I know we've been talking a lot about food and nutrition for kids (and ourselves), but that is just one part of the health cycle. Exercise and establishing an active lifestyle is just as important.
An active lifestyle does not mean scheduled activity, or time at the gym per say. At a young age we can teach our children the joys of walking to places nearby, playing outside, and incorporating activities into their daily lifestyle choices.
In today's world, our children are bombarded with computers, shows, games and more, that creates a more sedentary lifestyle. By teaching our kids not only the importance, but the joy of being active, they are more likely to continue with healthy habits.
So, how do we incorporate activity into our children's lives?
I have to vent one of my frustrations.
Today was M1's Valentine Party at school. We are THAT family, that doesn't give candy for holiday parties (Valentines, Halloween, etc…) at school. We gave Pencils! I am sure M1 will only let me get away with this for so long.
I have mentioned before that M1 is very sensitive to sugars. This afternoon, when I picked her up until she went to bed, she was wired! When I say wired, I mean cannot control body, running bonkers in the house. She even said to me that she couldn't hold still and she just needed to run! She ended up bonking and going straight to bed later, but man she was intense for the afternoon.
So, my frustration: Why do teachers and schools bombard kids with sugars at school? This seems like a bad idea from their perspective as well. M1 has a regular substitute teacher who gives out Smarties when kids get answers correct. M1 bragged one day that she had had 3 packages of Smarties that day, and the teacher said Smarties make you Smart…WHAT!?
By the time I had picked up M1 from school she had eating about 3/4 of her bag of candy + the treats for the party. GOO! They had so many treats today that M1 didn't eat her lunch…so her entire day consisted of a beef bar for first snack, berries, and cupcakes/candy after lunch. sigh! She was the one who asked for the Quesadilla too. I guess you can't win them all.
Today was a lesson in the art of compromise. I made a really nice lunch for M1 today, and before I could tell her what I packed she asked for hot lunch. Sigh! Once I told her, she wanted to know what the school menu for lunch was today so she could decide. Okay, fair. Chili and Cinnamon Rolls...decision made.
A part of me cringes at the though of this, but I know that I must learn the art of compromise. I do very well with her lunches the majority of the time. I make healthy lunches based on her tastes and my ideals. So one hot lunch meal over 6 weeks is not going to wreck her health.
Hot lunch is a lunchtime compromise. I, of course, am not a huge fan of school lunches. They are not really that healthy, and the taste and quality are poor. I try to plan M1's hot lunch splurges, and come eat lunch with her on these days. It makes me feel better to see what she picks and how much of it she eats. I'll be honest, she is typically very good at her choices, big salads...vinegar dressings...eats a couple of bites of the main hot lunch. She has her favorites though, and one of them is Chili and Cinnamon Roll day. (I was really hoping today would be Pork Burrito day or something she doesn't like). So, compromise.
I would say on average M1 eats hot lunch once a month at most. And that is okay. I don't make a big deal out of it. Why? I want to avoid the "forbidden fruit" scenario.
What is the Forbidden Fruit Scenario? This is what I call it when you forbid your kids for doing or having something (or yourself) and it makes it more excited and more sought after. There is an ere of excitement and longing for something, not because they/you really want it, but because it is forbidden. I find this happens quite frequently with families who are health conscious. The children tend to want foods that are not as healthy as they get older because they were never allowed to have them when they were younger. It has become much more exciting than it should be (especially when they see their friends and other people with them and similar). I have a good friend whose parents were extremely health conscious and never allowed candy EVER! My friend would sneak around with candy, and would binge on candy every time she got the chance, in hiding. Her parents did not know, and it became the "forbidden fruit scenario." She couldn't have it at home, so she would buy it and eat it to extreme when given the opportunity.
My theory: Allowing the requested hot lunch or sweet treat on occasion (as long as it is regulated and not in excess), breaks the cycle. By letting M1 have the hot lunch she likes on occasion, she is less likely to ask for it more frequently, and is more likely to eat the foods that I pack for her. We compromise together. I try to talk to my kids a lot, and explain in a not so bossy and demanding way (but I can be pretty bossy and demanding, so it's another parenting lesson), why I don't like that they do certain things. I also explain to them that I respect their wants. We usually discuss and come up with a plan that works for us both. She can eat hot lunches from time to time, but she also needs to eat what I pack for her other times. I won't deprive her of sweet treats from time to time if she makes good choices the rest of the time. Etc...
When we have sweets or things that my children see other children eat and request them in their lunches, I try and make purchases with better quality ingredients or make them at home with my kids. Cookies for example: Oreo's. M1 loves Oreo Cookies (who doesn't really). I will occasionally buy them during the summer as a camping treat...but not the real Oreo's. I usually buy something like Newman's brand or some other brand I find with better ingredients. She doesn't know the difference. She associates the looks of the Oreo's with the looks of the Newman's and in her mind it is the same thing her friends had. She knows that we don't just buy these and we don't just have them around all the time. They are a treat and we only have them at special times, like camp trips. It's never really a fight. I also try to educate my kiddos on the ingredients. We read and compare labels together now, which is fun for me in a nerdy way. I explain the ingredients in each and explain the effects of the bad ones and often will ask her which one she would pick knowing what she knows now. This way she is learning and is not just being told they are bad.
Education and understanding do play a big part. When my kids feel tired after a hot lunch or lots of unhealthy foods, I make the correlation for them and talk to them about how they feel because they decided to have the not so good choices. Or upset stomachs after Halloween. I believe helping your child make the connections is just as important as telling them prior.
This is what works for us. You have to find what works for your family. Not every family is the same, not every parent-child relationship is the same. There will be fights in the beginning of any change in routine with children, but you have to think of the end game, and the goal of the change.
As I've mentioned, the girls have a half day of school every Wednesday. This is actually really nice for us. We can take the afternoon to do kids activities that are normally to busy during the weekends, when everyone is out of school...like the Discovery Museum, or Denver Zoo. Lately we have been back on a library kick. I have a favorite kids section there as well. It's learning through food.
This section is in the kids section and is geared towards teaching kids about other cultures, historical events, and other educational topics through cooking and food. Last year M1's class was talking about the civil war and Abraham Lincoln. We picked up a couple of books in this section that talked about the two sides of the Civil War. 1) Civil War Cooking - The Union 2) Civil War Cooking - The Confederacy. There is a whole series by this same publisher about Lewis and Clark and the American Indians.
Anyways, the books chronicle the difference in rations given to the soldiers and talks about why the war was fought, and what the differences were between the two sides. You would think that the foods would be the same, but historically the Confederacy had poor rations, and the reason is discussed in the books (this is not a history blog). We made the different recipes and tasted some different foods. Hard tack was really fun for the kids to make, but not to eat! It did teach them a couple of lessons
I have found over the years that there are some seriously strong opinions on Chili. How to make it? How to eat it? Meat, no meat? Beans, no beans? Veggies, no veggies? The opinions are endless.
Like many of the meals I make, I rarely make then the same every time. I use what is on hand and vary it. We had a last minute Super Bowl get together yesterday afternoon. I was already making chili for our little family, and was able to quickly make it larger...this one is very beany to make up for the extra people. Actually, it turned out to be one of my better chili's. Want to know a little secret...shhhh...I add dark chocolate to my chili, and oh man does it change the flavor. More mole like.
Spring is right around the corner, and it's about time to start eating with the season. Spring is a transition season, where winter turns to summer. It is also the season of the LIVER organ in Chinese Medicine. Cleansing is very common these days, and in Chinese Medicine. The difference I see with conventional cleansing/detoxing and TCM cleansing/detoxing, is in TCM we plan around the seasons. Spring is the optimal time to do a liver detox. It is, like I said, the season of the Liver, and the season of rebirth. Many of the foods you would naturally use during a liver cleanse are foods of spring. Bitter Greens: Dandelion, Arugula, but also a bit of winter and summer; watermelon, vinegar, lemon. Not going to lie, it makes me cringe a bit to see people doing liver cleanses in January! Please don't! Why? For one, many of the foods used to cleanse are cold in nature or raw when consumed so they create an excess of cold in the body when the environment and temperature around the body is already cold. Another reason is that when you do a cleanse or strong detox, your immune system and body are working hard and on overdrive to clear out toxins. This leaves you exposed to cold's and flu's.
Eating with the Seasons - Spring
TCM View of Spring Nutrition
The weather will soon begin to warm, and plants and animals will begin to reemerge. Spring is a time of activity and Yang; meaning it is ascending, and expansive and active, like the new plants emerging up and out, and is a natural time for cleansing. The ancient text the Inner Classic describes spring as:
a time to "rise early with the sun", and to "take brisk walks".
Spring is a time to eat lighter meals, as the body natural wants to eat less, and to eat fresher foods in an effort to cleanse the body of the fatty and heavy foods of winter. It is a time to eat more raw and sprouted foods, which are thought to bring about renewal and youth.
There is a common flavor to new and springtime foods. They tend to be sweet and/or pungent in flavor. Think of the flavor of sprouts, which have a sweeter flavor than that of the full grown plant, and of the flavor of cooking herbs such as basil, fennel, and dill, which are pungent in flavor.
As with all seasonal eating there is a balance to be maintained through eating local and fresh foods grown during the Spring season, the way they are prepared, and the climate of the region. As the weather warms foods can be cooked for shorter times and with higher heat. This way the food is not thoroughly cooked, and offers a balance.
Benefits of Eating with the Spring Season
We are lucky to live in a region with a moderate climate. Our seasons are pretty distinct and we have a good growing season, meaning we are able to eat an abundant amount of seasonal foods, and receive the most benefit of eating what is local and seasonal.
Living and eating with the rhythm of nature is not only beneficial to our bodies and the environment, but it brings us back to our lost connections with the natural world. I find that when I am eating seasonally I see more beauty in the world around me. I appreciate the effort and energy than goes into the growth of my food, and I feel energized and healthy.
There are so many reason to eat local, seasonal foods:
1. It is often less expensive, and grocery stores tend to have seasonal foods on sale because they are abundant.
2. Foods eaten in season are usually more nutritious, as they do not have to be shipped or stored unripened. Eating seasonally means the food you are consuming was most likely picked ripe and has the maximum about of nutrients.
3. Because seasonal produce is picked when ripe (especially when purchased locally), they taste better. It has been given enough time to ripen naturally without chemicals and develop rich flavor.
4. Seasonal foods can also be grown without too much human intervention, which makes it better for the environment. And when purchased from local farms, the environmental impact is even less, because there isn't an over use of resources to transport and store the produce as it makes its way across country/countries.
5. One of the great things about buying local and seasonal produce is supporting your local community farms. The more people support the local farms, the more demand there will be and the community will flourish. Look into supporting a local CSA.
List of Spring Foods
Making the Most of Leftovers
I have mentioned a couple of times that I dislike waste. I really try hard to eat and reuse leftovers as much as I can. Leftovers make great easy prep lunches, but it can get boring eating for lunch the EXACT same thing you ate for dinner. To get out of the rut and make it exciting a second or third time over, try repurposing your leftovers. Transform them into something different. It has become a bit of game for me…like the TV show Chopped…this what you have, and go! I think as a savvy shopper and someone who hates throwing out perfectly good food, being able to repurpose leftovers is a skill that should be learned. It definitely takes trial and error, and some of my creations are flops.
Last night, M1's school had a fundraiser at Noodles. There were so many school friends there, the girls barely ate dinner. Leftovers.
This morning in the fridge I had some egg noodles from the stroganoff I made, some roasted carrots, some leftover BBQ Venison, Yummy Sourdough Bread, Tortillas, and M1's dinner from last night….hmmmm.
So what is my favorite way to re-purpose leftovers…soups. If you have the proper ingredients available, which you should always have some pre made broth on hand, you can make soup out of anything…seriously!
M1's grilled chicken and broccoli leftovers became chicken noodle soup for lunch. I brought the broth I had to a boil, added diced chicken, chopped broccoli, chopped roasted carrots, and a handful of noodles and heated it until hot. Seasoned with S/P/G. DONE! Literally a 10 minute lunch.
Do you have a favorite way to repurpose leftovers? I would love to hear, I am always looking for new ideas.
This morning was a bit rough. I slept through my alarm, not normal for me, and was rushed trying to get M1's lunch put together. Not going to lie, letting her get a hot lunch today was almost what I went with. I did sit in front of the fridge scratching my head for bit, we had very little leftovers to work with, and I did a poor job of prep ahead options.
I normally do not do a lot of sandwiches. M1 is not a big bread eater, and when I do make them, she is very likely to eat the meat and veggies out of it and leave the bread...even the good stuff. But, a sandwich is what she is getting today. I had some Diesel Brand Deli Turkey, which I get more for hubby, so that's what we went with. M1 loves her veggies, so I loaded it with lettuce, avocado, basil, and cucumber.
My Lunchbox DON'Ts
We have talked quite a bit about my Lunchbox Do's. Let's look at the don'ts. These are the things that I DON'T add to my kids lunchbox.
Overly Processed Foods
Yes, there are times that I add something that is packaged, but there is typically great scrutiny to the ingredients. I look at food additives and chemicals. The packaged goods that I buy are those that do not have added junk...
That being said, everyone fails from time to time. I failed yesterday, (hangs head in shame) but I feel I should share this. Yesterday was M1's half day of school, so after school we went to the library and ran some errands. While we were out the girls were "starving," and absolutely needed a snack. We were at TJ Maxx, which if you don't know has a food aisle. This food aisle has a mix of healthy options and non-healthy options. I decided, after a lot of whining by the girls, to let them pick out a snack. I said no to many things, and they said no to the things I picked. We all agreed on some trail mix. M2 picked out one that I actually read the label and liked, and M1 didn't want that one and grabbed one that had M&M type candies in it. I really wasn't paying attention and didn't notice what she had actually picked (I can usually trust her decisions)...Fail. After this shopping adventure, M1 had Jiu Jitsu class. During class she was Scrappy M. Meaning she was not holding back, but she was also very fidgety and had a hard time focusing on the coaches. Not her normal behavior. A friend of mine and I were talking and joking around about her, and he asked what I had fed her today. GOOD QUESTION. I mentioned she had some trail mix on the way over, but nothing too sugary (she is very sensitive to sugar). I pulled out the bag, and wanted to slap myself. Oh the Irony!!! I had just written yesterday's blog on Food Dye's and Additives and Child Behavior, how could I have let this slide. Not only did it have a plethora of food dyes, but also a ton of added sugar....WHY!!!! No one is perfect, and as much as we try, we often miss simple things, or do something that we know we shouldn't.
I hope that story helps you, but that being said, my general rule is I do not buy pre-made lunch packs (like lunchables), and I try to pick packages and bottled products that fit my dietary rules, and do not have added nonsense.
Make it Too Sterile
I think some parents try too hard to make their kids lunches super healthy, and they loose the entice and fun of it. Keep it light and fun. If you make it "too healthy" without having an element of excitement, the hot cafeteria lunch becomes cooler and cooler. Sometimes it means adding in that special something or other. Sometimes it means drawing faces on the banana, just add an element of child-like fun to their lunch. A little goes a long way.
M1 was super excited about the Pumpkin Noose Yogurt today. We don't do flavored yogurt very often (tons of sugar), and when we do it is a treat. By paring it with something she usually wouldn't like, it balances it out. Making her less likely to cringe at her own lunch and want the funky tasting pizza everyone else is having.
Give Too Much Added Sugar
Usually if I am adding something, like this flavored yogurt, I try to balance it out with extra protein and fat. I find that sometimes we get a little carried away without even knowing it. Added sugars can hide is the simplest things. Lunch meats can have added sugar for flavor, obviously flavored yogurts, jerky, juice boxes, PB and J sandwiches etc... A little natural sugar is okay, kids are high energy and actually do need a bit more of this than adults do, but that doesn't mean they need cookies and cupcakes in their lunchboxes. Natural sugars, like honey and fresh fruits, provide a steady flow of energy to active kids.
Pack Large Meals
This may seem like a weird one, large meals? Think portion sizes. If you child is already overwhelmed, or if you are having a struggle with your child not eating their lunch, don't give them more than they can possibly eat in the allotted time. Keep it manageable. I like that our school has 2 snack times, this way I can keep the main lunch smaller and more reasonable. Don't try and pack too much into one meal.
Most of us don't enjoy eating the same thing every day. Our kids do better if we mix it up. Not only does it give them multiple nutrient sources, but it keeps them guessing, and keeps in interesting.
If your child takes the same lunch everyday, they may have nutrient sink holes. Slowly start mixing it up. If they like their PB and J sandwich everyday, start changing up the sides. Add half a PB and J and have a turkey sandwich, or a half a PB and J and a small cup of soup.
For those of you local, you'll know that we had an awesome snow storm this week and our kiddos didn't have school yesterday. Therefore, I skipped yesterday's Lunchbox post, because we had no lunchbox.
I hope all you local followers were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful snow. The girls and I had a great time attempting to sled in the backyard (it was way to thick). Our old dog got stuck in a deep section of the yard and we spent the morning digging a system of paths through the yard for her. It ended up become of system of paths and open spots that the girls decided were houses. Hours of fun!
Let's talk additives. So many of the foods we buy have added chemicals to keep them fresher longer, preserve them, add color, and change the flavor. Some are not really bad (Ascorbic Acid), but other are linked with cancer, ADD/ADHD, sensitivities, and more. Lets take a look today at those that are specifically associated with behavioral problems in children.
Food Additives Linked with ADD/ADHD and other Behavioral Problems in Children.
It makes me so sad to see children as young as 2 diagnoses with behavioral disorder and medicated. In many of these cases, their diet is never even considered. I am not saying there are not legitimate cases, but not to the rate that we are diagnosing and medicating children.
I watched a documentary years back that was specifically talking about the increased rate of Bi-Polar diagnosis in elementary children. One boy that was highlighted was on serious medication. Is breakfast (which they didn't comment on, but I noticed right off the bat), was a bowl of fruity pebbles cereal and a gatorade. Hmmmm…. And this was not considered? Not only was this super high in sugars, but full of colorings and preservatives associated with unstable moods.
It's snowing!!! I have a strong feeling, tomorrow will be a snow day for the area schools, at least if it continues to snow like they have predicted. I have been at the office all day, and honestly haven't even peaked my head out see what it looks like at this point.
Knowing it was going to be a cold day, I tried to pack M1 a warming lunch. I made a large batch of homemade Elk meatballs over the weekend. and those seemed like the perfect leftover lunch. I tell you, I use this little thermos more than any container in my arsenal.
I am honestly at a bit of a loss as to what to talk about today. I am playing catch up at the office, and prepping in advance to the possibility of a snow day tomorrow. In which case, I will be bringing the kiddos to work with me.
Tips for Winter Health
Winter, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a time to slow down and a time to nourish. Many of the foods we naturally crave and consume during the winter are hearty, thick, warming, and full of winter vegetables who natural store their energy; potatoes, onions, winter squash, apples, etc... The winter has it's own set of health guidelines.
Look to nature, what do the animals do? They move slower, they eat less, and they often sleep large portions of the day. Not that we all can live that sedentary, nor is that necessarily healthy, but we should all look at slowing our role a bit and relaxing more during the winter months.
Avoid Too Much Raw or Cold Foods
The weather is cold, so it becomes important to nourish warmth in our bodies. If you consume too much cold or raw foods during the winter, it can create too much cold in the body as well. This can in turn create congealed fluids, and symptoms like digestive upset, stuffy noses, lingering phlegmy coughs, or internal cold conditions. Avoid Salads and Iced drinks especially.
Instead, eat a variety of cooked foods, like stews, soups, and casseroles, focusing on winter foods such as potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, winter squash, etc...
Okay, not really....I am sure there are some mornings where that sounds really nice. The nature of winter is to slow down. This is not the time of year to push our limits. It is a natural time to get cozy, relax, meditate, and not do hard physical exertion.
Make your winter exercise regimen more focused on lite actives like walking, yoga, meditation, QiGong, Taichi, etc.. Avoid strenuous running.
We usually think of hydration on hot days, but it is just as important in the winter. I am sure many of you have noticed that your skin and lips get dryer quicker in the winter, right? Well, in TCM winter corresponds to Yin and the winter is a time where the Yin (fluid and coolness) of our body needs to managed. Part of that is keeping the yin fluids of our body nourished. Increasing teas, and warming drinks, and fats during the winter help to keep us from dehydrating.
Get Your Vitamin D
It can be as simple as a walk on a sunny day, but more over during the winter, it's making sure you are getting enough dietary vitamin D…mmmmm butter!
We have all heard of seasonal depression, well mostly that is because of the lack of sunlight during the winter months and what that does to your emotions. Part of that is a lack of Vitamin D, which plays a role in our happy chemicals.
Eat with the Season
Most of the foods that are rich in the foods that you need during the winter, are foods that are traditionally stored for the winter. Not things like watermelon, that are summer foods.
I pretty much already mentioned this up top…oops.
Winter foods in TCM are:
I want to talk about Fat Soluble Vitamins today.
There two types of vitamins, water soluble and fat soluble. This difference determines how easily a vitamin can be digested and absorbed, as well as how it works within the body.
Water soluble vitamins are not stored in our body. The body uses what it needs and excretes the rest as waste. These vitamins need to be consumed daily, if not multiple times a day in smaller amounts. Water soluble vitamins are also vitamins that can be dissolved and assimilated with water.
Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the body. The body uses what it needs and stores the rest. These vitamins can be consumed intermittently as long as enough is consumed to be stored for later use, stores are not depleted. Fat soluble vitamins can only be dissolved and assimilated in the presence of a fat. Medical conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, inhibit the ability of the digestive system to break down fats and fat soluble vitamins efficiently, and the body excretes excess fat soluble vitamins in the stools. These people need to consume fat soluble vitamins throughout the day to maintain adequate levels in the body.
Our Important Fat Soluble Vitamins
Oddly, there is a growing concern to the resurgence of fat soluble vitamin deficiencies. Why? Mostly because of the wild spread, long held myth about fat free diets and weight loss/health claims. This is started to become a thing of the past, but it is especially true for children, with the rickets again becoming a seen condition in pediatrics. So, what are the fat soluble vitamins?
Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A from Plants), Retinol (Vitamin A from animal sources), are the two dietary forms of vitamin A. Of course when consuming the Retinol version from animals, there is fat contained in the meal already. Beta-Carotene on the other hand, is often lost in the diet due to poor preparation of our foods.
Carrots for example: How many of us have snacked on raw baby carrots. No dip, just carrots…guilty as charged! If you are doing this, and not combining them with a fat, either a dip like hummus, or dressings, then you are not assimilating the Vitamin A from that carrot. If you cook the carrot in some oil, or butter, or other fat, then you are going to get the most out of its fat soluble vitamins.
Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin, eyes, hair, teeth, muscles, and connective tissue to name a few. It is important in healthy vision, retinol name comes from the retina in the eyes. Retinol produces the pigment of the retina. Retinol and Beta-Carotene do different things in the body, so both need to be consumed in the diet. Beta-Carotene is a strong antioxidant that works to protect the body from toxins, and cancer. Beta Carotene supplements do not have the same effect as Beta Carotene consumed in food. Beta-Carotene should be consumed via food. Vitamin A in Supplement form is one of the few that are TOXIC in high doses. Another reason to make sure your Vitamin A comes from multiple food sources. I do not like supplementing with Vitamin A.
Food Sources Retinol: Liver (everyone should eat more liver), Full Fat Dairy, Cod Liver Oil, Eggs, Oily Fish
Food Sources Beta-Carotene: Yellow and Orange Vegetables; Carrots, Bell Peppers, Winter Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, Dark Leafy Green Vegetables; Spinach, Broccoli, Kale
Vitamin D is an entier topic on it's own. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming one of the most wide spread vitamin deficiencies across the country and the world. With the rises in the number of US rickets cases, this has inspired pediatricians to start Standard Care practices of supplementing children with Vitamin D supplements. I think the issue is being missed, we should be trying to figure out what is the cause of the increased amount of Vitamin D deficiencies. I doubt anyone with challenge the daily sunscreen use recommendations, or the lack of cholesterol in diets because of the low-fat, cholesterol with kill you myths. (jumping down off of soapbox…)
Most of our dietary sources of Vitamin D are also high in fat and cholesterol, go figure. Vitamin D is essential for not only our bone healthy and strength (it's main claim to fame), but also for a variety of other functions. It is the building block of our hormones, so without sufficient Vitamin D, we end up with hormone issues. With the rise in young men and women being diagnosed with some form of reproductive disease and the increase rates of Vitamin D deficiency diagnosis, one could assume a correlation. PCOS, Low T in young boys, Hypothryoid disease in teens, etc.. All of these are treated with supplemental Vitamin D.
I do put clients on Vitamin D supplements. This one seems to be the most difficult for people to get in their diets and through sun exposure, especially in Colorado winters. Most people are not getting enough in their diet (this could easily be fix with proper dietary changes), and even then, we also need to get enough sun exposure to produce the rest. I wrote in a previous post about sun exposure and the amount of Vitamin D that can be produced in just 30 minutes…wowzers….no supplement can match that without becoming toxic…truth. All supplements have a maximum that can be consumed before they become harmful. This is because they are synthetic vitamins, or separated vitamins. They are not found in their natural state and thus are missing many of the other nutrients, enzymes and chemicals that balance out and enable that specific vitamin in the body (sorry, another tangent). D2 is an example of this. It was the go to Vitamin D additive in milk, supplements, etc.. and it was found to be extremely hazardous. Supplements (if good), have switched to a D3.
Food Sources of Vitamin D2: D2 is the form of Vitamin D naturally produced by fungi and algae when they absorb UV light. In food, it is safe because it is not reaching extremely high levels. It does serve a purpose to some extent. It aids in the absorption of Calcium…kind of it's only real use. It breaks down quicker than D3, and is shorter lived, so isn't effective in the human body. Vegans and Vegetarians looking for a Vitamin D supplement (common deficiency of those dietary types), should look at labels. Most vegetarian forms are a D2 variety…most Vitamin D3 is made from sheep's wool, unless otherwise stated.
Food Sources of Vitamin D3: D3 is the form that is produced when UV light hits our skin. It is also found in animal products; Cod Liver Oil (it's making a comeback), Full Fat Diary (specifically grass-fed cow's butter), Eggs
Vitamin E supplements have been around for quite awhile. It has been used to heal scars and treat weak skin. There are 8 different forms of Vitamin E, most are unstable and lost in cooking. Alpha-Tocopherol is the most stable. Even so, the majority of Vitamin E we consume ends up in our stools. It is also not as easily stored in the body, like the other fat soluble vitamins. It is stored mostly in the Liver, but also in the uterus, ovaries, testes, pituitary, adrenals, and some fatty tissues. Which, as you can see makes it an important Vitamin for hormones and reproductive health.
Vitamin E is not known as a deficiency vitamin, but I really believe diagnosis is going to become more common. There are certain common environmental toxins and lifestyle choices that deplete the body of Vitamin E, and as you'll see, it's not all that common in the diet. Consumption of excess unsaturated oils. Unsaturated fats have to use Vitamin E to prevent oxidation, therefore it pulls it from our tissues. Excessive Estrogen is also a factor in Vitamin E depletion….this would apply to those who are being exposed to high levels of environmental and dietary estrogens, as well as women who are diagnosed with PCOS. Chlorine (found in our tap water) can deplete Vitamin E in our bodies as well. Those who fit into those categories need to consume more.
Supplementing is generally considered safe, but there are some cases of toxicity from over use.
Food Sources of Vitamin E: Although found in animal sources, the quality is very poor unless you are consuming organ meat, where it is more concentrated (liver, testes, kidneys, etc..), or egg yolks (lots of egg yolks, raw).Sadly, the most concentrated source of Vitamin E in the diet is vegetables oils. Why? Because the unsaturated fats are bound with Vitamin E. Well, in reality, this vitamin E is bound to the oil and little if any is actually absorbed on it's own. It is absorbed bound to the unsaturated fat. Also, the natural Vitamin E found in these oils is often destroyed during heating (pasteurizing and refining). So, how on earth to yo get it in your diet. Because Vitamin E is very heat unstable. The vegetable you consume it in should not only be raw, but also be combined with a fat (preferable a saturated fat). These vegetables are cucumbers, green beans, asparagus, spinach, kale. Honestly, if you could consume some animal organ meat and lots of egg yolks, you may be doing alright. Lamb Fries anyone?
Another fat-soluble vitamin we seem to be having issues with, especially in newborns…hence the universal precaution of Vitamin K shots. Vitamin K is known for it's blood clotting action. But it is also needed for bone health. We know now that Vitamin D, A, and K work together and for the most part need to be consumed together. Most Vitamin D supplements have a K2 tagalong, if yours doesn't get a new one.
There are two natural forms of Vitamin K (K1, K2)
Vitamin K1 is found in plants. Vitamin K2 if converted from K1 and K3 by bacteria during fermentation.
Vitamin K1, which is found in plants, is useless in our body in this form. It must be converted to K2 to be utilized. This is important when consuming soy foods. For many reasons, soy should not be consumed, unless it has been fermented into miso, tempeh, or traditional tofu. The bacteria natto used to fermented the soy is very good at producing K2.
K2 is the mysterious vitamin X that Dr. Weston Price dissevered almost a century ago. He knew that there was a pivotal nutrient missing between modern diet and the diet of primitive societies, he deemed in Vitamin X. Vitamin X was the reason that primitive diets yielded stronger and healthy teeth and bones according to him. I recommend reading (Nutrition and Physical Degneration), the book he wrote based on his explorations and nutritional discoveries.
K2 is the form used in our body, and if supplementing is the best source. Supplements of K2 should avoided with anyone taking blood thinners, who have a history of blood clotting issues. K3/K4/K5 are all synthetic versions, of which K3 is known to be toxic.
Food Sources of K1: Green Leafy Vegetables; Kale, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus, Okra, Parsley
Food Sources of K2: Bone Marrow, Fermented Vegetables