Vitamin D – important for many reasons

Vitamin D

Winter is here! A lot of us will be spending more time indoors and wearing more clothing that covers our skin.  This means we will have less exposure to sunlight.  Less sunlight means we may have lower levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is important for the strength of our bones and muscles.  People with very low levels of vitamin D are at risk of breaking a bone.  Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to UV radiation from sunlight and vitamin D helps us absorb calcium.

If you have fair skin you only need about 10 minutes of exposure to the sun each day in summer to get sufficient vitamin D.  This can occur when driving in the car to work or hanging the washing on the line.  Half an hour or more may be needed in winter.  If you have darker skin you may need up to five times more sun exposure.  This is because darker skin does not absorb as much UV radiation.

Those people who are most at risk of having low vitamin D levels are; people who do not go outside very often and so do not have much sun exposure, those with darker skin and people who wear covering clothing.

Due to the risk of skin cancer some people avoid sun exposure.  The Cancer Council of Australia recommends covering up/wearing sunscreen when the UV Index is above 3 or when you will be in the sun for longer than the time needed to make vitamin D.

If your Doctor thinks you may be at risk of having low vitamin D they will order a blood test to check this.  A supplement can be taken to increase vitamin D levels.  Some vitamin D can be obtained from our diet through eating fish and eggs though this is not enough if there is a deficiency.

In addition to the benefits of vitamin D for our bones it has been shown that adequate levels of vitamin D are important in treating and preventing type 2 diabetes, depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, schizophrenia, asthma, migraines, obesity, metabolic syndrome and cancers.

Taking medicines away from food

taking medicines away from food

I’ve written about medicines that should be taken with food so this week it’s time for medicines that should be taken away from food.


Why some medicines should be taken away from food

To make sure the medicine is processed and absorbed properly. Calcium in dairy products stops the absorption of iron and some antibiotics.  Thyroxine, to treat hypothyroidism, should be taken away from food so that it is absorbed properly.

To make sure the medicine breaks down properly in the intestines and liver. Grapefruit juice has such an unpredictable effect with a lot of medicines that it should not be consumed unless you are sure it is safe with your medicines.

Because the “food” acts in a similar way to the medicine. This is like having an overdose.  This is why alcohol should not be consumed with medications that cause sedation and caffeine should not be used with stimulating medicines.



When it is stated to take a medicine on an empty stomach this generally means to take it one hour before food or two hours after



Take these medicines away from food

  • Beta blockers (heart medicine) eg atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol
  • H2 antagonists (for indigestion/reflux) eg ranitidine, famotidine, nizatidine. Take 30- 60 minutes before food.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (for indigestion/reflux) eg omeprazole, esomeprazole, pantoprazole, rabeprazole. Take 30-60 minutes before food.
  • Thyroxine (thyroid medicine) Take 30-60 minutes before breakfast.
  • Some antibiotics eg ciprofloxacin, roxithromycin
  • Claratyne




No I’m not talking about the Guns n Roses song, as good as it is!

What is patience?


The Oxford Dictionary meaning is:

The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.


Sounds easy doesn’t it?!

We all know it isn’t the case, so how can we learn to use it?


The answer isn’t that easy and if I could answer it succinctly I think I’d be rich.


You’ve undoubtedly read my recent article about back pain issues in my house and unfortunately they’ve flared up again. It is frustrating. Regular treatment is working. The prescribed exercises are being done. Training is being modified, everything is being done as instructed yet it isn’t back (pardon the pun) to where it should be.


Needless to say someone is feeling frustrated. With that comes annoyance, anxiety and even the feeling of inadequacy. When we can’t do what we are used to doing or what we want to do it is tough!


This happens so often with all of us whether it’s injury, illness or recovery from a medical procedure. Trust in the advice from your health professional. They know the best way to help you and that is why we do what we do.


My patient has almost lost his patience a few times but he understands that the process can take a while and he will get better.


Taking medicines with food

taking medicines with food

I have written previously about why some medicines should be taken with food and some should be taken without.  In this article I will give some examples of medicines that should be taken with food.


Why medicines should be taken with food

To recap, the main reasons why some medicines should be taken with food are

  • that the medicine is absorbed into your body better so that it works effectively
  • there is less chance of the medicine upsetting your stomach

See the post ‘Should I take my medicine with food or not?’ for more information


Take these medicines with food

The following medicines are best taken a few minutes before eating, while eating or a few minutes after eating.

  • ACE Inhibitors (used for blood pressure) eg ramipril, perindopril, enalapril, fosinopril, quinapril, trandolapril, lisinopril, captopril
  • Codeine and other opioids such as tramadol. Food reduces nausea with these.
  • Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, aspirin, diclofenac. Food reduces stomach irritation with these medicines.
  • All types are best taken with food to reduce nausea.
  • Diabetes medicines. Metformin (and combinations of metformin with other medicines), Amaryl and Byetta are best taken/used with food to minimise nausea.
  • Medicines with oestrogen eg HRT and oral contraceptives
  • Epilepsy medicines eg sodium valproate, gabapentin, phenytoin
  • Some antibiotics can irritate the stomach and even though they work better without food it is best to take them with food for this reason eg amoxycillin with clavulanate, doxycycline, erythromycin, metronidazole, cephalexin, cefaclor


There are many other medicines that are best taken with food but it’s impossible to list them all.  Ask you Pharmacist or consult the Consumer Medicine Information to see if your medicines should be taken with food or not.

Happy belated Mother’s Day

Mother's day

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all of the Mums out there reading and supporting me every week.

My day was good and I hope yours was also. It was a very busy end of the week for me. I was fortunate enough to sneak a little nap on the lounge in the afternoon.


It felt really good to have that rest. Until the guilt and panic set in when I woke;


I haven’t done all the washing,


I still need to clean the floors,


What are we having for dinner?


What are the kids having for lunch on Wednesday?


Who did I have to call back?


What post do I have to write for Monday?


We didn’t dust the bedrooms


Where did I put the school uniforms?


Have I ironed yet?




Then all of a sudden I said to myself “STOP”!




You’ve had a good day, you’ve had a rest. Why?


Because I’m tired, bordering on exhausted.


Did I waste time sleeping when I could have been doing those things?


My mothering mind said yes.


My clinical mind said “no”




My Healthful Wisdom mind said “you haven’t wasted time. You’ve done what you needed”


My point for this week is that we are all busy, sometimes we don’t feel like we stop and then we beat ourselves up for it. There’s no need to do that though. Sometimes it’s what you need. It’s called recovering and it’s not a bad thing.


And do you know what? We’ve managed to get to work and school I’ve washed and ironed clothes, we’ve eaten and the house has been cleaned. My panic and guilt wasn’t needed. Do yourself a favour occasionally and have the rest that your body tells you is required- it might save you from burning yourself out!