A Drop of Sunshine (Vitamin D)

Vitamin D is the silent hero in our lives. Vitamin D is essential for bone health and it has also been suggested that it may also benefit in protecting us against colds and fighting depression.It can be found in fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna. However, the body receives most (80%-90%) of its vitamin D from exposure to sunlight which is absorbed through your skin.

Sunlight is the best way to get your vitamin D. However, because of the associated risk of skin cancer, there are no official recommendations from Doctors to go outside to catch some rays. A small amount of sun exposure without sunscreen can do the trick. Just 20 to 25 minutes of exposure is helpful. Unfortunately if you live at higher latitudes, its winter, or your skin has a darker pigment, you are unlikely to get your daily needs.

When you can’t get enough sunlight, fatty fish is a great substitute. Common options of fish containing vitamin D include salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel. A 3-ounce sockeye salmon fillet contains about 450 international units (IUs) of vitamin D where 600 IUs is the recommended dietary allowance. A bonus to eating fatty fish is the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Canned tuna fish and canned sardines both contain vitamin D, and usually less expensive than fresh fish. They also have a longer shelf life, allowing you to stock up on vitamin D when they are on sale. Canned light tuna has the most vitamin D at about 150 IUs per 4 ounces. Canned albacore tuna has about 50 IUs per 4 ounces, while canned sardines have a little more than 40 IUs per two sardines.

Most types of cow’s milk sold in grocery stores are fortified with vitamin D. An 8 ounce glass of milk contains at least 100 IUs of vitamin D, while a 6 ounce serving of yogurt contains 80 IUs. You can also choose many orange juice brands that also fortify their juice with vitamin D. An 8 ounce glass of juice usually has around 100 IUs of vitamin D, but amounts can vary from brand to brand, so check the nutritional label.

And when all else fails, vitamin D supplements can help get your proper daily dose. The benefits of vitamin D supplements is you can take your dose all at one time. Too much vitamin D can be toxic so be careful not to consume too much. The IOM sets the upper limit at 4,000 IUs for people aged 9 and older (includes all sources – food, sun, and supplement). Talk to your doctor before choosing a dosage.

Breakfast can also help you get your daily intake of vitamin D. Eggs are a convenient way to get vitamin D. Vitamin D in an egg comes from its yolk, it’s important to use the whole egg, not just the whites. One egg yolk will give you about 40 IUs. But remember, one egg contains about 200 milligrams of cholesterol, and the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 300 milligrams a day for heart health. Many cereals are also fortified with vitamin D, such as Multi Grain Cheerios. A 1 cup serving of Multi Grain Cheerios with one-half cup of fortified milk is about 90 IUs. Add your 8 ounce glass of fortified orange juice and you’re up to almost 200 IUs.

Vitamin D has many uses and is essential for the formation, growth, and repair of bones and for normal calcium absorption and immune function. With the options listed above, you’ll get your daily dose of vitamin D, even if it is the dead of winter.

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Healthy Inside, Healthy Outside

The healthy look of our skin and hair is directly related how healthy we are on the inside. Many of the healthy foods that we eat can also provide excellent benefits to the skin and hair. Diet plays a big role in maintaining healthy skin and hair. Your diet needs to have the proper protein, fats, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals. Foods containing omega 3s are key to healthy skin and hair.

When it comes to the skin, omega 3s in the form of fish oil or flax oil can help maintain its good healthy state. One of the major concerns in skin is aging. Wrinkles tend to appear in the face as we age. Omega 3 increases the level of essential fatty acids in the body that helps in the prevention of wrinkle formation. Without these fatty acids, the skin may turn dull and eventually lead to eczema or psoriasis. Taking in enough of these vital supplements can help maintain healthy skin thus helping to prevent many negative skin conditions.

When it comes to hair, omega 3s can also prevent many problems. This fatty acid can help prevent and even reverse hair loss which is one challenge that most do not want to experience. The fatty acids can also prevent the inflammation of the hair follicles or what is better known as folliculitis. Dandruff can also be largely prevented with a diet that includes the omega oils. An added benefit is that is also makes the hair shinier and keeps it more moisturized.

Foods rich in vitamins such as vitamins A, B, C, D, and E aid in keeping your skin healthy. Vitamin A foods include dairy products, eggs, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, melon and papaya will help with healthy blood circulation and give your skin healthy glow.

The vitamin B family is very important in skin health. B1 aids in circulation while B2 can stop the formation of liver spots and B6 will improve eczema. Foods rich in vitamin B include green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grain cereals, meat and liver.

Rich vitamin C foods such as broccoli, green peppers, tomatoes, lemons, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, potatoes, cherries, black currents and grapes works in conjunction with protein for the production of collagen which helps keep your skin from sagging and wrinkling as well as essential for healthy hair. It will strengthen the capillaries so that your skin has a nice even tone and will reduce dryness. Vitamin E is helpful to prevent wrinkles and premature aging. Whole wheat breads, milk, asparagus, broccoli, egg yolks, olives, nuts and leafy green vegetables are all great sources of vitamin E. Avocado is truly a super food for the skin. It is packed with oil and high levels of vitamin E both which are essential for soft skin and shiny hair. Avocado oil is also gentle enough to use with eczema without causing any skin irritations.

In creating diets for healthy skin make sure that you eat a variety of foods so that you get all the nutrients you need. A diet for healthy skin and hair is also a diet for healthy organs and an overall diet for health which will not only keep you young and healthy on the outside but also on the inside too.

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Frozen Vs Fresh

We all know how important it is to include vegetables in our daily food intake. Is there a difference between fresh and frozen vegetables? Fresh vegetables are always a great choice, but frozen veggies are a great way to add vegetables to your meal when fresh just isn’t an option.Frozen vegetables can be a great way to add veggies to your meal, especially if you don’t have fresh vegetables on hand. A main advantage of using frozen items is the fact that you don’t have to worry about the foods spoiling in the fridge. Frozen ingredients will keep longer than fresh refrigerated foods, and the freezing process does not deplete the nutrition very much.

Also, fresh vegetables may not actually be as fresh as we think. By the time you bring some of these fresh vegetables home they have already lost a good deal of the vitamins that they once had. In order to reach your grocery store, many fresh vegetables have in fact spent a considerable amount of time in transit as well as time on the supermarket shelf. In reality true fresh vegetables would be those that you plant in your own garden or buy direct from the farmer. If you prepare these on the same day that you buy them then you would receive the maximum nutritional value.

Frozen vegetables are easy to keep on hand and inexpensive to purchase. A bag of frozen veggies can be stored in your freezer for long periods of time and can be a quick ingredient to add to any meal with ease. Frozen vegetables are more easily and cheaply available all year round unlike their fresh counterparts. Fresh produce may be limited and/or more expensive. Some vegetables are difficult to get in some areas or on a seasonal basis. Frozen vegetables can make these difficult-to-find fresh vegetables available when they otherwise may not be. This also gives more variety to your diet making eating healthier a tastier task. Frozen vegetables will remain consistent in both quality and price. This is great if you live in a place that is difficult to get around in the winter with icy road and or long distance driving.

Buying frozen will not only save you some money, but time as well. A bag of frozen carrots will only involve cooking them by steaming, microwaving or boiling them for a short period of time. It becomes fast and easy to add vegetables to your meal and may encourage you to add more vegetables to your meals rather than skipping them all together for convenience. Fresh carrots require you to peel, clean, cut/dice and then cook. Cooking time will also be a bit longer for fresh vegetables.

To keep the most amount of nutrition in the frozen vegetable, they must be prepared carefully. Over boiling is one of the most common mistakes that can actually occur with fresh or frozen. Also, ensure when you are purchasing frozen vegetables that the listed ingredients are only the vegetable itself.

Stock up on vegetables, buying frozen will last longer and will be one less thing you have to buy on a regular basis. The ease and convenience of frozen vegetables will make eating healthier more enticing. There tends to be an attitude that the fresh vegetables in the store aisle are better, but frozen vegetables are healthy, can provide more variety and are convenient for those with busy schedules. Don’t skip out on your daily veggie intake when they can be so easy to add to your meals.

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Nuts – I Love Nuts

Nuts may be small, but they are packed full of nutrition. Most nuts are filled with heart-friendly fats, vitamins, proteins and minerals. Good things do come in small packages. Almonds
Almonds are a favourite among most nut eaters. They are rich in calcium and are one of the lowest-calorie nuts. An ounce (30g) of almonds has about 6 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat. Apart from that, they are also rich in vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Antioxidants that are present in almonds help fight inflammation, lung cancer and cognitive decline associated with aging. Almonds remove ‘bad’ cholesterol from the body and help clean up the colon. The natural oils and rich fiber content in these nuts nourish the lining of our digestive tract.

Each pistachio nut has only 3 calories. These nuts have lutein and zeaxanthin, which are relatives of beta-carotene. These components may help in reducing the risk with macular degeneration associated with aging.

Pecans are rich in beta-sitosterol. This plant steroid is found to relieve symptoms associated with BPH (enlarged prostate). They contain high levels of anti-oxidants that help reduce unhealthy oxidation of LDL cholesterol in blood, helping us fight heart disease. An ounce (30g) of pecan has about 200 calories of energy and contains 3 grams of protein and 21 grams of fat. Recent studies have shown that pecans have the capacity to lower one’s bad cholesterol and promote heart health. They are rich in vitamin E, calcium, folic acid, magnesium, zinc and fiber.

Walnuts are sort of a super food. The anti-inflammatory benefits of consuming walnuts are particularly helpful for people suffering from arthritis and asthma. Walnuts are a source of ‘good’ cholesterol rich in ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that protects the heart and reduces bone breakdown. The ellagic acid present in these nuts is known for its cancer fighting character.

Hazelnuts contain a type of vitamin B that helps prevent heart disease, certain cancers, birth defects and Alzheimer’s disease. These nuts contain an amino acid known as arginine and magnesium which relaxes the blood vessels and eases out blood pressure. Hazelnuts are particularly good for dieters as they taste like a treat and keep them filled for longer.

Cashews have less fat than most nuts. They are rich in anti-oxidants that are heart friendly, containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in doses almost equal to what is found in some fish. Cashews are rich in copper, iron, zinc and magnesium. They keep your energy level at a high no matter what activity you are doing.

Nuts make for great snacks, but because they are rich in calories, it is important to know how much you are eating and control your portions. Nuts contain vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and anti-oxidants all of which are important in a healthy lifestyle. The fat and fiber content in nuts make them very filling and satisfying. Replace your chips, cookies, donuts and other high calorie snacks with nuts, the better alternative snack food. Eating nuts help contribute to good health.

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The Best Supplements to Enhance Your Fitness and Health

There are hundreds of supplements available on the market that make promises of being the best supplements for fitness and health. Aside from the fact that many don’t live up to their claims, consumers also have to sort through the flurry of information on each of them in order to conclude which will actually benefit them. Depending on what you are trying to accomplish, this task can be challenging as not all products are created equal and many are tailored to produce specific results. The first thing that should be considered when choosing a supplement is gender. Men and women’s bodies are vastly different in genetic make-up and thus will respond to products differently. Typically the fitness goals of men will differ from women’s and this too will impact which supplements will work for them as opposed to women.

For Men


Whether male or female, one supplement that should be incorporated into any fitness regime is a multivitamin. The key here is to choose a multivitamin that is tailored for men’s bodies and that means choosing one that has an elevated amount of iron and calcium. Iron and calcium are essential when building muscle mass and bone density and they are also helpful in fighting off heart disease.

Choose a vitamin that has as many vitamins and nutrients as possible but don’t choose one that promises more than 100% nutritional value as these are gimmicky, more expensive and won’t provide any additional benefits.


Rarely do people take in as much protein as they need, even when they think they do. Protein tablets are important in any fitness regime because it not only benefits muscles but it also helps to keep you full longer so you won’t snack in between meals. If possible choose a protein that is in powder form because it will dissolve quicker than a pill or capsule and they also have an abundance of amino acids which helps with muscle injury recovery and will strengthen muscles quicker. Choose a soy or whey based protein power.


Creatine is a dream come true for men who are looking to build muscle mass quickly and research shows that it will assist in muscle building and healing the fibers within muscles caused by long, excessive workouts. Most nutritionists recommend three to six grams per day after each workout and you can increase that amount up to twenty grams within a reasonable amount of time.

Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements are loaded with omega 3’s and has a long history of helping the body fight off heart disease. They also have a ton of anti-inflammatory components which will assist your joints in their flexibility, help to decrease muscle aches and inflammation and help muscles heal faster.

These fatty acids are found in lean fish such as salmon and tuna as well as some nuts. If your diet already has a steady stream of these foods, you may not need an additional supplement, but few people get the recommended dose which is 300 to 1200 mg per day.

For Women


Women also need a multivitamin as it will replace or offer any nutritional deficiencies that you may have and be lacking from your diet. As with men, choose one that has no more 100% nutritional value but make sure that it includes a decent amount of vitamin C and D as well as folic acid and magnesium as these are the vitamins most women are lacking in and can ward off heart disease, osteoporosis and illnesses like dementia.

Flax Seed

This is a great supplement for men as well as women but it is often chosen more by women because of the low cost and because it boasts of improving mental acuity; something that is very attractive to busy women with a lot on their plate. Flax Seed has many properties that earns it a place as a top contender for health and fitness. These include helping to lubricate joints and muscles which improves flexibility and decreases the risk of injuries, as well as metabolism boosting qualities for those looking to shed a few pounds. Flax seed has also been known to thwart heart illness and improve cardiovascular health because it contains fatty acids.


Although most people think about bones when speaking of calcium, many new studies are showing positive results regarding calcium and weight loss, something many women contend with. It is now thought that calcium not only strengthens bones, but it also helps break down some of the fatty foods we eat and assists them in passing through the body easily, thereby increasing weight loss.

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OK, Vitamin K!

Cauliflower:  A great source of Vitamin KVitamin K plays an important role in the function of the body. It is a key player in blood flow and clotting. If you are deficient in Vitamin K when you are cut or injured your blood will not clot as easily. Some scientists and researchers also think that Vitamin K is important for maintaining your bone health–especially as you age. The best way to ensure you’re getting enough of this hardworking vitamin is through food sources. However, if you are still unable to fill the body with enough Vitamin K you should speak with your doctor about the available Vitamin K supplements.

There are thirteen different vitamins that your body needs to survive. Of these thirteen, four are fat-soluble and the rest are water-soluble. If the vitamin is water-soluble, it dissolves quickly and exits the body. Therefore, water-soluble vitamins must be consumed daily in order to keep your levels normal. However, if a vitamin is fat-soluble, it does not exit the body but is instead stored in your fat to be used at a later time. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is not crucial for you to consume it every day. However, it is important for you to keep a careful eye on your levels of Vitamin K in the body in order to make sure that you are not becoming Vitamin K deficient. If this occurs, a vitamin supplement may be necessary.

Vitamin K is found in a variety of foods. It is also produced in the body by the bacteria found in the lining of your gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, your body helps regulate its own Vitamin K levels. As for foods that contain Vitamin K, you will more than likely get enough if you simply eat a healthy, balanced diet. Some foods that are especially high in Vitamin K include vegetables like cabbage, spinach and other leafy greens, soybeans, and cauliflower.

If you do not get enough Vitamin K in your diet, it is important to talk to your doctor about taking supplements. Signs of Vitamin K deficiency include easy bruising and bleeding. Extreme Vitamin K deficiency is very rare, but when it does occur it is usually due to a problem in the intestinal tract. Instead of absorbing Vitamin K like normal, the body simply allows the vitamin to pass through with the waste. In this case, vitamin supplements are necessary. However, because this is a fat-soluble vitamin, you should take vitamin supplements for Vitamin K under medical supervision. There may be another underlying condition that is affecting your vitamin absorption and must be looked into further by a medical professional.

Whether through diet or vitamin supplements it’s important to include Vitamin K in your diet along with all the other vitamins and minerals that are needed for a healthy, functioning body.

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Photo Credit:

Cauliflower at Farmer’s Market