The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin because we mainly recognise it as being a vitamin that we get from the sun. Our body produces this vitamin naturally when we  receive sunlight, however there are also a few foods that can supply us with vitamin D. But why do we need it?

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and aid bone growth, a lack of it can lead to osteoporosis. As it is a fat soluble vitamin, unlike most, it cannot dissolve in water meaning it is mainly available in high fat foods and it is a lot easier to absorb into the bloodstream when eaten with fat. As well as vitamin D, vitamins A, E and K are also fat soluble. This means the few foods we do get vit D from include, salmon, egg yolks and shrimp, all high fat foods. However many foods are fortified, meaning they have the vitamin added to them such as cereal, yoghurt and orange juice. Although these are all good sources, as long as you're getting a sufficient amount of sunlight, your body can produce enough all by itself. 

If you're fortunate enough to live in a sunny country then that's all well and good, but if in places like the UK where sunshine isn't a regular visitor you many have to consider eating more of these foods or taking vitamin D supplements, which you should consult your doctor about first. But how can you tell that you're suffering from vitamin D deficiency? Well here are some of the symptoms...

-Fatigue, feeling generally not very well often 
-Severe muscle and bone pain or weakness 
-Stress factures 

As stated above, Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, helping build and keep the bones strong. A deficiency in vitamin D in children can cause rickets, where you will find children with 'bow legs' due to soft bones. Weak bones in older adults can be especially dangerous as it increases the risk of falling and breaking bones, which can lead to further problems in later life. 

There have been some studies to suggest that vitamin D may also play a part in the prevention of cancer, as it regulates cell growth and studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormone form of vit D) can slow down and prevent the growth of new blood vessel tissues cancerous tissue. Other studies have shown that the vitamin may also have a part to play in the prevention in diseases such as Alzheimers, asthma, swine flu and cardiovascular disease, however more studies need to be made. 



How to Beat the Weekend Binge

TFIF right? Crack open the bottle of vino, get Dominoes ordered and get your feet up ready for a movie night, sound like something you might do regularly on a Friday night? Nope i'm no mind reader it's just what most of us do when it get to the weekend after a looooong week working. Sure it's great to sit back and relax over the weekend, but how many weekends has it been now where you've gone on a bit of a 'binge', whether it be food, alcohol or something else and cocked up any healthy progress you've made during the week? 

Why do we do it? 

So, i'm going to place pretty much all of the blame on stress. When you've had a hectic day at work how many times have you lit a cigarette, poured yourself a glass or opened the emergency ice-cream in the freezer? When you're placing a lot of stress on your daily life without any mid week breaks, that tension builds and builds until you get to the weekend and desperately feel like you need to release, a little bit like holding in when you need the toilet, at some point you're going to burst. Stress is quickly becoming one of the world's biggest health problems with it contributing towards anxiety, depression and weight gain, so it's pretty clear to see that if we eliminate the stress then the rest will follow? 

Mid week treat yo'self 

Release the tension before it makes you burst. You don't have to save the cake until the weekend. Instead of splurging and having the whole cake at the weekend, have a slice on a Wednesday and you'll be less inclined to blow out later on in the week. There is no rule to say that you can't enjoy yourself during the week, so why save it all for the weekend? By giving yourself that little bit of enjoyment in the middle of the week you're telling yourself that not everything good has to come at the weekend, spread it out and spread the happiness, just don't make the things you know may not be too good for you a regular habit. 

Stop stressing 

If stress is the reason you're bingeing that it's pretty simple how to solve it right? Reduce your stress levels. Now I know this is much easier said than done. you may have a high stress job, or have family/relationship problems that are the root cause of the problem, but there are things you can do to try and help yourself relax. Make sure you take time out for yourself on a daily basis, it's not selfish and you do have time. Do something you enjoy, whether that's reading a magazine, watching a film or doing a bit of meditation, it can be absolutely anything as long as you enjoy it. 

Stay busy 

I find that I snack on rubbish the most when i'm bored, and I can imagine that it's a similar situation for a lot of people. If you spend all weekend doing very little it becomes very easy to keep getting the drinks in or nibbling on packets of crisp, so it may be useful to stay on your toes to avoid this situation. Make plans for the weekend, go for a walk, go shopping but just stay busy, you don't have to spend money to go out and enjoy yourself, just make sure you aren't cooped up in the house all weekend where it's very easy to pop your head into the fridge.