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A Healthy Dose: Vitamin D

NYC nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg gives us the skinny on our Vitamin D intake just in time for Fall.

A Healthy Dose: Vitamin D

I've recently noticed a lot of articles about the importance of Vitamin D, a nutrient that many doctors claim we are all deficient in. I knew we could get Vitamin D from the sun and from certain foods, but how much is enough? Even if you spend a lot of time outdoors, you may not be getting enough Vitamin D. To help us make some sense of all the Vitamin D hype, we turned to the highly respected New York City nutritionist Stephanie Middleberg, founder of Middleberg Nutrition. Here she offers guidance to pregnant women and breastfeeding moms on the importance, and sources, of Vitamin D.

Why do you need vitamin D?

Vitamin D has been getting a lot of press. A huge reason is because it is believed that 40 to 60 percent of the American population is deficient in it. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, supports your immune system, maintains strong bones and supports a healthy thyroid function. Vitamin D has also been shown to prevent various autoimmune diseases, cancers, gum disease, and high blood pressure. However, remember that nothing is a cure-all, so don’t go out and start overdosing on Vitamin D (or any other vitamin for that matter).

What is your opinion about the best ways to get Vitamin D?

First answer is always through real food. But Vitamin D is one of the trickier vitamins…so unless you’re out in the sun for at least 20 minutes every day, or eating 30 ounces of wild salmon, it is really hard to get enough “naturally.” The exact amount needed varies depending a lot of factors like age, body weight, where you live, time of year, how much sun you get, etc. so there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation. That’s why there is so much discussion for the right amount. And because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, you can overdo it, and it can be toxic (although this is rare). By the way, you cannot reach toxic levels by sun exposure alone. There are recommendations from anywhere between 400iu—10,000IU a day. I recommend between 1,000IU-2,000IU/day, especially for those who avoid the sun, but am always sure to look at a client’s bloodwork. I highly recommend that once you start supplementing, have your levels checked every three months by your MD. I don’t like over-supplementing.

What foods are high in Vitamin D?

There are unfortunately not many foods that are great sources, especially healthy ones. There is a discussion with the difference between D3 sources and D2 (vegan) sources in regards to its efficacy. Many feel that D2 is less potent, and therefore requires higher doses and longer time to see results versus D3 forms. Regardless, most agree that it is difficult to meet your Vitamin D needs through diet alone. My preferred food sources are oily fish like wild salmon, sardines and eggs. Now there are fortified foods like milk, cereal, margarine (bleh) and juices that contain Vitamin D but they a)contain the less potent form and b)you need to eat large quantities for it to make an impact. Plus, it’s not naturally reccuring, so the jury’s still out as to its effectiveness. Mushrooms are a natural source of Vitamin D, especially when exposed to sunlight during their growing process.

What brand supplements do you recommend for getting Vitamin D?

Just like you are particular about the quality of food (as you should be), I recommend clients focus on the quality of their supplement, especially if you are taking it daily. Look for the word “gamma" on the label. Some of my favorite supplements are: New Chapter, Deva Vegan Vitamin D, Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 and Prothera Vitamin D3.

If you are breastfeeding, how much vitamin D should you take in supplement form? I know there are various dosages.

There doesn’t seem to be one right answer of the exact right amount. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women get 600 IU of Vitamin D/day and not to exceed 4,000 IU/day. However, many recommend most sun-phobic, pregnant and breastfeeding women who live in northern latitudes (especially during winter) take 1,000 IU/day, and others recommend as high as 5,000IU. Be sure to have a discussion with your RD or MD, and monitor your blood levels to ensure you are in the optimal range.

Do you have any recommendations for Vitamin D supplement drops for infants?

I actually don’t have a favorite supplement. I would need to do more research. This really depends on mom’s Vitamin D3 supplement intake and sun exposure. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfed infants receive a daily supplement of 400 units until they are weaned and consuming a quart or more each day of fortified milk or formula.” Some others feel that if the mom is taking adequate levels, the infant doesn’t need to supplement. Speak to your healthcare provider for more information.

Do you have any nutritionist favorites for foods high in Vitamin D?

Yes! My favorites are wild salmon and sardines. The next best is pasture-raised eggs (preferable to cage free) and mushrooms. I highly recommend the brand Vital Choice (www.vitalchoice.com) for sustainable wild salmon and sardines. The wild canned options (with bones) are also a fantastic source of calcium. Tuna is a good source but concerns about mercury make it a less preferred option, especially for pregnant woman. Another good source is ricotta cheese. I recommend spreading it on a high-fiber cracker or adding some pomegranates or cherries and pistachios as a great breakfast or snack. You can also add it to eggs with some veggies for a great omelette. Yogurt and milk aren’t a great source, but if you do consume these products, I highly recommend selecting 2% vs. fat free. You need fat to help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (like Vitamin D).

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Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!

$4.99

Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!

$19.99

Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.

$9.99

A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.

$24.99

A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.

$14.99

Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)

$19.99

Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.

$14.99

A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.

$9.99

This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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