May, 2012

May 12

Vitamin D Jubilee

So after nearly a month of rain, the sun has decided to show its face, sending us Brits into a frenzy of excitement. Temperatures have rocketed and the Summer wardrobe is out, filing those heavy winter items away with a hope that they will not be seen for a while (or ever again perhaps).

But is there something more that the sun gives us that feel good factor?

You may recall a few years ago that there was the Vitamin C phenomenon but there seems to be now a new kid on the block, particularly with those living in the Northern hemisphere. Yes it’s vitamin D. Let’s take a look at why vitamin fashion isn’t just working it way through the alphabet.


What is Vitamin D

Vitamin D is present in very few foods (e.g. mackerel, salmon, eggs) and only in very small amounts. The main source our body gets it is from the sun when its rays hit the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. For this reason, Vitamin D is in fact regarded as a hormone.[i]


What is vitamin D used for?

Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus, which is shown to play a role in bone health. More recently vitamin D has been shown to play a distinct role in immunity, autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, inflammatory disease and more.[ii],[iii]


According to the National Diet and Nutrition survey 90% of the population have below optimal levels and the government have even voiced concerns over the nation’s vitamin D status. Reasons for deficiency are lack of sunlight especially in Winter months, most people working indoors and when we finally get outside we cover up with clothing and use SPF due to the fear of the UV damaging rays.


So what can you do?

  • Visit your GP for a test. This is free and will indicate whether your levels are sufficient.
  • If levels are sub-optimal, you may consider supplementing with D3. Consult your GP or health practitioner before.
  • Spend 15 minutes each day out in the sun with your face, arms and hands uncovered 2-3 times a week.

So if the weather holds up for this weekend. Get out in the sun and celebrate the Jubilee in the sun knowing it is doing you the world of good.






[ii] Hewison, M. (2010) ‘Vitamin D and the intracrinology of innate immunity’, Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology, 321 (2), pp.103-111.

[iii] Hollick M. (2004) ‘Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease’, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80 (6), pp. 1678S-1688S






May 12

Are you being kind to your liver?

For most of us it is back to work today after the bank holiday, but some may not be feeling it. Maybe you are one of those that overdid it a bit? Possibly you drank too much, ate too much and even had an extra late night over the weekend. But have you ever thought to consider your liver health?

Our liver can be considered one of the hardest working organs in the body. It has a few roles but perhaps the liver’s most important role is to detoxify toxins – substances that can cause the body harm when they enter the body. Toxins can come from air pollutants, food, water, pesticides, medications and even when the body performs its normal metabolic processes.

Most toxins need to be detoxified in order to be excreted safely by the body so this is where the liver comes into play. Think of the liver as a filter separated into two parts. Some toxins can go through the first part and then are safe for the body to excrete. Some need to go through the second part of the filter to be rendered safe. Keeping a balance of harmony between the two phases is important as if not, then toxins can accumulate and store in the body, possibly resulting in ill health.

So what can we do to help balance this detoxification process?

Aim to get your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables. This will support the liver by supplying the necessary vitamins needed for detox. Consider watercress in your salads, broccoli in your evening meal or roasted kale for a snack (all help the detox phases keep balance)

Keep your diet rich in protein. Protein contains amino acids that help the liver detoxify.

Increase levels of fibre in your diet. E.G. wholegrains such as oats, brown rice and wholemeal bread as well as beans and pulses. This improves elimination of the toxins.

–  Choose organic where possible to minimise environmental toxins. Drink filtered water

– Eggs, onions and garlic are sulphur-rich foods that assist the liver to detox.

Use turmeric in your food. Perhaps make curry. This helps keep phase 1 and 2 in balance, act as an anti-inflammatory and stimulate bile flow, which helps carry the toxins out of the liver for excretion.

Reduce alcohol & caffeine. Tea, coffee and coke all place burden on the liver. Most caffeine- free coffee and tea are chemically treated to remove the caffeine. Look for water processed coffee or even with tea, place the teabag in the cup for 10 seconds, remove and throw away the water & place back in and fill up. Caffeine is water-soluble so by doing this, the theory is that most of caffeine will be removed. Try considering herbal teas such as Pukka Detox tea. White tea, peppermint tea and green tea are lower in caffeine and also high in anti-oxidants.

Look for natural & organic skin products where possible. What goes on the skin goes in the body, remember to read the labels as some products can be deceiving.

If you have any questions about helping your liver please comment or tweet me @NkdNutrition



  1. Liska DJ (2002) The role of detoxification in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases. Applied Science Reports.
  2. Nutri (2012) Patient Guide: Don’t you know that you’re toxic. Nutri-Online


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