Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

As we come to the end of the summer months, it’s important to consider how the reduced exposure to sunlight can affect our health and Vitamin D levels. What with changes in lifestyle, hours spent indoors at the workplace and concerns about exposure to uv rays, the amount of sunshine we expose our skin to these days has reduced significantly. As a result, it seems that deficiency of this essential vitamin is on the rise and we really do need to be mindful about keeping our levels topped up.

The NHS gives the following guidelines on getting a good dose of Vitamin D from the sun:

How long should we spend in the sun? There isn’t one recommendation to suit everybody. This is because the amount of time you need to spend in the sun for your skin to make enough vitamin D depends on a number of things.

These include your skin type (for example, how dark your skin is or how easily you get sunburnt), the time of year and what time of day it is.

Short daily periods of sun exposure without sunscreen during the summer months (April to October) are enough for most people to make enough vitamin D. Evidence suggests that the most effective time of day for vitamin D production is between 11am and 3pm.

A short period in the sun means a matter of minutes – about 10 to 15 minutes for most people – and is less than the time it takes you to start going red or to burn. The larger the area of your skin that is exposed to sunlight, the more chance there is of making enough vitamin D before you start to burn.

People with darker skin will need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D.

In the UK, our skin isn’t able to make vitamin D from winter sunlight (November to March) as the sunlight hasn’t got enough UVB (ultraviolet B) radiation. During the winter, we get vitamin D from our body’s stores and from food sources.

(Don’t forget, the longer you stay in the sun, especially for prolonged periods without sun protection, the greater the risk of skin cancer. So remember to cover up or protect your skin before the amount of time it takes you to start to turn red or burn later on.)

Facts about Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissue.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are essential for normal bone formation.

Throughout childhood, your body uses these minerals to produce bones. If you do not get enough calcium, or if your body does not absorb enough calcium from your diet, bone production and bone tissues may suffer.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in adults or rickets in children.

The body makes vitamin D when the skin is directly exposed to the sun. That is why it is often called the “sunshine” vitamin. Most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs this way.

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. As a result, many foods are fortified with vitamin D. Fortified means that vitamins have been added to the food.

Vitamin D is found in the following foods: dairy products, cheese, butter cream, fortified milks (including soya, oat and rice milk), oily fish (such as salmon and mackerel), oysters, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and margarine.

It can be very hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. As a result, some people may need to take a vitamin D supplement if their are deficient.

The symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency:

Many people remain asymptomatic despite low levels of Vitamin D but here are the more common symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • General muscle pain and weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Restless sleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Bladder problems
  • Constipation or diarrhea

If you are concerned about Vitamin D deficiency you can have your levels tested through your GP or get advice from your nutritional therapist.

Why You Feel Bloated

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Bloating, gassiness, and abdominal discomfort aren’t limited to the occasional holiday feast. One in 10 Americans say they suffer from bloating regularly, even when they haven’t eaten a large meal. In some cases, bloating can become severe enough that it causes distention, or a perceptible swelling of the abdomen. Bloating and gas are usually tied to what and how you eat, so a few simple changes may help.

Keep Bloating at Bay

Here are three common causes of bloating, and how you can avoid them.

  1. Overeating is probably the most common cause of bloating. Smaller portions should ease the pain.
  2. Eating rich and fatty food can make you feel uncomfortably stuffed. Fat takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates, so it keeps the stomach full longer. Avoid bloating by limiting fats in your everyday diet.
  3. Eating too fast adds to the risk of bloating after a meal. The remedy is simple -‑ eat more slowly. Satiety signals can take up to 20 minutes to reach the brain and dampen appetite. Many weight loss experts believe that eating slowly helps prevent overeating.

Reducing Gassiness

The second most common cause of temporary bloating is gas in the abdomen. About half of gas in the digestive system is swallowed air. The rest is produced by bacteria in the gut that help digest food. If the gastrointestinal tract does not move it through efficiently, gas builds up in the intestines, causing bloating and discomfort.

If you frequently experience bloating caused by gas, avoid these habits that increase how much air you swallow.

  • drinking through a straw
  • chewing gum
  • guzzling carbonated beverages
  • sucking on hard candy.

Some people swallow more air when they’re nervous. It’s possible that practicing ways to reduce stress and anxiety, such as breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation, may help reduce excess gas and bloating.

Avoid Bloat-Inducing Foods

Difficult-to-digest foods can cause gassiness and bloating. These are some familiar culprits.

  1. Beans and lentils contain indigestible sugars called oligosaccharides. These sugars must be broken down by bacteria in the intestines.
  2. Fruits and vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, prunes, apricots. These contain sugars and starches that may cause gassiness and bloating.
  3. Sweeteners can also cause gas and bloating. Sorbitol, an artificial sweetener, can’t be digested. Fructose, a natural sugar added to many processed foods, is difficult for many people to digest. To avoid bloating, be aware of these sweeteners in the foods you eat and limit the amount you consume.
  4. Dairy products can be a source of intestinal distress and bloating if you have trouble digesting lactose, or milk sugar.
  5. Whole grains, recommended for their many health benefits, can sometimes cause bloating and gas problems. One reason whole grains are so healthy is their high fiber content. But fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate. Abruptly increasing the amount of fiber you eat can cause gas, bloating, and constipation. Nutritionists recommend slowly increasing the fiber in your diet to allow your body time to adjust. At the same time, drink plenty of water with high-fiber foods, says nutritionist Joanne L. Slavin, PhD, RD, professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota. “All fiber absorbs water,” she explains. Drinking liquids helps fiber move through the digestive system and prevents bloating and constipation.

When to Ask Your Doctor About Bloating

Temporary bloating is common and nothing to worry about. But if you’re troubled by bloating on a regular basis, talk to your doctor.

Physical obstructions such as scarring of the stomach opening can make it hard for food to pass through the digestive tract normally. If your doctor diagnoses a physical obstruction in the stomach or small intestines, surgery may be required to correct it. Bloating can also be caused by impaired muscle function in the digestive tract. When muscles that normally move food along don’t work properly, gas can build up in the small intestines, causing bloating. In some cases, gas in the intestines may go the wrong way, returning to the stomach.

Persistent bloating or distention may also signal potentially serious conditions, such as enlargement of one of the abdominal organs or a malignancy.

What Else You Can Do About Bloating

If eliminating or reducing consumption of hard-to-digest foods doesn’t solve your frequent bloating problem, there are over-the-counter medications that might help. Look for a pill or liquid containing alpha-D-galactosidase, an enzyme that breaks down indigestible sugars in beans and vegetables. Tablets or capsules containing simethicone can also help alleviate symptoms of excess gas.

If you’re a smoker, intestinal distress may be one more reason to quit. Smoking has been linked to bloating, heartburn, and other digestive problems.

Fortunately, bloating is rarely a symptom of serious trouble. For most people, the most effective prescription for bloating is simple: control portion sizes, go easy on fats, and eat slowly enough to give your body time to signal when you’ve had enough. These sensible remedies should keep you from feeling overstuffed and bloated.

source: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/diarrhea-10/bloated-bloating