Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Vitamin D Supplementation-Part 1

I've known for a long time about the benefits of Vitamin D and continue to follow the research on suggested dosages and healthy blood levels. But following the research and actually getting my family's blood levels into a healthy range are two very different things! And how do you determine what IS a healthy range? A recent blog post at Healthy Holistic Living really strengthened my resolve to get on top of this issue, especially as people around us seem to be dropping like flies with colds and flu.

There is a tremendous variability surrounding the practice of vitamin D supplementation in the United States and around the world, which represents a large amount of existing but debated recommendations. So how does the average mother discern which recommendation is the right one for herself and her family? And once you subscribe to a particular recommendation, how do you see that through to measurable results? In my mind, it all comes down to who you trust.  Do you trust that your doctor is independently researching this issue?  If not, who do they trust? It might be good to know which organization's guidelines they are following.

I've compiled a list of organizations which make recommendations on Vitamin D supplementation and information or links to their specific guidelines.  There are many more but these include (in no particular order) the top government agencies your doctor is most likely referring to.  It's also important to note that many organizations don't have specific guidelines, but instead endorse another organization's (e.g., the American Medical Association endorses the Institute of Medicine's recommendations).

IOM (Institute of Medicine)/Food and Nutrition Board

Target Blood Level: >20ng/ml
Dosing Recommendations
Click link above for age-specific recommendations

USPSTF (US Preventive Services Task Force)

In its current guidelines, the USPSTF does not endorse the routine use of 400 IU or less of vitamin D and 1000 mg or less of calcium for primary prevention of fractures in postmenopausal women.

Vitamin D Council 
Target Blood Level: 40-80ng/ml
Dosing Recommendations
Infants: 1000 IU/day, Children: 1000 IU/day per 25lbs of body weight, Adults: 5000 IU/day

The Endocrine Society 

Target Blood Level: >30ng/ml  but 50-60 ng/ml ideal
Dosing Recommendations
Infants: 400-1000 IU/day, Children: 600-1000 IU/day, Adults: 1500-2000 IU/day
Tolerable Upper Limits
1000 IU/day for infants aged up to 6 months,
1500 IU/day for infants aged 6 months to 1 year old,
2500 IU/day for children aged 1 to 3 years,
3000 IU/day for children aged 4 to 8 years, and
4000 IU/day for everyone older than 8 years.

However, the guideline states that for individuals who are vitamin D deficient, higher levels of vitamin D (2000 IU/day for children up to age 1 year; 4000 IU/day for children aged 1 - 18 years, and up to 10,000 IU/day for adults aged 19 years and older) "may be necessary to correct, treat, and prevent vitamin D deficiency," Dr. Holick said.

American Academy of Pediatrics
Like the AMA, AAP endorses the recommendations of the IOM, Food and Nutrition Board. See first listing above.

National Institutes of  Health-Office of Dietary Supplements 
*Target Blood Level: >20ng/ml)
Dosing Recommendations
0-12 mo.-400 IU/day, 1-13 years-600 IU, 14-18 years-600 IU, 19-50 years-600 IU, 51-70 years-600 IU, >70 years-800 IU
Tolerable Upper Limits: 0-6 mo.-1000 IU/day, 7-12 mo.-1500 IU/day, 1-3 years, 2500 IU/day, 4-8 years-3000 IU/day, >9 years-4000 IU/day

*I personally find it very interesting that this government website states that blood levels of 12-20 ng/ml are "generally considered inadequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals" but that anything 20 ng/ml or greater is "generally considered adequate for bone health and overall health in healthy individuals"!!

Dr. David Perlmutter
Target Blood Level: 80 ng/ml
Dosing Recommendation-Adults 5000 IU/day

Dr. Joe Mercola
Target Blood Level: Optimal 50-70 ng/ml, Treat Cancer and Heart Disease 70-100ng/ml
Dosing Recommendation-Adults 8,000 IU/day.

In my next blog post I'm going to share my family's vitamin D story, information on how to go about getting your family tested and how to select the right vitamin D supplement.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Which Co-op For What Products?

Several people have asked me lately about the difference between the Nebraska Food Co-op and the Azure Standard Co-op. I get questions like "What do you buy from which co-op?" and "Isn't it against your philosophy to buy food trucked all the way from Oregon?"  These are fair questions so I wanted to address them here.

It's true, I'm all about buying local and supporting farmers who produce food using organic and sustainable practices.  That's why I'm a member of the Nebraska Food Co-op.  Especially when it comes to protein and produce, my first choice is always a local farm. The closer to my home the better, because then we are more likely to get to know our farmers and learn exactly how our food is being produced. It's very important to me that our beef is 100% grass-fed, (you can learn why HERE) so I want to be able to speak directly to the farmer and see the ground where my beef is grazing.

We purchase all our protein from local Nebraska farms. Chicken, beef, eggs, bison, duck, goose, lamb, pork, etc.....if it has legs, it has walked a Nebraska pasture before it gets to our plate.

Produce is a little trickier depending on the time of year obviously, so that's when I turn to Azure Standard and the health food grocery stores in Lincoln (of which there are now going to be 4, amazingly!-Open Harvest, Natural Grocer, Trader Joes and opening soon, Whole Foods Market!!).

I also use Azure Standard for perishable and non-perishable grocery items which cannot be purchased from the Nebraska Food Co-op because even with shipping, they are often cheaper than what you would pay at the grocery stores in Lincoln.  I like the added convenience of being able to pick them up right here in Seward and this also gives me the option to buy in bulk and enjoy even bigger discounts on frequently used items or items I can share with others.

I will admit that before Traders Joe's and Natural Grocer opened, I depended more on Azure Standard than I do now. I have found myself buying more and more in Lincoln, so it really just depends on how much cost savings you're willing to trade for convenience.  If I'm out of shredded coconut, I will probably buy a small bag in Lincoln to hold me over until I can order a bulk bag next month from Azure.

And yes, it's silly to order produce from Azure in the middle of summer when farmer's markets are thriving and plenty of local produce is available. However, I wouldn't hesitate to buy produce from Azure in the winter because I trust it will be sourced from good farms and it will arrive fresh.  The only difference is the truck brings it straight to me here in Seward, as opposed to organic produce delivered to Lincoln stores, where it might sit around for several days before I get around to buying it.

To get an idea of the type of things I purchase from Azure Standard, you can see my current list of favorites HERE.

I'd love to hear from "food-forward" members of our community!  What does your purchasing behavior look like and how are you supporting our local, sustainably-oriented farmers?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dr. Perlmutter on The Dr. Oz Show

In case you missed this Monday, here is the link to Dr. Perlmutter's interview on the Dr. Oz Show. http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/do-carbs-cause-alzheimers

On the heals of the Paleo movement and "Wheat Belly", the message in "Grain Brain" is not entirely new, but this book is no less important. It will reach a different audience and further spread the life changing message of the dangers of high carbohydrate intake!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Is Your Blood Sugar Trying To Tell You Something?

I posted about this topic earlier HERE, but the information is worth repeating.

Fasting blood glucose of 100-125 is considered pre-diabetic. It stands to reason that even numbers approaching 100 are less desirable than numbers in the 70's and 80's. The vast majority of people with prediabetes do not know they have the condition, according to CDC research. Just 7% of people with prediabetes are aware of their condition. 79 million Americans—35% of adults aged 20 years and older—have prediabetes. Half of all Americans aged 65 years and older have prediabetes.

You can monitor and study how your body is handling sugar with a $15 glucose monitor from WalMart!! http://www.walmart.com/ip/RELION-CONFIRM-METER-PINK/13863717

Aren't you at least curious??

What is prediabetes?
People with prediabetes have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. They are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems, including heart disease, and stroke. Without lifestyle changes to improve their health, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lunch Box Winner!!

After several weeks of canvassing the internet for the perfect lunch box system, I have finally made a decision.  Packing a healthy lunch every day for 4 children (5 in two years!) is no easy task for me. I need a system and I need to be organized, and while there are plenty of Bento Box and Laptop Lunch type systems out there, I just can't deal with the plastic. We tried the Laptop Lunch system for my two oldest but there were just too many parts to wash every night and I don't like the way some foods stain the plastic.

So I began my search with these criteria:
1. Stainless steel (won't leach or stain or break down over time).
2. Airtight container to hold yogurt, dips and berry juices.
3. Dishwasher safe with few parts.
4. Flat design to fit inside a backpack.
5. Multiple compartments to allow for variety.

And the winner is.......


I will admit it's a little pricey at $59.99 for the complete "Rover" System, but I have convinced myself and informed the children this will be the last lunch box I will ever buy for them!  I'll follow up in a few weeks to let you know how it's going!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Solving Headache Mysteries

I know several people with young children who complain about headaches. Some on a daily basis.  Folks, headaches aren't "normal" and giving Tylenol or Advil to a child for a daily headache is NOT the solution.  There IS an underlying cause, and it's our job as mother's to figure out what it is.  It costs nothing to eliminate suspicious foods for 21 days and then re-introduce. If the headaches go away and then come back, mystery solved.

Read this mother's headache story!
Wheat Headache

Saturday, May 4, 2013

All Natural Skin Moisturizer w/Beef Tallow?

In my quest to find an all-natural skin care product, I came across an article touting the amazing benefits of beef tallow for the skin.  You can Google this if it interests you but here you can see STEP 1: Rendering The Tallow!  First, I procured some grass-fed beef tallow from my local farmer (be sure and ask for "kidney fat"), then I chopped it into chunks, threw it into my food processor and then into the crock pot on Low. Once it turns completely liquid, I'll filter out the solids through some cheesecloth and then mix in some coconut oil, olive oil and my favorite Young Living Essential Oil.  I'm really excited because if it feels half as good on my face as it feels between my fingers, I may really be on to something!

So once the solids became crunchy, I poured the contents of the crock pot through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. While the oil was still warm, I mixed in coconut oil, olive oil and my favorite Young Living essential oil. It was hard to find an exact recipe on line so I winged this first batch with 1 cup tallow, 1 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1.5 tsp of essential oil. This is a ginormous batch so I sure hope it's the right combination! Tallow and coconut oil are solid at room temperature so adding olive oil makes it softer and more spreadable. It will be nearly white once it's cooled.

So after the mixture cooled I spooned it into small jars (didn't have those yesterday, otherwise would have done that before cooling!).  The end result??   At room temperature my mixture is too soupy, which means I added too much coconut oil and olive oil.  Since this product is in a glass jar and not a tube, I would prefer it be more of a solid at room temperature, like it appears in the photo.  I used it as a moisturiser at bedtime last night and was very happy with how my face felt this morning so I'm definitely going to try and perfect the formula. Please post if you have any suggestions!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Eating Low Carb at Applebees

Bleu Cheese Bacon Burger over lettuce with a side of steamed veggies. Perfect!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beef Brisket Recipe

Print Recipe

I have high hopes for this recipe today. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Sensational Slow Cooked Beef Brisket

Course: Dinner-Special
Prep Time: 30 Min
Cook Time: 5 Hr 15 Min
Total Time: 6 Hr 5 Min
Serves: 10


  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (16 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 3 shallots chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsalted margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups Worcestershire sauce (such as Lea & Perrins®), divided
  • 1 (5 pound) beef brisket
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 (32 fluid ounce) container beef broth such as Progresso®
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce such as Lea & Perrins®
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted margarine thinly sliced


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Mix paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Set spice mixture aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir mushrooms and shallots until mushrooms have released their liquid, 5 to 8 minutes. Set mushroom mixture aside.
  4. Melt 1/4 cup margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce. Rub beef brisket thoroughly with spice mixture; place brisket into the margarine and Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Brown the brisket well on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. As the Worcestershire sauce cooks into the brisket, pour in more, about 1/2 cup at a time, until 1 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce has been added.
  6. Place a rack into a heavy Dutch oven; place the brisket onto the rack. Pour in the Worcestershire sauce pan drippings, red wine, water, garlic, and beef broth. Top the brisket with the mushroom mixture. Drizzle 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce over the mushrooms and top with 2 tablespoons sliced unsalted margarine.
  7. Cover the Dutch oven and bake brisket in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Reduce heat to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and bake 1 more hour. Reduce oven temperature to 225 degrees F (105 degrees C) and bake 1 additional hour. Baste with pan drippings every hour.
  8. Let the brisket rest for about 20 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain. Serve with pan gravy.
UPDATE: This recipe is fantastic!!! I used a roaster, left out the cayenne for the sake of the kids but added lots of whole garlic cloves in the bottom of the roaster.  Make sure you have plenty of Worcesershire sauce on hand before you start!!
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Is Driving Your Thoughts and Behavior??

I will never look at depressed, malcontented people the same way again!  Do you ever wonder why some people are so inherently positive and easy to be around and others do nothing except complain and spew venom into the world??  Do you think sugar is harmless? Read on....

"We see the world around us through the lens of our hormones, neurotransmitters, and, to the degree that we are dependent on it, our blood sugar.  Unhealthy hormonal patterns generate unhealthy arousal patterns and, consequently, unhealthy emotional and behavioral tendencies.  We wake up with low blood sugar due to insulin dysregulation and poor diet, and we feel lousy. We then proceed to interpret the lousy feeling through associating it with events and people in our lives, assuming they are to blame (and that life simply sucks) rather than recognizing that we are operating under distorted biochemically induced misperceptions.  We become hijacked by our dysregulated nervous system, behave in ways we abhor, and may even feel we are somehow fundamentally flawed as a person because of it.  This is a huge source of self-esteem problems.  We then continue to interpret the world around us through this warped lens and beat ourselves up (or blame others) for our own shortcomings.

At any given moment, we all have positive things and challenging things in our lives that we could be focused on as our reality.  Why do we gravitate toward focusing on one thing versus another?  The functioning of our hormones, specifically insulin and leptin, to a very large extent influence the way we focus on and interpret the world around us and the events in our lives. The secondary effects of blood sugar, insulin, and leptin dysregulation, which are a part of this, involve the disruption and depletion of neurotransmitter functioning.  It is a huge issue, and it profoundly influences the way many people interpret and respond or react to their world.  Is it any wonder that our society is in such a state of chaos?

Nothing will ever influence the functioning or dysfunctioning of your hormones or neurotransmitters (or your brain) more than the issue of blood sugar.  Neurotransmitters are our main mood and brain regulators, and surges of blood sugar generate surges--and subsequent depletion or dysregulation--of the neurotransmitters serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA and dopamine.  Blood sugar surges also deplete B-complex vitamins, which are needed for the manufacture of neurotransmitters and a few hundred other things, and deplete magnesium, which is needed for parasympathetic (relaxed) functioning, liver detoxification, DHA synthesis, and another few hundred things."  -Nora Gedgaudas,  "Primal Body, Primal Mind". p.226