And Vitamin D cheers you up when it’s cold – A new study suggests that the more garlic people consume, the lower their chances of developing cancer. This should be a big boon to Italian restaurants! Meanwhile, if you’re housebound because the snow and cold are getting you down, our great radio shows can help cheer you up! A daily dose of vitamin D may just be what you need too: It will lift your mood during cold weather months when days are short and more time is spent indoors.

Nutritionist Earl Harrison says, “What we were after was developing a method where we could measure in urine two different compounds, one related to the risk for cancer, and the other, which indicates the extent of consumption of garlic. Our results showed that those were inversely related to one another, meaning that the more we had the marker for garlic consumption, the less there was of the marker for the risk of cancer.”

Scientists hope to find that a nutritional intervention could be a way to stop the process that develops carcinogens. This process is most commonly initiated by exposure to substances called nitrates from certain processed meats or high-heat food preparation practices, or to water contaminated by industry or agricultural runoff.

Vegetables also contain nitrates, but previous research has suggested that the vitamin C in vegetables lowers the risk that those nitrates will convert to something toxic. Researchers suspect that nutrients in garlic could have similar antioxidant effects as vitamin C.

When Anne Strieber was a teacher, many of her Hispanic students wore cloves of garlic around their necks in order to ward off colds and flu (which made for a fragrant classroom!) While this may not be an equally effective use of garlic, when it comes to the cold weather that’s affecting so many Northeastern cities right now, nursing professor Sue Penckofer says, “Vitamin D deficiency continues to be a problem despite the nutrient’s widely reported health benefits. Winters [in the Northeast] compound this issue when more people spend time away from sunlight, which is a natural source of vitamin D.”

Diet alone may not be enough: you need a combination of adequate dietary intake of vitamin D and exposure to sunlight. Depression is associated with increased insulin resistance, so depressed people with diabetes have a greater risk for the disease than those without depression. Women also tend to have greater rates of depression and poorer blood sugar control than men with diabetes.

We’re going to start popping Vitamin D regularly, but would eating more garlic be a good idea? Harrison says, “If you like garlic and you like garlic-containing foods, go out and have as much as you want. There’s no indication it’s going to hurt you, and it may well help you.”

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