Can’t seem to stop yourself from nightly trips to the fridge and/or
pantry? It’s not just your waistline and sleep routine that you’re
putting at risk. Eating more calories in the evening is associated with
poorer cardiovascular health, according to new research involving more
than 100 women.
In the study, researchers examined heart health at baseline and one year later based on seven modifiable risk factors
established by the American Heart Association: blood pressure,
cholesterol, blood sugar, physical activity, diet, weight and smoking.
Women averaged 33 years of age at the start of the study and completed
one-week food diaries at both time points.
Women who consumed more calories after 6 p.m. were more likely to have
poorer cardiovascular health compared with women who at less calories at
or after that time of day. Each 1 percent increase in caloric intake
after 6 p.m. reduced cardiovascular health scores, as did each 1 percent
increase in calorie consumption after 8 p.m.
The lesson: Eat plenty of good food throughout the day, but don’t
load up on calories late in the day compared to earlier. These findings
add to previous research suggesting heavy eating in the evening hours
may promote weight gain, slow metabolism, and even impair sleep. Talk to
your doctor for more information.
Vitamin D deficiency officially emerged as an important risk factor
for chronic disease in the early 2000s. This finding was a product of
scientific research, rather than a consensus statement from a health
policy group or government organization.
It was not until around 2010 that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of
the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine came out
with an updated official statement about vitamin D needs.1
The IOM [now known as the National Academy of Medicine] is actually a
private entity that advises the U.S. government. The IOM set the
estimated requirement at 400 IU/day for all age groups and set the
upper-level intake at 4,000 IU/day for anyone age 9 or older.
What’s the Basis for the RDA?
This IOM report was met with harsh criticism from vitamin D
researchers, none of whom was invited to participate in process that led
to the recommendations. For example, Drs. R.P. Heaney and M.F. Holick
The IOM recommendations for vitamin D fail in a major way on logic,
on science, and on effective public guidance. … We have deliberately
avoided a mind-numbing laundry list of the vast number of factual
inaccuracies and misinterpretations of the report. … For now, our
recommendation to the American public is that the IOM report should be
taken with a grain of salt (another nutrient the IOM finds risky).
In short, by following the IOM guidelines, many people will still not
achieve adequate vitamin D levels [measured as 25(OH)D], which most labs
set at 30-100 ng/mL. Some vitamin D researchers argue that 40 ng/mL
should be considered the low end of normal, likely because many people
do not achieve the bone protection effect of vitamin D until this level
is achieved.2 My personal impression is that we should try to maintain a 25(OH)D level of at least 70 ng/mL.3
Adequate Levels, Toxicity and Other Considerations
To achieve adequate vitamin D levels, we must either get adequate sun exposure or take a vitamin D3 supplement. Unnecessary fear often enters a person’s mind when they consider how much supplemental vitamin D3 is safe. Dr. Heaney, whom I mentioned above, has explained that 10,000 IU/day should be the safe upper limit.4
I realize 10,000 may see like a lot, but that is because we typically
think of supplementation in milligram (mg) or gram (g) amounts.
With this in mind, it should be understood that 40,000 IU of vitamin D3 is just 1 mg. In other words, 10,000 IU is just .25 mg or 250 mcg.
The IOM’s report states that “very high levels of vitamin D (above
10,000 IUs per day) are known to cause kidney and tissue damage.” In
contrast, the DRI [Dietary Reference Intakes] book published by the IOM5
says 10,000-40,000 IU per day is the threshold for toxicity.5
It is important to understand that vitamin D toxicity cannot be determined based on how much vitamin D3
is taken on a daily basis; it is correlated to serum 25(OH)D levels.
The IOM’s DRI book for vitamin D and calcium states that vitamin D
toxicity is not identified until serum 25(OH)D reaches 200-240 ng/mL or
higher. Based on this, you can see why it is foolish to worry about the
supplemental dose of vitamin D3. Even worse, it is especially problematic that the IOM would suggest taking 10,000 IU/day causes kidney and tissue damage.
The, dare I say, sole focus related to vitamin D supplementation
should be one’s 25(OH)D level. The minimum goal should be to reach at
least 40 ng/mL, all the while knowing 100 ng/mL is within the normal
range and signs of toxicity will not typically appear until at least 200
ng/mL is exceeded.
This means there should be zero emotion about taking vitamin D3
supplements. If you have normal serum 25(OH)D because you are in the
sun a lot, then there is no need to supplement. Otherwise, your
supplemental level should be tailored to keep your 25(OH)D at 40 ng/mL
higher. This is why the RDA or RDI fails: for vitamin D, it is not about
your intake, it is about achieving a proper 25(OH)D level.
Why Vitamin D Matters: A Profound Micronutrient
Here is why you should care about your 25(OH)D level. Vitamin D is
involved in the modulation of more than 1,000 different genes. In
particular, vitamin D modulates immune cell expression. A deficiency in
vitamin D leads to an overproduction of pro-inflammatory Th1 cells and
an underproduction of anti-inflammatory Th2 and T-regulatory cells. The
outcome is an overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as
IL-1, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor; and an underproduction of IL-10,
which is a key anti-inflammatory cytokine.3
The same shift to overproduce pro-inflammatory cytokines occurs when
one lacks magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Obesity also leads to the
same state of chronic inflammation. This should alert you to the reason
why just supplementing with vitamin D to achieve normal levels may not
relieve patients from pain, depression and other pro-inflammatory
conditions.3 Studies that report about the ineffectiveness of
vitamin D do not comment on the other nutritional factors that promote
the same state of chronic inflammation as vitamin D deficiency.
My suggestion is to normalize the many pro-inflammatory markers that
are easy to measure, of which vitamin D is just one. Lipids, glucose,
body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio are other examples to take into
account. Talk to your doctor for more information.3,6
Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Institute of
Medicine of the National Academies, Brief Report, November 2010.
Heaney RP, Holick MF. Why the IOM recommendations for vitamin D are deficient. J Bone Miner Res, 2011;26:452-54.
Seaman DR. The DeFlame Diet: DeFlame Your Diet, Body, and Mind. Wilmington, NC: Shadow Panther Press, 2016: p.p. 213-218.
Hathcock JN, Shao A, Vieth R, Heaney RP. Risk assessment for vitamin D. Am J Clin Nutr, 2007;85(1):6-18.
DRI Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium and Vitamin D. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2011.
Seaman DR. Body mass index and musculoskeletal pain: is there a connection? Chiro Man Ther, 2013;21:15.
As we’ve discussed several times already this year (and on an annual
basis), the holidays bring not only the joy of the season, but
unfortunately, their fair share of stress as well. Running through
malls, organizing events, wrapping up end-of-year work details, and
myriad other activities specific to the holiday season can take their
toll on even the most calm, low-stress person.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
With the right attention to stress-reducing strategies, you can avoid
the madness (or at least mitigate its impact on your quality of life)
and keep your holidays sane. Here are four ways to do it:
1. Two for the Price of One: When you’re crumbling under the weight of an oppressive To-Do List
you think you’ll never complete, multitasking can be your best friend.
It all starts by organizing that list to group responsibilities /
to-do’s that can be accomplished at the same time or in close proximity.
Need to run to the mall for a few gifts, grab some lights for the tree
and stop by the in-laws for dinner? Determine the best route to ensure
you’re not running around town or consuming your entire day. Simple
scheduling tactics can help, too: perhaps a holiday lunch can be
switched to breakfast if you have other duties to attend to in the
morning, so you can take care of everything in the a.m. and have your
p.m. to enjoy, stress-free.
2. Stick to the Plan: Now is definitely not the time to stop exercising
and eating right. You may think this is actually the perfect time to
take a well-deserved break … but how will you feel? For most people,
routine is a source of comfort and self-confidence, particularly when it
involves how they look and feel. So stick to the plan that’s worked all
year; your body and mind will thank you for it.
3. Rise and Shine: No, we’re not recommending you wake up
early every day during the holiday season, although many people find
getting up early and going to sleep at a reasonable hour is preferable
to the other way around from a stress perspective. We’re actually
talking about reducing your stress this time of year by getting things
done early. No doubt you’ve got your fair share of things to do in
addition to your “regular” daily responsibilities. One thing’s certain:
If you leave things until the last minute, you’ll increase the
likelihood that you won’t get everything done, and you’ll undoubtedly
elevate your stress levels.
4. The More the Merrier: We’ll end today’s lesson with the
one too many people completely overlook, not only during the holiday
season, but throughout the year. A top cause of stress is feeling
overwhelmed; thinking you have to get too much done all by yourself. But
why? Unless you’re a hermit, you’re not alone, so rely on friends,
family and loved ones – the very people whose company you should be
enjoying and celebrating this season – to help with the kids, your
shopping list, meal preparation, or just giving you an hour or two of
peace and quiet. It’s a great way to keep stress at bay as the year
Your spine is designed to handle a great deal of life’s daily
stresses, but over time, it all adds up. As we age, the discs that
cushion the spinal vertebrae begin to shrink and wear down; while the
spinal column can narrow, pinching the spinal cord and spinal nerves.
The result in many cases: pain, stiffness, and a decline in overall function and mobility.
Bad news at any time, but as we get up in years, those are exactly
the things we want to avoid. After all, isn’t living a relatively
pain-free, fully functional life what everyone envisions enjoying in
their Golden Years? That’s where your chiropractor comes in, and not
just from a health perspective.
Researchers studying Medicare patients with spine conditions who
relocated at least once during a five-year period made a fascinating
discovery: Older adults who moved to an area with higher chiropractic
accessibility (in other words, easier access to the services of a
chiropractor) spent less on spine care than seniors who moved to an area
with lower chiropractic accessibility (more difficult access to
Easier access to a chiropractor presumably meant an easier time managing
their spine condition with chiropractic, rather than medical care. In
fact, researchers noted that costs for medical evaluation and
management, and diagnostic imaging and testing, were impacted (higher or
lower) when access to chiropractic was higher or lower, respectively.
Findings appeared in the American Journal of Managed Care.
Americans spend more on health care than any other nation in the
world, and evidence suggests much of that spending comes by way of
Medicare and other federal health systems. Could better access to
chiropractic be the solution? When it comes to spinal care, the numbers
don’t lie. And of course, we haven’t even talked about the benefits of
chiropractic for lifelong spinal health – but your chiropractor
certainly can. Just ask.