Did you know that besides being 100% delicious, vegan and paleo-friendly, organic, gluten and GMO free, Nutrient Rich’s NRG [en-er-gy] Infusions™ superfood smoothies contain vitamins D and B12? These two nutrients are two of the most important out of the dozens our bodies need to thrive, yet many have a hard time getting sufficient amounts because they come primary from the sun and bacteria, not food.
We’ve long been told of the plethora of health benefits surrounding vitamin C and E—how getting plenty of C boosts your immune system and can ward off colds, and how vitamin E can prevent wrinkles and help your hair grow thicker. But there is a serious vitamin deficiency in America today and it is a problem that is growing more prevalent as the years go by. Nearly half of the American population is deficient in vitamin D, and it’s high time people were educated about how this is affecting their health.
In Latin, vita means “life,” and vitamins are indeed some of the most crucial micronutrients for healthy functioning of our body’s vital systems. Because our bodies cannot independently produce vitamins like they can hormones, we must acquire these nutrients from outside sources—mainly food. But vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is one nutrient whose best source is something available to everyone everywhere—though much more to some than others at certain times of the year. This is why we add vitamin D to our Organic Superfood Smoothies —so that you and your family can worry about one less thing when it comes to your health.
Since the invention of sunscreen and a sudden rise in the awareness regarding excessive exposure to UV rays being linked with skin cancer (and unsightly wrinkles), the number of people with vitamin D deficiency has gradually climbed to an alarming height. A sunscreen with an SPF of just 15 blocks up to 99% of UV rays, effectively inhibiting the absorption of vitamin D from sun exposure. Because of the linked risk of skin cancer with sunshine, there is no official recommendation for daily or weekly exposure. Companies that sell sunscreen obviously utilize this information to their advantage, and it has proven to be an exceptional marketing technique. People have been taught to fear the sun more than a lack of vitamin D, and our busy American lifestyles and indoor office work environments aren’t helping things.
Whether you’re a student or admin assistant, professor or accountant, business entrepreneur or manager, your studies and work keep you indoors much of the time, and if you live in a busy city and work until after dark, your access to sunlight, greenery and fresh air is rather limited. Having a quick, grab-and-go solution to fuel your body that not only satisfies you but helps you reach your daily recommended intake of nutrients like vitamin D is crucial to healthy performance in today’s hectic world.
In our research, we found that studies are saying people who live in higher or lower latitudes—over 40 degrees from the equator—have a hard time getting sunlight during the winter months, which can last up to 9 months in some areas. Even active, outdoorsy people who spent a lot of time outside and eat a diet vitamin D-fortified dairy, and fish, have been found to have frighteningly low amounts of it during dark, winter months.
Research also shows that dark-skinned people living in North America such as Africans, African-Americans and Hispanics are also more likely to be deficient in vitamin D due to the high levels of melanin in their skin pigmentation, which make absorbing vitamin D from the sun more difficult. People over the age of 50 are also at a greater risk for deficiency, as our bodies become less efficient at absorbing and processing vitamin D as we age.
Though an increased number of studies surrounding vitamin D is helping to raise greater awareness regarding the importance of the issue, things aren’t getting any better statistically. In 2009, studies showed that roughly three-quarters of the Unites States population were deficient in vitamin D. This astronomical figure followed the alarming trend of the previous two decades; according to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “Between 1988 and 1994, 45 percent of 18,883 people (who were examined as part of the federal government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) had 30 nanograms per milliliter or more of vitamin D, the blood level a growing number of doctors consider sufficient for overall health; a decade later, just 23 percent of 13,369 of those surveyed had at least that amount.” One can only imagine where those numbers are at now.
“We were anticipating that there would be some decline in overall vitamin D levels, but the magnitude of the decline in a relatively short time period was surprising,” says the study’s co-author, Adit Ginde, assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.
When we saw these statistics, we knew vitamin D was going to be one nutrient we wouldn’t want to leave out of Nutrient Rich® NRg Infusions. Through our work as an educational company seeking to inform and empower people across America to make better diet and lifestyle choices, we feel it necessary to stress the importance of the vitamin D deficiency dilemma and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.
Steven Cliton, professor of medical oncology at Ohio State University speaks about the importance of vitamin D, saying that “vitamin D, working with calcium, is very clearly critically important for bone health, particularly in youth during skeletal development up through puberty and .?.?. in your 50’s, 60’s and beyond, for the prevention of osteoporosis, fractures and falls.”
Lona Sanson, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas adds, “If you have a vitamin D deficiency, particularly in your older years, it can lead to osteoporosis or osteomalacia [bone softening].” What’s more, a 2003 report from the Nurses Health Study showed vitamin D to be more important than calcium intake for preventing hip fractures in postmenopausal women.
Because vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, it is a vital ingredient to promoting bone health. However, vitamin D deficiency has been known to contribute to more than just weak bones. Studies have shown that people who are vitamin D deficient are more susceptible to the common cold and flus and are at a higher risk for depression, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, rickets, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, obesity, complications during pregnancy, erectile dysfunction, celiac disease, various types of arthritis, fatty liver disease, heart attacks, schizophrenia, dementia, and certain types of cancer.
That’s one hefty list, if you ask us, and more than enough reasons why we should be taking special care to ensure our daily recommended intakes of vitamin D are met.
Because vitamin D stimulates the pancreas and is therefore involved in insulin production, a deficiency of it can significantly contribute to high blood pressure. Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD and head of the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) directed a study which involved exposing a group of subjects to UVA and UVB rays every day for three months. The study showed that the subjects’ vitamin D levels increased by more than 100% by the end of the study. Furthermore, their blood pressures normalized. Holick and his team continued to follow the subjects of the study for the following nine months and said their hypertension continued to be in remission.
Excessive levels of a certain hormone produced within the body known as renin is believed to contribute to heightened blood pressure levels. Because vitamin D decreases the body’s production of renin, this is yet another way vitamin D can play a part in the prevention and treatment of hypertension.
Holick also states concerning the importance of vitamin D, “Activated vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth.”
So what is the DRI of this crucial nutrient and where can we get it?
The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake of 600 IU of vitamin D, but these levels can vary depending on your age, gender and race, and whether you currently suffer any health complications such as heart disease or osteoporosis. It is always a wise idea to speak with a physician or certified dietitian about your individual needs. For example, if you are over the age of 70, your recommended daily allowance jumps to 800 IU.
According to Joel Fuhrman MD, The Institute of Medicine (IOM) surprised many of us when it announced its new dietary reference intake (DRI) for vitamin D. The consensus of the scientific community was that the previous DRI of 400 IU was insufficient, and that supplementation with at least 1000 IU would be necessary for most people to achieve vitamin D sufficiency. The IOM disagreed.
The IOM’s new recommendations call for 600 IU per day for children and adults under age 70 (formerly 400 IU; for adults over age 70, the new recommendation is 800 IU), and the tolerable upper limit (amount not to be exceeded in one day) has been raised to 4000 IU from 2000 IU. Their definition of vitamin D sufficiency is a 25(OH)D level of 20 ng/ml.
Unfortunately, sources of vitamin D aren’t exactly jumping out of our pantries or refrigerators, which is what makes it one of the tougher vitamins to acquire if you don’t get enough sun. Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna can offer the nutrient, but not in overwhelmingly satisfying amounts. The same goes for egg yolks, which provide a mere 40-50 IU of vitamin D. You’d have to be regularly consuming over a dozen servings of fish and egg yolks combined to get your recommended daily dosage from food in which vitamin D naturally occurs.
There are many brands of cold cereal that are now “fortified with vitamin D,” as well as certain milks, yogurt and even cheese. Several brands of orange juice are also adding vitamin D to their products to help people reach that recommended intake.
But out of these sources, how many are vegan-friendly? Obviously, those of us who eat a more plant-based, nutrient-rich diet and consume only small amounts or no animal foods, and don’t have regular access to the sun are at a greater risk for vitamin D deficiency and therefore a greater risk of developing certain diseases. Just like vitamin B12, vitamin D is one nutrient vegans must take special care to work into their diet.
Supplementation is the only real answer. Obviously, getting out and about in the sun for ten to fifteen minutes a day is the best solution when you have the time and when clouds or rain aren’t obscuring half of the year. But if you aren’t able to get it from the sun, eating foods fortified with vitamin D is the best way to hit your DRI mark of vitamin D and supplementation.
Simply taking daily supplement tablets containing vitamin D is not always good enough, and can even be dangerous to your health. Many large and reputable brands such as Pfizer, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, add fillers and additives such as talc, nickelous sulfate and tin, BHT, hydrogenated palm oil, artificial colorants, and other anti-caking or binding agents that are nearly all carcinogenic and can present serious issues for people with sensitive organs.
Furthermore, many tablets sold by big name brands such as the Pfizer’s vitamin supplement product, Centrum, contain only the lowest quality vitamins and in their least-absorbable forms and many isolated nutrients now known to promote cancer such as vitamin E and A. The amounts of vitamins these tablet supplements contain are also in doses so low they are far below therapeutic levels. Many of the vitamins in these supplements are either completely used up or excreted within as little as four hours, doing little for your body’s health and nutritional needs.
The best way to get a sufficient and regular intake of vitamins D is take in some sun, and to ingest natural, plant-based ingredients such as mushrooms, and supplementation. This makes it easier for your body to process, store and utilize the vitamin.
Nutrient Rich now offers an excellent, tasty and convenient way to do this with our vitamin D-fortified NRg Infusions™. We blend the vitamins we add into our other fresh vegetable, fruit and seed based superfood blends, creating a delicious, nutrient-dense snack that is perfect for helping you fulfill your vital daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
Just one NRg Infusions™ between or in place of your meals during your hectic day are healthier, cheaper, and easier than chugging six glasses of milk or trying to eat a dozen servings of fish and eggs to reach your DRI of vitamin D. You’ll take in 2000 IU of Vitamin D3. We can promise you our refreshing superfood infusions go down smoother than most “healthy” snacks you may have tasted before, and will help you get a step closer to improving your diet and health.
We strongly encourage you to try and get at least fifteen minutes of sunshine a day in order to obtain vitamin D in its most natural, absorbable form. But NRg Infusions™ with their convenient twelve to eighteen-month shelf life will be waiting for you on those rainy days when nothing else will do the job—or when you simply need a boost of energy to get you through to your next sit-down meal.
D doesn’t have to stand for deficient. We’d much rather have it be for delicious!
Tripkovic L, Lambert H, Hart K, et al: Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 2012.