There are 13 essential vitamins that our bodies need. They are divided into two categories:
Fat-Soluble Vitamins – A, D, E, & K These vitamins need bile to be absorbed. Bile is produced by your liver and stored in your gallbladder until fat is consumed. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed by fat globules that travel through the small intestines and into general blood circulation. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body when they are not in use. Typically, they are stored in the liver and fat tissues. Although only small amounts of these vitamins are necessary to maintain good health, Vitamin D deficiency has been reported as a growing public health concern as it has been associated with an increased risk of certain diseases.
Water-soluble Vitamins dissolve in water, which means these vitamins and nutrients dissolve quickly in the body. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins are carried to the body’s tissues, but the body cannot store them. Any excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins simply pass through the body. Because these vitamins are needed by our bodies, we need to make sure we intake these vitamins on a regular basis. Water soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and the vitamin B complex: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), Vitamin B6, biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), Vitamin B12. (Vitamin A in its Beta-Carotene form is also water-soluble.)
Vitamin D is referred to as the “Sunshine Vitamin”. Vitamin D deficiency is now a global public health problem affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.
There are two forms of vitamin D: D2 and D3. Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, is found in fortified foods, some plant foods, and over-the-counter supplements. Vitamin D3, known as cholecalciferol, is also found in fortified foods, animal foods (fatty fish, cod liver oil, eggs, and liver), and supplements. The difference is the D3 can be made internally when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Structurally, these two are not the same. Many believe that vitamin D should be classified as a hormone, with some calling it a neurosteroid. The health consequences of being deficient of Vitamin D go far beyond what occurs with any other vitamin. Unlike other vitamins, Vitamin D can be made by your body when exposed to sun and the active form in your body has similarities to other hormones (estrogen, cortisol, and testosterone).
The real dangers of excess exposure to the sun and skin cancer have been overly publicized and resulted in people covering up and using sunscreen constantly when in the sun. We have also had a shift in spending less time outdoors because of increased work hours and more sedentary lives. As a result, Vitamin D levels began dropping without most health care professionals realizing it.
Researchers have been focusing on the consequences of Vitamin D deficiency and have found an alarming number of health issues (outside of its role with rickets). These include skeletal diseases like osteoporosis, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, infections, inflammatory bowel diseases, psychological disorder, cognitive disorders, and obesity.
Horror stories of excess sun and subsequent skin cancer have scared most Americans into the shadows. Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England, told BBC Radio that people using sunscreen as recommended will not get enough Vitamin D.
In America, even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) admits that sunscreens block vital Vitamin D-producing sun rays, and suggests that a little sun without sunscreen is good. On its webpage, the NIH says:
” … [A]pproximately [five to] 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 [a.m.] and 3 [p.m.] at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually lead to sufficient vitamin D synthesis.”
Sunscreens without harmful chemicals are hard to find. Many now carry the “Reef Safe” label. In July of 2018, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two common chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, both deemed harmful to aquatic life. Key West, Florida, will follow suit in 2021. REI will stop carrying products containing oxybenzone in 2020. Unfortunately, these two chemicals are not the only ingredients in sunscreen that might be damaging to marine life, they are just the most studied. Then, there is the question of how much is absorbed into the blood stream.
What to use after 15 minutes of sun exposure? Cover up! Wear clothing with UPF – ultraviolet protection factor – or just a t-shirt and long pants for long periods in the sun. Look for mineral sunscreens with “non-naotized” zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. “Non-nanotized” means the ingredients are 100 nanometers in diameter or more. Beautycounter and Babo Botanicals are products to consider. More on sunscreens in next week’s blog.
Science reveals that when people are exposed to sunlight, their mood automatically elevates due to the brain hormone serotonin. Researchers examined the effects of Vitamin D on the relative cheerfulness of 80 elderly patients and found the ones with the lowest Vitamin D levels were 11 times more prone to depression.
Additionally, older adults are more inclined to stay indoors, so they get less sun exposure. People over the age of 50 don’t produce Vitamin D as easily by metabolizing sunlight, and their kidneys don’t convert Vitamin D into a form their body can use quite as quickly.
African Americans and others with darker skin are even more prone to a Vitamin D deficiency because it takes 10 times more sun exposure to generate the same amount as in someone with pale skin. That’s because the more pigment you have, the more sunlight you need to get adequate “D” levels.
People with higher body weight or muscle mass also require more Vitamin D than people with slighter statures because Vitamin D is fat soluble — your body acts like a “sink” and collects it.
If you can’t get enough sunshine for whatever reason, then you can take a Vitamin D3 supplement. The recommended daily dose for vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is 400 to 1,000 international units once daily for Vitamin D insufficiency and 1,000 international units once daily for vitamin D deficiency. The difference between insufficiency and deficiency is a matter of degree. For prevention of falls, experts recommend 800 international units orally once daily along with calcium. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from the stomach and helps the functioning of calcium in the body. A blood test is required to find out your Vitamin D status. The results will be used to guide you regarding any changes required in diet, sun exposure, or vitamin supplementation you may need.
Foods containing Vitamin D and their recommended dietary allowance (RDA):
• Four ounces of wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon — 128% of the RDA
• 3.2 ounces of sardines — 44% of the RDA
• One egg — 11% of the RDA
• Shiitake mushrooms — 5% of the RDA
Keep in mind that the RDA is far lower than necessary to raise your Vitamin D levels into the therapeutic range, so it’s difficult to achieve enough Vitamin D from dietary sources alone. In addition, it’s ideal to get your Vitamin D from sunlight because the sun offers a wealth of health benefits above and beyond Vitamin D.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are part of the legume family.
One ounce (28 grams) provides 46 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. The protein and fiber in chickpeas work together to promote a feeling of fullness and slow down digestion.
Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Some studies have suggested that the quality of the protein in chickpeas is better than that of other types of legumes. That’s because chickpeas contain almost all the essential amino acids, except for methionine. Combine with another source of protein like a whole grain to make up for the deficit.
Chickpeas contain a moderate amount of calories and several vitamins and minerals.They score low on the glycemic index. The fiber and protein in chickpeas can help prevent your blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after eating, which is an important factor in diabetes management.
Chickpeas are a great source of magnesium and potassium, both of which prevent high blood pressure. Additionally, the soluble fiber in chickpeas has been shown to help reduce triglyceride and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which may increase heart disease risk when elevated.
Including chickpeas in your diet might help reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. Eating chickpeas may promote the body’s production of butyrate, a fatty acid that has been studied for its potential to reduce inflammation in colon cells, possibly decreasing the risk of colon cancer. They are also a source of saponins, which are plant compounds that may help prevent the development of certain cancers. Saponins have also been studied for their role in inhibiting tumor growth. Chickpeas also contain several vitamins and minerals that may lower your risk of cancer, including B vitamins, which may be responsible for reducing the risk of breast and lung cancer.
How to Buy
Chickpeas are easy to add to your diet. They are available canned and ready to serve. Or, you can make a more nutritious version from dried bulk food. Like always, check that the co-op has a high turn-over rate. Although they are a dried food, they can go stale within a few months in bulk containers.
When you get home, pick through them to remove chickpeas that have gone bad. Any legumes that are dark or smaller should be discarded.
How to Store
Store dried chickpeas in an air-tight container, in a cool dry cabinet. Canned chickpeas should last a year.
How to Cook
Chickpeas are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. Add them to salads, soups or sandwiches.
They’re also a main ingredient in hummus, which is a dip made with mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. You can buy hummus from the store or make it on your own.
Another way to enjoy chickpeas is to roast them, which makes for a delicious and crunchy snack. You can also incorporate them into veggie burgers or tacos.
To prepare dried garbanzo beans: Cover the beans with at least 4 inches of cold water. They will need to absorb the extra water overnight. Discard any beans that float to the top of the bowl. Let them soak for 12 hours. Rinse them in a colander. Place the chickpeas in a large stockpot and cover the beans with three inches of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and them cover and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. Add spices during the last fifteen minutes. (Rosemary, thyme, oregano) The beans are done when they are firm, not mushy. If they are too firm, let them cook another 15-30 minutes. Drain. Use immediately or freeze for later.
Chickpea Pizza, Pesto and Ranch Dressing
- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
- Sauté with a tablespoon ground turmeric and a shake of garlic salt
- 4 small handfuls pea shoots
- ¼ medium red onion, chopped
- cilantro to serve
- ¾ cup mixed baby kale leaves, basil, and other herbs/greens as desired
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup raw walnuts
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked and drained
- ¾ cups water
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- large sprig of fresh dill (about 1 tablespoon, chopped)
- 6-8 chives
Socca Pizza Crust
- 1 cup chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour)
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon oil (olive, coconut, etc.)
- salt to taste/ fresh rosemary, oregano, thyme
Options: Add kalamata olives, fresh basil, artichoke, or sliced tomatoes
Prep everything before making the socca pizza crust. First, prepare the chickpeas in a skillet on the stove. Prep the red onion, scallions, and cilantro and set aside.
Make the vegan pesto by adding all ingredients to a high-speed blender.
Make the vegan ranch: Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Add more dill and chives if desired.
Make the 4 socca pizza crusts: Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, oil, and salt in a bowl until smooth and let rest for 5 minutes. Grease a well-seasoned cast-iron or ceramic pan with a touch of oil and set over a moderately high heat. Once hot, pour in about ¼ cup of the batter and swirl around to cover the pan. Lower the heat a bit, cook for 3-4 minutes until the bottom is crispy and top is almost set and then flip, cooking for 1-2 minutes more until golden brown. Repeat to make the remaining 3 socca pizzas.
Assemble the pizzas: Spread about 2 tablespoons of pesto on each pizza. Top each pizza with a small handful of spring mix and a quarter of the chickpeas. Drizzle with the vegan ranch dressing and top with red onion, scallions, and cilantro. Serve with more ranch dressing, if desired.