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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cortisol Quiz 12/10/11

For the week November 28 – December 2, 2011, Dr. Oz talked about a specific nutrient to reduce cortisol levels in the body. Which nutrient did he recommend?

A. Vitamin A
B. Vitamin B
C. Vitamin C
D. Vitamin D

Answer: C. Vitamin C

Photo credit: Kittikun Atsawintarangkul

Your Answers:
A. Vitamin A - 20%
B. Vitamin B - 20%
C. Vitamin C - 10%
D. Vitamin D – 50%

This week's cortisol quiz was a stumper!

On the December 2, 2011 episode of The Dr. Oz Show titled No-Fear Zone, Dr. Oz answered a beauty question regarding the dreaded muffin top. He shared that belly fat can be associated with high levels of the hormone cortisol which is released when the body is under stress. Dr. Oz recommended increasing intake of Vitamin C-rich foods to support healthy levels of cortisol.

Vitamin A
According to the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI), Vitamin A is supportive vision, healthy skin, appropriate gene expression, immune system, fetal development, and the production of red blood cells. Vitamin A can be found in supplement form as either Vitamin A or carotenoids, beta-carotene, and in skin care products as retinol.

When taken in supplement form, beta-carotene and carotenoids are converted to Vitamin A as needed by the body. There can be some confusion on the part of customers when looking for a multi-vitamin or a Vitamin A supplement, and they see beta-carotene and carotenoids on the label. LPI recommends an upper level threshold of 10,000iu of Vitamin A.

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends beta-carotene at a level of 25,000 – 83,000iu per day for general health.

There's a big difference between the tolerable recommended amounts of Vitamin A and beta-carotene. When looking at supplement bottle facts, be sure to check for the source of Vitamin A.

Food sources of Vitamin A, according to LPI, include: cod liver, eggs, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango.

Vitamin B
Vitamin B is a family of 11 vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) , B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B12, Folic, Choline, Inostitol, PABA. B Vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they are not stored in the body. The B family must be replenished regularly to ensure optimum absorption.

While the B's may not directly effect the accumulation of belly fat, they do play a role in supporting the body through stress. Stress in any form - physical, emotional, environmental - can deplete stores of the B's which can effect the functioning of the adrenal glands. The adrenals are in charge of our response to stresses and if the proper nutritional tools are not available then the body's ability to respond to stress will go way down while the feelings of decreased mood and being overwhelmed by life can go way up.

According to, B12 can support the break down of carbohydrates and fats which can be supportive of a weight loss program.

B vitamins can be taken in together in a complex, with all or most of the B's present, taken individually, or taken in combination with one or two other B's. If taking B's is new, then it's typically recommended to get all the B's in a complex for a time and then perhaps focusing in a specific concern for which a single B vitamin may be recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.

Food sources of the B vitamins are all your basic healthy, whole foods such as whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetables. The best sources of B12, though, is animal products and brewer's or nutritional yeast.

Vitamin C
Known to play a role in immune function, Vitamin C has been studied for years in connection with reducing the feelings and effects of stress. published an article in 2003 discussing the results of a German study on stress. Participants in this study were subjected to the greatest fears of the human species – public speaking and math. Those who took 1,000mg of Vitamin C before the torturous procedures reported that they felt less stress.

The recommended daily amount of Vitamin C is much lower than the test amounts, at 60mg. It's important to understand that recommended daily amounts are in place to stave off nutritional deficiencies therefore a therapeutic amount may be recommended by health care providers to support the body through a specific health concern, or in the case of the study, through a particular situation.

Food sources of Vitamin C abound but are focused in the plant world. Citrus fruits along with green and red vegetables are packed with Vitamin C. The article warns that the heat of cooking will destroy Vitamin C amounts in food so it's best to eat them raw.

Vitamin D
What doesn't Vitamin D do? That's probably where we need to start when talking about the function of Vitamin D in the body. This wonder nutrient play a role in most processes in the body from immune function to absorption of calcium and magnesium, to breast health and weight loss. published an article on Vitamin D in August of 2009. This article highlighted results from a study showing surprisingly low levels of D across the country.

We expected the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency would be high, but the magnitude of the problem nationwide was shocking," says lead author Juhi Kumar, M.D., M.P.H., a fellow in pediatrics at Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

We get Vitamin D from the sun, right? So why would levels be so low nationwide? The answer is in the amount of time we spend outside. Most adults don't spend much time outside as compared to adults living 100 years, and more, ago. Children are getting less and less sunlight as they get more screen time in the form of television, video games, and computers as compared to children living before technology entered every facet our of lives.

Your geographic location is also an indicator of sun exposure and thus availability of natural Vitamin D. According to the map below from Harvard Health Publications, people living in higher latitude areas above the 37th parallel are not exposed to the proper sun rays to produce Vitamin D from about November to April.

Animal foods are the only food source of Vitamin D from fish to eggs and butter to bacon. Milk and many cereals are fortified with Vitamin D. According to the Harvard article, adults are encouraged to get 800-1,000iu of Vitamin D daily. A simple blood test conducted by your doctor can determine your Vitamin D levels and point to the proper supplemental amount, if needed.

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