D-Day

At a recent leadership class, I was asked to take the Gallup organization’s Strengths Finder. I like their practice of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses as it truly a way of achieving breakthrough performance in both work and non-work activities. The feedback was plentiful with adjectives to describe me; adaptable, independent, connector, maximizer. Unfortunately, in the days that followed, I received another label.

Making up for Deficiency

Making up for Deficiency

Deficient. Deficient doesn’t conjure up an image of strength but it’s the word my doctor used when she evaluated my recent bloodwork. Apparently I have a vitamin D deficiency. This is troublesome as it is one of the very things that can lead to breast cancer.

The other troubling thing about this news is that while I take few supplements, 1000 mg vitamin D is one of the things that I take daily.

Vitamin D is appropriately named as it was the 4th vitamin discovered.In 1914, two scientists recognized that dogs consuming cod liver oil did not experience rickets. It took 11 years however, before Dr. Alfred Fabian Hess concluded that “light = vitamin D”. Hence, the sunshine vitamin.

My research tells me that vitamin D deficiencies aren’t uncommon but that they’re most likely in far Northern places with less exposure to the sun. And, they’re important to resolve as they are linked to bone deficiencies, multiple sclerosis, some cancers, and generally higher levels of mortality.

The irony that I live in the Valley of the Sun is explained through continuous application of SPF 15 which screens out 98% of the vitamin D capacity. Full body exposure to 30 minutes of sunshine produces 10,000 IU of vitamin D. I may have to rethink my sun strategy.

It’s also difficult to achieve sufficiency through foods but they do exist. Milk appears to be source but I’m not fond of it. Fatty fishes, mushrooms and lichen are all sources. I’m going to work to resolve this issue through super supplements and sunshine but I’ll also try to work a few more vitamin D ingredients into my meals – like this one.

Shiitake Mushroom Omelette
Serves 1
Adapted from Nathan Lyon

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly (I used dry mushrooms as their D content is higher)
  • 1 medium shallot, diced small
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • fresh parsley, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and pepper until fully combined.

Soaking dried shiitakes in a jar gives mushroom broth as a by-product

Soaking dried shiitakes in a jar gives mushroom broth as a by-product

IMG_0949

In a medium nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and shallots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to turn golden brown, approximately 2 minutes.

Green garlic, shallot and thyme - all local

Green garlic, shallot and thyme – all local

Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Remove from heat and, using a rubber spatula, spoon out the mushroom mixture onto a plate.

Place the same nonstick sauté pan back on the burner and turn the heat to medium. Add the whisked eggs. As the eggs begin to cook, run a rubber spatula around the omelet while tilting the pan, allowing any uncooked egg to fill the gaps.

IMG_0951Remove the eggs from the heat. Spread the mushroom mixture evenly in the middle of the omelet. Fold the side of the omelet closest to you towards the center of the pan, covering the mushroom mixture. Gently scoot the omelet onto your plate.

Sprinkle chopped parsley to finish.

Making up for Deficiency

Making up for Deficiency

Do you wear sunscreen? What SPF?

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78 Comments

  1. Sally

     /  May 5, 2013

    Vitamin D has been headlined for a couple years now and I am so grateful you received this news to help navigate a new course. I do not use sunscreen here in the NW but I do use a 15% when in AZ. and hot climates. Each of us different but the food source is wonderful. Your breakfast is beautiful and tasty . I eat wild salmon 3 to 4 times a week, 3 to 4 ozs., and cod liver oil every day.
    Thanks for your reminders to everyone, Tammy. Great reminder!

    Reply
  2. Interesting article and yummy recipe! I swear by Olay’s PROx age repair lotion with SPF 30. When I hike I usually apply sunscreen after 1-hour to arms, hands. I think (my opinion) many people have a vitamin D deficiency is because of the high SPF in sunscreen. The sun is good for you, but too much (when your burn) is not. Just my opinion.

    Reply
    • I think you’re spot on about the sun screen. I have to use it on my face and chest but can use some sun elsewhere.

      Reply
  3. Really sorry to hear this, Tammy, but equally heartened to hear you are battling your deficiency with your usual verve. And you have taught me something. I always thought mushrooms were for show; that they did not have any intrinsic nutritional valua. Shows how much I know. And I’m pleased because I love mushrooms. Great recipe today, another one for my notebook. Thank you, and all the best…

    Reply
    • I mentioned that I don’t do a lot of supplements but I have taken a mushroom complex for years. I believe I began when Dr. Weil suggested it. Definitely not all show Kate.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for the reminder Tammy. I too, post cancer, suffer from a consistent Vit D deficiency if I am not careful… I take the same supplement, but tend to forget and sitting for sun exposure also takes a consequential effort. With my outdoor time now limited via knee rehab, and not in charge of culinary intake, I am trying to supplement more. You raise a question for me there on sun intake. Is it truly full body exposure? Or do arms, chest, legs, face, belly count enough in those 30 minutes? I”ve also heard it needs to be 30 continuous, unbroken minutes of sun exposure. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • I have not heard the continuous unbroken exposure but I do think your full belly will count. My naturopath told me that I will not be able to get enough from the sun do to my current schedule.

      Reply
  5. Bonnie

     /  May 5, 2013

    You may be deficient in Vit D but in no other way of which I am aware. Thanks for sharing these great reminders. Hope you are enjoying the sunshine right now.

    Reply
  6. You might be interested in this quiz, Tammy:
    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/quiz-do-you-get-enough-sunshine/

    To get the Vitamin D value of ten minutes of sunlight, you’d have to eat/drink:
    * 6 1/2 pounds of shitake mushrooms
    * 150 egg yolks
    * 30 cups of fortified orange juice
    * 3 3/4 pounds of fresh farmed salmon
    * 30 servings of fortified cereal
    * 2 1/6 pounds of sardines

    Reply
  7. Your omelet had me licking my computer screen! Gimme that!

    Since age six (I am now seventy!), I have lived in “Sunshine States” – South Florida, Mid-California and now, Southeast Arizona. I NEVER wear sunscreen, because I think slathering chemicals directly on my skin has too many adverse possibilities. But I do always cover my body with clothing, and wear a broad-brimmed Tilley hat. Many of my long-sleeved shirts are labeled SPF 30 or 50, but I’m not clear what this actually does.

    It must work, though, because at my annual visit to the dermatologist, he is always amazed that I don’t have any signs of overexposure to sun. I try to be out, however briefly, every day, and drink a big glug of full-fat milk in my coffee, as well as make our yogurt out of full-fat milk. I eat butter instead of margarine, but in reasonable quantities.

    I love fish, and formerly ate a lot of it. Since Fukushima, I have not eaten any. The benefit to risk ratio now is too low, in my opinion. Are the farmed fishes safe? Maybe, but from what I’ve read about their techniques . . . well, no thank you.

    It’s getting more and more difficult to avoid becoming “Monsanto’ed”, but we must all be vigilant.

    Soapbox: Toggle Off

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    Reply
    • Great to hear Judie. I hadn’t thought about Fukushima affecting fish but it’s an interesting consideration. Unfortunately, I do have quite a bit of sun damage – hence the sun screen now.

      Reply
  8. Jill

     /  May 5, 2013

    Tammy: What a community service you are providing to give us a delicious recipe to help fight this vitamin deficiency! I also need to take Vit D, living in Phx for almost forever! I would much prefer to eat my way to better health—-esp a vegetarian, paleo, SCD recipe and do some sun every day than tons of sunscreen.

    Reply
    • Yes, there are some really frightening articles about sunscreen out there. I’m off to learn more. I have stepped up the D to 5000 IU daily and we are going to retest soon.

      Reply
  9. The word deficient never comes to mind when I think of you! But as far as getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D, Susun Weed recommends about15 minutes outside a day with no sunscreen will give you the recommended levels of Vitamin D. And besides eating the foods you have already mentioned, she notes nettles as a good source of Vitamin D. You can either eat the fresh greens or drink an infusion. I buy dried nettles from Mountain Rose Herbs. http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/bulkherb/n.php#h_net

    Reply
    • How do you use dried nettles Mary? My mother in law has them at her home and fixes them.

      Reply
  10. Hate to hear the news about the Vitamin D deficiency. But the good news is that it’s something that should be correctible. About 3 years ago, I was tested for Vitamin D and my results were at the lowest end of normal. Doc recommended that I take calcium with Vitamin D, as a precaution.

    Like you, I’m also in a sunny, southern climate (although perhaps not as sunny!). That particular exam came after 3 years of spending most of each day indoors, due to work (I was practicing law at the time). Since then, I’ve had more time outside in the summer and varying amounts of time outdoors in fall, winter and spring, depending on weather and my teaching schedule.

    As for sunscreen, I generally do not wear sunscreen unless I’m at the beach or spending time in the pool. If I’m just outside, whether jogging, gardening, yardwork or whatever, I try to avoid sunscreen to minimize chemical exposure. But if I’m out on sand or water for hours, I will use sunscreen, although not at the recommended levels. I do tan fairly easily.

    I know the dermatologists say that any sun will cause damage and that tanning is a sign of damage. But I don’t buy that, necessarily. I’ve spent my entire life in the sun, especially from age 0-24, and rarely wore sunscreen during those years. Now as I’m approaching “maturity” I don’t see much damage. I have a few freckles, but wrinkles aren’t too bad, compared to my peer group.

    I attribute my less-than-typical sun-damaged skin to a lifetime of eating lots of greens and other veggies.

    The practically-low vitamin D diagnosis did surprise me (and I probably need to get re-checked) but I think I should be OK. In the 3 years since then, I’ve spent a lot more time outside, and I take the supplements a few times each week. Not as often as I should, because I forget.

    Reply
    • I’m really good about remembering to take my supplements so that’s part of what is so surprising. I have been taking 1000 IU. Now I’ve stepped that up. I’m indoors a lot and I am also reading up on the ill affects of sunscreen.

      Reply
  11. Vitamis D also assists you in absorbing other vitamins such as B. And being deficient in D makes loosing weight difficult. I now get 20 minutes of indirect sun & I am no longer deficient.

    Love Strength Finders….we did it with our Leadership team. Learner is my #1strength.

    Reply
    • Interesting about the weight. I do have a really hard time losing weight. I am a Maximizer.

      Reply
  12. Lisa H

     /  May 5, 2013

    I have also been informed by my doctor of vitamin D deficiency, which is odd, since I have lived and grown up in the southwest. I take the supplement when I remember, but we love to eat fish. I wonder if women are more susceptible to D deficiency? As I hear it from women more than men.
    Omelettes are the one meal I do miss since giving up eggs. Yours look fantastic!

    Reply
  13. Thanks for that important reminder…I too am supposedly Vitamin D deficient! Going to take my supplement right now and will think of you as a way to remind me!

    Reply
  14. It amazes me how difficult it is to get “enough” of a particular supplement through diet. I used to eat a banana t counteract leg cramps caused by a potassium deficiency. The doctor laughed…said it would take about two hundred bananas a week to make a measurable difference. Very nice recipe, though, and helpful information…thank you!

    Reply
    • Ah potassium, that’s my other demon Cindy. I can’t believe how high the recommended levels are!

      Reply
  15. Living in Africa sunblock is a must. I wear spf15 on my face every day and 50 on my neck and hands. With 98% of our exposure to the sun being accidental I’m amazed you are deficient in vitamin Design. Hope the change in diet works :)

    Reply
  16. Love autotext!

    Reply
  17. Now that’s a pleasant way to get vitamin D!

    Reply
  18. I love the look of your omelette. I was diagnosed with Vit D deficiency about two years ago and I take a few drops of Vit D daily as it’s hard to get the amount of Vit D on a daily basis that I need to keep my levels at a normal level. I was told that we should treat our torso as a solar panel and give it 20 mins of sunshine a day but this is not always possible and certainly more difficult for women. Good luck with your issues xx

    Reply
  19. There so many people now being diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency and needs daily supplement. It is alarming. Thanks for sharing ways to improve such a problem. I wish you the best of health. Happy Mother’s Day!

    Reply
  20. I was vitamin D deficient too. I wear sunscreen when I am out for an extended period of time, like working in the yard or an outdoor outing. For trips to the grocery store, I skip it. Be sure to look at the ingredients in your sunscreen too. Some studies have shown risks from retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, and nano-particle sized zinc oxide. The ewg’s guide to sunscreen is a great resource: http://www.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/

    Reply
  21. Renee

     /  May 6, 2013

    Great post, Tammy. A good reminder for me to keep taking my Vitamin D!

    Reply
    • One doc told me that certain people just have a hard time absorbing it. I will know when I go back for testing.

      Reply
  22. Gorgeous omelette! If I weren’t already eating my pasture raised eggs as I type this, I’d make this today;)!

    I like to spend 10-20 mins taking in sun each morning without sunscreen. My instincts tell me that exposure to sun (in very small doses) offers a better damage/benefit ratio than sunscreen. With this, I slowly get a little tan… very slowly… and feel more protected, more certain that I’m getting my D, and (so importantly) I cherish this time.

    Annie

    Reply
  23. Yikes! Glad they caught it, though it’s kind of freaky that you still had the deficiency after taking supplements every day. Thanks for the info on dried mushrooms being higher in Vit. D. That omelette looks great!

    Reply
    • I really like the taste of shiitake too but was surprised about the dried versus fresh thing.

      Reply
  24. Well, I am having a hard time believing even your blood is deficient. :) That word just doesn’t go with you! The recipe looks amazing .. thank you! Aub and I went mushroom hunting here today, but didn’t find any. Perhaps we got some Vitamin D from the sunshine though!

    Reply
  25. In the wake of my older sister being diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency, I gave up sunscreen for basic everyday outdoor stuff. (Like you, Tammy, I don’t care for milk.) Now, my daily dog walks are actually sunshine collection walks as well. This isn’t a good fit for everyone, so I’m interested in hearing how other people manage such conflicting health concerns.

    On another note, I’d say your strengths assessment was spot on!

    Reply
    • When I read the description of maximizer and connector, it was spot on. Amazing really and I had never thought of those as strengths!

      Reply
  26. I hope you’ll get your deficiency managed this way! Vitamin D deficiency has been on the news in Germany as we had an usually long and dark winter and lots of people lacked it significantly.

    I don’t usually expose myself to direct sunlight too much. If I do, I use a sunblocker, otherwise I prefer to sit in the shadow. I need my bloodworks to be done as well, let’s see what will come out of that … :P

    Your omelette looks yummy! I love shiitake mushrooms but haven’t eaten them in a while, what a shame!

    Reply
    • Germany is a place that is noted as having more people with deficiencies due to less sun. It would be interesting to see what your bloodwork says.

      Reply
  27. I love the idea of soaking the dried shitakes for their broth. So brilliant and simple, yet I certainly never thought of it! I’m sorry for your “deficiency” but I’m sure now that you know you’ll be able to “maximize” on your options. We use StrengthsFinders with our university students and I think it’s an excellent tool! :-) Debra

    Reply
    • It is a great way to make broth and you can freeze it if you have too much to use right away! Yes, working on that maximizer thing!

      Reply
  28. The omelette looks so good! I only use susncreen if I am planning to be outside for a very long time. Berries and other foods with antioxidants are supposed to be a natural help to prevent sun burns- I haven’t done SUMMER in AZ yet so we’ll see how I do :)

    Reply
  29. It seems you have made a positive start to replenishing your vitamin stocks with sunshine and the super mushroom omelette! It’s a tricky balance isn’t it, using sun screen to block the harmful rays and yet we so badly need the benefits of the sun

    Reply
  30. My mom is a big Vitamin D advocate, and has convinced me not to wear sunscreen as often (I’ve been using moisturizer with SPF religiously for over a decade), especially since I do live pretty far north – I need all the sun I can get! It probably helps that I love drinking milk, too. :) strangely enough, in France, you can’t buy vitamin D supplements over the counter, you have to get a prescription which comes in the form of megadoses – 2 months at once – which seems a little excessive.

    Reply
  31. Tammy,
    Good for you for taking charge of your health and using nutrition to make yourself healthier.
    It’s funny, what we do to be healthy (sunscreen) that can cause problems in another area of our health.
    One year at an air show I dutifully covered my daughter with sunscreen and a big floppy hat to protect her from the sun. What I didn’t realize was that the big floppy hat would prevent her from seeing the low airplane wing that she ran into full steam, resulting in a concussion, a trip in an ambulance, and an exciting MRI.

    This omelette looks delicious.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  32. I hope you find ways, that work for you, to increase your Vitamin D. We’ve experienced that in our household, too. A supplement & more sun has done the trick. I personally don’t wear sunscreen unless I’m going to be in the sun for extended periods of time. Even when I run, if it’s an amount of time within reason, I’ll just soak up the rays. :)

    Reply
  33. I’ve had a hankering for shiitake mushrooms lately. This seems like a good recipe to make with them. Thanks, Tammy.

    Reply
  34. All the best with that vitamin D increase quest.

    Reply
  35. Oh, yum! That looks awesome, Tammy!

    Blocking out the sun works well it seems, on you. Early morning rays that aren’t harmful might be the answer to the “natural” way of getting more vitamin D.

    Reply
  36. MMMMMMM,..What more can I say, dear Tammy?

    Reply
  37. It’s time to go to bed over here and yet I feel like cooking an omelette ! Your recipe looks so delicious. Tomorrow it will be on the menu. We had to little sun these past months and I make a point of walking every day in the sun – when there is some. Otherwise I try to absorb vit. D by eating fat fish, green veges, mushrooms, drinking nettle tea. I hope you can find a way to reduce and heal this vitamin D deficiency, Tammy. Take care. And thank you for your good advices always.

    Reply
    • I think I may have forgotten about nettle tea. I will venture to get some the next time I am out.

      Reply
  38. Thank you for this reminder, Tammy, I’m sure it’s caused many of your followers to look into their vitamin intake. I appreciate it! I also appreciate this great recipe, and your photos are fantastic!

    Reply
  39. I got the results from my bloodworks this week and I also have vitamin D deficiency. :P So I’m going to take a supplement now. At least all other values were fine, also thyroid hormones. I was a bit low in those last time.

    Reply

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