‘Pie hole’, colloquial for one’s mouth, is believed to have evolved in the USA in the 1980s from the British expression ‘cake hole’ (coined in the mid 20th century). Pie hole refers to a mouth, as in: Shut your pie hole or, in this case: Put less in your pie hole.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Prevent Brain Decay with Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin, was recently implicated in the development of Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia. So here's an article about how a sunny day (and some diet adjustments) can help keep dementia away.

First off, in case you're asking 'who cares', here's why you should give two hoots about vitamin D:
  • It helps your gut absorb calcium
  • Calcium and vitamin D are your body's Batman and Robin superhero tag-team that keep your bones strong, healthy and osteoporosis-free
  • Vitamin D is involved in cell growth, reducing inflammation and has important immune functions (more on this shortly)
Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Factors like season, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, smog, skin melanin content, and sunscreen affect the body's ability to synthesise vitamin D.
Because vitamin D is fat soluble and stored in both the liver and fat tissue, the amount accumulated in sunny times is often enough to see us through the dark months...when the sun don't shine.

A new study looked at 1,5000 adults and found those who were moderately vitamin D deficient were 53% more likely to develop dementia. This risk increased to 125% in those who were severely deficient. I hear your internal struggle: Vitamin D... Dementia, I don't get it.

Vitamin D is well known for it's part in bone health, but most people don't know just how important it is in the immune system. Vitamin D is involved with clearing a class of proteins called beta-amyloid from the brain. When these are not eliminated, amyloid plaques form between neurons in the brain, and are a hallmark in people with dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.

Before you self-diagnose and stock up on a mega dose supplement of vitamin D, too much is problematic too, unless you like heart arrhythmias. Excess vitamin D also increases the calcium in your blood, which results in the calcification of blood vessels, the heart and kidneys... About as fun as walking into an electrocution chamber.

Instead, here are some foods that are good sources of vitamin D:
  • Cod liver oil (wait, it gets better)
  • Certain seafood like salmon, swordfish, tuna and sardines
  • Vitamin D-fortified foods like milk, OJ and yoghurt
  • Eggs (specifically the yolk)
It is difficult to give general recommendations for time spent in the sun due to variables like skin colour, time of year, cloud cover, air pollution, etc. It is also prudent to limit sun exposure, unless you're into skin cancers or looking like a leather bag.

In the end, the best offense is a good D (defense). Think: smart sun exposure and a side of vitamin D-rich foods.

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