A Vitamin D and Calcium Primer

What do you know about calcium and vitamin D?

When it comes to nutrition, the media often finds an ingredient, supplement or product that steals the spotlight for a period of time.  Sometimes the ingredient is lambasted to the point where it becomes an outcast at warp speed, this happened with partially hydrogenated oils (man made trans fats).  Other times, the news is good.   And this is what has happened with vitamin D.  This vitamin has gone from the kid at the back of the class to center stage in a short period of time.  

Why Vitamin D along with Calcium?

When it comes to bone health, many of us automatically think of calcium and milk/dairy.  However, calcium alone can’t do its job without adequate vitamin D.  Think of vitamin D as the gatekeeper to bone tissue, it aids in the absorption of calcium.  Many calcium supplements now come fortified with vitamin D to make supplementation easier for consumers.

Vitamin D may also decrease our risk for certain types of cancer.  Most notably, colon, prostate and breast cancer.  And, a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to osteopenia, osteoporosis, chronic pain, muscle weakness, fractures and autoimmune diseases.  A recent U.S. study in the June 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of heart attacks in men.

We need sunlight – but in moderation

Vitamin D is manufactured in the skin upon exposure to sunlight.  Past recommendations have indicated that just a little exposure – say 15 minutes a day, will give us all the sunlight we need to make vitamin D.  However, recent studies have shown that many of us fall short.  Even people living in climates sunny throughout the year like southern Arizona.  How can this be the case?  Individuals with darker skin and older individuals just don’t produce vitamin D as well as fair-skinned, younger people do.  And, people who live in less than sunny climates simply aren’t exposed to the sun’s rays often enough.  Lastly, many people have had skin cancer (basal and squamous cell carcinoma is on the rise) and are avid sun block users and therefore don’t manufacture adequate vitamin D.

Calcium – our bones needs it!

Now, on to calcium. Aside from its role in bone health, calcium also aids in:  muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, hormone secretion, heartbeat regulation, conducting nerve impulses and blot clotting.  And, all of these functions are considered more vital than keeping our bones strong.  So, when we fall short on our calcium intake our body leaches it from our bones. If this process occurs frequently, over time we end up with weak, porous bones, osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Make sure you get enough!

It’s clear we need to take in adequate levels of calcium and vitamin D daily.  Calcium is more easily obtained from foods, especially dairy foods.  Greens like spinach are often noted for their calcium but, this calcium is bound to the oxalic acid present in these greens and therefore, not readily absorbed.  The same thing goes for calcium that is fortified into grain products – it is bound to phytic acid and not easily absorbed in the body.  Vitamin D is a bit harder to find in foods.  Salmon, mackerel, canned tuna, canned sardines, and milk are your best options.  If you don’t drink 4 glasses of milk a day or a combination of other dairy and the fish mentioned above, try a calcium + Vitamin D supplement.

liquid calcium and Vitamin D supplement is very easy way to get what you need each day.  You can take it all at once or split up the dosage.  Calcium is best absorbed if you take 500 mg at a time, usually morning and evening doses.

SEE ALSO: What You Need to Know About Calcium and Vitamin D and  What You Need to Know About Osteoporosis


Vitamins & Minerals Work Better Together


We like to think of our social communities as close, helpful and inter-connected.  We rely on one another for all sorts of daily help.  Kids help moms into the house with groceries.  Friends help each other by listening and giving support.  Friends and family help make special events successful and fun with a little help from everyone. 

Vitamins support each other in many of  the same ways.


Different vitamin molecules interact with each other in specific body processes and biological circumstances in ways that promote and actively assist your body’s best use of each vitamin.  


Did you know…


  • Vitamin C is required for proper protein metabolism and also improves absorption of Iron from plant-based foods


  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) is needed to help your body convert Vitamin B6 and Folate into their active forms


  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) helps your body best use lots of other vitamins, including Vitamin B2


  • Vitamin B6 is necessary for the proper absorption of Vitamin B12 and helps Iron function properly in your body through its role in proper red blood cell production


  • Folate and B12 work together to produce SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine)


It is very important to have a well-rounded vitamin and mineral program if you already have nutrient absorption issues or know you’re deficient in certain vitamins or minerals so they can help each other work within your body to give you the best each nutrient has to offer.



How to Achieve Amazing Spring Fitness



Finally!  It’s Spring!  


The sun is shining, birds are singing, and flowers are blooming… what a great time to add some spring to your fitness program. Call it spring, jump, bounce or sprint… I’m talking about cardio-interval training and it is a great way to wake up and shake up your body.  


Interval Training


Interval training involves timed bouts of higher intensity movement followed by timed bouts of lower intensity recovery movement.  Typically these bouts are done in a ratio of 1 to 2 (1:2), 1 to 3(1:3) or 1 to 4 (1:4).  That would mean that if you did high intensity movement for 30 seconds, you would follow that up with 1, 1.5 or 2 minutes of low intensity movements.


So here is an example.  Do 30 seconds of jumping jacks (that would be about 20 jacks), then follow this with a march or walk in place for 1 minute (that would be about 120 steps in place), now repeat that same work/recovery interval four times over.  During the work bout, you can choose to do any move that makes you breathe heavy, or better yet, breathless in the 30 seconds.  That would be moves like jumping rope, running in place with high knees, lateral leaps, squat jumps, etc.


You can also choose to do any light movement that helps get your heart rate and breathing back under control during the recovery bout.  That could be knee bends, walking around the room, heel presses forward, step touches, etc.  You can use the same two moves, or change them every bout.


Get That Heart Rate Up!


The key is to get the heart rate up fast and then bring it back down gently.  Don’t start a new work-bout until you feel that your heart rate and breathing rate are back down to a low or moderate sensation of exercise exertion.  This type of training can help you break out of a training rut.  It burns a high level of calories.  It has also been shown to lift the metabolism for longer periods post training than traditional steady state training (training at a moderate intensity).  


Start Slowly


Keep in mind that the less fit or accustom you are to high intensity training movements the shorter you should make your work-bouts and the longer you should make your recoveries (for example 15 seconds work to 1 or 2 minutes of recovery).  On the other hand the more fit you are the longer you can make your work-bouts and the shorter the recovery (for example 1 minute all out movement followed by 1 to 2 minutes of recovery).  You will never want to exceed 90 seconds in all out effort and your ratio should not be less than a 1:1 or 1: 2 work to recovery ratio. 


Start off by adding 2 to 4 of these bouts to your regular cardio workout time.  After a few sessions you can slowly build up to 6 to 8 intervals. For every interval bout you do you can shave off about 5 minutes of your regular workout time. So if you do 4 bouts that would be 20 minutes off a 60-minute walk.


Don’t forget to take your liquid supplements like calcium to help you keep doing the activities you love!