Archive for November, 2009

Vitamin D … What’s the Deal?

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of integrative nutritionist and guest contributor, Karen Raden, MS, RD, CNN. Trained at Bastyr University, “the Harvard of Nutrition,” Karen runs a full practice in North Chicagoland. She and her husband Tony offer a gluten- and dairy-free meals delivery service designed to balance blood sugar for a variety of dietary styles and needs. She’s also one of the more passionate and intuitive people I know. I hope you enjoy her information as much as I did:

Vitamin D … What’s the Deal?

Everywhere you go these days people are talking about vitamin D…how much to take, what it does, and why it is so important. My goal is to clear up the myths and to provide you with the science so that you can feel “in the know.”

Vitamin D is the generic term for a group of fat-soluble sterol substances that have hormonal activity. Vitamin D compounds are derived from 3 sources: from plants as ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2), from animals as cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3), or by conversion of 7-dihydrocholesterol to Vitamin D3 in the skin after ultraviolet exposure. These compounds are transported to the liver where they are converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D2 and D3.

The primary role of vitamin D is to regulate blood levels of calcium and phosphorus by promoting absorption in the intestines and reabsorption in kidneys.

Calcium and phosphorus levels are important for bone mineralization and growth as well as for the prevention of hypocalcemic tetany. Vitamin D is also an important immune regulator. It promotes phagocytosis, anti-tumor activity, and immunomodulary functions that play a role in autoimmune disease. Additionally, vitamin D regulates cellular proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis and angiogenesis.

A team of researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to conclude that vitamin D is independently associated with all-cause mortality in the general population. Low Vitamin D levels increase the risk for osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and many other diseases. Research like this highlights the need for re-evaluation of optimum vitamin D levels and the need for blood testing.

Even if you take walks outside daily, you still may be vitamin D deficient. Because of where we Chicagoans live on the planet:

above 42 degrees north latitude (a line approximately between the northern border of California and Boston) to be exact…you still may be deficient.

I was recently at a nutrition conference where 7 of the 10 health care practitioners presenting there stated that getting levels of vitamin D up to the “optimal” level of 50-60ng/ml is the BEST way to prevent swine flu and other immune compromising illnesses. Yes, toxicity above 100ng/ml is possible, so retesting is KEY!!!

What to do?

1. Request at your next physical to have your Vitamin D3 (25-OH-D) level checked.

2. If your level is lower than 50, you most likely need to supplement. The only caveat here is if you have been told that you have “calcification” issues, elevated calcium levels, elevated PTH or history of kidney stones. In these cases, you should work with a skilled practitioner who can direct you on dosage.

3. For most adults, it takes between 2000-4000iu vitamin D3 daily to raise vitamin D levels. Current dosage recommendations are: 35ius of vitamin D-3 per pound of body weight daily. For a child who weighs 50 pounds, that would be 1700 iu daily. I do not recommend taking more than 5000iu per day, unless you are working with a trained health care practitioner.

4. Start supplementing with the correct form of vitamin D: Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol. There are gummies, chewables, tablets and drops available. Vitamin D comes in 1000iu per drop to 5000iu per capsule. It is a very easy to use and inexpensive supplement. I have both of my children taking the drops of vitamin D daily. I give them 1 drop of vitamin D3 1000iu mixed in with applesauce daily. It has no taste! Makes compliance easy as can be!

5. AND, the most important thing is to RETEST YOUR 25-OH-D LEVELS EVERY 3 MONTHS. This is the only way to measure accurately. If your levels have not gone up, add 1000iu daily and then retest again. Once the summer months hit, and you are getting more sun, you can cut back on your dosage. If you are having your levels checked every 3 months, you can accurately monitor your dosage based on the season.

I hope that you found this information to be useful for you. Share it with your friends! Vitamin D supplementation, if needed, is such an easy thing that you can do for yourself and your family which can prevent so many illnesses. Vitamin D supplementation is inexpensive and easy to take. Once you know your exact level, you can start being proactive with your health and feel empowered to be making the right decisions for yourself and your family!

Wishing you the very best,


*Thanks to Karen Raden for this wonderful contribution! When I received her November newsletter I asked her permission to share this information on my blog — especially as I have so many vegan and raw vegan visitors. As Karen shares, anyone can benefit from Vitamin D testing, but vegans and raw vegans in wintery climates run a higher risk of getting low. You can learn more about Karen here.

Thin Mint Immunity Smoothie

I made this today in honor of 11:11 and to supercharge my immune system. I had high hopes, but little did I know it would be the best thing … ever!!

Thin Mint Immuni-Tea Smoothie

1 zucchini

2 TBSP hemp seeds

1 cup cooled echinacea immunity tea

2 TBSP spirulina

1 TBSP carob powder

1 cup So Delicious Vanilla coconut kefir

1 schizandra berry

1 dropper of cordyceps mushroom tincture

1 TBSP sage honey

1 frozen banana

3 drops peppermint essential oil

Blend ‘n’ chug. This was super yum and super immunity building! It tasted like a Thin Mint Girl Scouts cookie, but with richer flavors and (gasp!) no cacao.

Brought to you by The Lazy Raw Foodist.

Maya … Children of the Sun

Thanks to my friend Toni from Sedona for sending me this link … and to Ray of Sedona who sent it to her. This is just a beautiful seven minutes of contemplation. I hope you enjoy the gentle reminders!

Starting Thanksgiving Early

I just took a much needed day off! Yes, I had a weekend getaway last week at Bodega Bay, but that was a working, brainstorming, manic-writing kind of weekend in a relaxing location. Today … now that was a day off.

It actually began last night with some henna action on my hair. Something about that warm, goopy mess of chai tea, paprika and henna just makes my brainwaves slip right into relaxation mode. While the henna did its thing, I watched two Netflix instant downloads: Management and Bickford Schmeckler’s Book of Cool Ideas. Maybe it was the relaxation talking, but I really enjoyed them both. I rinsed out the henna, dried my hair and slept blissfully well.

This morning I awoke, turned a dream into a fictional dream sequence, and watched another movie: Step Up 2: The Streets. OK, closet confession here: I love dance movies, especially street dance and Bollywood. It’s a little embarrassing just how much I love such movies. Also embarrassing: the fact that I then love to “show my moves” to my hubby for several days afterwards.

Yes, I took many, many years of ballet, tap and jazz, and I spent my fair share of time dancing into the wee hours of the morning with my restaurant buddies when I waitressed my way through college. But in elementary school and (ahem) beyond, it was all about the break dancin’. I used to do that stuff until my double-joints cracked backwards. Anyway, this morning provided a wonderful trip down memory lane as poor Stephen witnessed renditions of “the moonwalk,” “the banana” and some bizarre moves I learned by osmosis just today! OK, I have officially outed myself. 🙂

Then, my friend Shana called to see if I might love a jaunt to Cafe Gratitude and a trip to the Sonoma County Coast, in this case, Jenner. Um, was that a rhetorical question? She picked me up and we went to Cafe G where it was 2-for-1 wheat grass shots. Who knew four ounces of wheat grass could be so much fun? Followed by a sushi bowl full of kale and kim chi? Followed by a miraculous pecan pie, aka I Am Perfect?

It was bliss. Followed by more bliss as we drove along the Russian River all the way out to the pristine sea of giant boulders and seaspray. We arrived just in time for sunset.

This was such a pleasant day that it has officially inspired me to begin Thanksgiving two and a half weeks early. Here’s my gratitude list so far:

1 ) I am so thankful that we live in a world where I can pick out a movie while wearing nothing but pajamas and a shower cap over a henna muddy head, download the movie, and when I’m done watching it, download another … and another … all for $9.95 a month. I remember when we had to go to the actual movie theater or Blockbuster. We take such things for granted, but today I’m feeling the love for online movies.

2 ) I am grateful for NaNoWriMo, because this insane quest to write so many words this month made me realize way sooner rather than later that I’ve been trying to squeeze two full books into a single novel. I now have plot, character and themes for books 2 and 3 of the Schizandra Series. If I hadn’t pushed myself to keep writing when I hit the wall, I might not have noticed that little glitch for months. Book 2 seems much more manageable now, and I’m really excited to write book 3!

3 ) I am grateful that I have a husband who loves not only the intuitive, psychic, coaching, writing and energy work I do, but who actually enjoys my spontaneous a.m. dance recitals in his office. And if he’s faking that enjoyment, then I’m even more grateful because he encourages me to be me no matter how old or young or silly or amazingly rhythmic I look doing it. 😉

4 ) I am grateful for my friends, who are always up for an adventure, experimenting with raw food goodies, juice and/or fascinating conversation. I am truly blessed to have so many diverse, compassionate and high vibe people in my life.

5 ) I am grateful that we live in Sonoma County with its unique access to stunning coastlines, open space, misty seascapes, redwoods, and more raw food restaurants than I can count. OK, normally, I can count higher, but once I start eating those desserts, I’m too blissed out to care. We have one: whichever one I happen to be eating in, and I’m so thankful that I momentarily forget just about anything and everything else. Now THAT is gratitude. 🙂

6 ) I am grateful for raw cacao. This may seem redundant to number 5, but au contraire, raw cacao deserves its own spot in my pre-T-Day gratitude list. Because raw cacao fuels happy, open hearts, and novel writing and just about every other fun thing I can imagine. Breakfast not only tastes better with chocolate; it feels better with chocolate; and we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The more cacao the merrier in my book, especially during NaNoWriMo.

7 ) I am grateful that people continue to send me such generous and supportive feedback on my writing. Stephen still calls me “the hardest working lazy person” he’s ever met. Truth is, I may be a Lazy Raw Foodist, but I pour my heart and soul into my books, especially my fiction. Thank you for noticing, and thank you for asking (so often) about Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar (book 2). I joke about the pressure of a 9-part series, but I honestly feel honored people want to read that many novels by me. Really, truly: thank you.

8 ) I am grateful that Cafe Gratitude’s having a FREE Thanksgiving meal on T-day and that they need volunteers. Another little outing of myself: I totally love waitressing, always have. Eating a raw vegan Thanksgiving feast and then serving food to others as a pseudo-waitress? I didn’t think I could top last year, but this one might just win.

9 ) I’m grateful that I get to teach a combined Reiki Level 1 and 2 class next Saturday. I love sharing Reiki with people, and this intensive class is particularly fun and rewarding to teach.

10 ) I am grateful to be alive and thriving after a brain injury destroyed the life I knew. November 6, 2009 marked the 11th year anniversary of the neuropsychological tests that showed a 40+ IQ drop and confirmed in an irrefutable way just how disastrously injured my poor brain really was. At the time, recovery looked unlikely.

From where I sit now, every day’s a miracle. I love my life! I have so much more freedom, joy, clarity and love than I ever had pre-injury. I feel smarter, quicker and more intuitive now than I ever did before … and I’m living my dreams. Shortly before my 1998 car accident, I set an intention to write a novel. Not nine novels. Just one. And you know what? When I started writing, I found that I had nothing at all to say. The day of my accident I asked the universe to rectify that situation. I asked for more freedom, joy, clarity and love so that I’d not only have something to write about, but something remarkable to live for. It took awhile for it all to fall into place, but the universe delivered.

Happy Thanksgiving Both Now and Later! Blessed Be.

Halloween Fun and NaNoWriMo

Laura Fairy Bodega 1
Karen Lang of Lemurian Stargate offered me one of the best Halloween celebrations ever: a trip for the second year in a row to her family’s vacation home just north of Bodega Bay. Last year I hosted a weekend of classes, but this year, it was all about the writing. National Novel Writing Month, that is. Yes, she and I have officially joined the somewhat insane quest to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November.

I considered doing this last year, but opted not to push myself so hard in my quest to finish Schizandra and the Gates of Mu. Even though I’ve recovered my vision from my 1998 brain injury, 50,000 seemed like a LOT of words! But this year I realized that I had written about 20,000 words of character studies, scenery and research during the final week of October, and suddenly 50,000 words didn’t seem so impossible.

I am, of course, working on book 2 of the Schizandra Series, Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar. So many people keep asking when I’ll release this book that I’ve felt the need to hunker down. In addition to the 20K of background prep, I began November 1 with 5,782 words of actual text. I’m not counting that for NaNoWriMo, because we’re supposed to start fresh on the first. So far, I’ve written an additional 5,300 words or so, leaving me about one day behind, but still hovering over 11,000 words total.

I may or may not post progress updates this month. If you don’t hear from me, you’ll know why. I’ve got another 1,400 to write tonight. Considering that eleven years ago a brain injury left me unable to read or write longer than five minutes per day without an excruciating migraine, I figure getting anywhere close to 50,000 words in one month will be cause for major celebration. It’s just a first draft, but all books begin that way. If I keep pace, then Schizandra and the Peruvian Jaguar really should be ready by Spring 2010. No promises, though!

Speaking of celebrations … I had so much fun dressing up for Halloween that I put on fairy face paint the next day, too.

Laura Fairy Bodega 2

November 1 is my character Schizandra’s birthday, so Karen and I said a little Happy B-day to her and then hit the beach to look for stones. I found a pocketful of jade, pictured below:

Handful of Jade

OK, I’m off on a mad dash of words, kombucha and cacao. Wishing you a wonderful November! Fairy Blissings …

Laura Fairy Bodega 4