Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Overcoming your sugar addiction!

If you don't already get GOOP, you should. GOOP is a weekly letter from Gwyneth Paltrow that is filled with a lot of information. Her doc, Dr. Lipman (who I would love to meet one day) also writes in GOOP. This past week, GOOP featured a lot of valuable information on sugar and I wanted to share :)

Overcoming Sugar Addiction

In the past generation we’ve seen the amount of sugar we consume grow exponentially. Until recently, we had been eating sugar mainly found naturally in foods. It was used as a treat or in small quantities and was never a problem. But today, over a third of the calories we consume come from sugar or white flour, which is highly refined and acts just like sugar in our system. Our bodies cannot cope with such an enormous load. Sugar gives you an initial high, then you crash, then you crave more, so you consume more sugar. It’s this series of highs and lows that provoke unnecessary stress on your adrenals. You get anxious, moody (sugar is a mood-altering drug) and eventually you feel exhausted.

Sugar is also associated with many chronic problems that include decreased immunity, some chronic infections, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, pain syndromes, irritable bowel syndrome, ADD, chronic fatigue, and candida. Research suggests that one of the main causes for decreased immunity is that sugars inhibit the entrance of Vitamin C into white blood cells, which then inhibits immunity. The more sugar, the less productive your white blood cells are and thus, the less immune you are. Furthermore, sugars stimulate insulin secretion in the pancreas, which in turn stimulates the liver’s triglyceride production. Triglycerides are linked to stroke, heart disease and obesity. The list goes on and on. This week, Dr. Frank Lipman provides us with all the info on how to curb a sugar addiction.


What we should know about sugar from Dr. Frank Lipman:

As a serious sugar addict still struggling with my “addiction” I know first hand how difficult it is to get off sugar, and to stay off it. Part of the reason it’s so hard to kick the habit is that over time our brains actually become addicted to the natural opioids that are triggered by sugar consumption. Much like the classic drugs of abuse such as cocaine, alcohol and nicotine, a diet loaded with sugar can generate excessive reward signals in the brain which can override one’s self-control and lead to addiction.

One study out of France, presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, showed that when rats (who metabolize sugar much like we do) were given the choice between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous cocaine, 94% chose the saccharin water. When the water was sweetened with sucrose (sugar), the same preference was observed—the rats overwhelmingly chose the sugar water. When the rats were offered larger doses of cocaine, it did not alter their preference for the saccharin or sugar water. Even rats addicted to cocaine, switched to sweetened water when given the choice. In other words, intense sweetness was more rewarding to the brain than cocaine.

The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction to include three stages: bingeing, withdrawal and craving. Until recently, the rats had only met two of the elements of addiction, bingeing and withdrawal. But recent experiments by Princeton University scientist, Professor Bart Hoebel, and his team showed craving and relapse as well. By showing that excess sugar led not only to bingeing and withdrawal, but to cravings for sweets as well, the final critical component of addiction fell into place and completed the picture of sugar as a highly addictive substance.

In stark contrast to this clinical assessment is the fact that, for most of us, “something sweet” is a symbol of love and nurturance. As infants, our first food is lactose, or milk sugar. Later on, well-intended parents (me included) reward children with sugary snacks, giving them a “treat,” turning a biochemically harmful substance into a comfort food. We become conditioned to need something sweet to feel complete or satisfied, and continue to self-medicate with sugar as adults, using it to temporarily boost our mood or energy. But as any addict knows, one quick fix soon leaves you looking for another—each hit of momentary satisfaction comes with a long-term price.

The bottom line is that sugar works the addiction and reward pathways in the brain in much the same way as many illegal drugs. And, like other drugs, it can destroy your health and lead to all sorts of ailments including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, and premature aging. Sugar is basically a socially acceptable, legal, recreational drug, with deadly consequences—and like with any drug addiction, you have to have a flexible but structured plan to beat it.

Here are some tips to help you cope with sugar cravings!

Eat regularly. Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.

Choose whole foods. The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.

Have a breakfast of protein, fat and phytonutrients to start your day off right. Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. The typical breakfast full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is the worst option since you’ll have cravings all day. Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings.

Try to incorporate protein and/or fat with each meal. This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.

Add spices. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.

Take a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, Vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids. Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, Vitamin B3 and magnesium.

Move your body. Exercise, dance or do some yoga. Whatever movement you enjoy will help reduce tension, boost your energy and decrease your need for a sugar lift.

Get enough sleep. When we are tired we often use sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion.

Do a detox. My experience has been that when people do a detox, not only does it reset their appetites but it often decreases their sugar cravings. After the initial sugar cravings, which can be overwhelming, our bodies adjust and we won't even want the sugar anymore and the desire will disappear.

Be open to explore the emotional issues around your sugar addiction. Many times our craving for sugar is more for an emotional need that isn’t being met.

Keep sugary snacks out of your house and office. It’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t there!

Don't substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar.

Learn to read labels. Although I would encourage you to eat as few foods as possible that have labels, educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list. So check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving.

Become familiar with sugar terminology. Recognize that all of these are sweeteners: corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, molasses, turbinado sugar and brown sugar.

Sugar in disguise. Remember that most of the “complex” carbohydrates we consume like bread, bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined and act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided.

And here’s how to handle an acute sugar craving:

Take L-Glutamine, 1000-2000mg, every couple of hours as necessary. It often relieves sugar cravings as the brain uses it for fuel.

Take a “breathing break”. Find a quiet spot, get comfortable and sit for a few minutes and focus on your breath. After a few minutes of this, the craving will pass.

Distract yourself. Go for a walk, if possible, in nature. Cravings usually last for 10-20 minutes maximum. If you can distract yourself with something else, it often passes. The more you do this, the easier it gets and the cravings get easier to deal with.

Drink lots of water. Sometimes drinking water or seltzer water can help with the sugar cravings. Also sometimes what we perceive as a food craving is really thirst.

Have a piece of fruit. If you give in to your cravings, have a piece of fruit, it should satisfy a sweet craving and is much healthier.

If you follow these guidelines, perhaps you’ll be able to have an occasional "treat." Be realistic with yourself and remember that a slip is not a failure. Don't get down on yourself if you slip, just dust yourself off and get back in the saddle. However, if even just a little causes you to lose control, then it’s best to stay away from it completely. And my ultimate tip for sugar-free bliss is to remind ourselves to find and pursue “sweet satisfaction” in nourishing experiences other than food.

Frank Lipman MD, is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC and the author of REVIVE; Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT) and TOTAL RENEWAL; 7 key steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health (2003). He is the creator of Eleven Eleven Wellness, Guided Health Solutions, leading edge integrative health programs to help you feel better than ever.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to kill the "bad bugs" in your gut!

Doctors are trained to identify diseases by where they are located. If you have asthma, it's considered a lung problem; if you have rheumatoid arthritis, it must be a joint problem; if you have acne, doctors see it as a skin problem; if you are overweight, you must have a metabolism problem; if you have allergies, immune imbalance is blamed. Doctors who understand health this way are both right and wrong. Sometimes the causes of your symptoms do have some relationship to their location, but that's far from the whole story.

As we come to understand disease in the 21st century, our old ways of defining illness based on symptoms is not very useful. Instead by understanding the origins of disease and the way in which the body operates as one whole, integrated ecosystem we now know that symptoms appearing in one area of the body may be caused by imbalances in an entirely different system.

If your skin is bad or you have allergies, can't seem to lose weight, suffer from an autoimmune disease or allergies, struggle with fibromyalgia, or have recurring headaches, the real reason may be that your gut is unhealthy. This may be true even if you have NEVER had any digestive complaints.

There are many other possible imbalances in your body's operating system that may drive illness as well. These include problems with hormones, immune function, detoxification, energy production and more. But for now let's take a deeper look at the gut and why it may be at the root of your chronic symptoms.

Symptoms Throughout the Body are Resolved by Treating the Gut

Many today do have digestive problems including reflux or heartburn, irritable bowel, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and colitis. In fact, belly problems account for over 200 million doctor's visits and billions in health care costs annually. But gut problems cause disease far beyond the gut. In medical school I learned that patients with colitis could also have inflamed joints and eyes, and that patients with liver failure could be cured of delirium by taking antibiotics that killed the toxin-producing bacteria in their gut. Could it be that when things are not quite right down below it affects the health of our entire body and many diseases we haven't linked before to imbalances in the digestive system?

The answer is a resounding yes. Normalizing gut function is one of the most important things I do for patients, and it's so simple. The "side effects" of treating the gut are quite extraordinary. My patients find relief from allergies, acne, arthritis, headaches, autoimmune disease, depression, attention deficit, and more--often after years or decades of suffering. Here are a few examples of the results I have achieved by addressing imbalances in the function and flora of the gut:

• A 58-year-old woman with many years of worsening allergies, asthma, and sinusitis who was on frequent antibiotics and didn't respond to any of the usual therapies was cured by eliminating a worm she harbored in her gut called Strongyloides.

• A 52-year-old woman who suffered with daily headaches and frequent migraines for years, found relief by clearing out the overgrowth of bad bugs in her small intestine with a new non-absorbed antibiotic called Xifaxin.

• A six-year-old-girl with severe behavioral problems including violence, disruptive behavior in school, and depression was treated for bacterial yeast overgrowth, and in less than 10 days her behavioral issues and depression were resolved.

• A three-year-old boy with autism started talking after treating a parasite called Giardia in his gut.

These are not miracle cures, but common results that occur when you normalize gut function and flora through improved diet, increased fiber intake, daily probiotic supplementation, enzyme therapy, the use of nutrients that repair the gut lining, and the direct treatment of bad bugs in the gut with herbs or medication.

A number of recent studies have made all these seemingly strange reversals in symptoms understandable. Let's review them.

Research Linking Gut Flora and Inflammation to Chronic Illness

Scientists compared gut flora or bacteria from children in Florence, Italy who ate a diet high in meat, fat, and sugar to children from a West African village in Burkina Faso who ate beans, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts.(i) The bugs in the guts of the African children were healthier, more diverse, better at regulating inflammation and infection, and better at extracting energy from fiber. The bugs in the guts of the Italian children produced by-products that create inflammation; promote allergy, asthma, and autoimmunity; and lead to obesity.

Why is this important?

In the West our increased use of vaccinations and antibiotics and enhancements in hygiene have lead to health improvements for many. Yet these same factors have dramatically changed the ecosystem of bugs in our gut, and this has a broad impact on health that is still largely unrecognized.

There are trillions of bacteria in your gut and they collectively contain at least 100 times as many genes as you do. The bacterial DNA in your gut outnumbers your own DNA by a very large margin. This bacterial DNA controls immune function, regulates digestion and intestinal function, protects against infections, and even produces vitamins and nutrients.

When the balance of bacteria in your gut is optimal this DNA works for you to great effect. For example, some good bacteria produce short chain fatty acids. These healthy fats reduce inflammation and modulate your immune system. Bad bugs, on the other hand, produce fats that promote allergy and asthma, eczema and inflammation throughout your body.(ii)

Another recent study found that the bacterial fingerprint of gut flora of autistic children differs dramatically from healthy children.(iii) Simply by looking at the byproducts of their intestinal bacteria (which are excreted in the urine--a test I do regularly in my practice called organic acids testing), researchers could distinguish between autistic and normal children.

Think about this: Problems with gut flora are linked to autism. Can bacteria in the gut actually affect the brain? They can. Toxins, metabolic by-products, and inflammatory molecules produced by these unfriendly bacteria can all adversely impact the brain. I explore the links between gut function and brain function in much greater detail in my book, The UltraMind Solution.

Autoimmune diseases are also linked to changes in gut flora. A recent study showed that children who use antibiotics for acne may alter normal flora, and this, in turn, can trigger changes that lead to autoimmune disease such as inflammatory bowel disease or colitis.(iv)

The connections between gut flora and system-wide health don't stop there. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that you could cure or prevent delirium and brain fog in patients with liver failure by giving them an antibiotic called Xifaxan to clear out bugs that produce toxins their poor livers couldn't detoxify.(v) Toxins from bacteria were making them insane and foggy. Remove the bacteria that produce the toxins, and their symptoms clear up practically overnight.

Other similar studies have found that clearing out overgrowth of bad bugs with a non-absorbed antibiotic can be an effective treatment for restless leg syndrome (vi) and fibromyalgia. (vii)

Even obesity has been linked to changes in our gut ecosystem that are the result of a high-fat, processed, inflammatory diet. Bad bugs produce toxins called lipopolysaccardies (LPS) that trigger inflammation andinsulin resistance or pre-diabetes and thus promote weight gain.(viii)

It seems remarkable, but the little critters living inside of you have been linked to everything from autism to obesity, from allergy to autoimmunity, from fibromyalgia to restless leg syndrome, from delirium to eczema to asthma. In fact the links between chronic illness and gut bacteria keep growing every day.

So what can you do to keep your gut flora balanced, your gut healthy, and thus overcome or avoid these health problems?

Five Steps to a Healthy Gut (and a Healthy Body!)

Follow these five simple steps to begin rebalancing your gut flora.

1. Eat a fiber-rich, whole foods diet--it should be rich in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables--all of which feed good bugs.

2. Limit sugar, processed foods, animal fats, and animal protein--these provide food for unhealthy bugs.

3. Avoid the use of antibiotics, acid blockers, and anti-inflammatories--they change gut flora for the worse.

4. Take probiotics daily--these healthy, friendly flora can improve your digestive health and reduce inflammation and allergy.

5. Consider specialized testing--such as organic acid testing, stool testing (new tests can look at the DNA of the bacteria in your gut), and others to help assess your gut function. You will likely have to work with afunctional medicine practitioner to effective test and treat imbalances in your gut.

And if you have a chronic illness, even if you don't have digestive symptoms, you might want to consider what is living inside your gut. Tending to the garden within can be the answer to many seemingly unrelated health problems.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

Mark Hyman, M.D. practicing physician and founder of The UltraWellness Center is a pioneer in functional medicine. Dr. Hyman is now sharing the 7 ways to tap into your body's natural ability to heal itself. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on Youtube and become a fan on Facebook.

For a list of medical references, please go to

Friday, September 24, 2010

Frankenfish... on your plate!

This weekend, over 10,000 FRESH petition signatures against genetically engineered salmon were delivered to the FDA. And guess what: after three days of hearings, the FDA agreed with us that there's significant concerns about genetically engineered salmon, and it must go through a rigorous public review before further consideration for approval.

This is huge. We are putting a stop to the corporate fast-tracking of genetically engineered salmon in our food system!

We still have a lot of work ahead of us. The corporations pushing genetically engineered salmon aren't backing down. We need to take advantage of this victory and re-organize to stop genetically modified salmon once and for all.

Let's blow them away. Will you help us reach 20,000 signatures standing against genetically modified salmon on our plates?

The FDA agreed that the small sample sizes, incomplete data and poor scientific assessments in the research done on genetically modified salmon warrant concern.

Dr. Gary Thorgaard, the only member of the Committee with expertise on fisheries, called on FDA to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement, a sentiment echoed by other members of the Committee during the discussion period. The FDA will publish the final environmental assessment that they have thus-far kept from the public and open it up for the required 30-day public comment period. This only happened because of our tremendous protest and could end up meaning slowing down this process by years.

In light of the numerous unknowns raised throughout the two day meeting, FDA officials announced that any approval will require post-market review and data requirements, but we must make sure that they also require proper regulation and safety assessments.

That means we still have quite a battle to fight! Please join us in our outcry! We will deliver signatures to the FDA as part of the public comment period when it opens.

Please join us in our outcry! Sign the FRESH petition against GE Salmon today!

Eat safe,

Lisa Madison
Distribution & Outreach Coordinator

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Organic vs. Non-Organic

This is the difference. No need for a taste test. The non-organic one grew in 1/2 the time the organic one did... and it's 2x the size.

Pictures taken from my kitchen table this morning!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Do you know why I tell my patients to stay away from sugar? Do you know why I limit my children's intake of sugar?

#1 It makes your brain fuzzy
#2 It makes you feel hungry all the time, never full
#3 It changes your chemistry of every cell
#4 It's like gas on a fire, for CANCER
#5 It triggers other food allergies/sensitivities

It's not easy to avoid sugar, because it's in EVERYTHING. So, eat foods that do not list sugar in the ingredients list. If you are craving sugar, eat fruit. Stay focused.

I gave up sugar for Lent this year and it has forever changed me.

Need more of a reason? Go here.

Friday, June 18, 2010

All about Vitamin D!

Vitamin D Deficiency
by Dr. Frank Lipman:

For the last 30 years or so, doctors (dermatologists in particular), health officials, beauty experts and many product companies have been demonizing the sun. They’ve told us to avoid it because without sunscreen, exposure to the sun’s rays will damage skin and cause cancer. But this oversimplification distorts the facts. In the past few years, numerous studies have shown that optimizing your Vitamin D levels may actually help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers. And the best way to optimize Vitamin D levels is through safe, smart and limited sunscreen-free exposure to the sun.

For hundreds of thousands of years, man has lived with the sun: Our ancestors were outdoors far more often than indoors. We developed a dependence on sunshine for health and life, so the idea that sunlight is dangerous does not make sense. How could we have evolved and survived as a species, if we were that vulnerable to something humans have been constantly exposed to for their entire existence? Is it possible that our bodies are made in such a way that the sun is really a lethal enemy? Not in my opinion. Like all living things, we need sunshine, and it feels good for a reason. Much as plants harness the sun’s rays through photosynthesis, our bodies use sunlight to help the skin produce the Vitamin D it needs to build bones, quell inflammation, bolster the immune system and protect against cancer (including skin cancer).

“Let the sun shine in”

Western medicine has made a practice of telling us to abstain from things that are bad for us in extreme quantities, when in fact those same things⎯fat, salt, and sunshine for example⎯are very good for us when consumed wisely and in moderation. In the case of sunshine, our UV paranoia is contributing to a silent epidemic: Vitamin D deficiency. It’s silent because most people don’t know they are deficient. And it’s deadly, because this deficiency can lead to cancer and a multitude of other diseases. But we’ve demonized the sun and been brainwashed into believing that even small amounts will harm us. We are told to slather on sunscreen whenever we are in the sun, which blocks Vitamin D production and exacerbates the Vitamin D deficiency induced by our modern, indoor lives.

Studies show that as many as three out of four Americans suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. A study published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine (a leading scientific journal), found that 70% of Caucasians, 90% of Hispanics and 97% of African Americans in the US have insufficient blood levels of Vitamin D. Indeed, it’s thought to be the most common medical condition in the world, affecting over one billion people and we now have research showing just how essential Vitamin D is to health.

U.S. and Norwegian researchers have found that people who live in higher latitudes are more prone to Vitamin D deficiency and more prone to developing common cancers and dying of them. It’s now thought that this is due in part to the body’s inability to make enough activated Vitamin D to help regulate cell growth and to keep cell growth in check. Independent scientific research has shown that whether you live in a sunny or not-so-sunny climate, exposure to the sun and its UVB radiation will increase your production of Vitamin D and help lower the risk of a host of debilitating and fatal diseases – including many cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and depression.

And now the experts are concerned that we’re passing an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency down to a new generation. Studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency may imprint on an infant for the rest of his/her life. Infants that are deficient at birth can remain Vitamin D deficient for the first several months after birth, which may put them at risk of developing many chronic diseases much later in life.

What is Vitamin D and how much do you need?

Although called a vitamin, it is not. Vitamin D is in a class by itself, behaving more like a hormone. It is made in the skin, gets into your bloodstream and then goes into the liver and the kidney where it becomes activated as a key steroid hormone called Calcitriol. It then goes to the intestines, bones and other tissues, effecting metabolic pathways and the expression of myriad genes. Vitamin D's active form can interact with almost every cell in the body directly or indirectly, targeting up to two thousand genes, or about six percent of the human genome. It is necessary for numerous cellular functions, and when the body does not have what it needs to function optimally, it follows that we experience a decline in health and put ourselves at risk of disease. We now know that almost every cell and tissue in our body has Vitamin D receptors, which raises the question: Why would those receptors be there if they didn’t have a function?

Our Vitamin D needs vary with age, body weight, percent of body fat, latitude, skin coloration, season of the year, use of sun block, individual reactions to sun exposure, and our overall health. As a general rule, older people need more Vitamin D than younger people, large people need more that small people, fat people need more than skinny people, northern people need more than southern people, dark-skinned people need more than fair skinned people, winter people need more than summer people, sun-phobes need more than sun worshipers, and ill people may need more than well people.

The best way to determine whether or not you are deficient is to have your Vitamin D blood levels measured and replenish accordingly.

My Top Ten Tips for Healthy Sun Exposure and Optimizing your Vitamin D Levels

Have a healthy respect for the sun. It is powerful medicine with potentially dangerous side effects on your skin. Treat it like medication, using the lowest dose necessary, but don’t avoid it completely. Never fall asleep in the sun without protection.

Always avoid sunburn. It is sunburn, not healthy sun exposure that causes problems. Repeated sunburns, especially in children and very fair-skinned people, have been linked to melanoma. Whereas there is no credible scientific evidence that regular, moderate sun exposure causes melanoma or other skin cancers. Prepare your skin and build up tolerance gradually. Start early in the year (spring), or early in the morning before the sun is strongest and slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the sun.

Get 15-30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure 2-4 times a week. Each of us has different needs for unprotected sun exposure to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D. Depending on your age, what type of skin you have, where you live and what time of the day and year it is, your need will vary. The farther you live from the equator, the more exposure to the sun you need in order to generate Vitamin D. For instance, a fair skinned person, sitting on a New York beach in June, in the middle of the day, for about 10-15 minutes (enough to cause a light pinkness 24 hours after), is producing the equivalent of 15,000-20,000 IU’s of Vitamin D. But the same person living further north in the U.K, or Canada would need 20-30 minutes to get that light pinkness, which is all one needs. Also, people with dark skin pigmentation may need 20-30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people, to generate the same amount of Vitamin D. For more specifics, I recommend the tables in The Vitamin D Solution by Dr Michael Holick.

Get frequent, short exposures. Regular short exposures have been found to be much more effective and safer than intermittent long ones. Note that you cannot generate Vitamin D when sitting behind a glass window, because the UVB rays necessary for Vitamin D production are absorbed by glass.

After your 15-30 minutes of sun-block free time in the sun, you must protect yourself. If you’re going to be out in the sun for longer periods, wear a hat to protect your face and light colored clothing that blocks the sun and keeps you cool. When you do apply sunscreen, use one with fewer chemicals. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of safer sunscreens. Remember that even weak sunscreens block the ability of your skin to manufacture Vitamin D, so once you have applied it, you will not be making Vitamin D.

Boost your “internal sunscreen” by consuming anti-oxidants and beneficial fats. These strengthen skin cells, helping to protect them from sun damage. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, goji berries and pomegranates and supplementing with green powdered mixes and fish oils are great options when going into the sun.

Have your Vitamin D blood levels checked regularly. The correct blood test is 25OH vit D or 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D test. Be aware, however, that current “normal” range for Vitamin D is 20 to 55 ng/ml. This is much too low!!! Those levels may be fine if you want to prevent rickets or osteomalacia, but they are not adequate for optimal health. The ideal range for optimal health is 50-80 ng/ml.

Don’t rely on food alone for your Vitamin D needs. It is almost impossible to get your Vitamin D needs met by food alone. Fatty wild fish (not farmed), like salmon and mackerel are the best food sources, but you would have to eat huge quantities of them daily to get anywhere near what your body needs. Although fortified milk and orange juice do contain Vitamin D, you would have to drink at least 10 glasses of each daily and I don’t recommend doing that.

Take Vitamin D3 supplements if necessary. In the winter or if you don’t get enough healthy sun exposure or if your blood levels are low, make sure you supplement with at least 2,000 IU’s a day of Vitamin D3. Although I recommend moderate sunbathing, Vitamin D supplements provide the same benefits as sunshine (in terms of Vitamin D needs). But, if taken in too large a dose, they can cause Vitamin D toxicity, whereas sun exposure does not. It is impossible to generate too much Vitamin D in your body from the sun: Your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs, which just reaffirms to me that we should get our Vitamin D from sensible sun exposure. Here are specific guidelines for replenishing Vitamin D.

Although irresponsible sunbathing is unquestionably harmful and precautions need to be taken, regular, moderate, unprotected sun exposure is essential for good health. It is free, easy to get and good for you when used intelligently. It is the only reliable way to generate Vitamin D in your own body, which we now know to be an essential ingredient for optimizing health and preventing disease.