Author Archive: Chris - The Organic Diabetic

As a type 1 diabetic, I made the switch to an organic lifestyle several years ago after being diagnosed with Diabetes in 2006. Living with diabetes is hard enough, why make it more difficult by consuming products with chemicals, toxins and other harmful, unhealthy ingredients. To me, the choice was easy and just made sense. We hope you enjoy our blog! Feel free to look around and check out all of our products by clicking through the tabs above! Thanks for stopping by and also please be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter by liking our pages below! You never know what freebies we will be giving away!! Don't forget to check out the website as well at www.theorganicdiabetic.org

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Jul

10

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes, Is There A Connection?

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes, Is There A Connection?So the other day I fielded a question about celiac disease and if there is a direct correlation between having celiac and type 1 diabetes.  A great question as more type 1 diabetics seem to be diagnosed with celiac disease after their type 1 diagnosis.  So what’s the deal with celiac disease?  What is it exactly and what can be done to help alleviate the symptoms?  Lets take a closer look!

 

What Is Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease is a digestive illness that occurs due to the ingestion of gluten. If you have celiac disease, your intestines cannot tolerate the presence of gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Gluten is present in wheat, barley, and rye. When a person with celiac disease eats foods with gluten, such as bread or cereal, their immune system inappropriately reacts to the ingested gluten and causes inflammation and injury to the small intestine. This results in symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and weight loss, as well as an inability to absorb important food nutrients.

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes:

So what’s the deal when it comes to type 1 diabetes and a celiac disease diagnosis?  While there doesn’t appear to be a direct link between type 2 diabetes and celiac that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to type 1. 

Per the celiac disease foundation:

“The link between type 1 diabetes mellitus and celiac disease was first established in the 1960s. The estimated prevalence of celiac disease in patients with type 1 diabetes is approximately 8%, and about 1% in the general population. Most patients with both conditions have asymptomatic celiac disease, or symptoms that may be confused for symptoms of their diabetes. For this reason, and the significantly higher prevalence rate of celiac disease in diabetes patients, many doctors recommend getting screened for celiac disease after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, as well as celiac patients getting screened for type 1 diabetes.

A recent study in 2013, contributed to by Dr. Peter Green, a member of Celiac Disease Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board found that there were no standard uniform practices for screening type 1 diabetes patients for celiac disease. Of the facilities in the study that did screen for celiac disease, 60% of them only did so if there were symptoms present. The authors of the study suggested that a uniform protocol for screening should be in place, as well as a need for further education on the gluten-free diet in patients with type 1 diabetes for dietitians.”(1)

The unfortunate part of this is that once you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes, you become prone to developing others.  As for the signs, symptoms and treatment options, lets take a look.

Symptoms Of Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease symptoms typically involve the intestines and digestive system. They can also affect other parts of the body and children as well as adults tend to have a different set of symptoms.  Those symptoms are as follows:

Celiac Disease Symptoms in Children:

Children with celiac disease can feel tired and irritable. They may also be smaller than normal and have delayed puberty. Other common symptoms include:

      • weight loss
      • vomiting
      • abdominal bloating
      • abdominal pain
      • persistent diarrhea or constipation
      • pale, fatty, foul-smelling stools

How To Diagnose Celiac Disease In Adults

Adults with celiac disease may experience digestive symptoms. In most cases, however, symptoms also affect other areas of the body. These symptoms may include:

      • iron-deficiency anemia
      • joint pain and stiffness
      • weak, brittle bones
      • fatigue
      • seizures
      • skin disorders
      • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
      • tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
      • pale sores inside the mouth
      • irregular menstrual periods
      • infertility and miscarriage

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Jul

5

Micronutrients vs Macronutrients, How Can They Effect Your Blood Sugar?

Micronutrients vs Macronutrients, How Can They Effect Your Blood Sugar?So check this out, your body has the amazing ability to take the foods you eat and literally turn them into you.  Pretty cool don’t you think! Whether you eat an apple, a steak or a kale salad, your body is able to break that food down into its chemical parts and reassemble those parts into your cells and the energy you use all day. This is flat out awesome considering outside the plant and animal kingdom, nothing else can do that!

Here is the deal though, your body is only as amazing as the material it has to work with, like a fine tuned machine, the quality of the food you put into your amazing body has a huge impact on your overall health.  An apple is not just an apple, nor is a steak just a steak.  As stated above, your body is able to break those foods down into their chemical parts, like macronutrients and micronutrients.  So what makes these nutrients so important, lets take a closer look!

What Are Macronutrients:

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Derived from the prefix makro (Greek), which means big or large, used because macronutrients are required in large amounts. There are three broad classes of macro-nutrients which make up your primary food sources know as proteins,carbohydrates and fats.

The main function of macronutrients is to provide energy, counted as calories. While each of the macronutrients provides calories, the amount provided by each varies. Carbohydrates provides four calories per gram (I think we are all pretty well versed here),proteins;also four, while fats provides nine calories per gram.

Macronutrients also have specific roles in maintaining the body and contribute to the taste, texture and appearance of foods, which helps to make the diet more varied and enjoyable.

Macronutrients broken down:

  • Carbohydrates – are required for energy. As diabetics we all have varying opinions on carbohydrates and the amounts that we like to ingest , but glucose, which is a monosaccharide, is the most essential source of energy in the body. The brain works entirely on glucose alone. When an immediate source of energy is required, glucose is converted into glycogen which is stored in the liver. When energy is needed it is converted into glucose again and used to release energy. Carbohydrates provide 4 calories of energy per gram.
  • Fats – have the highest caloric content. This means they provide the largest amount of energy when burnt. When measured by a calorimeter, fats provide about 9 calories per gram, making them twice as energy-rich than protein and carbohydrates. Extra fat is stored in adipose tissue and is burnt when the body has run out of carbohydrates. Fat is also needed to take up fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Proteins–  are the third and last source of energy. They are the last to be used of all macronutrients. In cases of extreme starvation, the muscles in the body, that are made up of proteins, are used to provide energy. This is called muscle wasting. Proteins also provide 4 calories per gram.

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Jul

3

Skin Conditions And Type 1 Diabetes, What Is Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum?

The Organic Diabetic As diabetics we all know how important it is to stay on top of our heath, especially when it comes to keeping an eye on our skin.  Things such as cracks, blisters, and rashes can very easily escalate into troublesome situation.  

I fielded a question the other day about a condition called Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum (NLD) which is a skin condition that can effect both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.  Never hearing about this particular skin condition before, I thought it would be a great topic to discuss, so lets take a closer look! 

 

What Is Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum:

Necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum is a rash that typically occurs on the lower legs.  It happens to be more common in women, and upon examination, there are usually several spots. They are slightly raised shiny red-brown patches and the centers are often yellowish and may develop open sores that are slow to heal.  

NLD typically develops when when collagen breaks down, deposits of fat build up and the blood vessel walls thicken. As a chronic condition, NLD might progress slowly and might sometimes scar the skin. The condition might not bother you for a while, while at other times, might flare up.

Causes Of Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum:

The underlying cause of NLD is unknown, but the latest understanding tends to focus on microangiopathy – which occurs when blood vessels become damaged.  As diabetics, we know this is a risk factor that occurs with high blood sugar readings, and usually associated with poor glycemic control. Improved management of blood glucose levels can improve or prevent the disorder all together so this is another factor in a very long list of reasons why its so important for us to maintain proper control.

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Jun

29

What Is Diabetic Hand Syndrome? Signs And Symptoms

handI fielded a question earlier this week on my Facebook page in regards to a fellow type 1 diabetic having diabetic hand pain and issues with their hands being stiff and they seemed harder to move.  

Immediately carpal tunnel syndrome popped into my head, but after she brought this up to her doctor and they ruled out carpal tunnel, they moved on to another diagnosis.  A condition called diabetic hand syndrome (DHS).  Honestly, I’ve never heard of DHS but like most things that grab my attention and not knowing much about something, I decided to see what this was all about.  So what is DHS?  Lets take a closer look! 

What Is Diabetic Stiff Hand Syndrome?

So here we are, diabetic hand syndrome or as its more formerly know as, stiff hand syndrome or cheiroarthropathy. Stiff hand syndrome is one of the most common hand disorders for people with diabetes. Another common nerve and joint problem is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Granted carpal tunnel is not caused by diabetes, but happens more often to people with diabetes, especially those who have diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic Hand Syndrome Symptoms:

Stiff Hand Syndrome is painless and can effect both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. It usually begins in your little finger. Then it spreads over time to your thumb. This stiffness then keeps you from being able to straighten your fingers fully.

In addition, the skin on the back of your hand may also become thick, tight and waxy-looking. One way to tell if you have Stiff Hand Syndrome is to hold the palms of your hands together as if you are praying. If all of the skin and joints of your palms and fingers don’t touch, there is the possibility that you may have stiff hand Syndrome.

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Jun

28

Morning Highs? What Is The Somogyi Effect?

What Is The Dawn Phenomenon?Ok, so what’s up with this term that people keep throwing around called the dawn phenomenon?  As type 1 diabetics we’ve all been there, up at 1:30 in the morning testing our blood sugars and come back with a perfect reading of 100 mg/dl only to wake up a couple of hours later with a glucose level of 400 mg/dl!  Why is this?  

What’s happening to our bodies during that 2 1/2 hour period that sends sends our blood sugars into the stratosphere!  Welcome to what is called, the dawn phenomenon.  Lets take a closer look at what this is all about and what we can do to try and stabilize our blood sugars. 

What Causes The Dawn Phenomenon:

The body prepares for waking up by secreting several different hormones.  First, between 4:00 and 6:30 a.m. it secretes cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrin.  You may recognize these as they are the hormones involved in the “fight or flight response.”  In this case, their job is more benign, to give you the energy to get up and moving.

Besides giving you a burst of energy, these hormones raise blood sugar.  You aren’t going to be able to make any kind of energetic response if you don’t have fuel, and after a long night’s sleep, the fuel your body turns to in order to get you going is the glucose stored in the liver.

So once these hormones are secreted, typically around 5:30 am, plasma glucose and insulin can start to rise.

Though a non diabetic will automatically get a rise in insulin to help cells use this morning glucose, as type 1’s, we know that’s not always the case and instead of giving our cells a dose of morning energy, all we get is a rise in our blood sugars.

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Jun

27

What Is Red Dye And How Can It Negatively Impact Your Health:

What Is Red Dye And Why Is It Dangerous!I fielded a question the other day pertaining to artificial dyes, red dye  particularly and why they were so dangerous. I knew it was bad but after doing some further research I was quite shocked at what I found out, lets take a closer look!

Artificial dyes can be found in more than just food products that you might expect. It is easy to see brightly colored candies and drinks and know instantly that they contain artificial dyes.  You need to be extremely careful and read the ingredient labels which reveals artificial dyes in many potentially surprising products.

The three most widely used culprits—Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40—contain compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research shows has linked with Cancer! Why is this though? Lets look deeper into these dyes and check on how they are derived.

Where Does Red Dye 40 Come From:

Contrary to popular belief, red dye is not only found in food.  The truth is, red dye allergy can come from just about anything.  Food, personal care,  make up,  and even the toothpaste you’re using.  Artificial dyes are derived mostly from Pertroleum, or red dye is extracted from a beetle and then used for various purposes.  This dye has NO benefits to the body whatsoever, but lets take a good look at what this is linked to once assimilated (absorbed ) into the human body and blood stream.

Skin Reactions:

Just like other types of allergies, common skin symptoms can be attributed to red dye allergy.  Itchiness, redness and slight swelling of the skin are some of these symptoms. Appearance of hives, rashes and thick bumps which contain fluid are also dermal signs of red dye allergy.  Angioedema is a more severe skin reaction caused by red dye allergy.  It’s characterized by the swelling of the deeper layers of the skin.  This might look like raised welt’s on the skin’s surface.  Angioedema can also be seen in the tongue, eyelids and the area surrounding the face.  Sounds fun, right?  Lets examine further.

Gastrointestinal Problems:

Anyone who is allergic to a particular kind of food will have some type of gastrointestinal problem.  In this case, red dye can cause diarrhea, bloating or give you a gassy feeling.  It will usually start as a simple stomach ache.  Then it can progress to a more serious digestive problem, such as vomiting and persistent excretions.  Once the food with red dye has been excreted, the gastrointestinal stress will also cease.  This is why most people are wheezing, coughing or appear to have a general whistling in the chest.

Flu & Respiratory Problems:

Red dye allergy can cause certain parts of the respiratory system to swell.  It’s hard to diagnose people with red dye allergy, because most of the symptoms exhibited are too common.  The best example of which is fever and flu.  Itchiness of the throat, eyes and nose, as well as constant sneezing are also caused by red dye allergy.  While these symptoms can easily be treated with antibiotics and antihistamines, the allergy can go undetected for years.
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Jun

23

What Is C-Peptide? How Does It Play A Factor In Type 1 Diabetes?

What Is C-Peptide? How Is It Used To Diagnose DiabetesIts a fantastic question and was a test that was run on me to confirm my type 1 diagnosis. A c-peptide!  What is it?  What is the purpose and why do they use this particular test in order to confirm a type 1 diabetes diagnosis?  Lets take a closer look! 

What Is C-Peptide?

C-peptide, similar to the hormone insulin is produced in the pancreas.  Both are released simultaneously from the pancreas where a compound called pro-insulin is split into two pieces.

As we are aware by now, Insulin is responsible for regulating the body’s glucose levels. Glucose, the body’s main source of energy, is a sugar that comes from foods.  After a meal, our bodies break down the foods we eat into glucose and other nutrients, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream to give us the energy we need in order to fuel our bodies. Glucose levels in the blood rise after a meal and trigger the pancreas to make insulin and release it into the blood, and when insulin is released, so is C-peptide.

Although both are released into the blood stream simultaneous, C-peptide has zero effect on our blood sugar levels. That being said, it is extremely useful as its used as a marker of insulin production, since the pancreas typically releases C-peptide and insulin in about equal amounts.

In a nut shell, high C-peptide levels are associated with increased insulin production, while low C-peptide levels indicate decreased insulin production.

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Jun

22

The Glycemic Load And How It Helps Manage Your Blood Sugars.

What Is The Glycemic Load?Ok, so I was researching some information the other day when it came to certain foods and I came across a term that was unfamiliar to me.  As diabetics we are so use to hearing about the glycemic index (that’s all that was preached to me upon my T1D diagnoses 11 years ago) and why we need to make sure our foods are on the lower end of this scale to make sure our blood sugars remain more stable and do not skyrocket, but as I was researching these particular foods, I came across something I’ve haven’t really heard much about…the glycemic load.  What is this glycemic load?  Is it the same as the glycemic index?  Will it have a direct impact on my blood sugars?  All great questions so lets take a closer look! 

Difference Between Glycemic Index And Load?

Just to quickly review,  the glycemic index  is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and are categorized into 3 categories.  

The categories are as follows:

Low = GI value 55 or less

Medium = GI value of 56 – 69 inclusive

High = GI 70 or more

Lower glycemic index foods, unlike high GI, will not cause your blood glucose levels to spike and crash, meaning you get sustained energy from the foods you eat.   So now that we’ve reviewed that tid bit of info, how does the glycemic load compare?

How About The Glycemic Load?

The glycemic load of food is a number (just like the glycemic index) that estimates how much the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. One unit of the glycemic load approximates the effect of consuming one gram of glucose, but the difference is that the glycemic load accounts for how much carbohydrate is in a particular food and how much each gram of that particular carbohydrate will raise ones blood glucose levels (now you can see my peaked curiosity).

Foods with a low glycemic load keep blood sugar levels much more consistent, meaning that you avoid experiencing those quick spikes and dramatic lows that we can become accustomed to. The reason being is that you are accounting for that particular carbohydrate with it comes to bolusing for your meals.

By watching the glycemic load of the foods you ingest you can dramatically impact your overall health in many ways.  A diet focused on foods  with a low glycemic load can:

  • Make it easier to lose weight and avoid the dreaded diet plateau
  • Avoid the roller coaster effect and maintain stable blood sugar levels (yes, please!)
  • Help you burn more calories
  • Help with insulin resistance 
  • Lower your risk for heart disease

How Do I Calculate The Glycemic Load?

Ok, so this is probably the most important question.  The glycemic load (GL) is a measure of both the quality (the GI value) and quantity (grams per serving) of a carbohydrate in a particular food. A food’s glycemic load is determined by multiplying its glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate the food contains in each serving, then dividing that by 100.  Confused a bit, lets take a look at this example of an apple.

So the Glycemic Load = GI x Carbohydrate (g) content per portion ÷ 100.

Using a small apple as an example: GI value = 38.  Carbohydrate per serving = 15g

GL = 38 (glycemic index) x 15 (grams of carb)
                                     100

So the glycemic load of a typical apple is 6.  Great, now your probably asking yourself, what do you do with this information?

Well, similar to the glycemic index, the glycemic load of a food can be classified as low, medium, or high reflecting on how quickly they will raise your blood sugars:

  • Low: 10 or less
  • Medium: 11 – 19
  • High: 20 or more

For optimal health, it is recommended to keep your daily glycemic load under 100. However, the simplest way to use the GL is to choose foods with the lowest GI within a food group or category and to be mindful of your serving sizes.
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Jun

21

Insulin Basics: What Is Insulin & Stop With Cinnamon Claims.

Insulin Basics: What Is Insulin?

Over the past couple of days, we’ve been discussing several diabetes related topics but what about one of the most important ones, especially when it comes to keeping us type 1 diabetics alive. No I’m not talking about okra, some exotic fruit, cinnamon, or essential oil I’m talking about insulin! 

Before we go there though, for those of you who make these claims (especially about okra and cinnamon) in regards to treating or as many of you like to say “cure” type 1 diabetes, you really need to stop. Over the past year I’ve been getting bombarded with sales pitches and I’m honestly tired of it. Cinnamon is a great antioxidant and comes with some fantastic health benefits but when it comes to type 1 diabetes, don’t you think if it was that easy, it would be mainstream information and the millions of us that battle with this disease day in and day out would avoid the BS that we deal with daily?  

Or perhaps the miracle lies within the specially formulated product you are trying to sell me? Its utterly ridiculous, and the fact that you know nothing about the disease itself or how it works, you need to take a step back and take your products with you.

I mean, you realize that you produce insulin naturally, its a normal human bodily function.  What makes you think that okra, cinnamon, or your essential oil is going to magically wake up my dead beta cells (these are the cells that actually produce insulin, feel free to google, its a fascinating read).  Perhaps your cinnamon, shake or oil defies all science and type 1 diabetes research?  

Or perhaps you have magic okra that you purchased from the same person who sold Jack his beanstalk beans? Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist in your potent concoction? Either way you need to stop before you seriously put someone in a very bad predicament.

Now I can only talk about type 1 diabetes as this is what I  eat, breath and live with daily. With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why, but the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as autoimmune disease.

Insulin is vital for survival because without it, simply put, life would cease to exist (including yours).  So what is insulin and why is it so important for type 1 diabetics, lets take a look!

What Is Insulin?

So the most basic question, what is insulin? When you digest food, your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose (a form of sugar). Insulin allows this glucose to enter all the cells of your body and be used as energy. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin (zero in the case of type 1, unless your in your honeymoon phase) or can’t use it properly, so the glucose builds up in your blood instead of moving into the cells. Too much glucose in the blood can lead to serious health problems.

All people who have type 1 and some people who have type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar levels. The goal is to keep your blood sugar level in a normal range as much as possible so you’ll stay healthy. Insulin can’t be taken by mouth. It is usually taken with injections (shots). It can also be taken with an pre filled syringe or an insulin pump.

Types Of Insulin:

Manufactured insulin comes in several types that differ in the way in which they act inside the body. Each type differs in three ways:

  • Onset: The length of time after injection that the insulin begins to work
  • Peak: the length of time after injection that the insulin takes to reach its maximum effectiveness
  • Duration: the length of time in which it remains effective

The four basic types and their respective onset, peak and duration are as follows:

  • Rapid Acting: begins to work after 15 minutes, peaks in 30 to 90 minutes, and has a duration of three to four hours.
  • Short Acting: begins to work in 30 to 60 minutes, peaks in two to three hours, and has a duration of three to six hours.
  • Intermediate Acting: begins to work in 90 minutes to six hours, peaks in four to 14 hours, and has a duration of up to 24 hours.
  • Long Acting: begins to work in six to 14 hours and remains effective for 24 to 36 hours.

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Jun

20

Health Benefits Of Vitamin D3, Is There A Type 1 Connection?

Health Benefits Of Vitamin D3While you’re catching some rays this up coming summer, think about vitamin D. Sometimes its called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight, but what about vitamin D3? Is it as simple as getting out into the sun and voila, vitamin D3!  I mean, what is vitamin D3 anyway? How much vitamin D3 should I take?

Did you know that the human skin makes vitamin D3 when exposed to ultraviolet rays of the sun? According to the National Institute of Health, some of the best food source for vitamin D3 are fish products, such as: cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and sardines.  With that being said, lets take a closer look at how vitamin D3 can benefit you.

Vitamin D3 Benefits:

Vitamin D3 promotes calcium’s absorption and functions for teen’s and children’s healthy teeth and bones, prevents loss of bone mass, and treats bone disorders.

It protects against adult and elderly muscle weakness and immune system issues, and lowers the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis is improved with vitamin D3.

Vitamin D3 has been show to prevent/treat rickets, post menopausal osteoporosis. The vitamin also been show to help treat multiple sclerosis.  Something that I found extremely interesting is that they are still conducting studies (more research is definitely needed) seeing if there is a connection between lack of Vitamin D3 and the development of Type 1 diabetes.

Benefits of D3 in the elderly and fractures are still under investigation. An analysis, reported in August 2007 by the University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center, showed higher doses of vitamin D3 of between 700-800 IU’s per day combined with calcium help prevent hip fractures for institutionalized elderly. The study did not include elderly living independently in the community.

Vitamin D3 And Your Immune System:

Cells of the immune system, such as macrophages, which hunt the body for dangerous pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and cancer cells, have receptor sites for vitamin D3. Research suggest that D3 may play a role in stimulating these cells to be more active in their hunt for disease-causing microbes and act as an immunity booster especially during the winter months when sunlight is more scarce. 

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