The authors, at Box Lake.

Imprinting Memories   In McCall, like many other mountain communities above the 44th latitude, the transition to fall can be abrupt and signals winter soon to come. Personally, kissing away summer for the colors and cooler temps of fall is a wonderful event, similar to the welcoming embrace of spring and summer. The seasons are part of the amazing beauty we enjoy in the West Central Mountains.

In our family we practice “call backs.” Whether from a real picture or those locked in our mind’s eye, we will often call on the memory of a hike, a mountain bike ride, a time on the lake, or other such activity. To cement the memories for future use, during the activity when we are enjoying the richness of our area, we will stop and verbally state:  “This is a call back.” That’s a signal to us to lock it away for recall on another day. It works – it really does, and is a particularly effective way to energize us on a less-than-perfect day when a recall of something spectacular is needed!

The changing seasons is a time to embrace even more abundantly the amazing out of doors. When our oldest son was about five, I took him on a winter hike in what were arguably tough conditions. I took a photo of him atop a small mountain with only his eyes fully visible and one could conclude he was not enjoying himself. Fast forward 25 years, this now-avid outdoorsman, environmental scientist and father shared the picture with me as his call back to when he first knew he loved the out of doors.

Dog and man. Photo courtesy of the authors.

The Vitamin D Challenge   OK, so what is the vitamin D connection? Your personal call backs remind you of sunny day adventures and an abundance of vitamin D. But the changing seasons and less sun-provided vitamin D is a time to think about getting more. Actually, above the 44th latitude, we should all consider a good vitamin D additive – in all seasons. We do not recommend many diet additives but vitamin D, along with a good fish oil and turmeric are worth your consideration.

A walk in the sunshine could be better in boosting your immune system and preventing the common cold or flu than that Vitamin C you’ve been taking. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because we absorb it as the sun hits our skin. Historically, we have promoted vitamin D because it helps in the absorption of calcium to form and maintain strong bones. Deficiencies led to rickets and contributed to osteoporosis. But recently, new medical research has linked vitamin D as a protective factor in cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, diabetes and several autoimmune diseases. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine also linked low blood levels of vitamin D to increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infection. Some promising research is currently underway studying the link of vitamin D to obesity, MS, depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Photo courtesy of the authors.

You can find vitamin D in fish such as salmon and tuna, egg yolks, fortified dairy products, and cod liver oil, but most of us get it from the sun. As little as 10 minutes of exposure of the face and hands, three times per week, can give us what we need. The rest of the time you should wear sunscreen. Living in Idaho with long dark winters can pose problems meeting our requirements. Vitamin D deficiency has not been well-recognized, but many physicians are now routinely screening their patients. Often times, vitamin D-rich food sources are not enough and supplementation is recommended. After supplementation for a few weeks, many patients experience more energy, less joint pain and overall, feel better. Vitamin D status offers patients one potential option to reduce a possible source of risk for common disorders. Since Idahoans typically don’t get very much sunlight during the long winter months, talk to your doctor about having your levels checked.

Get Outside This Winter

Grab your skis and boots, snowshoes, hiking sticks and skates and embrace what is coming our way, creating your own call backs while absorbing your Vitamin D!

About the author

SeAnne and John Waite

John Waite and SeAnne Safaii-Waite, PhD, RDN, LD, make their home in McCall and can often be found roaming the hills and trails with their Goldendoodle Blink!

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