Studio 5 contributor, Dr. Margit Lister from Wasatch OBGYN explains what’s might be missing from your health.
Nutrition– plain answer…Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a nutrient that was recently thought to help mostly with bone health and now is being linked to prevention of cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even heart disease. It is thought that about 50% of the population above the 42 degree latitude will be deficient in vitamin D. This imaginary line basically runs through Salt Lake City. If you are north of Salt Lake, your likely in need of Vitamin D, if you are south of SLC and in the sun, you may just be low. Our increase in the use of sun screen and the lack of food supplementation of vitamin D has caused an alarming amount of people who are deficient. Those mostly affected are at the extremes of age. Newborns, who are partially or exclusively breastfed and those over the age of 50. Darker skinned individuals are at greater risk than our fair skinned friends.
What should you do? The natural way to obtain adequate vitamin D is exposure to sunlight (south of SLC) for 5-20 minutes without sunscreen. This in turn will significantly increase your risk of skin cancer! UV radiation (sunlight) is a cancer agent that is responsible for an estimated 1.5 million skin cancers and 8,000 deaths due to skin cancer that occur annually in the United States.
So let’s look at food supplementation. Oily fish; cod, tuna, mackerel, salmon, all have large amounts of vitamin D. Milk and fortified OJ seems to have a limited amount. Over-the-counter supplements can also be helpful. Infants should consume 400 IU/day while adults can consume up to 1000 IU/day if deficient.
How do you know if you are vitamin D deficient? A simple blood test performed by your doctor can determine if you are deficient, inadequate, or adequate.
Relaxation– How do you relax? Do you know what calms you? If not, you need to find out!! Relaxation can come in all forms for many individuals. I have patients who relax by hanging out and connecting with their girlfriends, I have others who relax with a hard workout. My husband relaxes in front of the TV. For me, it is snuggling with my kids while they are sleeping or being outdoors. It could be a pet, a dance, a hobby that grounds you. You may find that you can relax with several things. This is fabulous, as you have multiple opportunities to use this to enrich your life. Once you figure out how you relax, incorporate this into your life on a regular basis to reduce stress and reconnect with yourself.
What if you don’t know? Unfortunately, you are the only one who does! So, if you are having trouble finding that something that you TRULY enjoy, think about what you enjoyed at the age of ten. Try looking at things that moved you and begin to explore that area of your life. Write things down. Was there something that you really liked to do but stopped doing because……you grew up, you didn’t think you could do it anymore, you stopped dreaming? Try it again and see if you still enjoy it.
Personal Fulfillment-This is foundation for mental well being. Do you look at a glass half empty or full? Would you describe yourself as happy? Content? Satisfied? If not, you may need to make a few adjustments in your life.
This is something that I frequently see in the women. It’s a tough thing to address in the few minutes that I have with someone, but occasionally I get the opportunity to speak with women and I realize that they mentally are unfulfilled. I usually find that these women fall into two categories; women who have made a mistake and have not forgiven themselves or women who are comfortable with their life but are not challenged.
Let look at the mistakes we have made. Who hasn’t made one? NO ONE. So why do we punish ourselves when we do? Acknowledge that you made a mistake, but it is part of living and you don’t have to feel like a failure because of it. Learn to accept what you did and forgive. Accept that if you could relive the past, you would act differently, but you acknowledge that the only thing you can change is the present and future. So, acknowledge, learn, accept and forgive your mistakes. This will help you feel fulfilled.
What about a challenge?
Many of us are comfortable. We have a routine that gets us through the days. This is not enough. Life is about the journey not the destination. You must have goals and dreams that will inspire and motivate you to improve. They don’t have to be lofty, just present. Get out of your comfort zone. Do something new. The human brain is stimulated by surprise and discovery. Challenge yourself to do something new! This will help improve your happiness and fulfillment.
Dr. Margit Lister is an OBGYN with Intermountain Health Care. If you would like to schedule an appointment, visit: www.intermountainclinics.org.