I inspected the houseplants the other day and what a sorry, dried-up mess they were. I’m surprised any survived. After all, they were rarely watered, and sat behind blinds keeping out the hot sun much of the summer.
Deprived of sunlight and liquids, the rest of us don’t thrive either.
Statistics Canada studies have found about two out of three Canadians suffer from low vitamin D. The reasons vary. Many of us aren’t exposed to the sun often enough, and we don’t eat enough vitamin D-rich foods. Those with darkly pigmented skin don’t produce the “sunshine vitamin” in their skin so readily, nor do most adults over age 50. Health Canada recommends adults over 50 take a supplement of 400 IU/day.
Vitamin D has long been known for its role keeping bones and teeth healthy. Ongoing research says the benefits may also include fighting infections, reducing risks for heart disease and even preventing diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some types of cancers (especially colorectal cancer).
Dietitians say most of us can get enough vitamin D if we eat enough vitamin D-rich foods (even if we’re using sunscreen and wearing hats).
More frequent watering wouldn’t hurt the lot of us either. The exact amount of fluid needed depends on our age, gender and level of activity, but generally men should consume about 12 cups of liquid a day and women nine. Signs we aren’t drinking enough can range from dry lips and mouth to increased heart rate and low blood pressure. That headache or general crankiness we think is from stress may be from dehydration too.
Not every bird flies south, and most of us aren’t going to spend winter in a sunny spot sipping fruity drinks. Don’t end up like my houseplants. Here’s a few tips for staying healthy and well watered during the drier, darker months ahead.
How much D a day?
Most people can get enough vitamin D if they eat enough vitamin D-rich foods, even if they protect themselves from the sun by using sunscreen and wearing a hat, but Canada’s Food Guide now recommends specific supplements for women who may become pregnant or are breastfeeding, adults over 50 and those who smoke or are on restricted diets.
Only egg yolks and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna, naturally contain substantial amounts of vitamin D. Cow’s milk, infant formula, and margarine have added vitamin D as required by the Canadian government. Other common food sources include yogurt and cheese made with vitamin D-fortified milk. Goat’s milk, plant-based beverages and some orange juices may also have vitamin D added.
Check out the Nutrition Facts table on food labels to see if a packaged food has vitamin D. A food has a lot of vitamin D if it has at least 15 per cent Daily Value (DV) for vitamin D per serving.
How much is too much?
The total daily intake from food and supplements combined should not exceed:1,000 IU for infants zero to six months;1,500 IU for infants seven to 12 months;2,500 IU for children one to three years;3,000 IU for children four to eight years;4,000 IU for children over nine years of age and adults (including pregnant or lactating women).
Take a sip — often
Drink a glass of water in the morning or before going to bed, keep water nearby where you work, and drink a glass of water before each meal. Make sure you have a drink with each meal, such as a glass of low-fat milk, soy beverage or water.
What’s the best source?
Fluids include water and other beverages such as milk, juice, coffee and tea. Water is one of the best fluid choices, but it is a myth that you need eight cups a day to stay healthy. Coffees and teas are not dehydrating. Limit caffeine to about 400 mg per day. That is equal to three cups of black coffee or four cups of black tea per day.
Why is it important?
Fluids help control body temperature, aid digestion, circulate nutrients through the body, and cushion organs and joints. Our bodies lose water by sweating, breathing and eliminating waste. If you lose more fluid than you take in, you can get dehydrated.
Watch out for…
Signs and symptoms of mild dehydration are: thirst, dry lips and mouth, flushed skin, tiredness, irritability, headache, dizziness, fainting, low blood pressure, increased heart rate and dark strong-smelling urine.
Soups are great ways to get more fluids and this easy-to-make one is also chock full of healthy ingredients including vitamin D. Salmon is also rich in heart-healthy, disease-fighting omega-3s.
- 1 tbsp. butter1/2 c. chopped onion1 garlic clove, minced1/4 tsp. dried thyme1/4 tsp. dried basil1 can (10 oz./284 ml) condensed chicken broth1 c. peeled, diced potatoes1/2 c. corn (niblets)1/2 c. diced zucchini1/2 c. diced carrots2 c. milk8 oz. uncooked salmon filet, cut in small chunks1/2 c. grated Canadian cheddar cheese
In heavy saucepan, sauté onions, garlic and herbs in butter five minutes until still transparent. Add broth and all vegetables. Simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are cooked 15 to 20 minutes. Add milk and salmon. Simmer, until salmon is opaque, five to seven minutes. Do not boil. Season to taste. Divide into 4 bowls, sprinkle with cheese and enjoy.
Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes. Yields: 4 servings.