Are you stressed out? In our fast-paced modern world where we’re always connected and on-the-go, chronic stress is becoming more and more common.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Chronic stress, which means a constant stress experienced over a prolonged period of time, can contribute to long-term problems for heart and blood vessels. The consistent and ongoing increase in heart rate, and the elevated levels of both stress hormones and blood pressure can take a toll on the body.”
We’ve all learned the importance of sun protection (including sunscreen) and covering up when we’ll be out in the sun to help prevent skin cancer. However, with so much emphasis on this protection, you may have forgotten that there are benefits to allowing your body to absorb a limited amount of sunshine without protection for a short amount of time each day.
This short amount of unprotected sun time stimulates your body to produce vitamin D. This fat-soluble vitamin is a powerful immune system regulator and helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous, keeping bones and teeth strong. Those lacking adequate amounts of vitamin D risk bone abnormalities including osteoporosis. You can get enough vitamin D from either exposing bare skin to sunlight or by taking supplements. Unfortunately, you can’t get the right amount of vitamin D for optimal health from food alone.
Vitamin D has the following health benefits:
Some recent studies estimate that up to 50% of adults worldwide are deficient in vitamin D levels – especially in the winter because vitamin D has a half-life of only two weeks.
How long should I stay in the sun without sunscreen to stimulate vitamin D production?
It varies, according to the time of year, time of day, proximity to the equator, and your skin type. Typically, your body can make all the vitamin D it needs for the day in about half the time it would take for your skin to start getting pink, an indicator that it’s starting to burn. For fair-skinned people, that’s between five and 15 minutes, and again ― is about half the time it would take for your skin to start getting pink and burning. Monitor the time carefully and seek shade or apply sunscreen as soon as your skin starts getting pink! People with very dark skin may need to spend an hour or two in the sun to get enough vitamin D and/or they may need to take supplements. As we get older, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to produce vitamin D, so we need to take supplements.
How much vitamin D do you need each day?
Various organizations have different official recommendations. Your best bet is to ask your medical provider. The Vitamin D Council recommends that adults take 5,000 IUs (international units) per day, the Endocrine Society recommends adults take 1,500-2,000 IU/day and the Food and Nutrition Board, where the U.S. Government gets its official recommendations, advises 600 IU/day for adults and 800 IU/day for seniors. When choosing a vitamin D supplement, opt for vitamin D3 (rather than D2) because it’s easier for your body to utilize.
How much vitamin D does the body make when skin is exposed to sunlight?
When bare skin is exposed to the sun, your body is capable of making large quantities of vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. And remember: you don’t need to tan or burn to achieve this. Your body can make 10,000 to 25,000 IU in a rapid amount of time – before your skin begins to get pink! The more skin you expose – such as your back vs. only your arms – the more vitamin D you will make.
Many factors influence how much vitamin D you can make, including the time of year, time of day, distance from the equator, and your skin type. When the sun’s rays hit the Earth at an extreme angle, such as during midwinter and in the morning or evening during summer, there aren’t enough UVB rays reaching the Earth’s surface to stimulate vitamin D production. There’s an easy way to tell: if your shadow is longer than you are tall, there aren’t sufficient UVB rays reaching you to stimulate vitamin D production.
If you work inside most weekdays, the Vitamin D Council recommends taking a vitamin D3 supplement on days when you’re not outside in the sun to stimulate your body’s internal vitamin D factory. Your doctor can advise the right vitamin D supplementation strategy for you. You’ll most likely need to depend solely on supplements in the wintertime, and a mix of supplements and natural sunshine in the summer. You can read more on the Vitamin D Council’s website.
Please remember: after you’ve spent the short amount of time it takes for your body to start producing vitamin D naturally, go into the shade, cover up or apply sun protection to prevent skin from burning. With the sun’s intense summer rays, a little goes a long way!
Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body and plays an integral role in over 300 metabolic activities. Currently 80-90% of the population is deficient. This is due to a diet that is low in magnesium, and a lifestyle that is high in stress. Additionally, most of us eat too much processed foods, and consume alcohol and caffeine which act to deplete the magnesium in the body. Could you be deficient in magnesium? (hint: probably!) Do you know what to symptoms could mean you're deficient. Read more to find out!
Allergy season is here! And these are just the seasonal allergies. Did you know that many of us suffer from allergies all year long? They don’t always present with the same seasonal allergy symptoms of runny nose, sore throat and watery eyes. These allergies may present as rashes, gastrointestinal distress or even psychiatric complaints. They are caused by a similar mechanism to the traditional seasonal allergy with an elevation if histamine in our system.
Histamine intolerance is a growing phrase used in the integrative health care community. Everyone has histamine in their body, however some people are more sensitive to it than others. Histamine intolerance describes a presentation of worsening symptoms with food intolerances or other elevations of histamine levels. Typically, an excess of histamine is the true cause of these symptoms opposed to an intolerance. The question then arises, why is there an excess of this histamine? There is growing awareness in the medical community of a disorder that causes elevations of histamine and other chemicals in the body. This is known as Mast Cell Activation Disorder (MCAD). Mast cells are a type of immune cell that are supposed to be activated as a protective response to detect and respond to triggers of internal or external stress or danger. The issue arises when they become disordered, or malfunction. This article will serve as a brief introduction to MCAD.
"Mast cells are essential protectors or the body, but when they become over produced or over stimulated they can release toxic chemicals that increase inflammation in the body."
1. What role does the tick life cycle play in tick-borne illness?
Each tick will feed on 3 hosts during a 2 year lifecycle― one each at nymph, larval and adult stages. Because ticks attach to various host animals and feed on their blood, ticks harbor a variety of bacteria and viruses in their gut. These blood-borne bacteria are easily spread from the first host – often a rodent or bird― which “picks up” the nymph in a moist dirt bed― to the second host, a dog or deer. Blood-borne bacteria from the tick’s first two hosts are transmitted to its final host, which is sometimes a human. Depending on what is absorbed from the previous blood meal(s), ticks may transmit bacteria or viruses which cause disease to both people and animals. (Remember, however, that not all bacteria will cause disease.)
For example, ticks get the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease by feeding on white-footed mice, “the reservoir” of this infectious disease. This unique kind of bacteria is called a spirochete. It has a corkscrew shape, like a Slinky™ and can curl up and has the ability to collapse into a dormant “round body" to survive when conditions are unfavorable―such as when a host is receiving antibiotic treatment in an attempt to kill it. When conditions change, the spirochete bacteria can unravel and continue causing tissue damage and disease.
2. Why is tick-borne borreliosis called “Lyme Disease” in the US?