Vitamin D Deficiency: A Silent Epidemic

By Frank Tabino | Category: Natural supplements, NUTRITION, NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS, Vitamin Supplements, VITAMINS

I typically don’t consider taking my nutritional supplements as a seasonal exercise, but as we approach autumn, I am always conscious of my vitamin D3 intake. Vitamin D is one of the vitamins that our bodies can produce. Your body will produce vitamin D from cholesterol when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight, but this is the time of year when we begin to get less and less exposure to the sun.

Your geographic location can also affect the amount of vitamin D that your body will make. I live in Florida, around latitude 26. During a 30 walk my body will make around 20,000IU of vitamin D. If you live in New York, or Denver or Seattle, your body will make a fraction of that amount.

In autumn, doctors begin seeing more cases of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a form of depression that is related to seasonal changes. Most people will experience SAD symptoms at the start of Autumn and continue through the winter months. Several studies done in Massachusetts show that Vitamin D level is associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is an extremely active vitamin. Researchers tend to think of vitamin D as more of a hormone than a vitamin. Vitamin D controls about 2,000 gene switches in our bodies, and it plays an important role in our emotional state. Depending which study you read, forty to sixty percent of Americans have inadequate levels of vitamin D.   The reason for this epidemic is not surprising when you think about it.

First, Vitamin D deficiency is, usually, a result of insufficient exposure to sunlight. Your body produces vitamin D when your bare skin is exposed to the UVB rays of the sun. Unfortunately, people today are trying to avoid to the sun. If they were in the sun, most people would slather themselves with SPF 50 sunscreens. If you use a sunblock of SPF 8 or higher, you will actually reduce your body’s production of vitamin D by as much as 95%.

Another reason for the silent epidemic of vitamin D deficiency is there are remarkably few foods that are rich sources of vitamin D. Oily fish, like salmon or sardines is the exception. If fish is a major component of your diet, you may have adequate vitamin D levels for optimal health. There are also age-related changes in the skin that need to be considered. As you age, your body’s ability to make vitamin D declines.

Vitamin D is naturally produced from cholesterol when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight. Many elderly people have been put on cholesterol lowering drugs, and this may be a limiting factor in your natural vitamin D production. Perhaps we are too preoccupied with our cholesterol numbers to entertain the notion that a vitamin D deficiency could have far ranged effects on your health. At one time, all we knew about vitamin D was that we needed minimal levels to prevent a bone disease known as rickets. Since then, research has uncovered a laundry list of health conditions that are linked to vitamin D levels.

Recently, there has been increasing interest in the role that Vitamin D plays in overall health, and topics of discussion are varied. Vitamin D deficiency is being linked to everything from the common cold to cancer.

Researchers at the University of Colorado followed 19,000 people to determine if Vitamin D levels could predict the common cold. Researchers found an inverse relationship to vitamin D levels and the incidence of the common cold. The data showed that participants with the lowest levels of Vitamin D were more likely to have recently suffered from a cold or respiratory infection, than those with vitamin D levels within the acceptable range. A low level of vitamin D was even more impressive in people with asthma or COPD. People with the least vitamin D showed a six-fold increase in asthma and a three-fold increase in COPD, than those with the highest vitamin D levels.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine summarized studies that showed the same inverse relationship between vitamin D and cancer. The researchers believed that adequate levels of vitamin D could prevent up to 39% of all cancers, with the biggest impact on breast cancer, colon cancer and the most aggressive types of prostate cancer. Additionally, the report noted that adequate levels of vitamin D could significantly reduce the incidence of juvenile-onset diabetes, an auto-immune disease, also known type I diabetes.

Vitamin D and Breast Cancer

Findings published in the International Journal of Cancer indicate high concentrations of plasma vitamin D are associated with a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer for pre-menopausal women.

According to Dr. Jenny Chang-Claude of the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, the anticancer properties of vitamin D are well established. There is mounting evidence that shows vitamin D can influence normal cell differentiation while inhibiting cell proliferation through the regulation of apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death for a typical cell.

Vitamin D deficiency is an important topic.

More than half of the American population is suspected to have less than adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. I covered this issue on my radio show, The Natural Health Hour, in an interview with Dr. Marc Sorenson. Dr. Sorenson wrote the book on Vitamin D. His latest book, Vitamin D3 and Solar Power for Optimal Health, is the first book written on vitamin D for the layman. Dr. Sorenson analyzed more than 800 medical and scientific resources during the course of his research on the book and traced 105 diseases that are linked to inadequate vitamin D.

As Sorenson said in a recent interview, “Due to the misguided efforts to frighten the public out of sunlight, we find ourselves in the middle of a health crisis,” said Sorenson. “As we have become indoor dwellers, melanoma rates have skyrocketed along with many other diseases. I’m here to help reverse that trend.”

I take 5,000IU of supplemental vitamin D daily. During this time of year, I raise my supplemental vitamin D intake to 10,000IU daily. Vitamin plays an important role in maintaining immune system vigilance. We will be entering the flu season soon, and it is important to keep our immune system ready for whatever bacteria or virus that tries to invade your body.

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