Making the most of Vitamin D season
Summer is all about sunshine, and as we all know, that also means Vitamin D. The best source for Vitamin D is the sun, and receptors for the vitamin are found throughout your body. The amount of Vitamin D in your body varies not only by season, but also by time of day, geographic location and your own genetics. People with light skin can absorb much more Vitamin D than those with darker complexions, but on the other hand they’re also much more susceptible to sun-related skin damage.
The miracle vitamin?
There’s been a lot of hype about Vitamin D over the years, but unlike other health fads, this one doesn’t look like it’s going away. And that’s because the evidence keeps mounting about the vitamin’s benefits.
One of the big areas of research into Vitamin D is related to cancer. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cancer in over 200 epidemiological studies, and more than 2,500 laboratory studies. These types of cancers include skin, pancreatic, prostate and lung cancer, and some researchers have even gone so far as to describe breast cancer as “Vitamin D deficiency syndrome”.
The importance of Vitamin D to bone strength is also well known, as are its benefits for a number of other aspects of our health. Did you know that Vitamin D may also be important in preventing autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis? That link was first hypothesized when it was found that spring babies are statistically more likely to develop autoimmune diseases than fall babies. And the reason for that may be because fall babies gestate during the warm spring and summer months, when their mothers are receiving more sunlight.
Get it right for the Canadian climate
As a northern country, Canada is not especially blessed with sunshine, which means we have to enjoy the sun when we can. But when going outside in the summer, remember to follow Health Canada guidelines on sun safety. Beyond getting your regular shot of golden rays while it lasts, you may also want to make an extra effort to add Vitamin D to your diet, and the Dietitians of Canada can help. One other thing to consider is taking Vitamin D supplements in the fall and winter months. If you do, make sure to consult guidelines for the recommended daily dose. It’s not advisable to take more than necessary just because the weather outside is grey. Furthermore, make sure your supplement is Vitamin D3, which is synthesized when our skin is exposed to sunlight, and makes it more “natural” for us than Vitamin D2.
Following the ups and downs of the stock market
Now that we’re more than half way through the year, it’s a good time to look back at financial markets in 2018. You may recall that January started with a bang as indexes dropped suddenly, and for a few weeks there was the whiff of panic in the air. Markets stabilized, but we then got another jolt in March when the United States slapped new tariffs on products from China, and began talking openly of a trade war. And more recently, the possibility of a trade war grew a lot more real, although this time the market seemed to almost shrug it off.
Market instability is never fun, but it offers a good reminder of something that’s easy to forget: markets don’t go up forever. Corrections happen, and their occurrence underscores how important it is to keep financial news in perspective.
Don’t believe the hype
In a world that’s saturated in media, it’s easy to get caught up in big headlines and sensational stories. For example, on February 5 the Dow Jones suffered its largest point decline in history up to that date, with a drop of 1,175. That might lead people to think that the sky was falling, and a lot of the headlines suggested just that. But in fact, that “historic” decline wasn’t all that historic. While it took 4.6% off the Dow’s value, that was a pretty minor drop when compared to what happened on October 19, 1987—Black Monday. On that occasion, the Dow lost an astonishing 22.6% in one day, even though the drop was only 508 points. The key here, obviously, is not the absolute decline, but the relative one.
Find a strategy and stick to it
What that anecdote tells you is that it’s important not to get caught up in momentary developments, but focus instead on the big picture. Look at how far markets have climbed whenever the media tells you how far they just fell. Remember how much of your portfolio is held in bonds or GICs, whenever you read about turbulence surrounding more risky types of investments. And keep in mind that you’re not going to need your entire portfolio tomorrow. In fact, you may not need any of it for quite a while, especially if you have a nice cushion of cash in your savings precisely for those days when the markets head south.
Another thing to remember is where you’re invested. Even though the Canadian market declined at the same time as the Dow in early 2018, it dropped by quite a bit less. In large part, that was because the percentage growth of the Toronto Stock Exchange has been dwarfed by that of its American counterpart over the past five years, so those headlines weren’t quite as dire if your portfolio was weighted towards Canada.
What matters in times of volatility is to remember the basics. If you’ve followed the most important rules of financial planning—spread your assets across cash, bonds and equities, diversify geographically, take on a risk level that’s appropriate for your age, wealth and life circumstances, etc.—you have no reason to worry about the headlines. Just keep calm, and carry on.
Keeping your credit score in fine fettle
When it comes to finances, far too many people overlook the finer details of maintaining a healthy credit score. Your credit score is like a calling card, establishing your reputation with financial institutions. A good credit score is not just vital to winning approval for loans, credit cards and mortgages. It can also be of considerable help in securing you a lower rate on whatever you borrow.
There’s every reason to maintain a good credit score, but most people are only somewhat aware of how to do that. A good score depends on a lot more than just meeting your regular payments. The kind of credit you hold, how and when you pay, and how close you are to your credit limit are all key factors.
To help you better understand how your credit score can decline, our Oaken Blog recently compiled five common mistakes that consumers make which lead to lower credit scores. You can read the full post here.
Looking back at another great stampede event
A big western thank-you to everyone who came out for our Calgary Stampede shindig earlier this month! Once again we hosted a very enjoyable get-together in our Calgary store, that showcased the best in Alberta-style hospitality. Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and our friendly Oaken team proved just the right ingredients for a fun afternoon, and we hope it all added to the spirit of the main event. We had our biggest turnout so far, and were delighted to see a lot of new faces as well as older familiar ones. We hope to see you again next year when the rodeo rolls back into town.
Remember that our stores are always ready to welcome you for a drop-in visit, any time of the year. Coffee, tea or cold drinks are available, and we really enjoy seeing new people pop in for a chat. Whether you’re interested in asking about something specific, or just looking for a general discussion of things financial, we’re here to listen.
It’s the middle of summer, when the sun is at its strongest, so here’s a reading list for a shady corner of your garden or deck (alongside a long, cool drink)…
- A recent article from CNBC on trade jitters that shows just how difficult it is to know how markets will react to financial news.
- Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail on the very real consequences of a change in your credit score.
- The Suzuki Foundation weighs in on choosing the right sunscreen this summer.