Cold Days Bring Lackluster UV Rays…it’s time for Vitamin D!

Fall back, spring forward.  The  best part of daylight savings time was getting an extra hour of sleep this past Sunday and it was equally nice to cycle to work in the morning with some sunlight instead of complete darkness as it was last week.

nightBiking

This time change thing got me thinking about the impending winter, and that got me thinking about Vitamin D.  For a full overview on why you should be taking Vitamin D daily if you live above the 37th parallel, check out this prior post.  If you don’t feel like a long read, I’ll sum it up by saying that if you live anywhere in the grey shaded area below,  1000 IU (international units) of Vitamin D daily does the body good.

37th-parallel

Why?  In the months between September and April, the sun is not at an angle to produce the correct wavelength of UV rays we need to create Vitamin D in our body.  So, even though you might be in the sun during the winter months, the type of rays coming in are not Vitamin D production friendly.

summer vs winter

 

Vit D is used in the gut to help absorb calcium and also works hard at maintaining adequate levels of phosphorus – both are needed for healthy teeth and bones.  It actually functions like a hormone in our body, works in close conjunction with parathyroid hormone and is structurally is very close to both estrogen and cortisone.  There is a strong correlation between colder climates and those with low levels of Vitamin D and the development of Multiple Sclerosis.  Furthermore, there is a belief that low levels of Vitamin D slows down our immune response .  Finally, Vitamin D is involved in muscle and heart support, the prevention of certain types of cancer (ovarian, prostate, colon, bladder, rectal), and mood/cognitive support in the older population.

9435_CEF

How much do you need?  If you’re an adult anywhere between 1000 – 4000 IU.  Children under 1 need about 600 IU’s.  Kids over a year can get by with 600-800 IU.  It’s time.  Get your Vitamin D on!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”  

– John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley:  In Search of America

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The Health Junction Mailbox: Cat Related Sleep Disturbances and Fish Oil Confusion

I received a few great email over the past few weeks from readers with questions…which I LOVE!!  If you have any nutrition or health related questions, please send them to me at thehealthjunction@mail.com or click here for alternative ways of getting in touch.  Without further ado, here are the answers to your questions:

Cod Liver Oil vs. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Dear Health Junction,

What is the difference between Cod Liver Oil and Omega-3 capsules?
El B
Dear El B,
Cod Liver Oil comes from cod-fish and contains some omega-3 fatty acid as well as Vitamin A and Vitamin D.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a type of fatty acid found in a variety of fish, including Cod.  Omega-3, depending on the ration of DHA to EPA is used for to help support brain function (DHA) or mood and inflammation (EPA).  The reason it’s called an “essential” fatty acid is because we cannot make it in our body and therefore it must be obtained from diet.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids are thought to help support heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, depression, painful periods, dry eyes, and skin issues to name a few.
It is not advised to take Cod Liver Oil if you are interested in Omega-3 Fatty Acid benefits because the amount in a Cod Oil is too small.  Cod Oil should be taken if you are looking for Vitamin A or D supplementation.  If you’re interested in the benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, look for a supplement that is named as such – some good brands include NutraSea and Natural Factors.  An Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement contains a blend of Omega-3 Fatty acids from a variety of fish, but most often sardines, anchovies, or salmon.
The Health Junction
Kylie
Dear Health Junction,
 
I do believe you are a feline aficionado, of the kitty-cat variety; I have a few concerns regarding my pussy-cat, Kylie. 
 
In her advanced age, Kylie feels compelled to sleep in my bedroom at night, which would be fine if she didn’t have the habit of coming and going throughout the night, which is very inconvenient since I need to sleep with the bedroom door closed.  Consequently, I end up being woken up a few times each night to let Kylie in and out of the bedroom, which, in turn is interrupting my sleep and from our nutrition consultations together, I understand I need to get undisturbed sleep!! 
 
I’ve tried to break Kylie out of her habit of sleeping in my bedroom but she cries and scratches at the door for prolonged periods of time, and I feel guilty since she’s my cat, and I don’t want Kylie to feel stressed out or alone in her senior age. 
 
What is a feline-companion (to Kylie) to do?
CL
Dear CL,
You’re right.  I LOVE cats!
First off, I would like to make note that this reader clearly gets the connection between good sleep and good health.  In fact, you cannot have one without the other.  People who get less than the required 8 hours per night have an increased risk of car accidents, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, higher than normal Body Mass Index (BMI), and a decreased level of concentration and memory.  Impaired sleeping raises levels of cortisol (our stress hormone), over stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, increases blood pressure, increases our heart rate, decreases our ability to respond to insulin, and decreases levels of leptin, a substance that inhibits appetite.  So without getting a good nights sleep, among other health challenges, it becomes more difficult to manage weight.
Cats are wonderful, but like our reader, I can relate to the massive sleep disturbances that they can bring on at ridiculous times (like 4 am…shudder).  Here are some tips to for cat related sleep disturbances:
  • Try to tire Kylie out during the day by playing with her and making sure she has lots of toys available.
  • Start putting Kyle’s litter box, food, and water in a bathroom (or small room) far away from where people are sleeping.
  • Put some blankets and make it a nice place for her to sleep.
  • At night, bring Kylie downstairs and put her in the bathroom with her litter box and food.  She will likely meow and put up a fuss but it’s important not to respond.  After a few days she should stop making a fuss.

While you want to be nice to your cat, putting her somewhere at night where she doesn’t disturb you doesn’t mean you love her any less!  Good luck!

The Health Junction