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You’re about to take on another year and health and wellbeing has never been more important!  In this issue, learn about why you should get enough of the D-lightful vitamin, how beetroot can colour your life and the best cookware to buy at the post Christmas sales.  Also, join us for a summery low GI cooking and nutrition workshop and start the year strong and energetic.

What’s in the News - Step into the Sunshine!

You would think Australians had it covered when it comes to getting enough vitamin D from the sun.  But new research suggests around 28 % of NSW adults have insufficient blood levels (below 50 nmol/L) in summer and 53 % are deficient in spring!  Perhaps even more surprisingly, those in the 20-39 year old age group have the lowest levels – lower even than 80 year olds! 

 Are you getting enough?

The Sunshine Vitamin 

This vital vitamin, which is actually a hormone, affects multiple processes in the body, including the expression of your genes.  We’ve known for some time that vitamin D aids in muscle, bone, skin and brain health (a natural ‘anti-depressant’ you might say).  But this D-lightful nutrient even seems to help prevent pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced high blood pressure).

Studies have also uncovered a link between a low vitamin D status and heart disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and several kinds of cancers.  On the flip side, women with sufficient vitamin D levels at the time of giving birth appear to be 400 % less likely to require a c-section.  Another good reason to spend time in the sun for mums-to-be!

Could you be Deficient?

The best way to check if you have enough vitamin D in your body is to have a simple blood test. You are at high risk of deficiency if you are ill or older, prefer an indoor lifestyle (spend much of your time locked up at work or playing on the internet), have darker skin, live in a major city, cover up completely with clothing or are overweight.  Vitamin D sticks in fat tissue so people with obesity need 2-3 times more vitamin D!

How Much do you Need?

Experts in the field suggest you need 1000 International Units (IU) per day (or 25 micrograms – the unit more commonly used to define levels in foods) for maintenance of good blood levels.  If your levels are low to start with however, you will initially need more vitamin D to boost them.  In Australia the ‘adequate intake’ endorsed by the National Health Medical Research Council in 2005 was 5-15 micrograms (200-600 IU) per day - the mid and higher end of this range, being reserved for people over 50 and 70 years, respectively.  But this level has been criticised with the availability of new research and the official government recommendation may likely go up in the future as a more optimal blood level is now considered to be at least 70 nmol/L.

Good Sources

Vitamin D is rare in Australian foods and you will struggle to take in enough unless you eat oily fish every day, like salmon or sardines, and use fortified products. Wild mushrooms are naturally a good source, but the cultivated variety, grown in the dark, lack vitamin D.  However, special ‘Vitamin D mushrooms’ have just been released onto the market in Australia.  These are exposed to a pulse of light after they are harvested so they will make high levels of vitamin D.  Such mushrooms will now provide us with an excellent non-fish dietary option. You can purchase Vitamin D mushrooms from some Sydney and Melbourne markets and their distribution will continue to expand across Australia.  

Food source

Amount of vitamin D (micrograms)

2 large eggs


2 tsp margarine (fortified)


100 g oily fish


250 ml vitamin D fortified milk or fortified soy drinks


100 g Vitamin D mushrooms


Vitamin D supplements can also be useful and both D3 and D2 appear as effective. The recommended intake is 500-1000 IU daily.  However, vitamin D made in your skin will last 2-3 times longer in the body, according to Dr Michael Holick, a world-renowned authority on vitamin D that recently visited Australia.

Let the Sunshine in

So, how much time do you spend in the sun?  The latest research indicates short exposure on most days is best for maintaining vitamin D levels.  Using Sydney as an example, this means around 10 minutes in the summer or 20 minutes in winter.

You should expose your arms and legs but protect your face to prevent wrinkling.  According to Dr Holick this should also occur between 10 am and 3 pm as this is the only time you will make significant vitamin D!

Putting on sunscreen blocks vitamin D production (SPF30 reduces vitamin D production by 97 %) but after you’ve gotten your healthy dose of sunlight, sunscreen is important to reduce the risk of burning and skin cancer.

To work out the best amount of time to spend in the sun in your area see Dr Holicks ‘Sensible Sun Tables’ which take into consideration skin type and latitudinal region.  These can be found in his book,“The Vitamin D Solution” by Michael F Holick, published by Scribe Melbourne 2010.

Eating Tip – Enjoy Red-Brown Rice

To easily boost the wholegrain content of your diet and increase satiety, why not make a delicious red-brown rice combo in your rice cooker?  Add 1 cup of each rice type to the cooker and fill with water to level 2.  Press cook and presto!

What’s Cooking – Simple Summer Meal Ideas to Make Low GI Eating Delicious

Get into the swing of cooking low GI meals this summer and lower your blood sugar and insulin levels.  Perfect if you have insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, PCOS, acne, fatty liver or are just struggling to lose weight.  We can tell you that low GI eating really works!  But many people struggle to implement it fully until they’re shown how. 

Join us for a fun filled night on 7th February, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, for some delicious food, recipes and low GI nutrition know how. Bring your partner and make a date of it!  Help inspire them to also adopt low GI meals.

 Find out more about this cookshop

Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to reserve your spot.  Seats always go fast! 

What’s Fresh – Beetroot

What’s a stand out veg in both colour and health benefits?  Beetroot.  In fact, beetroot makes it to the top 10 vegetable sources of antioxidants due to it’s high content of various betalain pigments.  These phytonutrients also deliver anti-inflammatory properties.

But there’s much more to beets than meets the eye.  Beets are low in fat, low in calories and low GI.  They supply soluble fibre and a blood vessel relaxant called nitrate – so it’s no wonder they are being studied for their cholesterol and blood pressure lowering effects.  This flamboyant vegetable is also interesting to scientists because it can stimulate phase 2 detox enzymes in your liver and may provide anti-cancer properties.

You can buy beetroot from the supermarket or greengrocer.  Simply wash and peel it (use kitchen gloves!), before or after cooking, as required.  Beetroot is delicious roasted, boiled, juiced or finely grated and eaten raw in dips or salads.  Research suggests drinking 2 cups (500 ml) of beetroot juice per day can significantly lower blood pressure!  Many people also don’t realise you can enjoy beetroot leaves.  Steam or boil them like the Greeks do until tender and dress with extra virgin olive oil and lemon.  Yummo!

Before you tuck in only to discover pinkish urine or stools and have a panic attack, it’s worth remembering that after eating beetroot up to 15 % of people experience temporary discolouration of these outputs. But this is normal and no cause for concern.

 3 ways with beets 

  • Wrap baby beets in foil with herbs, such as rosemary, and roast in the oven
  • Try our amazing Fresh Beetroot, Carrot & Mint Salad – it’s unbelievably delicious!
  • Make an easy beetroot dip: mince raw beets and blend with crushed garlic, ground cumin, olive oil and a little yoghut

How to Shake the Salt Habit

Did you catch Sue Radd’s article on ‘Shaking the Salt’ in the summer issue of Healthy & Heartwise magazine?  Click here to read the full story  Learn ways to skip salt and stock your pantry with lower sodium flavour enhancers.  Helpful if you have high blood pressure, Meniere's disease or want some assistance with PMT.

In the Kitchen – Which Cookware?

Thinking about buying some new cookware to take advantage of the post Christmas sales?  Apart from cost, we suggest you also consider the potential for any toxic chemical migration into your food.

While the evidence is not all in yet, certain chemicals such as perfluorocarbons (PFC’s), especially perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and aluminium have become suspect for their likely negative health effects - ranging from infertility to diabetes, obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  Many countries and manufacturers are starting to phase out PFOA’s…just in case!  The good news is there are plenty of inert or low risk options for cookware and bakeware you can choose from.

We suggest you avoid or minimise your use of non-stick brands such as Teflon, Silverstone and others produced with PFOA’s.  Call the manufacturer if you are unsure what your cookware is made from.

We give thumbs up to the following cookware or bakeware: glass e.g. Pyrex, ceramic e.g. CorningWare, cast iron (season well at home), enamelled cast iron e.g. Le Creuset or Chasseur, stainless steel and lead free glazed earthenware.  If you’re keen on a very slippery surface try PFOA free non-stick brands such as Green Pan, Neoflam, Scan Pan Green Tek.

The current Bessemer non-stick coatings are also reported to be PFOA free. 

Clinic News – Health Fund Claims Made Easy      

Did you know, that for your convenience, we offer on the spot claims from most private health funds including HCF and BUPA?  We also process Medicare payments if you have a special care plan from your doctor.  No more wasting your time in long cues to collect your rebate.

Tell Your Friends! 

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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2011.

Suite 10, 80 Cecil Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154 Ph: +61 2 9899 5208 Fx: +61 2 9899 2848 www.sueradd.com

We are a boutique Dietitians clinic in Sydney, Australia, offering one-on-one consultations, culinary medicine cooking workshops, motivational health seminars and nutrition advisory services to businesses in the local and global area.

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