Q: I’ve heard that sun exposure might be better than pills for getting vitamin D. How much time do you need in the sun without sunscreen to get a good dose?

A: A lot depends on geography, time of year, time of day and the shade of your skin. Someone with fair skin can get adequate vitamin D from about three weekly sessions of 15 to 20 minutes in the summertime. If you were in a northern locale, you might need twice that. People with darker skin need more time in the sun to make the same amount of vitamin D.

Your dermatologist will not be happy about this concept. Most skin doctors warn that any sun exposure without sunscreen is hazardous.

Q: I have been using the pectin/grape juice remedy for joint pain, and it is helping. I do have a question about the formula. If I cannot find liquid Certo, can I use the same measurement for powdered pectin? In other words, is a tablespoon of dry pectin the same dosage as a tablespoon of liquid Certo?

A: The proper quantities of these forms of pectin differ for making jams and jellies. Consequently, we suspect they also would differ for this home remedy to ease painful joints.

It appears that 2 teaspoons of Pomona’s Universal Pectin (powdered) will jell approximately the same quantity of fruit as one pouch of liquid Certo. Each pouch contains 3 fluid ounces (6 tablespoons). This means that one-third teaspoon of powdered pectin would be about equivalent to a tablespoon of liquid pectin.


Powdered pectin doesn’t dissolve in juice as readily, so you may need to shake it vigorously or put it in a blender. You can learn about Certo and grape juice, and other remedies, in our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis, available at PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: Are pecans heart-healthy? I understand that nuts are good for you, but people mostly mention almonds and walnuts. I live in Texas, where pecans are by far the most common nut, and they are also my favorite. Pecans are seldom included in the lists of heart-healthy nuts, which makes me wonder if they are less healthy than the nuts included in the lists.

A: You’ll be happy to learn that pecans, like other tree nuts, are beneficial (Nutrition Journal, June 28, 2015). Scientists analyzed data from more than 14,000 Americans and found that people who ate at least a quarter-ounce of almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios or walnuts daily were leaner, had lower blood pressure, less insulin resistance and higher HDL (good) cholesterol.

An experiment in 26 overweight people ran for 12 weeks and compared a diet in which 15% of calories came from pecans with a control diet similar to what Americans usually eat (Nutrients, March 11, 2018). Both regimens had the same amount of calories, fats and fiber.

After a month of a pecan-rich diet, these individuals had lower insulin resistance and less insulin in their blood. There were other beneficial changes, such as lower cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure, but these did not reach statistical significance.

The scientists concluded, “Pecan consumption lowered the risk of cardiometabolic disease as indicated by a composite score reflecting a significant change in clinically relevant markers, i.e., blood lipids and glucoregulation.” So you can keep enjoying pecans with a clear conscience.