Low body levels of Vitamin D are increasingly being linked to a range of serious health problems. The list of dread diseases that we face a risk of developing when have a deficiency in vitamin D makes for sobering reading – high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and arthritis.
Amongst the less serious suspected illnesses that may also be linked to a lack of Vitamin D are Crohns and other type of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) complaints, and an increased susceptibility to everyday low immune system viral infections such as influenza (flu) and the common cold.
How do you get Vitamin D ?
Well, the best Vitamin D source is free! It comes directly from exposing our bodies to the sun, without wearing any suncream. Even as little as twenty to thirty minutes of sunshine per day, even in cold or frozen climates, on our face and arms during five or six of the summer months is apparently sufficient to keep our bodies topped up for the entire year.
However, it is very important to note that you should always get your sunshine related Vitamin D in small doses, ensuring that you do not spend too long in the sun (depending on the strength of the sun and your type of skin). Excessive exposure to the sun causes 2000 deaths per year in the United kingdom from skin cancers. If you are going to be exposed to longer periods of direct sunlight appropriate protection should be used after the correct ‘dosage’ of sunshine has been achieved.
Another way to get Vitamin D is through vitamin foods – dietary intake – specifically oily fish, egg yolks, dairy products, and some processed foods which have been fortified with Vitamin D such as margarine and some breakfast cereals.
A third way to increase your Vitamin D levels is through supplements that are high in Vitamin D. These are mainly derived from fish oils such as halibut and cod liver oil.
The problem with dietary intake and supplements is that it is not as easily absorbed into the body as that from sunlight. This is due to the inferior way in which it is distributed throughout the body.
Risk factors for low Vitamin D levels
The problem is faced by millions of people who live in the Northern Hemisphere above approximate latitude of 50 – 55 degrees North. This covers many North American states, pretty much all of Canada, the United Kingdom and many Northern European countries and Russia.
At these latitudes there is not enough ultra violet light from solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface for the majority of the year to meet the minimum requirements for the population.
Senior citizens, shift workers, people in jail and the long term sick or disabled also face difficulty in achieving minimum adequate sunshine doses due to their life and circumstantial situations Some cultural factors may also contribute to the problem, such as people who wear clothing that covers most of their bodies for personal or religious reasons.
Too much Vitamin D may be harmful
As with many health subjects, when too little is a problem, often too much is equally a problem. High Vitamin D levels are difficult for the body to dispose of, as it is classified as a ‘fat soluble’ vitamin. In large quantities this vitamin can cause an excess of calciulm in the bloodstream that can damage the body’s internal organs due to it’s toxicity. High Vitamin D symptoms may be difficult to diagnose as Vitamin D overdose symptoms may only manifest themselves when problems develop with the heart, the kidneys and the lungs.
How to know your body level of Vitamin D
If you are concerned about the dilemma of not knowing whether you have too little or too much Vitamin D, the only way to determine the answer is to have a blood test carried out by your doctor. The United States recommended daily amount is 5 micrograms (mcg), and this equates to eight eggs, or two glasses of fortified milk or a portion of oily fish. The United Kingdom has no recommended minimum daily amount, however the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends a maximum safe level of 25 micrograms per day.
What do the experts say ?
Cancer research UK
‘Take extreme care and avoid sunburn, as this can cause skin cancer. limit exposure to short periods, and don’t take too much sun thinking it will do you even more good’.
British Nutrition Foundation
‘Vitamin D plays a vital role in the diet’
Sunlight, Nutrition and health Research Center, California USA
‘Cancers may be reduced by 19 percent if the entire population of the UK took Vitamin D supplements’
Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger
There is an old saying that ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. This may actually be the perfect motto for the Red Hot Chilli Pepper. But beyond the culinary qualities of adding heat and spice to many traditional dishes these thermogenic delights are valued around the world for their healing properties as well as their capability to add zest and fire to an otherwise bland food recipe.
Chilli Pepper enthusiasts have since timely memorial trumpeted the amazingly versatile hot Chilli Pepper as an essential tool to call upon in times of sickness – and the list of common ailments for which this innocuous looking plant can apparently assist with, is endless, including coughs, colds, sinusitis and bronchitis. But there is a whole lot more benefit to be obtained from this wonder food than just relief from the ordinary ailments that strike everyone from time to time.
More about the Chilli Pepper
‘This plant may be considered to be a gift to humanity because it has more health benefits than any other food or herb on earth’, according to Dr. Roopa Chari, a Board Certified Physician in Internal Medicine from San Diego, California. There are over 3000 scientific studies listed in the National Library of Medicine to support the use of Chilli Peppers in preventing and reversing many common health ailments. It is miraculous that a simple fruit like this has healing benefits for a wide assortment of ailments. It has been used as a food, a spice and an herbal medicine for over 9000 years. All hot peppers are botanically called capsicum. They are put into different groups depending on the various species. such as capsicum annum and capsicum frutescens. Cayenne refers to one variety of capsicum but over the years it has become synonymous with capsicum and refers to most hot varieties of chillies. The potency of cayenne is determined by the intensity of its heat. This is determined by the quantity of the chemicals in cayenne and its resins. The more of these chemicals that are in cayenne and the hotter it is the stronger it is indicates it is more effective in healing. The heat is measured in heat units which are called Scoville Units or heat units. Capsicum is rated between 0 to 300,000 heat units. Most cayenne peppers are between 30,000 to 80,000 heat units. Paprika has no heat and is rated 0 heat units. Jalapeno peppers are between 50,000 to 80,000 heat units, Serrano peppers are approximately 100,000 heat units, African Bird Peppers are 200,000 heat units and Mexican habaneros are between 250,000-300,000 heat units. Ouch!
The essential relationship between Heart Health and Chilli Peppers
Besides the ability to unblock clogged airways, Chilli Peppers may also be capable of lowering the Blood Cholesterol level, according to Dr. Earl Mindell – a Pharmacist and Professor of nutrition at Pacific Western University in Los Angeles. The main chemical that gives Chilli Peppers their ‘bite’ is called ‘Capsaicin’. Dr Mindell continues that ‘based on the results of clinical experiments performed on animals which were fed on a diet high in Capsaicin and low in saturated fat, that this can lower the ‘bad’ LDL Cholesterol’ levels in the blood’.
Consumption of Chilli Peppers also appears to have the ability to thin the blood. Additionally, research conducted by the Max Planck Institute in Germany has discovered that eating Chilli Peppers can slow down the formation of blood clots , by increasing the length of time needed by the blood to coagulate. This is a critical defence for the body, as any hindrance to the formation of blood clots can help to prevent life threatening heart attacks and strokes.