P is for performance, pizazz and Pieorgies

I am a Pittsburgh girl and pierogis and if you live in this city, you love pierogies. Hey, we are the only MLB team that has pierogis that run the bases! So to gear up for National Pierogi day on October 8th, why not try some of Mrs. T’s pierogi recipes.

I prepared the following three recipes and I have to say they were a home run, touchdown and GOALLLLL!

The first is Buffalo Pierogies. Sure, everyone loves Buffalo wings, but they are often deep fried and very high in saturated fat. So, why not prepare Pierogies with the same flavor?

Here you go

BUFFALO MINI PIEROGIES

1 box Mini Four cheese medley Mrs. T’s pierogies
non stick cooking spray
½ stick butter, melted
½ cup Buffalo wing sauce
½ teaspoon chili powder

Mix 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ packet ranch dressing dip mix and add in 1 TBSP blue cheese crumbles

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine melted butter, Buffalo wing sauce, and chili powder and toss with pierogies.

Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and spread pierogies evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until pierogies are browned, For best results, turn over halfway through baking.

Serve with dip and carrot and celery sticks for 1 stop shopping: carbs, protein and produce on your plate!

YIELD: 5 servings

Instead of the same old pizza, how about a new twist? Pierogies as the base topped with your favorite pizza toppings. The new Five Cheese Pizza pierogies provide a flavor to savor. I love that this recipe is so easy, so tasty not heavy and not greasy!

PIEROGY PIZZA

1 16 oz box Mrs T’s Five Cheese Pizza  pierogies
½ cup pizza sauce
¼ cup sliced turkey pepperoni
½ cup shredded mozzarella
Chopped green peppers, mushrooms. Sliced olives, and onions.

DIRECTIONS:

Boil pierogies as directed on the box. Drain. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 10-12 inch pizza pan. Arrange 2 pierogies in the center of the pizza pan, with straight slides slightly overlapping. Arrange the remaining pierogies around the center pierogies in a concentric circle, slightly overlapping, pressing pierogies together to form a complete circl.e

Spread pizza sauce over the pierogies to cover. Top with peppers, onions, mushrooms, sliced olives and turkey pepperoni. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and pieorgies are heated through. Cut into wedges to serve.

YIELD: 4 servings

Certainly pierogies sautéed in butter are just heavenly, but if you are looking to lighten up without sacrificing taste, this recipe is for you.

OVEN BAKED PIEROGIES

1 box Mini Four cheese medley pierogies
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 TBSP dried basil
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 TBSP paprika
salt and pepper to taste
3 eggs, beaten
non stick cooking spray
Marinara sauce and ranch dressing.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat ovent to 425 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet with non stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parsley, basil, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. In another bowl, beat the eggs.

One by one, coat each pierogi with egg, and then in the breadcrumbs. Make sure they are fully coated. Lay pierogies flat on the greased baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with marinara sauce and a light Ranch dip made with plain Greek yogurt and ranch dressing dip mix.

YIELD: 5 servings

Get Your POM On

If you are a football fan, you know that sometimes your team makes you cheer or end up in tears. But you can always score with your pour. POM wonderful delivers the perfect combo of sweet and tart as well as health benefits, to give your body a smart start. Pomegranates are high in antioxidants to help fight off disease and keep the body healthy. Pomegranate juice is a good source of potassium, a mineral that most of us fall short on every day. Plus there is no added sugar making POM Wonderful a better choice than sugar sweetened beverages.

POM SPRITZERS

Fill a glass halfway with POM Wonderful’s 100% pomegranate juice and then fill the rest of the way with a lime or orange seltzer water. Squeeze in a little fresh lime or orange and enjoy. Cheers!

IF BBQ is on your menu, try these chicken  sliders that use POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice in the marinade.

SOUTHWESTERN POM WONDERFUL PULLED CHICKEN SANDWICH

½ cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons canola oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp chili powder
¾ tsp salt or sea salt
¾ tsp black pepper, freshly ground if desired
4 whole grain sandwich rolls
1 cup coleslaw mix
¼ cup fresh cilantro sprigs

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and onion and sauté until both are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the pomegranate juice, chili powder, salt, and pepper, cover and cook over medium heat until the chicken is well-done, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from the heat.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and slice thinly. Return the chicken to the pan and cook with the onion and juices for another 3 minutes until the juice is absorbed.

Place a spoonful of chicken on ½ of the bun, top with coleslaw mix and cilantro.

YIELD: 4 servings

Get on the Right track with Your Snack!

Oh what a wonderful morning, afternoon or evening when Wonderful Pistachios are in the house. Full of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats as well as protein and fiber make them a nutrition powerhouse that deliver on health and flavor. Plus., they make keep you fuller longer than other snacks and 49 pistachios is a nice serving size. As an added bonus pistachios in the shell mean you have to work harder to crack your snack!

I love them as they are, But also in recipes. Here are two recipes with pistachios, a pesto and hummus.

PISTACHIO PESTO PASTA SALAD

Pistachios replace the pine nuts and the lemon adds a lovely flavor to this delicious dish.

INGREDIENTS

1/8 cup Wonderful Pistachios,. shelled
2 cups basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp grated lemon peel
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Add Wonderful pistachios. Basil, garlic, lemon juice, zest and Parmesan cheese to a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.

Stream olive oil through the food chute and puree until smooth.

Boil 4 quarts of water and add a box of pasta shells. Cook until done. Drain and toss with ¾ of the pesto. Add sliced grape tomatoes and mozzarella pearls.

YIELD: 8 servings

PISTACHIO HUMMUS

Instead of the tahini, ground pistachios add a lovely nutty flavor to hummus.

INGREDIENTS

2, 15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans, drain half of the liquid and use the rest
3 TBSP pistachios, shelled
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a food processor, blend together the pistachios and olive oil until smooth, add garbanzo beans with half of the liquid and the garlic. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Blend until smooth.

Serve with cut up vegetables

YIELD: 8 servings

A Snackdown That Stacks Up

When we hear the word “snack” we think fast, indulgent, delicious but not necessarily nutritious. The beauty of dairy is the versatility, simplicity and delivery of nutritional pow with a taste that wows. When time is short and hunger levels are high, dairy can be your go to and go with. Dairy foods are a complement to fruits, vegetables and whole grains to take snacking from ho hum to yum! Dairy snacks are tasty, versatile, easy and budget friendly.

SO WHY DAIRY?

Dairy is all about simplicity. A short list of ingredients that are long on flavor and nutritional benefits. Milk provides 9 essential nutrients, Yogurt provides 7 essential nutrients and cheese provides 6 essential nutrients that help your snacks to nutritionally stack up.

EASE OF USE

Dairy foods are ready to eat. They are great stand alone or combined with other foods such as a glass of low-fat chocolate milk and a banana with peanut butter.

CHOCOLATE MILK AND BANANA WITH PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH

Pour an 8-ounce glass of low-fat chocolate milk
Slice a small banana in half lengthwise and then cut each slice in half to have four pieces.
Spread 1 Tablespoon peanut over the 4 pieces.
Press 2 pieces together for a banana sandwich.

YIELD: 1 glass milk and 2 “sandwiches”

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 334
Fat: 10.8 grams
Carbohydrate: 54.8 grams
Sugar: 37.7 grams
Fiber: 3.6 grams
Protein: 12.6 grams
Calcium: 312.2 milligrams
Potassium: 895.2 milligrams

Plain low-fat Greek yogurt flavored with taco seasoning, onion soup mix or vegetable soup mix makes a high protein dip. Cottage cheese can be enjoyed as is, combined with fruit, or mixed with salsa. Cheese pairs beautifully with fruit, works as a tortilla topper or adds the show stopping topping to mini pizzas.

PROTEIN

Dairy foods are a great source of protein, which helps to make us feel fuller for longer. Many snack foods can be long on carbs but short on protein. A small dish of cottage cheese with applesauce and cereal is an easy protein–rich snack parfait. Yogurt is a ready to eat treat and an easy snack, but for a hack try plain Greek yogurt and add your own seasonings to taste such as cumin, chili powder, dill , garlic or onion powder and a little salt and use as a dip for bean chips and vegetables.

GREEK YOGURT DIP

5-ounce container nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/3 packet Taco seasoning- or add your own herbs and spices if you want to lower the sodium content

Mix together and serve with cut up vegetables. If you want to use chips. Keep the portion to 1 ounce of chips.

YIELD: 1 serving

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 252
Fat: 7.1 grams
Carbohydrate: 29.9 grams
Sugars: 6.9 grams
Fiber: 5 grams
Protein: 19.5 grams
Calcium: 193.2 milligrams
Potassium: 487.1 milligrams

Dairy adds the creaminess and texture to a recipe. Oatmeal is not just a breakfast food, but is wonderful as a snack, and when combined with low fat vanilla Greek yogurt and pumpkin makes for a satisfying and tasty snack.

PUMPKIN OATS

1/3 cup oats, dry
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1.5 teaspoons maple syrup
1/2 TBSP chopped prunes
1/2 TBSP chopped walnuts

Mix together oats, pumpkin, yogurt, spice, and maple syrup. Eat right away or refrigerate and eat later. When ready to eat, top with prunes and walnuts.

YIELD: 1 serving

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 285
Fat: 6.8 grams
Carbohydrate: 45.6 grams
Sugar: 19.8 grams
Fiber: 5.9 grams
Protein: 13.6 grams
Calcium: 131.7 milligrams
Potassium: 483.2 milligrams

VERSATILITY

The versatility of milk is that it can be consumed in a glass, or added to smoothies with fruit, or in a bowl of cereal for a quick snack that keeps your nutrition on track.

CHEESE PLEASE

Cheese is a food that some people may limit due to the calories and fat. The good news is that there are several varieties of lower-fat cheese, but also several forms of full fat cheese to cut the fat and calories. Try cheese and fruit kebabs for a savory and sweet snack option. Alternate cubes of cheese with sliced fruit on toothpicks.

CHEESE AND FRUIT SKEWERS

8 cheese cubes (% fat of choice)
4 strawberry halves
4 chunks of pineapple
Alternate cheese and fruit on skewers

SERVING SIZE: 3 skewers

NUTRITION FACTS
Calories: 147
Fat: 10 grams
Carbohydrate: 6.5 grams
Fiber: 0.9 grams
Sugar: 4.8 grams
Protein: 8.4 grams
Calcium: 203.5 milligrams
Potassium: 103.6 milligrams

How about a mini caprese snack pizza? Mini fresh mozzarella balls with tomato on a whole wheat sandwich thins with pesto makes for a delicious and satisfying snack.

MINI CAPRESE FLATBREAD

1 whole grain sandwich thin
1.5 teaspoons pesto
4 cherry tomatoes. Sliced
2 fresh mozzarella mini rounds, or 3 to a package, – if you use the round- slice into 4 slices or if you use the 3 to a package, slice in half to yield 6 small slices

Open the sandwich thin and lay flat. Spoon and spread ¾ teaspoon pesto on each half. Arrange slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella.

SERVING SIZE: 2 halves

NUTRITIONAL FACTS
Calories: 289
Fat: 13.65 grams
Carbohydrate: 27.75 grams
Fiber: 5.15 grams
Sugar: 1.75 grams
Protein: 14.4 grams
Calcium: 122.5 milligrams
Potassium: 230 milligrams

Cheese can add the protein to salsa. Mix ¼ cup shredded low-fat Cheddar in ½ cup salsa and serve with vegetables for a flavor-rich, nutrient dense snack.

LESS WASTE

Dairy can be a great way to reuse, repurpose and renew your snacks. Add the leftover cereal crumbs to cottage cheese or yogurt. Use up that brown banana by mixing with milk in a smoothie. Sprinkle the last of the cheese onto a tortilla and top with salsa. Turn leftover oats into something dreamy by adding a little bit of creamy Greek yogurt.

Dairy ups your nutrition score in your pour, bowl or on your plate with variety, satiety and a taste that is just great! For more simple dairy snacks and inspiration, check out UndeniablyDairy.org.

This post is created by Leslie Bonci, registered dietitian as part of the Undeniably Dairy campaign, sponsored by the Innovation Center for US Dairy and America’s Dairy Farm Families and Importers. I would like to express my gratitude to the farmers and processors who make sure that their dairy products deliver on quality, consistency, and simplicity.

Noodle Prudding

Food is comfort. This tasty combo of noodles, dairy and prunes makes me remember my grandmother, Nana Polly.  Sweet, creamy, crunchy deliciousness. Like a fleece blanket for the tummy- cozy on up and enjoy

½ pound fine egg noodles
2 TBSP melted butter
1 cup plain Greek yogurt, low-fat
1 cup small curd cottage cheese, low-fat
3 eggs,
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup prune puree
½ cup 2% milk
½ cup diced prunes

PRUNE PUREE
2/3 cup pitted prunes
3 TBSP hot water
Puree in blender or food processor until smooth

TOPPING
½ cup chopped slivered almonds
¼ tsp sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
Mix together in a small bowl and set aside.

DIRECTIONS
Boil 3 cups of fine noodles, dry in 2 quarts boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until done. Drain and set aside.

In a blender or food processor, blend the eggs, Greek yogurt, Cottage cheese, prune puree, melted butter, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth. Stir in the prune pieces.

Stir the noodles into the egg mixture and pour into a buttered 9 x 13 pan.  Sprinkle on the almond topping.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

YIELD: 12 servings
Per serving
Calories: 226
Fat: 7.3 grams
Carbohydrate: 33.3 grams
Fiber: 2.2 grams
Sugar: 13.2 grams
Protein: 10 grams

California Pruschetta

A new take on bruschetta bringing the smoky, creamy, chewy and crunchy taste delights in a few delicious bites.

Bean dip
1, 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 TBSP olive oil
dash of cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon smoked salt
1/8 tsp sea salt
8 whole pitted prunes

To TOP BRUSCHETTA
12 pitted prunes, sliced in half
12 walnut halves
Sea salt

Bean dip
Blend all ingredients until smooth in a blender or food processor.

Bruschetta- thinly slice a small multi grain baguette into ½-inch thick slices.
Lightly brush with 1 Tablespoon  olive oil and toast until lightly brown. Remove from oven.

Roast/toast walnuts and sea salt about 5 minutes in the oven

ASSEMBLY
Spread each slice of bread with 1 TBSP bean dip
Parenthesize each walnut half with the prune halves.

YIELD: 12- 2/serving= 6 servings

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
Per serving: 2 pieces of bruschetta
Calories:226
Fat: 6.6 grams
Carbohydrate: 37.6 grams
Fiber: 6.7 grams
Sugar: 6.8 grams
Protein: 8.18 grams

Black Bean Dip

For an easy, tasty, nutrient filled alternative to high fat dips, give this one a try. Not only does it deliver on flavor, but you get a double dose of veggies with the beans and salsa as well as double protein from the Greek yogurt and the beans. And if you use bean chips and/or veggies for dippers you are an A-lister when it comes to eating well.

Ingredients
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 5 ounce container plain non fat Greek yogurt
½ cup medium spicy chunky salsa
½ packet Taco seasoning mix

Pour all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. If you don’t have a blender, mash the beans and then add other ingredients and mix well. Serve with tortilla chips and/or vegetables

Prep time: under 5 minutes
Yield: 3, ½ cup servings

Per serving: Bean dip + 1 serving of tortilla chips or with a cup of vegetables
Calories: 221-321
Carbs: 35-55 grams (62%)
Protein: 15 grams (19%)
Fat: 6.5 (18%)

A MALE MEAL – The NUTRITION STEAL FOR FATHER’S DAY

Ever notice that that words male and meal are almost the same. For all the new dads, experienced dads, brothers, uncles and granddads in your lives I want to serve up some sane, helpful and healthful advice for Father’s Day.

Volume is not usually the problem, but the contribution of nutrients and distribution of eating over the day may not be the most protective and preventive. The “check” look of the day- little throughout breakfast to afternoon and then shoveling food in from dinner on may actually increase the risk of heart attack and stroke as well as increasing blood fats ( triglycerides) and blood glucose not to mention the indigestion that may accompany mass quantities of food followed by a chaser of a snooze on the couch.

Many men ( and women) consume a diet that falls short of the necessary nutrients. In particular: the vitamins A,D,E.C, and folate; the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. Getting creative with produce on the plate, in the bowl and the glass can help dads go to the top of the nutrition class. Here are some stealthy strategies to healthy up the meals on Father’s Day.

Color it:
If Dad’s breakfast is typically bacon and eggs- it’s time to take it to the next level. How about a spinach, pepper, broccoli, avocado, red onion omelet with a side of sweet potato home fries, a whole wheat English muffin and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. This meal provides Vitamins E, A, C, folate, magnesium, potassium and fiber.

Dip it:
Dads love to dip, but it is time to think beyond queso and tortilla chips. Enter the macho nacho: black bean tortilla chips, with salsa, black beans, jalapenos, and plain Greek yogurt flavored with taco seasoning. Or you can make your own black bean dip with a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt, ½ cup of salsa, and taco seasoning and serve with tortilla chips. Either way, dad gets fiber, calcium, potassium, folate and magnesium.

Grill it: Let’s add some thrill to the grill with taste and substance.
To tenderize that steak, burger or chicken, the necessary ingredient is acid, not oil. There are some wonderful flavored vinegars- smoky bacon, hickory smoke to add the taste without widening the waist. Rubs also provide flavor as do any combo of herbs. The grill is also not just meant for meat. Veggie kebabs, Portobello mushrooms, grilled corn, add the produce to the plate and also taste great. Grilled broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, Brussel sprouts are amazing. And how about grilled pineapple or grilled watermelon to add some sweet and tart to the plate.
And let’s not forget about the art of the blend: Instead of a 100% beef or turkey burger, try a blend of 1 pound extra lean ground beef and ½ pound of finely chopped mushrooms to add flavor, Vitamin D and selenium.

Sip it:
It’s time to rethink the drink. Calories from alcohol, sweet tea, flavored coffee drinks and soda add up quickly. So here are some ways to score with the pour. Brew green tea and add chopped pineapple and mint. Tomato or Vegetable juice with a splash of Tabasco puts the produce in the glass. What about lickers instead of liquors? Think about popsicles made with pureed cantaloupe and added blueberries, or frozen iced coffee, or coconut water, pineapple and bananas as a way to find relief from the heat with a frozen treat. And the fact that these are booze free makes them lower in calories.

So when it comes to feeding dad on his special day , raise the bar to create a meal that is a great taste and health deal.

CRAZY CRUNCHY CAPRESE

I hear caprese and I come running. The perfect marriage of tomato, herbs and cheese BUT with a flavor twist. Adding the watermelon sweetens the taste and capitalizes on summer’s bounty, mixing in parsley brings a little zip in the herb snips, the Parmesan crisps bring the savory and add crunch to this lunch, and the sweet/tart of the balsamic with the citrus sensation of the Blood orange olive oil make this a taste delight.

CRAZY CRUNCHY CAPRESE

2 cups sliced assorted cherry tomatoes ( red, purple, orange, yellow)
2 cups sliced watermelon- in small chunks
2 TBSP minced fresh parsley
2 TBSP minced fresh basil
1 cup fresh mozzarella “pearls”
¼ cup crushed Parmesan crisps
Drizzle with flavored balsamic ( I use pomegranate balsamic)
Drizzle with flavored olive oil ( I use blood orange olive oil)

Mix together tomatoes, watermelon, parsley, basil and mozzarella pearls, sprinkle on the Parmesan crisps and drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil to taste

YIELD: 4 ½ cup servings
PER SERVING
Calories: 201
Fat: 12 grams
Saturated fat: 7 grams
Protein: 13 grams
Carbohydrate: 8.65 grams
Fiber: 1.2 grams
Sugars: 6.6 grams
Sodium: 169 milligrams

The Dos and Doses of Vitamin D

D-efinition
Vitamin D has been  garnering a lot of media attention. Why all the fuss? Research has shed light on the various functions of vitamin D, its role in health maintenance, and the fact that many people may not consume or produce adequate amounts, which results in subpar vitamin D status.

What exactly is vitamin D?  It is not a vitamin, but a prohormone that can be made from the skin in the presence of sunlight.  Vitamin D, like A, E, and K, are fat-soluble vitamins, meaning that they are typically stored over longer periods in body tissues compared to water-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin D exists in two forms—vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).  Vitamin D2 is added to foods, whereas vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin and occurs naturally in a few animal foods.

What makes vitamin D unique is that we can actually synthesize it with sunlight, which activates the pre-vitamin D3 in our body to the active form (calcitriol).  This conversion happens in the liver and kidneys.

To keep vitamin D levels from getting too high, the body has a very efficient “checks and balances” system in place. If calcitriol levels are high, the kidneys don’t activate as much vitamin D.  The body can also inactivate what is not needed so that excess vitamin D is excreted . However, this system can be overridden by extremely high doses, so it is important to follow proper dosage recommendations on labels or as directed by a health care professional.

D-o
Vitamin D is best known for its role in the maintenance, mineralization, growth and remodeling of bone.  Vitamin D deficiency can result in thin, brittle bones.  It aids in calcium and phosphorus balance and promotes calcium absorption in the gut.  It also influences gene expression.  Vitamin D also maintains many other aspects of health, including:*

  • Cardiovascular and metabolic health*
  • Skeletal muscle function*
  • Immune function*
  • Memory and cognition*
  • Digestive health*

D-eficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is an increasingly recognized global public health concern.  It is impossible to know whether your levels are low unless you get a blood test.  The best marker of vitamin D status is the serum concentration of 25-hydroxy vitamin D, or 25(OH)D, which is also known as calcidiol.

About half of Americans are estimated to have suboptimal levels.  According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of adults in the U.S. were deficient in vitamin D.  Prevalence is higher among Hispanics (69.2%) and African-Americans (82.1%).  The Institutes of Medicine defines a Vitamin D-ficiency as serum calcidiol levels below 20 nmol/L.  Insufficiency is defined as < 50 nmol/L.  Achieving 80 nmol/L through supplementation may help to maintain healthy levels during the winter months.

Why do people have such low levels of vitamin D?

  • Little to no sun exposure
  • Other aspects of health, such as glucose levels, obesity, and kidney function can affect vitamin D status
  • Aging reduces the skin’s ability to produce Vitamin D
  • Darker skin reduces vitamin D synthesis from sunlight
  • Impact of genetic factors
  • Low fat diets reduce absorption

It is important to have your vitamin D levels measured.  We don’t wear a D-ficiency externally.

Status ng/mL nmol/L
Deficient <20 50
Insufficient 21-29 52-72
Sufficient ≥30 (>40 for bone health) 90-100
Toxicity >150 with hypercalcemia >374 with hypercalcemia

D-Bate
So how much vitamin D do we need? The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) is the average daily level to meet the nutrient requirements of healthy people.  The Institutes of Medicine suggests 400 IU/day for first year of life, 600 IU/day until age 70 and then 800 IU/day . The Endocrine Society suggests children and adolescents may need up to 1000 IU/day and those over the age of 18 may need 1500-2000 IU/day to achieve serum D levels above 30 nmol/L.  So, is it realistic to meet our needs through food?  On average, vitamin D intake from foods in males is 204-288 IU/day, and for females it is 144-278 IU/day.

De-mand
Who is at risk for low vitamin D Levels?

  • Those who consume little or no milk or fish
  • Vegans
  • Individuals who are sensitive to the sun (photosensitivity)
  • Those who have difficulty absorbing fat
  • Heavy sunblock users (SPF > 8 blocks 98% of vitamin D synthesis)
  • Those residing at high latitudes: Locations above 35 degrees N generally do not support vitamin D synthesis during the winter months
  • Individuals taking certain medications, such as anticonvulsants, antifungals, corticosteroids, histamine type 2 receptor blockers and theophylline

Supplemental vitamin D may be contraindicated with the following medications, which may increase serum concentrations to a potentially toxic level:

  • Thiazide diuretics
  • Some statins for cholesterol (Lipitor and Crestor, but not Zocor)

D-iet
Food is important for fuel, but diet alone cannot correct a D-ficiency.  The following table lists food sources and amounts of vitamin D. Not everyone loves cod liver oil, has access to wild salmon or likes mushrooms. If foods on this list do not appeal, and your are D-ficient, a supplement is the way to get your needs met.

Food sources of Vitamin D

FOOD AMOUNT Vitamin D/serving (IU)
Cod liver oil 1 TBSP 1360
Wild salmon 3.5 oz 980
Raw maitake mushrooms, sliced 1 cup 786
Swordfish, cooked 3 ounces 706
Sockeye salmon, cooked 3 ounces 447
Sun dried shiitake mushrooms 1 oz 400-500
Canned sardines 3.5 oz 270
Farmed salmon 3.5 oz 250
Skim milk with D added 8 ounces 120
Orange juice with D added 8 ounces 100

D-osing
Groups who may want to consider vitamin D supplementation include those who:

  • Train/work indoors or outdoors in early morning/evening in the winter
  • Live at >35 degrees N or S latitude
  • Reside in cloudy, polluted environments
  • Wear sunscreen regularly and protective clothing
  • Have very dark or very light skin
  • Carry excess body fat
  • Are seeking support for immune function*
  • Have difficulty absorbing fat-soluble nutrients

Individuals with limited sun exposure require at least 1500-2000 IU/day to keep serum vitamin D in the sufficient range (>30 ng/mL).   People who have digestive issues,  excess body fat, or are taking medications affecting vitamin D metabolism, may require more.  Individuals with deficiency may need 50,000 IU/week x 8 weeks to achieve a serum concentration of >30ng/ML followed by maintenance therapy of 1500-2000 IU/day.

Too much D may result in anorexia, weight loss, polyuria, and heart arrhythmia. In addition, vitamin D toxicity can increase blood levels of calcium, resulting in arterial calcification and damage to the heart and kidneys.

D-liver
For athletes and active individuals, a healthy body is your best bet for optimizing performance. If your Vitamin D levels are less than optimal, you may be weaker, slower, and more prone to injury. In addition, frequent vigorous and/or high intensity exercise or two-a-day training sessions can adversely affect the immune system. An ill athlete cannot train and/or compete at optimal levels. For the athlete who travels, has erratic meal times or is not a regular consumer of fatty fish, dairy and mushrooms, it is extremely challenging to meet Vitamin D through diet. For these reasons, optimizing Vitamin D is a must for athletes and active individuals. Even in Filling the D gap can help athletes capitalize on a healthy supporting structure, and healthy immune system so you can give it 100% every day.*

D-tail
No matter which supplement or level of D you choose, it is still important to have levels monitored to see the impact of supplementation.  More is appropriate in the absence of enough, but is not necessary in the presence of optimal.  To get the most out of your D supplement, remember that the presence of fat in a meal enhances absorption.*

Do your due diligence, know your D levels, and consider dietary changes and supplementation to customize and optimize your health.

References

  1. Forrest KYZ, Stuhldreher WL. Prevalence and correlates of Vitamin D deficiency in US adults. Nutrition Research. 2011;31(1):48-54.