Sunday, January 06, 2008

Vitamin D Shortage

I was picking up a few things at the health food store the other night and vitamin D3 was on my list. I live in a northern climate and don't get much sun during the winter months. When I got to the section where hundreds of different brands of vitamin D once stood, I found that the shelves were almost bare! The store clerk told me they were having a hard time keeping it on the shelf. There are a lot of studies that have come out recently as to the health benefits of this little power house.

Look at the following video from ABC News that talks about the benefits of vitamin D on your health. Click on the following link to watch.

Vitamin D and Your Heart

No matter what the medical establishment and the sunscreen industry say, your body has a physical need for sunlight. You probably already know that your skin reacts to sunlight by making vitamin D. Some evidence suggests a dearth of vitamin D may be associated with an array of more serious illnesses, including immune-system disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes. But you may not know just how beneficial vitamin D really is. Here’s just a sample of its clinically proven power.

  • Elevates mood and boosts mental performance

  • Prevents many types of cancers, including prostate, breast and ovarian

  • Reduces the risk of melanoma

  • Halts and even reverses the effects of bone diseases like rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis

  • Relieves depression and lessens the symptoms of schizophrenia

  • Enhances the function of your pancreas

  • Increases insulin sensitivity and prevents diabetes

  • Promotes weight loss

  • Provides more restful sleep

  • Lends energy, vitality, and stamina

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Brings high blood sugar levels down

  • Lowers the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood

  • Increases white blood cell activity and strengthens immunity

  • Increases muscle strength and coordination

The following video is nothing short of amazing. It talks about the miracle of vitamin D and how it can help prevent everything from colds to a 60% reduction in cancer. Supplementing with vitamin D could also be a better choice than taking a flu shot!

Vitamin D: Essential for Prevention of Diseases

So how much do you need? I don't think that has been determined yet, but we do know how much the body uses on a daily basis. In a study performed at Creighton University in Omaha, researchers found that adults will use 3,000 to 5,000 units of vitamin D per day, if it is available. We also know that a young adult with fair skin makes 20,000 units of vitamin D in less than half an hour of strong sun exposure. Many scientists have begun pushing to sharply boost the official recommendations for how much vitamin D everyone should get daily, either by taking supplements or by getting more sun exposure. If you think you can get all the vitamin D you need from the food you eat, think again. To put it in perspective, look at how much vitamin D you would get from various foods compared to sunshine.

  • 8 oz. glass of fortified milk has 100 IU and equals 45 seconds of sunshine
  • 1 egg has 20 IU and that equals 8 seconds of sunshine
  • 1 tablespoon of butter has 8 IU and that equals 5 seconds of sunshine
  • Fish (canned or fresh) contains 200-400 IU and that equals 1.5-3 minutes of sunshine.
  • Cod Liver Oil contains 1360 IU and is equivalent to 8 minutes of sunshine
  • Total American Daily Diet contains 200-250 IU which is equal to 1.5-2 minutes of sunshine
*Calculated at maximum total-body sun exposure for one-half hour at noontime in the summer sun at a southern latitude= 10,000 IU. This is a very optimistic estimate which assumed ideal conditions to produce natural vitamin D. In real life, probably 10-fold more time needs to be spent in the sun to produce the amount of vitamin D levels above. Source: The Uncensored Family Guide To Vitamin D.

Michael F. Holick, a Boston University scientist argues that instead of the 200 to 600 international units a day that current recommendations suggest, most people should be getting at least 1,000 units a day. In a controversial new book, "The UV Advantage," Holick recommends exposing the hands, face, arms and legs to the sun for five to 15 minutes a day a few days a week, which he says would be enough to generate that amount without increasing the risk for skin cancer. Many people are not getting even that amount of sun exposure on a regular basis, Holick and others say.

Click Here To Read An Article By Michael Holick In The New England Journal of Medicine That Talks About Vitamin D Deficiency

But when the sun is low in the sky during winter, it can be difficult to get enough sun exposure, even if you spend time outdoors. Many cancers, most notably breast, colon and prostate cancer, seem to increase the farther you get from the equator, where exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun is greatest.

If you are an African American, you are at even greater risk. The darker your skin, the more UVB rays from the sun are filtered out or blocked. These are the type of rays that cause the skin to naturally produce vitamin D. African Americans have about half the levels of vitamin D than lighter skinned peoples. "The highest rate of prostate cancer is among African Americans, followed by countries in northern Europe. How are blacks like Scandinavians? They don't look alike, but in some important ways they have to be alike," said Gary G. Schwartz, a cancer researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. "One way that they are alike is both groups have very low levels of vitamin D." African Americans may be suffering from unrecognized deficiencies of vitamin D that increase the risk of bone problems and perhaps a host of other diseases, a growing number of scientists say. One federal study of women nationwide found that perhaps nearly half of African American women of childbearing age may be vitamin D deficient.
Black Americans, who are often vitamin D–deficient, are more prone to contracting tuberculosis than are whites, and tend to have a more aggressive form of the disease.

While there could be many other explanations, the idea that vitamin D may help prevent malignancies has been buttressed by animal and laboratory studies indicating it can act as a brake on cell growth, preventing the uncontrolled cell division that is cancer.
Similarly, vitamin D appears to damp down the immune system, and researchers have also found associations among sun exposure, vitamin D levels and the incidence of "autoimmune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and diabetes, in which the immune system attacks the body.

Some studies suggest vitamin D can reduce blood pressure, which would cut the risk for heart disease and strokes -- the nation's leading causes of death. Others suggest that low vitamin D levels may contribute to depression and other psychiatric conditions.

According to Dr. Louise Parker, vitamin D is proving to have an affect on many different cancers. She is an epidemiologist and a world expert in the environmental exposures that can lead to cancer. " On the average, 1000 units per day is safe and is probably effective in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and maybe other cancers as well," says Dr. Parker. Click on the following article to read more.

A Ray Of Sunshine In The Fight Against Cancer: Vitamin D May Help

Vitamin D can help prevent hip fractures and osteoporosis in the elderly. If calcium is the vehicle to healthy bones and avoidance of osteoporosis, then vitamin D3 is the highway. Studies show patients with osteoporosis treated with vitamin D3 increased calcium absorption and reduced bone loss. Vitamin D needs magnesium to convert it to its most active form. If there is depletion in magnesium, this can lead to a syndrome of vitamin D resistance.

The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging reported that vitamin D supplementation had a greater benefit towards relieving the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and the depression associated with it. Click on the following link to read about the study.

Vitamin D vs broad spectrum phototherapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder.

If you think that you might have low levels of vitamin D in your blood, you can have your doctor do a D25-hydroxy blood test to see what your levels are. A regular blood panel will not determiine this. It must be a D25-hydroxy test to measure you vitamin D3 levels. Make sure you are specific about asking for this test.

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