Avoid Vitamin D DeficiencyIn this edition of Optimize Your Diet I wanted to focus on Vitamin D in particular as this vitamin has been shown to have a major role in staving various forms of disease including heart disease and cancer. I don’t want to go into a long tirade about the benefits that Vitamin D provides or the risks deficiency in this vitamin causes but I will direct you to Healthy Fellow’s post on Vitamin D Deficiency for a thorough rundown of many current clinical conclusions on this topic related in particular to adolescents.
As I’ve said before, most notably in part two of this series, Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin when found in food. It is also produced in the skin when it is exposed to the sun however most people do not get enough of this vitamin through exposure to the sun for a couple of reasons. First many people are not in the sun enough and second, those who are in the sun often block the sun’s rays with sunscreen to avoid harmful over-exposure to UV rays.
Vitamin D From The SunI’ve previously noted that an ideal situation would be 10-15 of direct sun exposure per day without sunscreen but unfortunately most people are either in the sun less than this amount and the one’s that are out more than this amount often are wearing sunscreen; ideally these folks would wait 10-15 min after they go out into the sun before application unfortunately this can cause some logistical complications.
All of this is to say it is difficult to get a safe amount of Vitamin D from the sun alone and it is now understood to be increasingly important to get enough of this Vitamin to lower your chances of falling victim to heart disease and cancer. Thus, deliberate food choices and increased vitamin supplementation is quickly gaining in importantance in staving Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D BioavailabilityPart two of this series delved into the art of pairing fat soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin D, with good fats so that your body can absorb them. In this post I wanted to expand on Vitamin D in particular and note that even when paired with fat soluble vitamins, Vitamin D bioavailability can be greatly improved by blocking the enzymes in the colon which decrease bioavailability. Soy does this naturally.
Is it no wonder that Asian cultures eat soy with there fish? Fish is naturally rich in Vitamin D and any good sushi house will also offer edamame as a side. According to a recent study by Dr. Mark Messina from the National Cancer Institute, NIH, and most recently Loma Linda University, unprocessed soy (soy beans, tofu, etc.) contains genestine which acts in upping the bioavailability of Vitamin D.
Food PairingsI know it’s a little weird to think of having your milk or yogurt (good sources of vitamin D) with unprocessed soy beans or tofu but fish is a natural compliment. Long time readers of this blog will know that I am constantly reminding my readers to eat more fish as it is widely associated with longevity and lowering risks for heart disease. Again I will reiterate the same piece of advice…. eat more fish and pair it with soy as often as you can as it will let the nutrients in the fish work that much harder in your body. To finish this synergy of foods slice up an avocado (good fat – remember Vitamin D is fat soluble) on the side or drizzle a little olive oil over the top of your dish. Frankly a nice oil based salad dressing with leafy greens might make a nice side dish. Get creative but keep optimization in mind and you’ll be maximizing your chances at experiencing a long and healthy life.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of Optimize Your Diet. This is a slow growing series of food pairing topics and ideas which make the food you already eat work harder for you and your health. I hope you’ll come back for future editions and if you’re new to this blog I’d encourage you to take a look at past editions and consider subscribing to this blog. Thanks for reading!
The Journal of Nutrition, May 2004 - http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/134/5/1207S
Best Life, Feb 2009