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Vitamin D for desire?

Vitamin D for desire?

Boosting your vitamin D during the winter months may help with libido study says… (Download PDF)

Ever wondered why the summer months leave you feeling frisky and the winter makes you feel more like settling in with a warming cup of cocoa and a box set before bed? Winter has always encouraged us to get cozy and comfort eat but could our lack of the sunshine vitamin be a reason why many of us go off sex as the nights draw in?

Diet and libido

There are many factors that can affect libido such as stress, anxiety, depression, medication, smoking, drinking, illness and being overweight.  These factors can impact on the food choices we make, which in turn can affect nutrient intake and the quality of our diet.  Some can even impact on the bodys requirement for certain nutrients or affect their absorption in the body and the joint effect of this may have an impact on your libido.

What you eat could have an effect on your sex drive – and not just by providing vitamins, minerals or aphrodisiac foods. What you eat influences your hormone balance and following a hormone-friendly diet will help. This involves obtaining the right types of essential fatty acids – such as those found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five servings per day) and as wide a variety of wholegrains as possible. Wholegrains are a rich source of B vitamins, plant hormones and the trace minerals that are vital for both a healthy sex drive and for sexual stamina

 

Nutrients that are important for sex drive  

Sexual Function Nutrient Food sources
Production of sex hormones, including testosterone and maintaining sex drive Vitamin A Liver, eggs, dairy, fish, meat, dark green leafy vegetables and orange-yellow fruits and vegetables
Magnesium Nuts, seeds, brown rice, wholegrains, eggs, cocoa, dark green leafy vegetables
Slenium Brazil nuts, broccoli, mushrooms, cabbage, onions, garlic, wholegrains, seafood
Zinc Red meat (especially offal), seafood (especially oysters), wholegrains, pulses, eggs and cheese
Production of sexual secretions and fertility Vitamin C All fruit and vegetables but especially citrus, berries, peppers, kiwi and leafy greens
Vitamin E Oily fish, fortified margarine and dairy products, liver, eggs
Production of energy, stamina and staying power, plus healthy circulation and blood vessel dilation B vitamins Yeast extracts, brown rice, wholegrain bread, seafood, poultry and meat (especially offal), pulses, nuts, eggs, dairy products, green leafy vegetables
Iron Red meat (especially offal), seafood, wheat germ, wholemeal bread, egg yolk, green vegetables, prunes and other dried fruit
Arousal and orgasm Calcium Milk, yoghurt, cheese, green vegetables, oranges, bread
Phosphorus Dairy products, yeast, soya beans, nuts, wholegrains, eggs, poultry, meat and fish

 

Vitamin D and libido

Vitamin D has been a sexy nutrient for a while now and research findings exploring its many potential health benefits seem to make the headlines on a monthly basis but could this vitamin really put the D back into desire?

Research findings have suggested that the sunshine vitamin may have a key role to play in the libido of both sexes.  A study published in the journal, Clinical Endocrinology (1) has shed further light (excuse the pun) on the possible link between vitamin D and sexual desire. The research findings have found that levels of the male sex hormone testosterone may be linked to vitamin D status and that men with adequate levels of this nutrient had more testosterone that those with lower levels.  Delving deeper, researchers also found that testosterone levels dipped during the winter and peaked during the summer, implying an association between this male hormone and vitamin D. 

Women may also be affected by the lack of sunshine during the winter as it may impact on levels of oestrogen.  A study published in the Journal of International Urology and Nephrology (2) found those with sexual dysfunction had lower blood levels of vitamin D. Further research has also suggested that low levels are linked to low arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction and pain.

 

Vitamin D and mood

Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with low mood and in particularly Seasonal Affective Disorder. Vitamin D activates the genes that release of neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, the lack of which is linked to depression.  Low levels of testosterone have also been shown to impact on low mood and oestrogen helps to boost serotonin and other transmitters such as GABA that promote calm and happiness.  It may be that low levels of vitamin D trigger a vicious cycle of low mood and libido that impact on your sex life during the winter months.

 

Vitamin D status in the UK

Findings from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (3) have shown from blood analysis that theres evidence of low vitamin D status in 23% of adults over the year, which increases to 40% during the winter.

 

How much vitamin D do we need?

The current recommendation for vitamin D is 10mcg per day as advised by Public Health England. Many experts believe this is a minimum and in the absence of sunlight a dose of 25mcg (1000IU) may be more appropriate to maintain bone, heart, brain and immune health.  Older people may be recommended a higher dose of at least 50mcg (2000IU) as they process sunlight less efficiently through the skin and have a reduced ability to absorb vitamin D from the limited foods that contain this nutrient. 

 

Can you get enough vitamin D from your diet?

At most, its likely that you may be able to get up to 20% of your vitamin D intake from food but the rest needs to come from sunlight in the summer and supplements during the winter. Even if youre lucky enough to escape the British winter with a sunny holiday, your stores of vitamin D are not likely to last more than 4-6 weeks.

Very few foods contain vitamin D. The main source is oily fish and a little can be found naturally in eggs and mushrooms.  You can also find vitamin D in fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and margarine spreads.

 

 

Vitamin D content of foods in mcg per serving  

Food Portion size vitamin D (mcg)
Herring raw 140g 26
Sardines raw 140g 15.4
Trout raw 140g 14.8
Pilchards canned in tomato sauce 1 can 14
Kipper raw 140g 11.2
Tuna raw 140g 10.8
Salmon raw 140g 8.4
Canned salmon half a can 8
Mushrooms 100g 5
Eggs 2 eggs 1.8
Bran flakes 30g 1.3
Children’s yoghurt (petit filous) 1 pot 1.3
Flora 15g 0.75

 

Supplementing your diet

Supplementing your diet with the recommended 10mcg (400IU) is the most effective way to increases and maintain your vitamin D levels.  Increasing the dose to 25mcg (1000IU) will do you no harm and may help you to achieve optimal rather than adequate levels.  When choosing a supplement, you should opt for vitamin D3 as evidence suggests that this form is more effective at maintaining vitamin D status than vitamin D2.

 

Light therapy

If vitamin D really does impact on sex hormones and libido then another option to get your UV fix is light therapy. Scientists at the University of Siena in Italy (4) found that regular, early-morning use of a light box (such as those used to treat SAD) helped men increase testosterone levels and improved their sex life.

There are many factors that can affect libido but if ensuring your vitamin D levels has a role to play then why not try topping up with supplements, diet or explore light therapy to see if this helps to reignite the lost spark in the bedroom during the winter months.

 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27522658
  2. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-abstract/102/11/4292/4096785?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  3. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-diet-and-nutrition-survey
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160918214443.htm

 

(Download PDF)

It’s a fact…. Kids hate greens but love oranges and reds

It’s a fact…. Kids hate greens but love oranges and reds

How to try and get your kids to eat their greens (download PDF here

Almost all parents at some point have had to battle with their children to get them to eat their veggies and particularly anything green.  New research carried out by the supplement firm Healthspan has shed some light on how the colour of food can impact on the choices made by kids.

 


Top ten colored foods kids are most put off by

Black 

Green

Purple 

Blue 

Brown 

Beige

Pink

Red 

Yellow

Orange 


 

The research poll of 2,000 adults and children found that more than 45% of kids have certain colour foods they’re less likely to eat than others.  Britain’s favourite food colour for adults is green but unsurprisingly, it’s the complete opposite for children.  Children were more disgusted by the colour green, with almost half of youngsters admitting they have refused to eat something on their plate simply because of its hue.  It also appears that children are drawn to brightly coloured foods such as reds and oranges.

 


“The research poll of 2,000 adults and children found that more than 45% of kids have certain colour foods they’re less likely to eat than others”


 

Dr Megan Arroll, a psychologist specialising in health, said: “Research has shown that children demonstrate the most positive emotional reactions, such as happiness and excitement, towards bright colours and this survey supports this as children’s most popular food colours included red and orange. 

Are green vegetables any more nutritious? 

If you compare vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli with other coloured vegetables then they do contain a richer source of nutrients such as iron, calcium and vitamin A, which are essential for healthy growth and development.  This doesn’t mean you should be skimping on reds, yellows, oranges and purples though, all vegetables are highly beneficial to health and contain their own unique blend of nutrients and no single variety should be viewed as superior.

 


“If you compare vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli with other coloured vegetables then they do contain a richer source of nutrients such as iron, calcium and vitamin A”


 

Positive eating environments

There’s no point pushing kids to eat the foods they don’t like.  Kids are stubborn and the more you push the more they will likely resist.   A better approach is to make veggies such as greens available and served in new inventive ways to try and spark interest.  Don’t bribe kids or give them a hard time about food and try not to draw unnecessary attention to specific foods as sometimes it can take quite a few tries before young children are ready to eat them.  Foods should be served in a positive environment with neutral reactions.

 


There’s no point pushing kids to eat the foods they don’t like.  Kids are stubborn and the more you push the more they will likely resist”


 

Children are easily influenced by peers, which is why food likes and dislikes can change from day-to-day.  Family meals can offer way to lead by example and introduce new foods, but try and get everyone else around the table to keep their opinions on food to themselves unless it’s a positive one.

There is no single rule to feeding kids and most of it is down to trial and error but these tips below may provide a few ideas to encouraging your children to eat their greens.

 


“There is no single rule to feeding kids and most of it is down to trial and error”


 

Top tips to get your kids to eat their greens

  1. Many green vegetables, particularly the dark leafy varieties, have a bitter taste that young palates are more sensitive too, which is why they often repel from them so start with sweeter tasting greens such as peas, fine beans, mange tout and sugar snap peas. Whilst you might like your veggies crunchy, kids often prefer theirs to be a little more cooked.
  2. A handful of peas can be added to most home-cooked dishes such as spaghetti Bolognese, curry or even macaroni cheese. Try crushing them slightly to make them a little less obvious to fussy eaters.
  3. Re-naming vegetables or cutting into shapes can be a good way to spark interest in vegetables. Broccoli ‘trees’, stars (thin slices of the stalk resembles this shape) or sprinkles (these are the top bits of the vegetable that can be removed with a knife or scissors) are a few ways to present this vegetable. Spiralized courgette can also be fun for kids.
  4. Try allowing children to help prepare meals with you. Preparing a stir-fry together is a good way to learn about different vegetables and you can add in sugar snap peas, Tenderstem broccoli or edamame beans for them to try whilst you cook.  You can talk about the rainbow colours of foods.
  5. Whilst you should try and encourage children to eat whole vegetables, fortifying foods with greens is a good way to boost your child’s nutritional intake, particularly fussy eaters. A simple tomato sauce is often the mainstay of many family meals so try whizzing canned tomatoes or a shop bought sauce in a food processor with a few greens such as spinach, peas or courgettes.  Homemade smoothies and juices are a good way to slip in a few cheeky greens.
  6. Serve your greens with a dip. Most children love dips such as hummus so amongst the sliced red peppers and carrots, introduce sugar snap peas or lightly blanched Tenderstem broccoli as dippers.

There is little point in stressing out about getting children to eat certain foods as over time their tastes generally change and few people enter adulthood malnourished with lists of foods they refuse to eat.  Food surveys also show that most children get adequate nutrition from their diet.  The government recommends topping up children’s diets with vitamins ACD.

(download PDF here)