May I Introduce You to Vitamin D?

One of the many things I learned after being diagnosed, was the importance of certain vitamins and minerals in cancer inhibition and better prognosis.

Vitamin D3 was one of those.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is technically not a vitamin. It is the name given to a group of fat-soluble prohormones (substances that are precursors to hormones that usually have little
Coconut Tree Leaves
hormonal activity by themselves).
Two major forms of vitamin D that are important to humans are vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, and vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol.
Vitamin D2 is made naturally by plants, and vitamin D3 is made naturally by the body when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation (in particular, UVB radiation) in sunlight. Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 can also be commercially manufactured.
The active form of vitamin D in the body is 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Vitamin D is involved in a number of processes that are essential for good health, including the following:
  • It helps improve muscle strength and immune function.
  • It helps reduce inflammation, (critical for Cancer).
  • It promotes the absorption of calcium from the small intestine.
  • It helps maintain adequate blood levels of the calcium and phosphate needed for bone formation, incorporating minerals to increase strength and density, growth, and repair.
For years, Life Extension has been exploring the potentially devastating consequences of vitamin D deficiency, ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Now in this report, Life Extension magazine examines the link between low levels of plasma vitamin D and autism. At the forefront of this research is Dr. John J. Cannell, executive director of the Vitamin D Council and a forensic psychiatrist at Atascadero State Hospital in California.
Vitamin D3 7000 IU, 60 Capsules (Life Extension)
The stunning findings suggest that rampant vitamin D deficiency is causally related to brain dysfunction, and may be readily preventable by adequate supplementation.
An epidemic of autism appears to be underway in the United States. According to several respected leaders in child and adult nutrition from across the United States, the current meteoric rise in autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may well be a direct consequence of significant vitamin D deficiencies in pregnant women and their infants.  And evidence points to vitamin D deficiency as the cause of other debilitating brain conditions as well.  This insidious deficiency is readily remedied--yet tragically often missed.  Read More Here...
Most people get the vitamin D they need through sunlight exposure. It can also be obtained through the diet, but very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Those that do include fatty fish, fish liver oil, and eggs.  Most dietary vitamin D comes from fortified foods, such as milk, juices, yogurt, bread, and breakfast cereals. Vitamin D can also be obtained through dietary supplements.
How Vitamin D Reduces the Risk of Cancer
The mechanisms by which vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer are fairly well understood. They include enhancing calcium absorption (in the case of colorectal cancer) [Lamprecht and Lipkin, 2003], inducing cell differentiation, increasing cancer cell apoptosis or death, reducing metastasis and proliferation, and reducing angiogenesis [van den Bemd and Chang, 2002].
In addition, Vitamin D3 down-regulates parathyroid hormone (PTH) [Chapuy et al., 1987]. IGF-I has been implicated in the pathogenesis of human cancer. Since IGF-I stimulates tumor growth and high quantities are a Whisked eggs...consequence of the standard American diet [Grant, 2002a; 2004], vitamin D can be considered one partial antidote to the American diet.
How Much Vitamin D is needed?
The amount of ingested vitamin D and/or UVB exposure required for optimal protection against cancer is still being determined. Each person responds differently to UVB exposure and oral intake of vitamin D depending on such factors as skin pigmentation, body mass index (vitamin D is fat soluble), age, condition of digestive tract, other dietary factors, etc.
Dietary vitamin D is insufficient alone to significantly reduce the risk of most cancers since the ingested amounts, up to 200 to 400 I.U. per day, are too low [Grant and Garland, in press]. Evidently, 600 to 1000 I.U per day are required to reduce the risk of vitamin-D-sensitive cancers, except possibly prostate cancer, for which population-average values of serum 25(OH)D are associated with the minimum risk [Tuohimaa et al., 2004; Grant, in press].
I had to  take 7500 I.U per day to get my D level up to 60 initially, and now am down to 5000.  So talk to a nutritionist (I have referrals to a Nutritional Oncologist if you need one.)
The current understanding is that serum 25(OH)D levels should be in the 35 to 60 ng/ml  range for cancer prevention and optimal health. The only way to determine one’s 25(OH)D levels is through blood tests, which can be ordered through a physician or nutritionist.
NOTE: Melatonin supplements allow reduced doses of Vitamin D since they produce a 20 to 100-fold INCREASE in the sensitivity of Breast Cancer cells to Vitamin D. This is why periodic blood test to determine Vit. D (25 Hydroxy) level is important.

References:

  1. Chapuy MC, Chapuy P, Meunier PJ. Calcium and vitamin D supplements: effects on calcium metabolism in elderly people. Am J Clin Nutr. 1987;46:324-8.
  2. Devesa SS, Grauman DJ, Blot WJ, Pennello GA, Hoover RN, Fraumeni JF Jr., Atlas of Cancer Mortality in the United States, 1950-1994. NIH Publication No. 99-4564, 1999. website (accessed March 3, 2004).
  3. Doll R, Peto R. The causes of cancer: quantitative estimates of avoidable risks of cancer in the United States today. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1981;66:1191-308.
  4. Garland CF, Garland FC. Do sunlight and vitamin D reduce the likelihood of colon cancer? Int J Epidemiol. 1980;9:227-31.
  5. Garland C, Shekelle RB, Barrett-Connor E, Criqui MH, Rossof AH, Paul O. Dietary vitamin D and calcium and risk of colorectal cancer: a 19-year prospective study in men. Lancet. 1985;1:307-9.
  6. Grant WB. An estimate of premature cancer mortality in the United States due to inadequate doses of solar ultraviolet-B radiation, Cancer, 2002b;94:1867-75.
  7. Grant WB. A multicountry ecologic study of risk and risk reduction factors for prostate cancer mortality. Eur Urol. 2004;45:371-9.
~ Be Well.

Power Breakfast Ideas

During treatment, one of the last things you feel up to doing is thinking about what to eat. You already know it's critical that you alter your diet if you haven't yet, but to call upon mental resources to focus on cooking the right things is a challenge. I am blessed that many family members live within 1 - 10 miles of us, so three of my nieces took it upon themselves to rotate weeks and cook 2 main dishes for me (compliant with my diet), which they delivered the 3rd day after each Chemo treatment...when the side effects manifested! They made enough so that I got at least 4-5 meals out of each delivery.

Breakfast was easy once I got into the habit of shopping for the groceries I would need early in the week, (either my daughter or Jon would replenish fresh produce as we ran out), and developed a few routine favorites.

Lunch and snacks depended on what I had in the fridge or the pantry, so I was sure to stock healthy, easy to prepare foods...Sardines, organic beans, hi-fiber bread or RyeVita crackers, salsa, baby carrots, spinach, lemons (for squeezing in tea and on almost anything), almond butter, organic fruit spreads, coconut milk, homemade hummus, avocados and nuts. I'll post some ideas for these two meals soon.

Remember that you are eating to both support your immune system and to boost your energy during treatment. Spice up your food to instantly add antioxidants.

To help you develop the knack of easily creating healthy breakfasts, or for someone who may prepare them for you, I put together the Power Breakfast Guide below.  Be generous with the use of spices you like in any of these breakfasts.

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Berry Oats: ¾ c. of organic oats, 1 cup blueberries, blackberries, raspberries or sliced strawberries, 1 Tbs. chopped almonds or pecans, 1 Tbs. freshly ground flax seeds, coconut or cashew milk, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and cinnamon. Add cup of Matcha* or Sencha green tea (buy in bulk on Amazon).

*Matcha is premium green tea powder from Japan used for drinking as tea or as an ingredient in recipes. Matcha is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, fiber and chlorophyll. One glass of matcha is the equivalent of 10 glasses of green tea in terms of nutritional value and antioxidant content

Parfait: 6oz. of organic soy or coconut yogurt, 2 Tbs. fresh ground flax meal, and 1 cup organic berries (blueberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, mulberries..), a slice of gluten free hi-fiber toast with a tsp. of Coconut Oil, and a cup of matcha or sencha green tea.

Jeanne's Special: One or two boiled organic hi-omega-3 eggs with 1/2 cup steamed spinach, kale or swiss chard and 1/2 cup rosemary-baked sweet potatoes, cup of green tea.

Tasty Lebanese Eggs: Poach 1 or 2 organic hi-omega-3 eggs. Mix 2 Tbs. tomato paste, dash of salt, and 1 Tbs. hot water and stir.  Finely chop 1-2 fresh organic garlic cloves and lightly sauté in 2 tsp. ev olive oil on medium low heat, until pale golden. Add tomato paste and stir. Top poached eggs with tomato mixture and sprinkle with black pepper. Serve with 1 hi-fiber piece of toast, 1 c. fresh spinach or a handful of watercress and a cup of green tea.

Mediterranean: Whole grain toast topped with 1 tsp. flax or hemp oil, 1 clove garlic crushed with a dash of salt and 1 tsp. nutritional yeast, cucumber, basil and fresh tomato slices, and a cup of green tea with dash of black pepper.

Oats n Apples: 3/4 c. Organic steel-cut oats with grated red apple (with skin), 1 Tbs. chopped almonds or walnuts, 5 - 6 organic raisins, 1 Tbs. flax seeds freshly ground, cinnamon and coconut milk.  Remember your tea!

Miso-Veggie soup: (miso, spinach, bok choy, mushrooms, tamari, scallions), and 1 slice of whole-grain rye-flax toast with almond butter, cup of green tea with dash of black pepper.

Breakfast Burrito: Fill a whole wheat or gluten-free high-fiber tortilla with 1/2 cup black beans, chopped romaine lettuce, chopped green onion, avocado slices, salsa, grated home-made Almond cheese and a chopped boiled egg.

smoked_salmon
smoked_salmon

New Yorker: Hi-fiber Rye bread or mutli-grain topped with tofu sour cream, smoked salmon, red onion and organic lemon slices, and 1/2 cup steamed green beans. Don’t forget your green tea with dash of pepper!

Tofu scramble: cook silken tofu with grated carrots and zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, garlic and a dash of cumin, or do the same with scrambled hi omega-3 eggs, and 1 slice whole grain toast topped with "better butter" (mix equal parts organic grass-fed butter/flax oil).

CheeseyToast: Toast 2 slices hi-fiber Flax Seed bread (like Udi's) topped with sliced cassein-free Almond cheese, tomato slices and a sprinkle of organic thyme. Serve with 1/2 c. steamed Spinach drizzled with olive or flax oil and a dash of salt and cinnamon. Cup of Matcha tea.

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~ Be Well! ♥

When Eggs Meet Vegetables - à la Lebanese

Two of the main spices in Lebanese cooking are Allspice and Cinnamon.  These are used in both savory and some sweet dishes. They were made for each other in terms of flavor compliments. Third in line would be Black Pepper, followed by Cumin. This is the basic 'Omelet' in Lebanon. As with many recipes it includes fresh vegetables and aromatic spices.  I was very scrawny as a girl, and Mom used to tell me stories and feed me bites of breakfast until my plate was clean.

This was one of my favorite egg-based breakfasts, with a few slices of tomato on the side, drizzled with virgin Olive Oil pressed from our own olives. It's still a popular choice at our home.

I'd love to hear how you like it!

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Lebanese Garden Omelet

  • 2 Omega-3 Eggs
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. parsley
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped organic Green Onion
  • 2 Tbs. chopped organic Tomato
  • 2 tsp. pine nuts (opt.)
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

Place a sauté or omelet pan over medium-high heat, and brush lightly with organic butter just to coat bottom.

Wait 1 minute, then pour egg mixture into pan.  When edges turn light brown, turn heat to medium-low.  Fold omelet in half and cook for one more minute.

Flip omelet and cook an additional 2 minutes, or until just set in the center. (you can make a small slice to peek).

Serve with fruit, non-dairy cheese, cucumber or tomato slices and whole grain bread.

~ Sahtein!