Posts Tagged ‘Vitamin D’

Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a very important health issue for women and men. Osteoporosis is related to the loss of bone mass that occurs as part of the natural process of aging. It can be accelerated when hormones are out of balance.  Although osteoporosis can occur in men, it is most common in women who have gone through menopause.

There are three factors essential for keeping your bones healthy throughout your life: adequate amounts of calcium, adequate amounts of vitamin D and regular, weight bearing exercise. Calcium and vitamin D are especially important after menopause.

Foods high in calcium include almonds, dark green leafy vegetables (collard greens and kale), beans (navy, kidney and pinto), tofu, tahini and calcium-fortified cereals. Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D, but it poses other risks. I recommend taking 1,000-2,000 IU from a supplement.

Physical activity also plays a major role in prevention. Regular strength training and aerobic exercise can improve muscle mass, balance and bone strength. Strength training including the use of free weights, weight machines, resistance bands or even gravity exercises can directly affect your bones to slow mineral loss. Aerobic exercise like dancing and low-impact aerobics, work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine. Swimming and bicycling are good for your muscles and cardiovascular system. Mix it up to reap the benefits of different types of exercise and to prevent boredom from occurring. Oh, and don’t forget to stretch before and after exercising. It helps increase flexibility, which helps with balance and posture.

Five Supplements Good for Heart Health

Here is my list of five supplements that make good additions to a heart healthy regimen. Combine these with a proper diet and exercise: 

  1. B complex – this is very important in many of the reactions that produce energy in your body (including your heart). B vitamins have also been shown to reduce homocysteine, and high homocysteine is correlated with an increase in heart disease.
  2. Omega 3 – slows the build up of plaque in the arteries. Recommended if you have high triglycerides or family history of heart disease. Good sources are oily fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel.
  3. Vitamin D – a deficiency in Vitamin D is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. If you don’t get much sun take a daily supplement. Dairy products and oily fish are also good sources.
  4. Coenzyme Q 10, CoQ10 – increases heart contractility, the performance of cardiac muscles. Recommended especially if you have hypercholesterolemia or on statin drugs because statin drugs reduce the body’s production of CoQ10.
  5. Garlic – this is known to decrease triglycerides and reduce total cholesterol. You can take it in a supplement form or add it to your food. 

Answer to a Reader’s Question about Keeping Estrogen Levels Low and the Importance of Vitamin D

I recently received a question from a woman in Wisconsin and I thought my response would be helpful to other women out there. This particular individual is a breast cancer survivor and estrogen receptor positive, so she was seeking ways to lower her estrogen levels.

There are a few different ways that you can naturally lower your estrogen levels. First of all, make sure you’re getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day in your diet because extra fiber helps you excrete (remove) excess estrogen through your intestines.

Secondly, the more fat you have (especially belly fat), the more estrogen you make. Therefore, it’s important to eat a diet that limits refined carbohydrates and saturated fats so your weight can stay at an optimal level. Exercise also helps you build lean muscle mass and will reduce the amount of fat you have.

Lastly, it is important to support your liver so your body is better able to metabolize (break down) your estrogen. You can do that with an herb called milk thistle and a supplement called indole-3-carbinol. Limiting your alcohol intake will also support your liver by allowing it to focus on metabolizing other things like estrogen.

Additionally, I shared with this reader the importance of vitamin D as she continues to stay in remission from her cancer. Studies show that low vitamin D is associated with a higher risk of many cancers including breast cancer. I recommend having your physician test your vitamin D levels regularly and make sure your level is between 60 and 100, and this goes for all women, not just cancer survivors. I also suggest taking a pharmaceutical grade vitamin. You should be on at least 2000IU per day and could go as high as 10,000IU per day if your levels remain low.

I hope you find this information helpful.