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April 05, 2011



Thank you for today's GREAT post! Lots of great info! I LOVE your blog, and look forward to each and every post.

wendy (healthy girl)

Debby-Perfect timing! I've got vitamin D confusion. What do you think of this: Dr. McDougall says "Vitamin D: Values for Normal Are Exaggerated"
I so want your critical analysis of his article!
Thank you.


Thanks for the review of Vitamin D and bone health. I really like the tip on gummie vitamins.

Recently, vitamin D levels have been linked with health of blood vessels

With regard to bone density, Vitamin K is another very important player. Lots of information on the web since this 2001 study was published.

Where do we get our Vitamin K? From green leafy veggies! So we may be safe on this one without even knowing it. ;-)

Joel Fuhrman list green veggies at the top of his ANDI rankings . You have a nice link at He has patented an invention related to ANDI rankings. The patent has a similar chart. The chart in the patent also includes serving sizes. Now I know why iceberg lettuce has such a high ranking. Here is a link for his patent.

Squatting is a best exercise. I do it as a calisthenic exercise. I recommend the free program at for systematically building strength in some of the largest muscles in the legs. I perform a variation of the exercise known as the 'Hindu squat'. Here is a link to YouTube


Have you noticed Isa's recipe for vegan matzoh balls in Vegan with a Vengeance? I made them once a few years back, and they were pretty good. (The accompanying recipe for vegan chicken soup was very good too.) She uses oil, but I'm thinking - why not substitute cashews or pine nuts? I'd soak them overnight first, then puree them in the Vitamix. I might also try avocado. That leaves surprisingly little taste of avocado when you use it as a fat substitute in baking; why wouldn't it work the same in matzoh balls? Other than turning them a bit green, which might actually be pretty. You could add some parsley and make it look like the color was intentional.

I am curious about what you think about McDougall too. I check and double-check everything he says, and every once in a while I feel like he's fudging data to make his own case, but with the Vitamin D thing, I don't see where that's happening.


good post!

Healthy Librarian

DPS--Wow, thanks for the wealth of info. Anxious to check out all your links & the 200 squat site! Yay re vitamin K!!

Barbara--thanks for the Isa recipe tip. Love your avocado addition--will work perfectly for my "traditional" Passover soup---it's green--Fennel, Leek, & Spinach & it's way better than chicken or "fake" chicken soup with matzo balls.

Wendy & Barbara---I'm sticking with Dr. Michael Holick & Dr. Bruce Hollis' vitamin D research over Dr. McDougall's. I've read a lot about D & the research as well as the actual benefits when it is increased to sufficient levels is compelling--and where I live there is no way I could ever get enough natural D. McDougall lives in CA. Besides, I make up my own mind about things--and don't buy into any one person's viewpoint.

Thanks, Leslie!

Ken Leebow


You have a great looking grandson! Looks like you had a blast.

After listening to the NPR report (that you referenced) about the made-up disease of osteopenia, I had my wife get off the prescription med (of course, she consulted with her doc).

If anyone is "on the fence" about doing strength-training, I recommend this video at my site This is the video that convinced me to start training with weights. No doubt, it has made for a very positive health-change.

In good health,

Ken Leebow


I know you love your spin class, but have you tried rowing? So many advantages if your gym has an erg----


Excellent post, as always! Thanks! I love the feeling of getting stronger after a weak and skinny childhood. Weight-lifting has been helped me address an inherited joint condition (building muscle around weak/unstable joints), and I hope it helps me avoid the family osteoporosis. Granny went from an estimated 6 feet tall in her youth (she always hunched over, trying to look shorter), to a bent 5 ft 2 or 3 before she died at age 88. I stand tall, and my father-in-law asked me at Christmas (after 6 months back in the gym) if I was growing!
At 40, I don't think so, but the exercise certainly helps me avoid shrinking.
It has such positive effects on your self confidence (yes, I can lift that bag of potting soil, thanks) as well as your bones. Well worth the effort!

Healthy Librarian

Hey Ken, thanks for the link to the exercise video!

Crewmom--Re rowing--do you mean like outside crewing with a group, or using a rowing machine? Are you on a crew team? Never thought about the rowing machine--but, you're right, it's a great way to build a strong back.

Mitzi--I know exactly how you feel! It's so empowering to feel strong, and capable of lifting heavy loads. What kind of weight routine are you following?


I love spinning too but I almost always stand now or do that spinning squat. Question is, does that count as weight bearing on the bike? If I stand instead of sit? Please advise!


Re: Vitamin D3 vs D2

As someone who was vegan for nearly a decade I sympathize with those who strive to eliminate all animal products from their lives. However, I would strongly encourage vegans to consider using D3 for the following reasons:

1) D3 is the form humans and fish make. D2 is not found in any appreciable amounts in the human body.
2) D3 has higher biological activity than D2. Yet evidence suggests D2 is more toxic in overdose.
3) D3 is the form of vitamin D used in most clinical trials.
4) D3 is more shelf-stable, which means the amount in the bottle is more accurate.
5) Contrary to popular belief, the two forms follow slightly different metabolic pathways. This may be clinically significant.
6) Prescription vitamin D is D2 -- not because it is better, but because the FDA has not classified D3 as a drug (it's a supplement). D2 is a lot cheaper than D3, but that is its main advantage.

It seems imprudent to take a less effective, possibly more toxic form of vitamin D when there are known problems associated with both vitamin D deficiency *and* toxicity (excess). Perhaps a company would consider making D3 from more humanely produced sheep wool (i.e., shear the animals carefully so they don't lose tails and give them a good, free-range sort of life). Going out in the sun is not enough for anyone who lives north of Georgia, and even then vitamin D production is still low in winter.


I got interested in rowing when my daughter joined her high school crew team, and the erg was a godsend after having both hips replaced. It completely rehabbed my shoulders (wrecked after so much time on crutches) and has stabilized my knees after botched knee surgery when I was a teenager. It does give you a strong back, but also so much more! Here's a link to some of the benefits:

And for osteoporosis specifically, you might be interested in the link here (see the second story):

Do invest 5 minutes and get some instruction from either a live coach (I call my daughter the "Form Police")or any of the excellent videos around. If you're close to water, there are lots of groups (regular rowing and dragon boating as well) but for me the erg is the best.


I do the basics- I used machines (curls and extensions), swimming, and stretching to rehab 2 knees dislocated in a dreadful martial-arts grappling accident. Now I can do full squats again (many years later)! For a shoulder injury, I used light dumbells (5 lb, then 10, now 20!) to stabilize the muscles of the rotator cuff over time. Now I'm off the chest press machine and can do bench press with the bar+10 pounds or 2 20-pound dumbells. I use plank and ball work for abdominals, and ride a reclining bike for warm-up (which surprisingly stabilized my ankles). I also use a weight-assist machine for chin-ups and dips, and hope to be able to chin-up my own body weight by this time next year, for the first time EVER. I do this three times a week, and walk on off-days in addition to parking at the back of lots, taking stairs, etc. All my joints are hyper-mobile and can partially (or fully) dislocate at times, so I have to be extra careful to stabilize the joint, then strengthen the muscles. If you are not sure about your technique, start on the machines or with an instructor. It is worth it to pay a qualified professional to tell you how to do things right, for your body and medical history. Then work your way to the free weights and more functional movements (like squats, dips, and chin-ups) as you gain confidence and skill.

Healthy Librarian

Wow, Mitzi!! What a woman! You're motivating me to up my game in the weight-training dept. Thanks for writing up your routine.

Healthy Librarian


Honestly, I don't if standing or squatting while spinning makes it weight-bearing--but I did see this (4 years old though) on Dr. Miriam Nelson's Strong Women website:

Q: Does a Spinning class count as weight-bearing exercise?

A: Spinning is a great aerobic workout and because most Spinning classes involve several minutes of standing climbs, it can be considered a hybrid of both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing exercise. As far as I know, there isn’t any research that looks at the relationship of Spinning and bone health. If your goal is to keep your bones strong, be sure to keep up with your traditional strength-training program, too.

Claudia Schmidt

I just found your post, referred by a fellow blogger. It's fascinating and I will be spending lots of time over the next few weeks reading older posts. Thanks for putting it all up here for others to see. I'm a breast cancer survivor and always searching for new ways to keep healthy. So...THANKS. I'll be back......


Just wanted to take exception to your statement, "But look, there's no way we're going back to the squat toilet."

Once all the benefits of squatting have been validated, people will realize that their children deserve to be spared the fate our generation has suffered. We are leaving the world in such a mess in so many ways -- why not let our children at least enjoy a healthier and more natural defecation and childbirth posture?

There are special toilets made for squatting or sitting, so that adults who have lost the ability to squat can keep sitting, while their children can squat. Here is a picture of such toilets:

Gael in Vermont

I was missing my "DEB" fix last week! I'm glad you're back and had a great visit with the rejuvenating. I just used my teacher discount at Borders to buy Isa's new book...Appetite for Reduction (love the play on words from Guns 'n' Roses Appetite for Destruction)...she must be a rocker! It looks great and can't wait to dive in to the wonderful recipes. You mentioned a tiny little thing I hadn't heard previously...a bit of HRT. What benefits do you find from "a very low dose"? Are you taking HRT for bones or heart or overall endocrine health? Just curious. Happy Passover! Actually I spotted a matzoh ball recipe in Isa's BRUNCH book...if you don't have one already.


Thank you for the research in regard to standing and squatting while spinning. That is what I do during the hour I spin - even when the instructor says to sit, I still stand or squat so unless I hear otherwise, I will keep doing it since it is my favorite exercise and the one I actually do. I will try to start weight lifting although I detest it.

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