The Vitamin D Epidemic

By London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

How Vitamin D Deficient Is The UK?

A recent survey in the UK showed that more than half of the adult population in the UK has insufficient levels of vitamin D. In the winter and spring about 1 in 6 people has a severe deficiency. It is estimated that about 9 in 10 adults of South Asian origin may be vitamin D-deficient. Most affected people either don’t have any symptoms, or have vague aches and pains, and are unaware of the problem.

Why Do Your Vitamin D Levels Matter?

In addition to the well-known osteoporosis connection, deficiency of this fat-soluble vitamin can be linked to a wide range of health problems, from cancer and cardiovascular disease to cognitive impairment and problems with auto-immunity such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes. Huge increased research interest in this field is constantly bringing to light new evidence which underscores the enormous importance of vitamin D to human health.

Sources of Vitamin D

What many people don’t realise is that very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Fortified milk, egg yolks and oily fish are the best sources, but we can’t rely on food to provide with optimal amounts of vitamin D on a daily basis. In fact, the major source (80 – 100%) of vitamin D is actually sunshine. Ultraviolet B (UVB) sunlight rays convert cholesterol in the skin into vitamin D.

That’s right, although cholesterol is often a much maligned substance, our bodies literally could not survive without it! The sunlight has to fall directly on to bare skin (through a window is not enough). To add to the complexity of this issue, age, skin colour, geographic latitude, seasonal variations in sunlight availability and sunscreen use can impact on your body’s ability to produce all the vitamin D it needs. For example, darker skins need more sun to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person and because of geographic location, people in the United Kingdom cannot synthesise vitamin D from November to the end of March.

Why the Vitamin D Epidemic? Continue reading “The Vitamin D Epidemic”

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Broccoli Fights Cancer

By London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips and cabbage are full of powerful disease-fighting compounds, one of which is sulforaphane.

Sulforaphane has been found to:

  1. Boost cell enzymes that protect against molecular damage from cancer-causing chemicals.
  2. Increase your liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds and free radicals which damage cells. This in turn protects against cell mutations which can lead to cancer.
  3. Trigger the production of phase II enzymes- potent anti-cancer compounds involved in the second phase of the detoxification process.
  4. Help prevent oxidative stress.
  • Your body constantly reacts with oxygen as you breathe and your cells produce energy. As a consequence of this activity, highly reactive molecules are produced known as free radicals which interact with other molecules within cells. While some level of oxidative stress is a normal result of your body processes, many factors such as pollution, alcohol, medicines and mental stress can cause an excess of free radicals in your body. This can cause oxidative damage/stress to proteins, membranes and genes and has been implicated in the body’s aging process and in diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
  • Sulforaphane, however, seems to stimulate a variety of antioxidant defence pathways in your body that can actually fight oxidative stress

How Much Broccoli do I Need to Eat to reap the benefits? Continue reading “Broccoli Fights Cancer”

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