Vitamin D has been a hot topic in the news during the past few years. With so much information coming out so quickly, it is easy to get overwhelmed and confused. Below are is a short Q&A regarding what women need to know about Vitamin D and their health.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a nutrient the body needs in order to maintain health. It is well-known for helping the body absorb calcium and creating strong bones, but it is also important for muscles, nerves and the immune system. In addition, it plays a part in preventing many common diseases, including hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
What are the sources of Vitamin D?
The sun can be a great source of Vitamin D. The body makes its own Vitamin D when skin is exposed to direct sunlight. For most people in the United States, the sun is not at the correct angle during the winter. However, getting sun on the face, arms and legs at midday during the summer helps increase Vitamin D levels. The length of time a person should stay in the sun depends on how much skin is exposed and the color of the skin. Fair skin requires less time in the sun than darker skin. To reduce skin cancer risk, sunscreen is recommended if the exposure to sun is more than a few minutes. Unfortunately, sunscreen prevents the body from making Vitamin D. The bottom line is that it’s not easy to get all of the needed Vitamin D from the sun, and it’s not even possible in the winter.
Are your New Year’s resolutions still going strong? If so, congratulations! For most of us, our 2011 resolutions are already history, but that’s no reason to put off better health and more happiness until next year. Here are some simple ways you can improve your health and increase your happiness starting right now.
• Be Good to Yourself:
We all must find time to be good to ourselves in order to be as happy and healthy as possible. Women notoriously feel guilty about taking time for themselves, but balancing your needs with the needs of others is absolutely necessary. If the idea sounds foreign, start by doing something small: read a book, call an old friend, cook your favorite meal, or take a nap. Schedule 10 minutes a day to meditate or engage in a hobby. Learn to say no when you’re asked to do too much. In short, actively work toward your own joy and balance.
He ran your errands, made you laugh, turned on music you love, or the kids are away…but you still have no interest in sex. Sound familiar? For a large number of women, the answer is a disheartened yes. In fact, we see patients for this health concern every day. Sexual interest and function varies greatly among women, and even for the same woman throughout her lifetime, so there’s no defined normal standard.
Decreased libido (sometimes diagnosed as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder) is a problem when it is sustained or recurrent and you become distressed about it.
What causes decreased libido?
Your sexual desire is based on your lifestyle, your relationship, your physical health, your emotional health, and your religion or belief system. With all of these factors in the mix, there are numerous possible causes for a low sex drive.
Are you exercising regularly? It’s a question that can bring on groans and guilt. The reality is that many people read, talk, or think about exercising more than they actually do it. You know exercise is good for you and you know your doctor is going to ask you about it, but are you actually getting up and being active? If not, we hope to get you moving!
Why should I exercise?
You should exercise because your body was designed to move. Modern life—with office jobs, cars, and comfy couches—allows us to survive without exercise, but your body still craves movement and needs physical activity for optimal health. Exercise provides so many health benefits it’s hard to keep track of them all!
Vegetarian and vegan diets need special consideration during pregnancy. Our article “Nutrition During Pregnancy” gives general nutritional guidelines about what to eat while you are pregnant, but there is more you need to know if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
Can I still eat a vegetarian or vegan diet while I’m pregnant?
Yes, you absolutely can. Vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy for you and your baby during pregnancy as long as you make sure to get enough calories (2,000—2,500 per day) and enough of all the required nutrients. It’s important to let your doctor know that you are a vegetarian or vegan.
What if my doctor isn’t familiar with vegetarian or vegan diets?
While most doctors are knowledgeable about general nutrition, they may not be as familiar with vegetarian or vegan diets. You may want to keep a food diary for several days so your doctor can better understand your diet and then decide whether or not you need supplements. If you have specific concerns and questions, it may be helpful to work with a registered dietician or nutritional health coach.