Vitamin D!!

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” This steroidal hormone is synthesized in our body when the cholesterol in our skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun; but it can be very variable how much an individual produced from person to person. Vitamin D is also found in a few foods, added to others, and taken in supplement form. 

The importance of Vitamin D is often quite underestimated. Nearly ½ of the US population is deficient in vitamin D, specifically in older adults, young women, infants, and those of color. This vitamin affects bone health, mental health,cardiovascular health, protection against many cancers, and most recently there have been reports of those battling COVID19 most determientally have been vitamin D deficient. 

  • Vitamin D promotes bone health by promoting the absorption of calcium. Without Vitamin D, calcium obtained through food will simply go through you.
  • It helps regulate mood. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D were linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety. 
  • A study was done on individuals of high blood pressure. They were exposed to UV rays for three months, thus their vitamin levels increased. Most importantly their high blood pressure normalized
  • “Active vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth,” says the head doctor of the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University.

Data has suggested that vitamin D supplementation can lower the odds of developing respiratory infections, particularly in vitamin D-deficient groups. The COVID-19 pandemic has further escalated the discussion. It has long been clear that groups that traditionally exhibit vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency are the same groups that have also been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Few foods naturally contain Vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is found in plant based products, while Vitamin D3 can be found in animal products and fatty fish. However, vitamin D3 has been found to be twice as effective at raising levels of the Vitamin D in the bloodstream, where it can then be used in its active form. 

If you don’t get out in the sun often, or don’t eat much fatty fish you may want to consider taking a  vitamin D supplement for optimal health. If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, children from the age of 1 and adults, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people. Do not take more than 100 micrograms (4,000 IU) of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. 

It is important to note. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. Therefore it cannot pass through urine as a water soluble vitamin can. Overtime if supplementing too much a buildup of Calcium can occur in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and heart. 


Absorption and Bioavailability of Vitamins.

Vitamins are necessary for healthy metabolism in the body. Most vitamins need to come from food because the body either does not produce them or produces very little. However, how can we be sure we are absorbing our vitamins when ingested via food and supplement form. 

First it is important to understand how the absorption process of vitamins happens. There are two different types (therefore for routes) of vitamins. 

  • Water-soluble vitamins are found into the watery portions of  foods. They are absorbed directly into the bloodstream as food is broken down during digestion or as a supplement dissolves. It is hard for these vitamins to reach toxicity because they can easily be released via excretion.
  • Fat- soluble vitamins gain entry into the blood in the same way the macronutrient fat does. They are packed in micelle with fats, bile salts, and more, and then transported across the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. Therefore they are more likely to be absorbed when fat is present. 

Bioavailability is the percentage of the dose (of a nutrient or other substance) that is absorbed and able to be used by the cells for current use or stored for future use. This is why it is important to keep in mind that just because a supplement claims to contain a particular amount of a nutrient, it  doesn’t mean your body will absorb the entire amount. There are many different things that can interfere with a substance’s bioavailability, including alcohol, caffeine, competition with other foods, stress, and more. 

Some supplements contain special ingredients, or enhancers, which can improve the bioavailability of certain supplements, such as those at Klaire Labs.  Enhancers typically act in the gut to either improve solubility or reduce the amount of enzymatic breakdown.

Many substances and micronutrients can also interact with each other. For example Vitamin D, helps you absorb Calcium from food rather than taking it from bones, and Vitamin C increases iron absorption. But this is always a commensalistic relationship. This can be the quite opposite as well.  For example, oxalates found in some dark green leafy vegetables, interfere with the absorption of some minerals including Ca, Zn, ann Iron. Which is why we absorb significantly more iron from meants rather than leafy vegetables although they are both high in iron. Or even a minor overload of the mineral manganese can worsen iron deficiency.

Despite the complexity of nutrient interactions, don’t overwhelm yourself and keep it simple (: Eat a varied balanced diet,  skip fat diets (which often fail to supply necessary nutrients), and when possible try to receive your nutrients from foods before supplements. 


BCCAs and Their Benefits

BCAAs are a group of three essential amino acids in the body: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.  Essential, meaning our body cannot produce it on it’s own so we must receive them through our diet. 

When we ingest protein through food, digestion begins in the stomach when enzymes specific to each protein are released to break the proteins down and absorb. Proteins consist of different various lengths of single amino acids connected all together in different shapes. The enzymes break protein down into single amino acids, or shorter length peptides (meaning short proteins). Once broken down, the individual amino acids then travel to their respective location needed in the body. 

The BCAAs make up about 35-40% of all 9 essential amino acids. Contrary to most other amino acids, BCAAs are mostly broken down in the muscle, rather than in the liver. Thus, just like you would assume, their benefits are involved with our muscles. 

One of the most popular uses of BCAAs is to increase muscle growth. Most predominantly involving Leucine.  The “Leucine Trigger” is the reference used for the activation of the protein synthesis pathway to make muscle upon the ingestion of leucine. 

It is not uncommon to feel sore after a workout, some research suggests BCAA’s can help decrease muscle soreness. Soreness is caused from small microtears in our muscles from the muscle’s activation during exercise. Studies show BCAAs can limit this breakdown. Thus, supplementing with BCAAs, specifically before exercise, may speed up recovery time. 

Exercise induced fatigue may seem inevitable when intensity is high. BCAAs may help reduce exercise-induced fatigue. This fatigue is referring to mentally through the action of the hormone serotonin. When the BCAAs become depleted in the blood during exercise (as they are used as energy just like a carbohydrate is), levels of the amino acid tryptophan in the brain increases. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin which contributes to fatigue during exercise. With high levels of BCAAs in the blood, this could possibly be avoided. However, this decrease in mental fatigue is unlikely to translate to improvements in exercise performance.

Fortunately, BCAAs are abundantly found in many foods and whole protein supplements such as whey. This makes BCAA supplements unnecessary for many if enough protein is consumed throughout your day. Outside of whey protein, some of the best food sources of BCAAs include beef, chicken, whey protein, eggs, and greek yogurt.

Food for Energy

Why do we eat food? I believe we may have forgotten the purpose of food. Myself included may think, oh shoot the answer is not pleasure! The proper answer should be food provides the energy for our bodily functions essential to life. What you eat matters because cells in the body need certain things that can only be provided through food. 

Food is made up of the macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein & many micronutrients. It is safe to say food is any substance that provides nutritional support and or energy to the body. But today, far too often the typical eating patterns consumed by many in the United States do not align with the mantra of eating to fuel our cells. We tend to consume far too much sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars in our diet not giving what our bodies and mind need. 

We also often fail to associate how we feel with what we eat. To receive the greatest benefit out of food, we should try to choose a varied diet containing many different, nutritious foods that give the body sustained energy. Some foods, such as sugars and refined carbs, give the body a quick jolt of energy. The idea behind finding energy boosting foods is to consume a varied, balanced diet. Vitamins, fiber, fats, and proteins are all essential for energy, but it is crucial to find a balance between them. 

Here are a few of the foods that provide more stable energy to attack your day:


Bananas –  are a big source of sugar but they are also rich in fibers that help slow the digestion of that sugar.  

Avocados – contain good fats that may increase energy levels, and make fat-soluble micronutrients more available in the body. 

Apples – along with fiber and nutrients, apples are high in antioxidants which help fight inflammation in the body.


Fatty fish –  in general, is an excellent and light source of protein and B vitamins (aka the energy vitamins). Fatty cold-water fish, such as salmon, sardines, and tuna, tend to be higher in omega – 3 fatty acids too. 

Eggs –  provide the body with plenty of protein and nutrients for sustainable energy. Just one large hard-boiled egg contains about 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat, along with vitamins and minerals. 


Oats –  provide a source of essential minerals, vitamins, and phenolic compounds, all of which may help energize the body.

Quinoa – is actually a seed, but we often treat it as a grain. It is high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. The combination of amino acids and slow-release carbohydrates make for sustainable energy rather than a short burst. 

Lastly, one of simplest things you can do to help your body for energy is drink water!

On top of these, there are a multitude of other foods to act in your favor. Outside of individual foods, you can add a bit more excitement by combining foods to make your favorite combinations. Maybe a smoothie! Or even a special salad with your favorites. There are also many products on the market that do this already for you, such as SunWarrior (Warrior Blend Organic Protein). Small shifts in food choice over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal can make a big difference so why not begin now (:


Importance of Protein

Protein is a crucial component of good health. The basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids, and upon the consumption of protein from your diet, it is broken down into amino acids from digestion. In order to maintain optimal health, it is important to ensure you are receiving enough. 

Amino acids can be classified as either essential or non essential. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, and must be obtained through the diet. Nonessential amino acids are made by the body from essential amino acids and the normal breakdown of proteins. 

The essential amino acids are found in animal sources such as meats, milk, fish, and eggs. They are also found in plant sources such as soy, beans, legumes, nut butters, and some grains. However the plant sources don’t contain all essential amino acids, but with a balance and  combination of different sources, you will be able to reach all the protein you need in your diet. It is less important to focus on consuming all amino acids at each meal, rather the importance is your overall day. 

Growth and Maintenance

Under normal circumstances, your body breaks down the same amount of protein that it uses to build and repair tissues. Other times, it breaks down more protein than it can create, thus increasing the amount you need. This is very much dependent upon your personal health and activity level. Periods of illness, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and those recovering from an injury or surgery, older adults, and athletes will require more protein. 

Biochemical Reactions

The body maintains metabolic balance through an interplay of chemical cause and effect that relies on a continuous supply of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats). Protein contributed in  numerous important ways to supporting healthy metabolism.

Enzymes are proteins that aid the thousands of biochemical reactions. The structure of enzymes allows them to combine with other molecules inside the cell which catalyze reactions that are essential to metabolism. Enzymes may also function outside the cell, such as digestive enzymes like lactase and sucrase, which help digest sugar.

Bodily functions that depend on enzymes include

  • Digestion
  • Energy production
  • Blood clotting
  • Muscle contraction

Muscle Development

When you exercise and lift weights, you create tiny micro tears in your muscles.  Those amino acids broken down from protein repair the tears to make them bigger and stronger. Therefore, it is important to note, simply eating more protein doesn’t necessarily mean direct gain of muscle mass. You also need to exercise and weight train, as well as eat a nutritious and balanced diet with fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.

Appetite Control

Protein has been shown to help curb appetites even in a calorie-reduced diet. Among this, it has been shown to improve long-term weight management by promoting energy burning through and beyond periods of weight loss. Consuming  protein levels in the upper end of 0.8 to 1.2 grams per kilogram body weight also lowers blood pressure and promotes increased fat-free body mass, while consuming too little protein for your metabolic needs promotes weight gain. 

It is also important to consider, these are not solely the benefits of protein. There are numerous others to consider, such as the role they play in our hormones and bone health.

Natural Ways to Control Blood Sugar Levels

What is blood sugar? 

Blood sugar can also be called blood glucose. Sugar and glucose can be interchangeable in this situation because glucose is the main sugar that carbohydrates and protein from our diet are broken down into. There are a few exceptions, however, we will not detail them for simplicity. 

The measurement of blood sugar is the measurement of glucose in the bloodstream that the blood is transporting at any given moment. Blood glucose levels change throughout the day. After eating the levels rise, and they settle after about an hour. They are at their lowest point before the first meal of the day, due to the “fasted” period you went through while sleeping. 

The human body regulates blood glucose levels so that they remain moderately constant and stable. This occurs through complex processes involving the small intestine, liver, pancreas, and even fat tissues. This is important to support vital bodily functions. 

Much of this is done through the act of two key hormones: insulin and glucagon. After a meal, glucose enters the bloodstream from the breakdown of the diet as we mentioned above. The endocrine recognizes this signal and releases insulin to take up the glucose enough to fuel the cells. However, it is careful to not overload the bloodstream with too much and sends excess to the liver and muscles to be stored as glycogen. When the body needs more sugar in the blood, glucagon signals the liver to turn glycogen storage (stored glucose) back into glucose and release it into the bloodstream. 

What is the importance?

Maintaining normal blood sugar levels is a very important part of avoiding long-term health issues, managing weight and just overall feeling good and energetic. Unhealthy blood sugar levels are actually becoming an epidemic proportion with the overeating habits of many. 

The persistently high blood sugar level is a condition known as “hyperglycemia.” This acts when the insulin is not properly taking up the glucose for cells. If not properly controlled, it will inevitably lead to a plethora of health issues. This is the case in diabetes for example. At first it can leave you feeling hungry because your cells are not receiving the glucose they need to function properly. And I am sure you can guess what happens next…. We eat more. But if insulin isn’t working properly these calories continue to not go anywhere to be utilized for energy, rather they wreak havoc on our bodies in many ways:

  • The excess is stored as fat. 
  • Excessive thirst due to the kidney trying to flush the excess sugar out of your blood. The resulting dehydration can adversely affect your concentration, blood pressure and kidneys. 
  • The biggest and most important symptom is a severe lack of energy. The mitochondria (or the powerhouses of our cells as you may remember from high school biology) will not be producing the body’s energy currency of ATP as it should be. 
  • Through a series of reactions, oxidative stress in the body will become a major contributor  to the risk of developing a raft of serious cardiovascular conditions, neurological disorders and potentially life-threatening metabolic problems.

Good for you, because it is usually possible to normalize blood sugar levels before it is too late. Simple acts of modifying your diet, increasing activity levels, and possible supplementation such as Terry Naturally Blood Balance can go a long way. Ensure you are additioning greens such as kale and spinach into your diet along with whole grain fiber foods, berries, a little bit of healthy fats, and good portions of proteins.

The Impact of Stress

Stress is something everyone feels from time to time. It’s a natural physical and mental reaction. The stressor could be simply everyday responsibilities involving work and family or a serious life event. Thus, there are different types of stress/ stressors, one-time thing, short term occurrence, or occurring repeatedly over a long period of time. 

Not all stress is bad. 

In a dangerous situation our body’s natural stress single is the “flight or flight response.” Our heartbeat quickens, breathing gets faster, muscles tense, and the brain uses more oxygen while increasing it’s activity. These are all functions aimed at survival, however it doesn’t take a bear chasing you to activate it. this is the same response mechanism during a job interview or before your first 5k race. 

Long term stress is where the issue sits. 

Coping with stressors may not always be easy, and no one is the same in their response to stress. When stress does not subside, the body never really receives a clear signal to return to normal functioning after those natural “lifesaving” mechanisms as mentioned above which is where chronic stress comes into play. The long term effect of these mechanisms in the body alters our health in a variety of ways. It can range from just about anywhere with disturbing the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, insomnia, irritability, or sadness, all of which lie along a spectrum. It may not even be realized these symptoms are simply created solely through stress. 

What can you do to manage your stress?

Positive self talk can be your first step to help calm you down and control stress. Negative self talk increases stress, and with practice you can learn to shift negative to positive thoughts. 

Meditation or a quick walk. Even if it’s 5 minutes, close the technology, let yourself breathe, and return when things have calmed down. 

Eat right. Stress and diet are closely related. When we’re overwhelmed, we often forget to eat well and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as a pick-me-up only escalating symptoms of stress. 

Sweat it out. Getting your blood moving releases endorphins and can improve your mood and stress levels almost immediately.

No one’s life is stress free, especially in this era of time,  traffic is even inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Too much untreated stress can cause potentially serious physical and mental health problems. In many cases, they are manageable but do remember to ask for help from a health professional if you feel needed.

What Causes Inflammation & How to Treat it

You may not always see or feel it but inflammation is related to just about everything in the body, and it could slowly be hurting you if you don’t always acknowledge it and it’s causes. The slightest aspects of lack of sleep or exercise, stress, and poor nutrition can all be culprits. These can actually really add up over time and lead many to different condition such skin conditions, allergies, headaches, painful menstrual periods, joint pain, low back pain, and the list never could go on. 

So what actually is inflammation? When medical pros speak about inflammation they are usually referring to a combination of heat, pain, redness, and swelling. This can happen outside of the body, like when you pop a zit and it’s extremely red, or inside your body such as when you eat a food you are sensitive to and your stomach begins to churn.

In the short run, inflammation is a good thing as it is the immune system’s natural response to an injury. However, long term it can be very bad. Upon activation of an inflammatory response, immune cells and fluid flood to the irritated area to solve the issue, in a healthy case they eventually subside. But long term, they do not and the excess amount of immune cells and fluid in a specific location can disrupt the natural functioning of the area it is present in. This is why long term or “chronic” inflammation is seen in many diseases and conditions such as arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases. 

Did you know the foods you eat can be a major contributor to inflammation throughout your entire body? Wheat, diary, and sugar tend to be the biggest culprits. This doesn’t necessarily mean that to fit the ideal culture of “health” you need to be gluten free, diary free, or any other trend. Ultimately, it is just best that we do not rely on these foods, rather that we consume them in moderation and not at every meal. 

Limiting foods is not all we can do. The liver is in charge of clearing toxins out, therefore, we should eat foods that support the liver. Foods such as leafy greens, lean proteins, and healthy fats are essential in eliminating inflammation. 

Many natural herbs can decrease inflammation very measurably as well. Such as turmeric which contains the compound curcumin. Others are ginger, cinnamon, and clove. There are all sorts of ways to add these various herbs into your diet, it could even be as simple as in a syrup form. 

Outside of food and herbs, ensure you manage stress, are receiving enough sleep, participating in physical activity, and staying hydrated. These are all nature’s contributions to an anti-inflammatory crusade all of which will help bring you to the best anti-inflammatory you!

Fat in the Diet

When it comes to diet, fat often gets a bad notion. Yes, there are indeed certain fats that are bad on our health. However, it is important to know not all fats are created equal and some are actually essential for good health. Knowing the difference between the types of fats and where we can find them may help you determine what you should look to avoid and which to eat in moderation. 

The worst one

The worst type of dietary fat is trans fat. These fats should all together be avoided. Trans fats are the  byproduct of a process called hydrogenation, or turning healthy oils into solids to prevent them from becoming rancid. Consuming foods rich in trans fats increases the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduces the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Trans fats are responsible for creating inflammation, and most predominantly involved in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. 

Alright fat, but could do better

Saturated fats are very common in the American diet. They are solid at room temperature, and should be eaten very sparingly. Think bacon grease. A diet high in saturated fats drives the balance of cholesterol to more harmful cholesterol over healthy cholesterol. This can eventually prompt blockages in arteries of the heart and throughout the body. The daily intake of saturated fats should be limited to 10% of calories a day. Common sources of foods high in saturated fats include red meats, whole-milk dairy products, coconut oil, cheeses, and personal favorite treat; peanut butter. 

The good fats 

Monounsaturated fats do not have a specific recommended daily intake, but some recommend supplementing them into your diet as much as possible (along with polyunsaturated fats, which we will discuss next) to replace trans and saturated fats. Sources of monounsaturated fats are oils such as olive, peanut, sunflower, and canola. As well as avocados and most nuts. 

The health benefits of monounsaturated fats were actually discovered through a study done on the diets and health in parts of the Mediterranean region. Despite a high- fat diet these individuals had a very low rate of heart disease.

finally, the best fat yet

Polyunsaturated fats have two main types: omega- 3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. The body is capable of producing all the fatty acids it needs, except for these. This is why they are known as “essential fatty acids’” and are a necessity to receive through our diet. These both have many great health benefits but it is important to note foods of each one have their own function and effects but among them they play a role in lowering blood pressure, heart health, and often coined as “brain food” for the benefits they provide in brain health. 

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, and canola oil. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, you can find polyunsaturated fat in omega-6 fatty acid containing foods such as soybean derived food such as tofu, seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame), and oils such as corn, safflower, sesame, and sunflower. 

In conclusion

Healthy fats are very important in your diet, and most of the good ones come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish sources. However, it is always important to remember fats are high in calories. Fat in the diet is not what makes a diet unhealthy, overeating is what is harmful. It is still crucial to moderate your consumption to avoid excess calories. On top of this, many foods and oils also contain a mixture of fatty acids, but the predominant type of fat they contain is how we categorize them as being more or less healthy.

Pet Care Tips for New Dog Owners

Just like humans, dogs need to be provided with essential nutrients of vitamins and minerals too. However, with the availability of high quality pet foods, nutritional deficiency of any kind are often rare. Although they are still possible. Most commercial dog foods typically contain enough nutrients, including the essential fatty acids to maintain a shiny coat and  healthy skin. However, dogs on low quality food, or improperly balanced homemade diets, for example, a dog that eats solely chicken, may not get enough nutrients to keep a healthy skin and coat. Dull coats are often from an omega-6 deficiency, most common if your dog is eating an extremely low fat diet. 

On top of looks, every dog has to scratch sometimes, and that is completely okay. But when Fido is constantly licking, scratching, and or biting themself it must be a symptom of an underlying pathology. Diet isn’t the only culprit when it comes to irritation; some itching culprits could be caused through seasonal allergies, dry skin from environmental factors such as low humidity, or even dry pet foods. Dogs that may seem to be scratching too much, could also be being bathed too frequently. This may cause the loss of natural oils on their skin leading to dryness. 

Flaxseed oil and fish oil are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids to replenish this issue and relieve itching or inflamed skin. Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory and have other beneficial effects for skin problems. On top of your dog itching, they may not be sniffling away with a box of tissues next to them but dogs can come down with sickness too. These issues along with many others could find some help from the Pet Wellbeing and their products they have to keep a happy healthy family member for you. Don’t forget that it is always best to check with your veterinarian first too.