesis of other biological compounds needed in the body. Collagen production is very important in wound healing as it is critical to the skin’s structure. Another important role of vitamin C is the assistance to non-heme iron (non-animal form of iron) to be absorbed in the body. And lastly, vitamin C does assist with immune system functions; it does this by binding to free radicals in the body to prevent damage and illness.

Generally, vitamin C deficiency is rare, less than 15% in America. Vitamin C is fortified in many processed food such as juice and cereal so most people do have access to enough. Smokers, woman taking oral contraceptives and burn victims need more than the vitamincnormal daily recommended amount because of oxidative stress and tissue regeneration. Severe vitamin C deficiency is called scurvy. It was prevalent in sailors hundreds of years ago because their sea voyages would last for months with no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Many sailors died before a British doctor discovered the connection between citrus and the sailor’s sicknesses and deaths in the mid-1700s. After that British fleets were stocked with limes (as they kept for long periods). This is why the British sailors were called Limeys.

Scurvy is a nasty disease. It starts with fatigue and small red spots around with hair follicles which are called pinpoint hemorrhages. As the connective tissue in the body continues to break down, larger hemorrhages begin to appear, bone pain and diarrhea. Scurvy is fatal if not treated. This disease is generally associated with poverty but is rare in the United States. Poor vitamin C status is more common in populations of smokers, alcoholics and those with extremely poor diets.

There are studies currently going on to see if there is a correlation between intake of vitamin C and the prevention of some cancers and heart disease, however, there have been no definitive results.

Cacarolyndevinerolyn Devin is a Health and Wellness Coach. She helps individuals who are looking to lose weight, gain energy or just to feel better by teaching about nutrition and lifestyle changes.

“I don’t advocate “dieting” or quick fixes. I feel that everyone has the right to be happy and healthy, which means that I don’t propose radical changes to your lifestyle or starvation diets. I want to guide you on a path to healthier living.”

Vitamin B – Nutrition Series by Caroline Devin

 

 

Submitted by Carolyn Devin
The second in a series of talks about the importance of vitamins.

 

 

Vitamin B was the second vitamin to be recognized (after vitamin A). It was so named because the scientists at the time did not realize that vitamin B was actually many different compounds. All the B vitamins are water-soluble which means there is little risk of toxicity as they are readily excreted from the body in urine. This is why when you take a vitamin B supplement your urine is a very bright yellow. That is from the riboflavin (B-2).

All B vitamins form coenzymes, which mean they help the biological processes that happen in our bodies, such as the process of transforming food into energy. The B vitamins that I am going to write about today are B-1 (Thiamin), B-2 (Riboflavin), B-3 (Niacin) and B-6. Many of the B vitamins are found in whole grain which is why when grains began to be processed and refined there was an increase in vitamin B deficiencies. To combat this problem, vitamins were added back to processed food such as bread, cereal and ground flour. It is called “enriched” flour on labels. Unrefined or whole wheat (or grain) flour is healthier but it will go bad much quicker than the refined flour because the germ of the grain contains oil that will go rancid. It’s best to use whole wheat flour quickly or store it in the freezer for longer storage.

Thiamin (B-1) is found in great quantities, naturally, in sunflower seeds. Just two ounces contain the daily recommended amount. Other good sources are pork products and, of course, enriched foods such as bread and cereals. Thiamin deficiency can cause a disease called Beriberi. This disease can have many different symptoms such as impaired nervous, cardiovascular, muscle and gastrointestinal systems. It can cause weakness, difficulty breathing and heart enlargement among other symptoms. Beriberi can be fatal if not treated. Symptoms of deficiency can begin just fourteen days without thiamin intake. Thankfully, thiamin deficiency is rare now due to the enrichment of so many food products and the new trend of eating whole grain foods. Thiamin is not heat stable and cooking may destroy much of the vitamin.

Riboflavin (B-2) is found mainly in enriched food products such as bread and cereal but some natural sources include; milk, mushrooms, spinach, kale and broccoli. Three ounces of beef liver also contains almost twice the recommended daily amount. As with thiamin, riboflavin deficiency is rare but symptoms include inflammation of the throat, tongue and mouth and cracking around the corners of the mouth. Anemia, fatigue and headaches are also symptoms of low riboflavin intake. Riboflavin is very light sensitive and is easily destroyed by exposure. This is why milk should be stored in light-blocking packaging.

Niacin (B-3) is most prevalent, naturally, in poultry, meat and fish and in enriched bread, cereal and whole grains. Coffee and tea also have small amounts of niacin. Niacin is metabolized from protein, more specifically tryptophan which is the amino acid most well-known for causing that post-holiday turkey-eating sleepiness. People with adequate protein intake are not at risk for deficiency. The disease caused by niacin deficiency is pellagra and was a national epidemic in the early 1900’s before the discovery of the niacin connection. It is estimated that 200,000 people died from pellagra in that time period in the United States. Today, pellagra is mainly found in Africa in famine areas. Niacin is also associated with niacin flush which is a tightening and reddening of the skin and can be quite disturbing to those unfamiliar with it but it is generally harmless. Toxicity is possible with very high supplement doses and can cause stomach upset and even possible liver damage. Consult with your doctor before using niacin supplements. Niacin is very heat stable, therefore very little is lost in the cooking process.

Vitamin B-6 can be found in the muscles of animals so poultry, meat and fish have high quantities. Whole grains again are good sources and carrots, potatoes and bananas are also great non-animal sources. Toxicity of vitamin B-6 is a real concern for those taking excessive supplements such as bodybuilders and woman treating themselves for the symptoms of PMS. Toxicity can potentially result in permanent nerve damage. Deficiency is rare in North America except in cases of very poor diets and alcoholism. Symptoms may include confusion, depression and convulsions. B-6 has been shown effective in the treatment of carpel tunnel syndrome and nausea related to pregnancy but please consult your doctor before trying B-6 supplementation.

Eating whole grains, lean meat and fish are excellent ways of getting your daily amount of these B vitamins. And don’t forget the bananas!vitamin b

The remaining B vitamins: Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Folate and B-12. Many of the B vitamins are found in whole grain which is why when grains began to be processed and refined there was an increase in vitamin B deficiencies. To combat this problem, vitamins were added back to processed food such as bread, cereal and ground flour, it is called “enriched” flour on labels. Unrefined or whole wheat (or grain) flour is healthier but it will go bad much faster than the refined flour because the germ of the grain contains oil that will go rancid. It’s best to use whole wheat flour quickly or store it in the freezer for longer storage.

Pantothenic Acid comes from the Greek word pantothen, which means “from every side” because this particular B vitamin is found in many, many foods. Common sources are animal products and vegetables. Unprocessed foods are a better source of this vitamin because it can be easily stripped away or destroyed in processing methods. There is no known case of deficiency of pantothenic acid unless it has been produced in a laboratory. This vitamin is used in the body to assist with the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and alcohol.

Biotin is found in whole grains, eggs, nuts and legumes. Peanuts are a great source of biotin with just 2 ounces (about 3 tablespoons) containing one and a half times the daily recommended amount. One large egg has about half the daily recommended amount; however, raw egg white contains a protein that will inhibit absorption of biotin. That is another reason to not consume raw eggs. Deficiency is rare with biotin but symptoms do include rashes, hair loss and impaired growth (in children). The most common incidences of deficiency are with individuals who are born with a genetic defect that prevents the body from processing the biotin. Or people who ingest large amounts of raw egg whites.

Folate is commonly heard when talking about women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant because early conception deficiency can be devastating to developing fetuses. The term folic acid is a synthetic form of folate that is found in fortified foods or supplements. Folate is very prevalent in leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach. Legumes, avocados and oranges are also good sources of folate. This vitamin is easily destroyed in processing or cooking. Salads with avocados are an excellent way to get your daily recommended amount. Folate is used in the body in the synthesis and maintenance of new cells so that is why deficiency in pregnant woman can lead to severe birth defects in babies such as neural tube defects; spina bifida (most common) or anencephaly (most severe-total lack of brain). It is extremely important for a woman considering pregnancy to be taking supplements or eating a wide variety of folate rich foods. Deficiency is difficult to detect because symptoms are on the cellular level but generally people who are more prone to deficiency are alcoholics, people with very poor diets and those taking certain medications.

Vitamin B-12 is heard a lot in the vegan community because the only reliable natural sources of this vitamin are animal products; meat and dairy. Vegans must take supplementation to avoid deficiency. The good news is that B-12 can be stored in the body for 2 to 3 years as it is not excreted in the urine like the other B vitamins. There are other sources of B-12 but they do not contain enough to meet daily requirements or are not in the correct form for the body to use them. These include fermented soy products (tempeh and miso) and certain seaweeds. Absorption of B-12 can be inhibited by diseases such as Chrohn’s or bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine. Some medications may also inhibit absorption such as anti-reflux (Prilosec®) or metformin (used to lower blood sugar with Type 2 diabetes. Common symptoms of deficiency are neurological changes which include; sensory issues in the legs (burning, tingling, prickling and numbness), balance can be affected which will make walking difficult, loss of concentration and disorientation. There can be vision problems as well. These symptoms will precede more serious cellular level issues. Elderly are at risk for deficiency due to mal-absorption and infants born to vegan or vegetarians are also at risk.

 

Cacarolyndevinerolyn Devin is a Health and Wellness Coach. She helps individuals who are looking to lose weight, gain energy or just to feel better by teaching about nutrition and lifestyle changes.

“I don’t advocate “dieting” or quick fixes. I feel that everyone has the right to be happy and healthy, which means that I don’t propose radical changes to your lifestyle or starvation diets. I want to guide you on a path to healthier living.”

Vitamin A- Nutrition Series by Caroline Devin

 

 

Submitted by Carolyn Devin
The first in a series of talks about the importance of vitamins.

 

The importance of  Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is stored in our body’s fat cells. It has three main functions in the body: cell development and growth, immune function and the most well know function, supporting good vision. How many of you have heard that eating carrots is good for your eyesight? That is because carrots are chock full of beta-carotene which gets transformed into vitamin A in the body. Half a cup of raw carrots provides nearly twice the daily recommended amount of vitamin A!

Vitamin A is also very important to the development of embryos. It helps babies in the development of their limbs, eyes, cardiovascular system and nervous systems. Deficiency in the early stages of pregnancy can result in birth defects.

Lastly, vitamin A is important to immune functions because it supports the skin cells, which is your body’s first defense against disease pathogens. Increased infection and illness can be a sign of vitamin A deficiency. Studies have also shown that having adequate vitamin A supplementation could help prevent skin cancer.

Here in Connecticut, there is very little risk of a vitamin A deficiency because so many of the foods to which we have access contain this vitamin, but not so in developing countries. Inhabitants of these countries struggle to meet even the minimum daily requirement of this vitamin.

Vitamin A toxicity can be a major problem, however, for pregnant women. There are many skin products out there that contain vitamin A as retinol (sometimes called Retin-A®) or retinoic acid (ex. Accutane®). These products are used for treating skin disorders such as psoriasis and acne, allowing the vitamin to be absorbed through the skin.

Pregnant woman should be especially careful using these products and should consult their doctor with questions.
One other important note, beta-carotene is naturally occurring in many vegetables. Sweet potatoes, carrots, kale and broccoli have some of the highest amounts. High amounts of beta-carotene have not been known to cause toxicity. The body will create the vitamin A that it needs and excretes the rest. Vitamin A is naturally occurring in animal products such as meat, cheese and eggs. The beta-carotene has already been transformed into vitamin A by the animals that ate the plants. It IS possible to get too much vitamin A from eating animal products if you are eating excessive amounts of organ meats like beef liver. Three ounces of beef liver contains over five times the daily recommended amount of vitamin A. Vitamin A is also in many fortified food products such as cereal and margarine.

A simple way to get your daily amount of vitamin A is to cut up a sweet potato into one inch pieces, toss them in a little bit of olive oil, spread them out on a baking sheet, sprinkle with some seasoning and roast at 375 for 20 minutes or so. Or, even easier, eat a carrot!

 

 

Cacarolyndevinerolyn Devin is a Health and Wellness Coach. She helps individuals who are looking to lose weight, gain energy or just to feel better by teaching about nutrition and lifestyle changes.

“I don’t advocate “dieting” or quick fixes. I feel that everyone has the right to be happy and healthy, which means that I don’t propose radical changes to your lifestyle or starvation diets. I want to guide you on a path to healthier living.”

 

Caroline Devin and the Serenity of Body and Mind

 

Life brings us to many different places.  Each of us is born with a purpose and a mission; we just have to wake up to our true calling and find out how we can best serve not just ourselves, but others.  Caroline Devin is a new contributor to Women Move the Soul.  She has her own business located in Glastonbury, CT, USA where she helps people to obtain “serenity of body and mind” through nutritional counseling.  Want to change your life?  Be in better shape to heal from quickly from ailments or perhaps not even get ailments?  Then, change your diet to a more healthy one.   Enjoy our conversation with our new contributor Caroline Devin!

 

What type of work did you do before you began studying nutrition?

I was an accountant for 16 years.

 

What made you decide to make a career change?  Actually, this was not just a career change, but a life change.  What brought this about?

For many years I was on many different diets, yo-yoing back in forth in weight but always feeling unhealthy.  I had chronic headaches, IBS and acid reflux from taking so much ibuprofen for my chronic headaches.  I went to my doctor and instead of trying to figure why I was having so many health issues, she prescribed drugs for me; Topamax for the headaches and Prilosec for my acid reflux.  So in my early to mid-thirties I was on multiple medications that I would have to be on for the rest of my life.  I had basically given up.  Then one day, I was on another kind of diet, one that focused on eating “real” food, not processed crap and I felt better.  A light bulb went off and I started researching food and the importance of eating better for health.  I learned that I have multiple food sensitivities that cause my IBS and headaches and when I eliminated them the headaches and IBS were gone.  I stopped taking all of my medications and now the only things I take are some vitamins and Omega-3s.  In November 2010 I decided to go back to school for nutrition and then in December 2011, I made the decision to get my health coaching certificate.  I want to show people that they can feel better.  The answer isn’t in a pill bottle, the answer is in themselves.  I want to empower people to take charge of their health.

 

You are heavy into recycling.  Some people don’t do this because they feel it takes too much time.  Why is it important to you?

I watched a lot of videos and read a lot of articles about the trash situation in the world and it is really scary.  Plastic just doesn’t decompose and it is just piling up and honestly I feel even more important about not using plastic to begin with.  The recycling system is getting better but there is just not enough demand for all the plastic waste so recycleeven if you do spend the time to recycle, there is no guarantee that it is not going to end up in a landfill any way.  The best thing to do is to reuse plastic items as much as possible and use alternatives such as glass and metal.  When I go to the grocery store I try to buy stuff in glass (jars) as much as possible and I use a stainless steel reusable water bottle and I ALWAYS bring my own bags to the store.  It is virtually impossible to avoid plastic but you can make a difference with small changes.

 

Do you have any suggestions for people who are not recycling as much as they should be?  How can it become an easier thing for them to do?

People need to realize that it’s important.  It’s really not a hard thing to do.  Most towns make it pretty easy with an extra pickup for recycling but one thing you can think of is that it saves some money as you won’t be throwing out as much and therefore saving on garbage bags.

 

Back to nutrition – are more of your client’s women versus men?  Why do you think that is so?

I have a pretty even split between men and women.  I think people want to eat better and feel better and the traditional medical system is failing them.  Doctors are just pushing drugs and offering no real solutions.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is a place for doctors for serious illnesses that are not nutrition related but, in general, people can control their health and they are starting to realize that.

 

timeWhat do you think or have you been told as the most prominent reason that people do not make a change to a healthier lifestyle and what would you suggest they can do to slowly implement changes?

No time – everyone claims to have no time to prepare healthy meals or to exercise but we all seem to have time to watch TV every night.  It really is about priorities.  Get up an hour earlier, make food for the week on the weekends and freeze it into serving sizes, go for a walk after dinner instead of watching TV.  Make your health important and stop making excuses.  There are tons of ways to make changes easier but you have to make the decision to do it.  You are worth it and you only have one life to live so you should feel your best!

 

carolyndevineCaroline Devin on Women Move the Soul

More about Caroline and a healthy lifestyle at http://SerenityofBodyandMind.com