How Much Vitamin D Should You Be Getting?

Our guide to the “sunshine vitamin” in winter!

Vitamin D is a hormone that your kidneys produce to control blood calcium concentration and it also impacts the immune system. The best source of vitamin D is from the sun. When your skin is exposed to the sun, it makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis to occur.

Low vitamin D levels have been linked to osteoporosis, as those with low vitamin D levels are often people who are not exposed to the sun – for example, housebound or in a care home.

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What if you don’t get enough?

According to the NHS, if you don’t get the right amount of vitamin D you could get a deficiency.

6 symptoms of vitamin D deficiency:
Getting sick or infected often
Fatigue and tiredness
Depression
Bone loss
Hair loss
Muscle, bone and back pain

You can get vitamin D in a lot of everyday foods, oily fish – such as salmon, sardines or herring – liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.

Do I need to take supplements?

The recommended intake of vitamin D is at 10–20 micrograms per day. However, some studies suggest that a larger intake of 25–100 micrograms is needed to maintain optimal blood levels.

The Department of Health and Social Care has advised taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if:

You aren’t often outdoors – for example if you’re frail or housebound.
You are in an institution – for example, a care home.

You usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors.
If you have dark skin – for example, if you have an African, African-Caribbean or South Asian background, you may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Different types of vitamin D

The term “vitamin D” refers to several different versions of itself. The two versions important in humans are; ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). vitamin D2 is a synthetic form (man-made) and vitamin D3 is the internal form that we make.

A researcher called Adolf Windaus was first to discover 3 forms of vitamin D, which were called D1, D2, and D3.
It was later found out that the vitamin D1 was, in fact, a mixture of compounds rather than a vitamin D product, so the term D1 was made redundant.

Liquid vitamin D is another way of ensuring you get the vitamin D your body needs. In addition to supporting bone health, vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining cardiovascular health and promoting an overall sense of well-being. It is also good for making sure the bodies immune function is healthy and working!

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What happens if I take too much vitamin D?

Over a long period of time, taking too many vitamin D supplements may cause calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia), according to the NHS. This may weaken the bones and damage your kidneys and heart.

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements or are instructed to by a healthcare professional, 10 micrograms a day is enough for most people. The Department of Health and Social Care also advises you to consider taking a vitamin D supplement if you are pregnant.

If you suffer from osteoporosis, contact the Good Health Centre for more information on how we can help you by calling 0113 237 1173 or visit our website for more information about the treatments we provide.

The Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing – not just for meditating!

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What does diaphragmatic (abdominal) breathing do?

Diaphragmatic breathing has loads of benefits for your body. It’s widely used in meditation, which is thought to help manage the symptoms of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, depression and anxiety.

Here are more benefits this type of breathing can have:

  • Helping you relax, lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body.
  • Lowering your heart rate and helping to lower your blood pressure.
  • It improves your core muscle stability and your ability to withstand more exercise.
  • It slows your rate of breathing to expend less energy.
  • Improving mood and energy levels.
  • Minimising pain.

One of the biggest benefits of diaphragmatic breathing is stress reduction. When you are stressed, your body cannot perform at its normal levels and your immune system cannot work at full capacity. For people who suffer from conditions such as chronic stress, this takes a massive toll on the body’s performance over time. People with chronic stress are extremely likely to develop anxiety or depression. Deep breathing exercises could help you reduce some of the effects of stress and anxiety.

With regular abdominal breathing work, lungs are capable of expanding –  increasing your ability to exercise for extended periods of time (whether it’s running or swimming). Over time, practising abdominal breathing can help you to harness the full potential of your pulmonary system to take in and then distribute oxygen throughout your body.

Deep abdominal breathing alters your psychological state, making a painful moment diminish in intensity. For example, your breathing quickens when you are anxious or in pain. Then, taking a deep, slow breath, you experience a calming effect, reducing both stress and pain levels.

The brain makes pain relievers, called endorphins and enkephalins. These hormones are associated with a happy, positive feeling. During deep abdominal breathing, you will oxygenate your blood and trigger the release of endorphins, while also decreasing the release of stress hormones and slowing down your heart rate.

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How to breathe correctly

Diaphragmatic breathing:

Lie on your back and place one hand on your upper chest and the other just under your rib cage. This is so you feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves, you will feel this against your hand. (The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.)
Tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips.

Although this may feel strange at first, diaphragmatic breathing will strengthen your diaphragm and can be extremely useful for anyone suffering from chronic pain or stress.

The Benefits of Drinking Stout

7th November was National Stout Day!

While drinking too much can have detrimental effects on your health, as it was National Stout Day this month, we thought we’d take a look at the benefits of stout when this drink is enjoyed responsibly.

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Stout contains antioxidants!

Yes, that’s right! And although they’re in all beers, stout contains nearly twice the amount of antioxidants found in light-coloured lagers. Stout is packed with flavonoids, the antioxidants that give fruit and vegetables their dark colour.

Antioxidants are molecules that neutralise free radicals – unstable molecules that can harm your cells. We usually find them in foods such as raspberries, kale and artichokes – amidst many other fruits, vegetables and nuts. The health benefits associated with a diet packed with plants are at least partially due to the variety of antioxidants they provide your body!

Getting enough antioxidants in your system is great for your heart. Slowing down the deposit of cholesterol on artery walls, this can help reduce blood clots and the risk of heart attacks.

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Strong bones

Taking Guinness as an example, one pint is one per cent calcium, which can boost bone health. A study in 2009 found drinking beer in moderation can help improve bone mineral density, which is a large risk factor in osteoporosis. On top of building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract and our hearts to keep beating!

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Vitamins and Iron

According to an article from the Institute of Brewing, a pint of Guinness is full of nutrients, including all the B vitamins, except B12. Vitamins play a vital role in helping our bodies convert food into fuel. Three pints of stout will give you roughly the equivalent of a single yolk egg and contain 3% of an adult’s recommended daily dose of iron, which can help boost your energy levels if you’re feeling a bit sluggish.

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The lighter option

Although we don’t initially think of beer as a lighter option, stout is around 50 calories less than other beers – even with the average 8% abv!

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Black Velvet – A weirdly delicious and royal cocktail

Taking a whopping 119.53 seconds (on average) to pour perfectly, it will definitely be worth the wait! If you’re a little more impatient you may want to try stout with sparkling wine. Yes, we’re serious. Commonly known as a “Black Velvet”, the drink was first concocted by the bartender of Brooks’s Club in London in 1861, to mourn the death of Prince Albert. Achieved with a champagne flute of sparkling wine, topped with flat stout to give it the dark, eerie look.

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Be responsible

Although we’ve discussed the benefits of stout, we strongly advise being sensible and drinking in moderation. To keep health risks to a low level if you drink on a regular basis, men and women are advised to not routinely drink more than 14 units a week.

Skeleton stages from childhood to adulthood

The main purposes of our skeleton stages from childhood to adulthood.

Bone ossification

Bone ossification, or osteogenesis, is the process of bone formation. The early development of the skeletal system begins in roughly the third week after conception, with the formation of the notochord. The notochord is a rod-like structure on the back of the embryo that later develops into the spine, spinal cord and brain. In the fourth week, the first signs of arms and legs start to show. Between the fifth and eighth weeks, the limbs (the arms, hands, and fingers, then the legs, feet, and toes) begin to extend and take shape.

A baby’s body is born with around 300 bones. These eventually fuse to form the 206 bones that adults have. Some of a baby’s bones are made entirely of cartilage, whilst other bones in a baby are only partly made of cartilage. During childhood, with the help of calcium, the cartilage grows and is slowly replaced by bone.

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When do bones stop growing?

Longer bones stop growing at around the age of 18 in women and at the age of 21 in men in a process called epiphyseal plate closure. This is when cartilage cells stop dividing and all of the cartilage is replaced by bone!

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How age affects our bones

As our bodies age, our muscles, joints and bones affect our posture and the way we walk, leading to weakness and a slowing down in movement. Bones lose mass or density as they age, most prominently in women after menopause. Vertebrae also lose mineral content, making bones thinner over time. Osteoporosis is a common problem, especially for older women. In osteoporosis, bone mineral density is reduced and the integrity of bone proteins is altered, increasing the risk of fracture.

Over 3 million people in the UK have osteoporosis and, according to Age UK, 1 in every 2 women and 1 in every 5 men over 50 years of age in the UK, will suffer a fractured bone due to poor bone health. There are often no indicators that one has osteoporosis until a weak bone is broken. Osteopathy and exercise may help with keeping bones strong and it is advised by the Royal Osteoporosis Society to co-ordinate weight-bearing exercises with muscle-strengthening exercises.

Osteoporosis is not a condition that just affects women, although this is a common misconception. The pathogenesis of osteoporosis is complex, and a different set of mechanisms may be operative in any given individual.

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What are bones made of?

The surface of the bone is the periosteum. It’s a thin and dense membrane that contains nerves and blood vessels that help nourish the bone.

The layer underneath is compact bone. This is the part that gives skeletons their white-boned look.
Inside the compact bone, there are many layers of cancellous bone. Cancellous bone is not as hard as compact bone, but it is still strong.

The cancellous bone protects the inner part of the bone, the bone marrow – which makes blood cells.
Osteopaths at the Good Health Centre are highly trained and have the expertise to advise and guide you to better musculoskeletal health.

Your osteopath will apply specific gentle treatment appropriate to your age and condition to help you gain mobility and improve strength. In addition, your osteopath will provide you with a tailor-made exercise and movement programme which has shown to be effective in the management of osteoporosis.

For more details on osteopathy and how this may help with osteoporosis, please call one of the osteopaths based at our Leeds practice on 0113 2371173 or book online here.

For information provided by the Royal Osteoporosis Society, please visit here.

For information provided by AgeUK, please visit here.