Laura G Owens ~ Writer

Humanity. Health. Happiness.

Month: March 2014

How much vitamin D should you take? Depends on who want to listen to.

sun

The now world famous sunshine vitamin is more than merely a nice have, ultimately D converts to a hormone and hormones have the power to unlock a long list of processes in your body — I mean long. 

Made primarily from your skin’s exposure to sun or through supplementation, if you’re low in D you put yourself at risk for numerous health hazards. More than likely your doctor has tested you for vitamin D. More than likely he-she told you your levels are normal or close to normal, that is — greater than 20 ngl/ml. 

Sound the buzzer. Wrong answer.

So what level of D is ideal?

Depends on which advisory board you follow. I follow the Vitamin D Council because they back their recommendations with decades of research.  They’re specialists in one and only one substance,– D.  The Endocrine Society’s recommendations are higher, but not high enough.

Writes the D Council:

“Vitamin D is important for general good health, and researchers now are discovering that vitamin D may be important for many other reasons outside of good bone health. Some of the functions of the body that vitamin D helps with include:

  • Immune system, which helps you to fight infection
  • Muscle function
  • Cardiovascular function, for a healthy heart and circulation
  • Respiratory system –for healthy lungs and airways
  • Brain development
  • Anti-cancer effects

How high should my vitamin D level be?

Vitamin D Council Endocrine Society Food and Nutrition Board Testing Laboratories
Deficient 0-30 ng/ml 0-20 ng/ml 0-11 ng/ml 0-31 ng/ml
Insufficient 31-39 ng/ml 21-29 ng/ml 12-20 ng/ml
Sufficient 40-80 ng/ml 30-100 ng/ml >20 ng/ml 32-100 ng/ml
Toxic >150 ng/ml

 

How much vitamin D should I take daily?

Vitamin D Council Endocrine Society Food and Nutrition Board
Infants 1,000 IU/day 400-1,000 IU/day 400 IU/day
Children 1,000 IU/day per 25lbs of body weight 600-1,000 IU/day 600 IU/day
Adults 5,000 IU/day 1,500-2,000 IU/day 600 IU/day, 800 IU/day for seniors
Recommended daily intakes from various organizations

 

So who is this oh so bold Vitamin D Council?

The Vitamin D Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in California, United States, working to educate the public on vitamin D, sun exposure and health.

” ‘Why,’ you might ask. Simply put, humans do not get enough sun exposure in the 21st century. Because of this, many — if not most — humans are deficient in vitamin D,” writes Dr. Cannell, the Council’s Executive Director.

…..”Research on vitamin D is pouring out and it’s hard to keep up with the latest information. Recommendations on vitamin D and sun exposure are confusing, conflicting and inconsistent. We’re here to help both the public and health professionals sort through everything. The Vitamin D Council serves as a center for evidence-based vitamin D research and is a reliable source for the general public.”

 

Image: By samuiblue, published on 31 May 2013

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Gay marriage a serious ill of our nation? We’re sick alright, but that’s not the issue.

An Orlando Sentinel reader wrote the following opinion letter:

(Gov) Scott should stand steady

Comparing same-sex marriage and integration is like comparing apples and oranges (Letters, Wednesday, JoAnn Lee Frank).

There are many people in the state of Florida who find the subject of gay marriage to be one of the many serious ills that America faces, rather than a good thing. This is one of the issues that is tearing the fabric of this great country apart.

If Gov. Rick Scott has any morals and intestinal fortitude, he will maintain his stand against same-sex marriage and be known as a wise and prudent leader who stood by decency and left a legacy that can be admired.

~ K.B. 

My response:

I respectfully disagree with KB who wrote in her March 24th opinion “there are many people in the state of Florida who find the subject of gay marriage to be one of the many serious ills that America faces, rather than a good thing” and that this is “one of the many issues that is tearing the fabric of this great country apart.”

Sexual orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is not a national illness in need of a cure. If it is, ask yourself when you first realized you were heterosexual. Next, ask yourself when you sought treatment.

The fabric of our nation weaves stronger when we’re not threatened by law abiding citizens who happen to be different than ourselves. Support of gay marriage in Florida continues to gain ground so to fight against a changing public tide is to flail against a strong and relentless undercurrent. Lawsuits against same-sex marriage bans are cropping up all over the nation’s court systems. In January 2014 Public Policy Polling found 47% of Floridians support gay marriage and 44% opposed. This the first time the company found a plurality supporting it

To ban citizens the same marital and adoption rights I’m afforded goes against the 14th Amendment for Equal Protection (states must apply the law equally and cannot discriminate against people or groups of people arbitrarily) and it throws energy into widening rather than narrowing, social divide. Gay men and women aren’t a special interest group screaming “me, me, me,” they’re citizens seeking equal protection. They deserve what I deserve. No more, no less.

What tears at the fabric of our nation is to deny gay adults the right to marry (and to adopt children who need homes) thereby denying the full legal spectrum of marriage, the joy of raising children and the dignity of sanctioned social acceptance. If a citizen can’t internalize support for gay marriage and gay couples adopting (I understand acceptance takes time and sometimes it never happens) then as a nation we must externalize our citizens’ inalienable rights through the law of the land.

To ban gay couples from marrying or adopting children is from my view ethically wrong and cruel. It’s also entirely impractical because thousands of children need loving homes. Loving a child transcends sexual orientation.

How does a gay couple who married and adopted a child in one state move to Florida on a job transfer and explain to their daughter that their life is now a legal no-no? “Your Dad and I love each other and we love you, but this isn’t quite okay enough in Florida?”

I hope through the beauty of a child’s pure mind she never understands any of this. I certainly never will.

Wake up Sunshine State. Time to see the light.

 

Footnote: Florida Public Policy Poll:  http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/pdf/2014/PPP_Release_FL_122.pdf

 

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The right to have kids, shouldn’t be.

 Rachel Fryer

(Rachel Fryer, 32, made a court appearance from the jail Thursday to face the new charges: felony murder, aggravated child abuse, evidence tampering and mishandling human remains. (George Skene, Orlando Sentinel / February 27, 2014)

I once told my friend Carol no one has the right to have kids, we only have the right to want them.

She shot me an annoyed look that said I was missing the point; we all get to have kids, we just better not screw it up.

Evolution hasn’t caught up with my futuristic notion that the something outside the individual (and I’m not referring to God) should decide if we’re worthy to bear children. I haven’t thought this through, like who gets to pick and what’s the criteria, but in essence I think we need to earn the right to parent, not inherit the right.

“I think we should be born sterile,” I told my friend, “and have to prove to something to someone, somewhere that we have the basics in place to have kids. I’m not saying someone has to be rich or have a flawless life record, but parents should be at least 21, have a solid enough showing in the bank, in their current lifestyle and in their head.  This seems logical enough; for God sake not to be cliché, but it takes more paperwork to get a driver’s license than to have a kid. ”

“Fine, but what if this baby approval group rejected you?” Carol asked.

“Then they do. But here’s the thing, I wouldn’t be rejected. I know what good I had growing up. I also know what royal dysfunctional messes left their mark on me,” I told her.

When my daughter Tina was between 2 and 4 there were days I screamed all over her while she chased me down the hall. Doors slammed; I was bone tired, overwhelmed, had PMS and wasn’t giddy (although grateful) about being home full-time. I was convinced I was creating a sad kid forever but she kept smiling at me the next day, and then the next.  As Tina got older and I had more free time to myself, we both screamed less and she kept smiling, not more , but still.

She forgot the time I hid from her in the dark on my porch at 11 pm crouched out of sight.  I tried for two hours to get her to go to bed until we were both spinning out of control.  Eventually I got mean. My husband was usually my mediator during these tirades but he was out-of-town that night and so I was left to my own inner voice which was exhausted, enraged and unsympathetic.  Afraid I might shake or slap my toddler I retreated onto the porch for a couple of minutes. Tina ran around the house from room to room crying “Mommy where are you?

Take that.

Suddenly I felt like throwing up and so I went back inside. I hugged my child on my knees sobbing into the horror that I created even a second of abandonment in her life, because I’d felt more than a second in mine.

My daughter doesn’t remember that night; she seems to remember the other 20 or so days of the month across 16 years I didn’t lose my shit.

The majority wins. That’s parenting.

My Dad’s first wife Pat left our family when I was five.  She had an affair with a man she met on a time-away-from-my-father bird watching cruise.  Pat and Frank eventually got married, partnered up as world-famous wildlife photographers and left their respective kids. Parenting bushels of kids didn’t stand a chance against photographing Lamas, tigers and giraffes in Africa for National Geographic.

This is a woman who should never have had children but she wasn’t born into an era when it was acceptable to opt out, and so she kept having babies. Exist strategies for women who didn’t want to mother used to be Valium, limited career choices outside the home or to leave altogether.  Pat became a mother because at the time when my three brothers, sister and I were born in the fifties and sixties (my father and mother adopted my sister and I) having children is what couples did. Having children was the check list in a woman’s categorized life; not a choice to consider your options.

Not everyone should have children.

Some people shouldn’t dig for non-existent child longings and leanings and the stamina for forever parenthood. I had this for one child; I didn’t have it for two. My desire for a baby while I went through invasive fertility treatments was so all consuming that getting pregnant was a daily breathe prayer of absolute unrelenting certainty that nothing else mattered and nothing else would, until. And yet when my doctor told me I was just as likely to have a second baby as I was a first, my decision had already been made. I was done. 

We need to know why we want to mother. We need to know if our answer is enough to sustain ourselves and our family.

We need to stop pretending we can make some people into parents because kids end up being target practice. 

“Some people are bad parents,  writes Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab, “and no matter what we do, they won’t get any better.” Orlando resident Rachel Fryer has had seven children is pregnant again and is being held on charges of murdering her 2-year-old daughter and burying her in a shallow grave. Two years earlier she “accidentally” suffocated her daughter’s twin brother by rolling over him when he was only two weeks old while she was asleep on the couch.  Rachel was on drugs at the time.  

My life is as removed from Rachel Fryer’s as you can imagine, still as any mother, I’ve felt overwhelmed, depressed, enraged and desperate. “I’m bout to have a nervous breakdown,” read a message allegedly found on Fryer’s cellphone. “I can’t take it no more….My child is retarded, I don’t know what else to do….I need my depression medicine ASAP. This is too much, I’m about to lose it.”

Rachel’s 7 year old daughter allegedly told the police that her mom often hit she and her siblings, and that Rachel beat her the day before her younger sister disappeared.

I know the feeling of wanting to smother incessant crying or to haul off and wallop a child who hits your last nerve. And yet thank God I never did either of those things because I had internal and external options given to me by my parents. I was born into lucky circumstances and somehow maintained impulse control.

I’m not heartless to Rachel’s tragic story, but I’m not willing to give an adult the repeated benefit of the doubt where kids are concerned, when doubt has as long and obvious a tragic history as Rachel’s.

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel

  • Child-welfare officials were concerned Rachel Fryer was an unfit mother and, at various times, objected to her regaining custody.
  • The 32-year-old and her children were reunited, and it wasn’t long before Fryer’s life began to crumble.
  • She couldn’t afford rent.
  • She didn’t have enough money for food.
  • Beds she rented for the kids — ages 2, 3, 4 and 7 — were returned because she couldn’t afford them.
  • Two months after Fryer and the children were reunited a court-appointed child-advocate requested a hearing over “pressing concerns” about the Sanford family.
  • That hearing was never scheduled, and the following week, Fryer’s 2-year-old daughter Tariji was dead.
  • More than 1,700 pages of documents detailing those and other elements of Fryer’s history with child-welfare agencies were released Friday, providing a glimpse of what unfolded in the years after Tariji’s twin brother died in 2011.
  • Fryer, who has given birth to at least seven children and is pregnant, has a long history with the Department of Children and Families.
  • After a drug raid at her home in 2005, Fryer voluntarily gave up her parental rights to two of her children.
  • She gave birth to several more children, and in 2011, Tariji’s twin brother, Tavontae Gordon, died.
  • At the time, authorities concluded Fryer accidentally suffocated the infant while they slept together on the couch. But Sanford police earlier this month reopened the investigation into Tavontae’s death.
  • The infant’s death prompted DCF to remove the four other children — including Tariji — and place them in foster homes.
  • DCF reports characterize Fryer as a woman with mental health problems, drug and alcohol abuse, physical health problems, unstable housing, unstable employment and recurring criminal behavior.
  • In mid-2013, a court-appointed child advocate said the children should remain in foster care because neither Fryer nor the children’s father, Timothy Gordon Jr., had complied fully with the reunification requirements.
  • But Fryer completed her case plan, and Seminole County Circuit Judge Donna McIntosh reunited the family.
  • After that reunion in November, problems quickly arose.
  • Case workers noted in an early December report that Fryer had no steady employment and her income wasn’t sufficient to care for the children.
  • As Fryer’s struggles mounted, she and the children withdrew. The kids missed school. When a bus driver walked up to Fryer’s door and asked to see Tariji, Fryer refused.
  • In a Jan. 30 report, the court-appointed child advocate expressed concerns about Fryer’s financial problems and an array of other issues, including her arrest in December for failing to appear at a court hearing.
  • She also took her kids out of daycare because she was “tired of everyone in her business,” even though it was a condition of her reunification with the children.

“I don’t want people to think I don’t love my kids because I really love my kids. I was scared. I was really scared,” Rachel Fryer said. 

The problem I have is with Rachel’s version of love is her version isn’t good enough. More than likely she grew up around drugs, was neglected or abused and her way is the only parenting style she knows. I could be non-judgmental except we have to judge the welfare of children when lives are at stake. Sometimes we have to judge the long and obvious history of some parents or we don’t protect the children.

This isn’t a matter of whether a mother breast feeds or not, stays home or works, all that competitive parenting chatter that doesn’t make an ounce of difference in the long run of a child’s life. We’re talking about neglect and injury and death, we’re talking about the fact that Rachel somehow keeps getting pregnant and so, is getting another chance to try parenting, again and again.   

Kids aren’t practice for get parenting right, eventually. Kids are the main event for getting ourselves right.

 

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Changing people’s minds? Start with self-esteem.

There should be a common body of facts that everybody can agree on and yet have a difference of opinion……It’s important to make a distinction between beliefs that people hold and the facts.” ~ Dana Milbank National Political Columnist, Washington Post.

We don’t like to admit we’re wrong, our ego flinches automatically.  Admitting we’re wrong after holding a view for a long time can be excruciating.  

A study out of Michigan finds that people rarely change their minds when presented with facts and will often become even more attached to their beliefs in the face of corrective information. 

Obama isn’t an US citizen.

*Vaccines cause autism.

George W Bush is the Antichrist

Hillary Clinton’s brain blood clot hospitalization was timed  around when she was supposed to testify about Benghazi 

September 11th was a US-created attack.

You’ll have better luck convincing people the earth is oblong than changing their mind about statements they’re convinced are true because they want to believe they’re true.

“The lack of humility makes it hard to take an honest look at one’s own views and opinions, causing people to stick with talking lines they know to be contrary to the facts,” says NPR correspondent Neal Conan in his report, “In Politics, Sometimes The Facts Don’t Matter.

Our tendency to hold tight to our beliefs doesn’t bide well for public health officials or politicians trying to shift opinion. What’s worse is the backfire effect. If you try to change someone’s mind by showing them irrefutable facts, while the person might agree with you on the surface, more than likely after you walk away, she’ll stick to her guns even more.

This phenomenon isn’t just because our ego is bruised; it’s because we don’t like what being wrong does to our identity and self-esteem, finds research out of University of Michigan published by Brendan Nyhan, public health researcher.

“The phenomenon is called backfire,” reports NPR’s Conan. “It plays an especially important role in how we shape and solidify our beliefs on immigration, the president’s place of birth, welfare and other highly partisan issues.”

Faced with our beliefs not jibing with the facts a phenomenon called cognitive dissonance, we dig for more information to validate our view.

“As human beings we want to believe, you know, the things that we already believe. And so when you hear some information that contradicts your pre-existing views, unfortunately, what we tend to do is think of why we believed those things in the first place,” explains Nyhan.

So how can we stop people from being fact-blind and hard-headed?

What’s interesting is when researchers in the Michigan study boosted subject’s self-esteem  before they were presented with corrective facts, subjects were more likely to accept the new information and change their beliefs. 

So besides vetting issues with numerous credible fact-checking sources which most of us don’t have the time or wherewithal to do, we need to be humble by default.  We need to accept that we might be wrong and that if we are, this doesn’t mean something’s wrong with us.

“This isn’t a question of education, necessarily, or sophistication. It’s really about preserving that belief that we initially held,” explains Nyhan.

“It’s important to make a distinction between beliefs that people hold and the facts,” says Dana Milbank National Political Columnist, Washington Post.  “So a lot of your emailers and callers have spoken about, you know, evolution or nuclear energy or guns and the death penalty, obviously, people can have very different opinions, and there should be a debate on all of these things. But there should be a common body of facts that everybody can agree on and yet have a difference of opinion.”

“‘So I’ve changed my point of view just really through I think, self-education and actually really great programs like this that are offered to us through NPR.” – NPR caller named Chrissie who changed her views on gun ownership (now pro) and the death penalty (now pro).

*P.s. Vaccines. I used to worry about too many vaccines too soon although when my daughter was young she got all of them on the standard schedule.  For now I’ve opted out of the HPV vaccine until I see more research, her 2nd chicken pox and Hepatitis A.  I discussed this with my nearly 16-year-old so she can decide how she feels about it.

Years ago I researched the autism epidemic and wrote an article.  Autism is a spectrum disorder caused by a number of complex genetic and environmental triggers. To pinpoint one overriding cause is to hold fast to a chosen view rather than to consider evolving ones.

Vaccines per se don’t cause autism, but the mercury preservative thimerosal can have a devastating effect in the first month of life, and on some children in later months.  (See Vaccine Do’s and Don’ts).  “This analysis suggests that high exposure to ethyl mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines in the first month of life increases the risk of subsequent development of neurologic development impairment, but not of neurologic degenerative  or renal impairment. Further confirmatory studies are needed.”  (“Increased risk of developmental neurologic impairment after high exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccine in first.”) 

 

In my view the qualifier “some” children is reason enough to pay attention to what role thimerosal might play in autism incidence which now stands at 1 in 88 children.

We have more to lose with partisan deadlock that leads to public mistrust, missed opportunities and health crises when we stick to our views despite evidence to the contrary.

It’s the most humble people who are open to facts, despite facts erasing all they thought they knew of the issue and therefore themselves, who break through to the other side.

Footnote:

NPR: “When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions.”  

Politifact

Snopes

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