Nutrition – Vitamin D
With the holidays approaching, I won’t lay on the studies about how eating like a Mediterranean will protect your aging brain…
I’ll save that for the spring. However, l will provide you with tips on how to live healthier: This winter, you may want to consider a Vitamin D supplement to make up for the seasonal drop in your body’s natural levels of the “sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is critical for strengthening muscles, teeth, as well as bones. Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D; the few good sources are salmon, sardines, tuna, and egg yolk. Many foods are fortified with Vitamin D like dairy products and cereals. You likely saw sardines and weren’t tempted; very few of us were given sardines as an after-school snack. It’s all about the presentation…I introduced the small “fancy tin”; to my kids and told them it would make them better students and athletes. To my amazement, they tried a bite and asked for more (we’ll see if the novelty flounders). Fish is brain food because it’s rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which many of us are lacking (the fatty acid topic will be a column all of its own). The bottom line is: we may want to have our vitamin D levels checked at our next check-ups.
Another thing we can embrace this winter is comfort foods; we can power up with potatoes which are whole foods, meaning they contain a balance of all the essential amino acids, despite being low in whole protein. Potatoes are nutritious vegetables packed with vitamin C and fiber which can help lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Also, fiber helps satiate hunger and supports gut health. Potatoes are rich in vitamin B6, which is critical to protein metabolism.
Potatoes also contain the right mix of sodium and potassium to maintain an electrolyte balance in the body. Cheers to America’s favorite vegetable. History Fact: “Potatohead” was one of the first-ever toys advertised on television (1952).
Melanie Schreiner, MS, RDN, CDN