Carvings         December 15 2020

In the news

          The high cost of vitamin D deficiency

          A report published this week confirmed what several investigators have put forward since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic: deficiency of vitamin D is a serious comorbidity. Belgian scientists report that persons with low levels of vitamin D admitted to the hospital for coronavirus infection had a 3.7-fold increase in the odds of dying.

            This report is not an outlier. There are now thousands of patients around the world in studies that show a clear correlation between vitamin D deficiency and severity of coronavirus infection.

            In this study men were more likely than women to be vitamin D deficient, probably because women, at higher risk of osteoporosis, often take vitamin D supplements. There was also a correlation with the severity of lung involvement: among men with the most severe lung disease 74 percent were vitamin-D deficient. In the words of one researcher, this news is “staggering”.

            Comorbidities such as obesity, coronary artery disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease cannot be reversed quickly but vitamin D deficiency can. Now that winter is here more than half the U.S. population cannot obtain this vitamin from sunlight exposure but anyone can take an inexpensive vitamin D supplement. At 1,000 or 2,000 units per day blood levels can increase quickly and there is zero risk of side effects at that dosage. We are in the midst of a surge in cases and deaths. There is no time to waste.

Lifestyle

Nutritional optical illusions                                                                                                            

            You’ve probably heard that by using a smaller dinner plate it will appear that there is more food there and you will eat less. The reverse is also true. If a plate is bigger and you fill it yourself you’ll put more on it – and you’ll probably clean your plate!

            Some ingenious researchers with a sense of humor went a little further. They offered Philadelphia moviegoers fresh popcorn in either a medium-sized bowl or a large one. (There is no such thing as a “small” popcorn bowl in a movie theater.) The large-bowl folks ate 45.3 percent more popcorn than those who had a medium-sized bowl. But the sadistic researchers went a step further. They did the same thing with stale popcorn – and the people with large bowls ate 33.6 percent more than the medium-bowl subjects.

            Even persons who should know better can fall into the trap. When a group of 85 nutrition experts were invited to an ice cream social, they were given either a small bowl with  a small scoop or a large bowl with a large scoop and were told to serve themselves. If they had a large bowl they took (and ate) 31 percent more ice cream. Those who used a large scoop gave themselves 14.5 percent more, whether they had a small or large bowl.          

            Take a look at your mealtime habits and ask yourself if you can make a few changes to take advantage of this nutritional illusion!

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