Note: This post was updated on October 21, 2018.
Called the “Sunshine Vitamin”, Vitamin D is made by our bodies after exposure to sunlight. However, because we are so aware of sun safety (and rightfully so, I think) we tend to cover up in so many ways we can’t absorb the Vitamin D the sun puts out there, and those of us in the northern latitudes really struggle to get enough naturally occurring Vitamin D.
Over on my Facebook page this week we are talking about Steelhead Trout, an excellent source of Vitamin D. It's an easy fish to make and serve, and I'll be sharing my favourite quick way to cook this fish on #foodiefriday.
Until recently, studies on Vitamin D maintained that it helps our bodies absorb calcium and promote bone growth. As of early October 2018, this has been disproven in studies done over several years, with the exception of those who are shut-ins and cannot leave the home.
It also helps to regulate our immune and neuromuscular systems to keep them running strong. Although studies with the aim to prove Vitamin D keeps us healthy in many other ways, including protection from breast cancer to treatment of diabetes have been done, they are inconclusive in result.
Vitamin D also plays a particular importance in healthy outcomes for mother and baby. It seems to play a huge role in everything from prevention of infertility, bacterial infections, and pre-eclampsia to gestational diabetes and low birth weight.
There are some interesting studies that show Vitamin D can actually help with weight loss, and can also be an effective treatment for depression.
Vitamin D also prevents rickets, a condition that causes skeletal defects, muscle weakness, dental problems, and more. It’s not very common here in the West, but there is a resurgence. Here's another in-depth look at rickets.
Vitamin D can be overdosed on when using supplement, which is why you want to try very hard to get it from your diet. I know I’ve said it before, and I will say it again:
The best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
Vitamin D is an interesting vitamin. Around the world, there are different recommendations for how much is enough. As recently as 2010, Health Canada has adjusted the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D. It’s an interesting read.
Infants to children aged 8, recommended minimum intake is 400-600 IU, children 9-adults 600-800 IU. However, the tolerable daily upper limit is significantly higher, so check out that chart (link posted above for Health Canada)
Consider how supplementation can interact with other vitamins and minerals. The human body is a delicate balance, and everything you put into your mouth will have an effect on something.
If you’re on long-term medication, check with your doctor about Vitamin D supplementation. There are several drug interactions associated with of Vitamin D.
To summarize, Vitamin D is important to:
You can find Vitamin D in these food sources:
Fatty Fish (tuna, salmon, trout), fortified foods (dairy, orange juice, etc), cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms, and beef liver.
This is my passion, and I’m so grateful I get to share it with you!
“How are you doing that?” my oldest son asked, leaning against the counter and watching me. I was grabbing random jars of spices and herbs from the pantry, taking their lids off, sniffing them, and keeping some out while putting others back.
He’d been watching me for a couple of minutes while I measured random amounts of spices, adding them to my prep bowl and tasting or smelling as I went along. It was a test-kitchen day, and I was working on a new recipe.
“I don’t know,” I answered after considering for a minute. “I just do it. I was born to do this”. And it’s true, I realized.
Before I cooked, and long before it was trendy, I played with essential oils. I used to blend perfumes and massage oils, bath salts and bath bombs. I devoured books and studied everything I could about beneficial properties of different oils, the best oils that worked together, and the different ways to use them.
I remember just “knowing” what scents would work well together, which ones would help when I had a chest cold, which ones would soothe sadness or a headache, which ones would wake me up during a mid-day slump at my boring office job.
Spices and herbs contain essential oils, and recipe development comes naturally to me. I truly was born with this ability, and it’s all I want to do. There are days where I’m desperate to start working on a project that’s been growing in the back of my mind, but I can’t because I don’t have the time. Those days frustrate me because all I really want to do is cook. Then there are the days where I get to spend the whole day in my kitchen, and those are the days that light me up.
This is my passion, and I’m so grateful I get to share it with you!
Please follow me Facebook and sign up for my newsletters, and copy my free spice blend resource, shared with this post on Facebook. I can’t teach you how to blend your spices the same way I do, but there are some great suggestions on which spices and herbs work well with which foods.
If you need a hand figuring out how to make food and nutrition work for you, give me a call. We can chat for a few minutes to see if I can help. Sometimes you can't figure it out on your own, and if you're at the point where you know you're done trying it on your own, hiring me might be your next step.
Enjoy your week, friends!
We’re finally past the B-Complex, and onto my favourite vitamin- Vitamin C! On my Facebook page this week we are talking about kiwifruit, a fun fuzzy berry that originated in China but is now grown many places.
For #testkitchentuesday I experimented with the meat-tenderizing properties of kiwi, and because cooking kiwi will disrupt much of its vitamin C content we also enjoyed a fresh kiwi and pear fruit salsa with the finished roast. Recipe will be posted on Facebook #foodiefriday! Check it out and use it to inspire your own test kitchen!
Kiwi is high in Vitamin C- a serving of 2 contains even more than oranges! Vitamin C is only found naturally in fruit and vegetables, so keep this in mind and make sure you eat lots of those!
Vitamin C stimulates white blood cells and is a free-radical fighting superhero. It helps to keep our immune system running strong, although studies with the aim to prove Vitamin C keeps you from getting sick are inconclusive. Common sense would dictate though, that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is going to make you healthier with the plethora of nutrition available, so eat up as much of that food group as you like. I'm not too fussy on limiting servings of fruit and vegetables- in our house, it's unlimited. Our bodies do not make their own Vitamin C- it must be part of our daily diet.
Vitamin C also plays a role in healthy cardiovascular function. It seems to play a role in stroke prevention, as a deficiency can be a risk factor.
There are some interesting studies that show Vitamin C can actually help prevent certain types of cancer, oral and digestive, and can also be an effective treatment for killing the cancer’s stem cells which are resistant to traditional treatments.
Vitamin C also prevents scurvy, a condition that causes bleeding gums, nosebleeds, cracked skin, poor wound healing, and ultimately death by infection or associated complications. Thankfully, there’s no need to worry about scurvy here in the West- we have Vitamin C rich foods available everywhere.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which aids in the renewal of skin and keeps us looking our best. It assists in renewing skin damaged by the sun and pollution.
You can get Vitamin C from many fruits and vegetables! If you name it, it’s likely got it. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so here’s a tip: Pair your iron-rich meals with Vitamin C-rich foods. The best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
Vitamin C supplements are widely available. I actually take one every day because even though we usually eat really well, I do want to support my body for those days I make less than nutritious choices, which does happen from time to time.
However, before you take a supplement- because it’s easy to ingest too much of anything when you pop a pill, or cause side effects or drug interactions, talk to your doctor. There are several drug interactions associated with supplementation of Vitamin C.
To summarize, Vitamin C is important to:
You can find Vitamin C in these food sources:
Kiwi, oranges, grapes, guava, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, peppers, and more.
Children from 1 to 18 years need from need from 15-1800 mg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 90-120 mg per day, depending on sex and whether pregnant or breastfeeding.
For more information on Vitamin C dosing for children and adults, read this article here.
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B12. On my Facebook page this week we are talking about eggs, an amazing protein that is readily available, offers good quality for cost, and is super good for you in many ways, though not as high in Vitamin B12 as other sources.
Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products, the best being beef liver or salmon. I went with eggs this week. It’s sad to me that neither of my boys like eggs, but I keep trying!
Eggs are versatile and quick to prepare. They are satisfying and nutritious and can be eaten in many different ways. I didn’t reinvent the wheel this week on #testkitchentuesday, but stuck with a tried and true egg salad sandwich. However, I did switch out the mayo for hummus, and of course use my own spices and herbs to flavour the eggs, so I will post that recipe on #foodiefriday. I’d love to hear what you do with eggs!
Vitamin B12 plays a role in maintaining energy levels and helping prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. It helps the nervous system run smoothly, regulating stress and emotion responses. Like other B vitamins, it helps with heart health, keeping skin and hair healthy, and an efficient digestive system. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in helping to prevent anemia and promoting a healthy pregnancy.
You can get Vitamin B12 from many animal food sources as well as an artificial form added to other foods and, as discussed before, supplements. Animal sources are best absorbed. Eggs only contain about 9% of the absorbable Vitamin B12, for example, and foods enjoyed by vegetarians or vegans don’t contain B12 that can be used by the human body, with the possible exception of fortified products that have had a synthetic version added.
People with digestive disorders such as Celiac or Crohn’s disease are also at a high risk of B12 deficiency.
A deficiency of Vitamin B12 can be common in the western world. Symptoms to watch for are, unfortunately, pretty common symptoms of many health issues such as joint pain and fatigue, which can be unrelated to B12 deficiency, as can anxiety, dizziness, or poor concentration. And Vitamin B9 can mask a B12 deficiency, which further complicates matters.
For more information on B12 deficiency, read this article.
There are several drug interactions associated with supplementation of Vitamin B12.
The best way to confirm your numbers is to see your doctor for a blood test, and the best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
To summarize, Vitamin B12 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B12 in these food sources:
Animal proteins such as beef liver, trout, sardines, lamb, tuna, salmon, eggs, dairy, and fortified products.
Children from 4 to 13 years need from need from 1.2-1.8 mcg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 2.4-2.8 mcg per day, depending on sex and whether pregnant or breastfeeding.
For more information on children and senior B12 supplementation, please read these articles:
General Information on Vitamin B12
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B9.
On my Facebook page this week we are talking about beets, a root vegetable that provides about a third of your daily Vitamin B9. It’s one of my favourite vegetables to roast and use in baking and cooking. They are naturally sweet, can be used to make your food pretty and pink, and taste amazing when used with many spices and herbs.
I’ll be sharing the recipe I created for a Moroccan-inspired lentil side dish on #testkitchentuesday that uses roasted beets as one of the main additions on #foodiefriday. I can’t wait to hear how you like it! Please feel free to comment on my recipes and let me know what you think.
Vitamin B9 plays a role in everything from healthy fetal development to mental wellness. In fact, it’s a major food additive here in the West, added to everything from cereals to bread. Neural Tube defects in the developing baby can be caused during pregnancy due to lack of folate, so pregnant women are usually encouraged to take a folic acid supplement.
Folate also plays a major role in reducing risk of heart inflammation as well as stroke. It has been studied to see whether it helps with mental wellness in terms of reducing anxiety and depression.
It works in the body to build muscle, improve hemoglobin levels, and aid in the production of DNA/RNA. Vitamin B9 also may play a role in protecting against hearing and vision loss.
You can get Vitamin B9 from many food sources, and as mentioned before, supplements. A deficiency of Vitamin B9 will look like shortness of breath, irritability, mental sluggishness, gingivitis, and loss of appetite/poor growth. Deficiencies of Vitamin B9 are very common which is why food is often fortified.
However, before you take a supplement- because it’s easy to ingest too much of anything when you pop a pill, or cause side effects or drug interactions, talk to your doctor.
There are several drug interactions associated with supplementation of Vitamin B9!
Read more about these here.
To summarize, Vitamin B9 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B9 in these food sources:
Root vegetables, pulses (beans, lentils), mustard greens, asparagus, dark leafy greens, avocado, salmon, orange juice, and fortified wheat and wheat products (breads and cereals, wheat germ).
Children from birth to 18 years need from need from 65-400 mcg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 400-500 mcg per day, depending on sex and whether pregnant or breastfeeding.
For general information on Vitamin B9, please check here.
For information on Vitamin B9 deficiency, please check here.
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B7.
On my Facebook page this week we are talking about walnuts, a tree nut that provides a good dose of your daily Vitamin B7. It’s one of my favourite nuts to toast and use in baking and cooking.
Toasting walnuts brings out the most amazing flavour, and adding them to your next salad (if you add dried fruit and nuts to your salad!) will definitely not disappoint you. I’ll be sharing the recipe I created for a Moroccan-inspired pizza on #testkitchentuesday that uses walnuts as one of the pizza toppings on #foodiefriday. I can’t wait to hear how you like it! Please feel free to comment on my recipes and let me know what you think.
Vitamin B7 plays a role in the metabolizing of fats and carbohydrates in your diet. It’s also instrumental in helping us keep healthy hair and nails, and that is why it’s sometimes called Vitamin H (for hair). It’s important in the proper development of the fetus- in fact, babies, pregnant, and breastfeeding women are likely to have a biotin deficiency- for infants, cradle cap is one of the signs. There is some evidence from a study done in 1990 that suggests it may help with peripheral neuropathy in people with diabetes, but I haven’t seen more recent research.
You can get Vitamin B7 from some food sources, though not as many as the other B-vitamins. In spite of this, supplements are not usually required. A deficiency of Vitamin B7 will look like brittle hair and nails, skin problems such as dermatitis, dry eyes, fatigue, lips cracked in the corners, and anemia. Remember, before you take a supplement- because it’s easy to ingest too much of anything when you pop a pill, or cause side effects or drug interactions, talk to your doctor.
To summarize, Vitamin B7 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B7 in these food sources:
Bananas, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Raw cauliflower, yeast, avocado, cooked eggs (raw egg white will inhibit biotin absorption), liver, salmon, and sardines.
Children from birth to 18 years need from need from 5-25 mcg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 30 mcg per day. Breastfeeding women need 35 mcg.
For general information on Vitamin B7, please check here.