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Vitamin D is a Key Player in Your Overall Health

November 01, 2008 | 165,692 views
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sunlight, sun, vitamin DVitamin D, once linked to only bone diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis, is now recognized as a major player in overall human health.

In a paper published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Anthony Norman, an international expert on vitamin D, identifies vitamin D's potential for contributions to good health in the adaptive and innate immune systems, the secretion and regulation of insulin by the pancreas, the heart and blood pressure regulation, muscle strength and brain activity.

Access to adequate amounts of vitamin D is also believed to be beneficial towards reducing the risk of cancer.

Norman also lists 36 organ tissues in the body whose cells respond biologically to vitamin D, including bone marrow, breast, colon, intestine, kidney, lung, prostate, retina, skin, stomach and uterine tissues.

According to Norman, deficiency of vitamin D can impact all 36 organs. Already, vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle strength decrease, high risk for falls, and increased risk for colorectal, prostate and breast and other major cancers.

An unrelated study also suggests that low vitamin D is associated with Parkinson’s disease. The majority (55 percent) of Parkinson's disease patients in the study had insufficient levels of vitamin D.

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics has doubled its recommendation for a daily dose of vitamin D in children, in the hopes of preventing rickets and promoting other health benefits.

The new guidelines now call for children to receive 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day, beginning in the first few days of life.

“ … Evidence has shown this could have life-long health benefits," said Dr. Frank Greer of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Vitamin D Dose Recommendations
Age Dosage
Below 5 35 units per pound per day
Age 5 - 10 2500 units
Adults 5000 units
Pregnant Women 5000 units
WARNING:
There is no way to know if the above recommendations are correct. The ONLY way to know is to test your blood. You might need 4-5 times the amount recommended above. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.

How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health

A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.

Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.

In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.

To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It’s a tragedy that dermatologists and sunscreen manufacturers have done such a thorough job of scaring people out of the sun. Their widely dispersed message to avoid the sun as much as possible, combined with an overall cultural trend of spending more time indoors during work and leisure time, has greatly contributed to the widespread vitamin D deficiency that’s seen today.

There are only 30,000 genes in your body and vitamin D has been shown to influence over 2,000 of them. That is one of the primary reasons it influences so many diseases (as seen in the table below).

 Cancer  Hypertension  Heart disease
 Autism  Obesity  Rheumatoid arthritis
 Diabetes 1 and 2
 Multiple Sclerosis
 Crohn"s disease
 Flu  Colds  Tuberculosis
 Septicemia  Aging  Psoriasis
 Eczema  Insomnia  Hearing loss
 Muscle pain
 Cavities  Periodontal disease
 Athletic performance
 Macular degeneration
 Myopia
 Pre eclampsia
 Seizures  Fertility
 Asthma  Cystic fibrosis
 Migraines
 Depression  Alzheimer"s disease
 Schizophrenia

Vitamin D really isn’t a vitamin at all but a potent neuroregulatory steroidal hormone. It has become very clear that vitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic across the world and is contributing to many chronic debilitating diseases.

In the United States, the late winter average vitamin D is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is considered a very serious deficiency state. Meanwhile, it’s thought that over 95 percent of U.S. senior citizens may be deficient, along with 85 percent of the American public.

Further:

Vitamin D deficiency is epidemic in adults of all ages who have increased skin pigmentation, such as those whose ancestors are from Africa, the Middle East, or India, who always wear sun protection, or who limit their outdoor activities.

• African Americans and other dark-skinned people and those living in northern latitudes make significantly less vitamin D than other groups.

60 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have vitamin D deficiency.

• Studies showed very low levels of vitamin D among children, the elderly, and women.

• One U.S. study of women revealed that almost half of African American women of childbearing age might be vitamin-D deficient.

Vitamin D and Cancer

Given that cancer, heart disease and diabetes are three of the top causes of death in the United States, ensuring that you are getting enough of this crucial vitamin should be a top priority.

A study by Dr. William Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert, found that about 30 percent of cancer deaths -- which amounts to 2 million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States -- could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D has a protective effect against cancer in several ways, including:

• Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
• Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
• Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
• Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous

Beyond cancer, the researchers pointed out that increasing levels of vitamin D3 could prevent diseases that claim nearly 1 million lives throughout the world each year! And other studies showed that you can decrease your risk of cancer by MORE THAN HALF simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure.

Worried About Getting the Flu? Optimize Your Vitamin D

As we enter into flu season in the United States, you should know that your vitamin D levels play a direct role in your risk of getting the flu.

At least five studies show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and 25(OH)D levels.  That is, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections:

1.   A 2007 study suggests higher vitamin D status enhancesyour immunity to microbial infections. They found that subjects with vitamin D deficiency had significantly more days of absence from work due to respiratory infection than did control subjects.

2.   A 2009 study on vitamin D deficiency in newborns withacute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) confirmed a strong, positive correlation between newborns’ and mother’s vitamin D levels. Over 87 percent ofall newborns and over 67 percent of all mothers had vitamin D levels lower than20 ng/ml, which is a severe deficiency state.

Newborns with vitamin D deficiency appear to have an increased risk ofdeveloping ALRI, and since the child’s vitamin D level strongly correlates withits mother’s, the researchers recommend that all mothers’ optimize their vitamin D levels during pregnancy, especially in the winter months, to safeguard their baby’s health.

3.   A similar Indian study published in 2004 also reported that vitamin D deficiency in infants significantly raised their odds ratio for having severe ALRI.

4.   A 2009 analysis of the Third National Health andNutrition Examination Survey examined the association between vitamin D levelsand recent upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in nearly 19,000 subjects over the age of 12.

Recent URTI was reported by:

·17 percent of participants with vitamin D levels of 30ng/ml or higher

·20 percent of participants with vitamin D levels between 10-30 ng/ml.

·24 percent of participants with vitamin D levels below 10ng/ml

The positive correlation between lower vitamin D levels and increased risk of URTI was even stronger inindividuals with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

5.   Another 2009 report in the journal Pediatric Researchstated that infants and children appear more susceptible to viral rather than bacterial infections when deficient in vitamin D. And that, based on the available evidence showing a strong connection between vitamin D, infections,and immune function in children, vitamin D supplementation may be a valuable therapy in pediatric medicine.

Vitamin D levels in your blood fall to their lowest point during flu seasons. If you have low vitamin D, you will not be protected by your body’s own antibiotics (antimicrobial peptides), which are released by vitamin D. This means that a person with a low vitamin D level is more vulnerable to contracting colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections.

Unfortunately, conventional medicine’s answer to preventing the flu is the flu shot. What they don’t tell you is that flu shots don’t work.

A recent study published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that vaccinating young children against the flu appeared to have no impact on flu-related hospitalizations or doctor visits during two recent flu seasons. And no studies have conclusively proven that flu shots prevent flu-related deaths among the elderly, yet this is one of the key groups to which they’re pushed.

Aside from not working, flu shots contain dangerous additives, like mercury-containing thimerosal, formaldehyde, aluminum, phenol and detergents. The idea that nearly every man, woman and child in the United States should voluntarily line up to be injected with this concoction, as the CDC strongly recommends, is illogical, pointless and dangerous.

What can you do instead to safely prevent, and even treat, the flu?

As I reviewed in this video last month, getting enough vitamin D will nearly eliminate your risk of getting the flu.

But don’t listen to the RDAs spouted by the public health agencies. They are not nearly enough to keep you healthy. In order to prevent the flu, children need 2,000 IU a day of vitamin D, while adults need 5,000 IU to 10,000 IU.

So even though the American Academy of Pediatrics just announced that they’re doubling the RDA of vitamin D for children to 400 IU, their new guidance still falls absurdly short of what’s needed to keep kids healthy.

If you do come down with a case of the flu this year, vitamin D can also help to eliminate the illness. The dose of vitamin D is 2,000 IU per kilogram of body weight, taken as one dose, every day for three days. If you start this program early on in the illness, it should be able to completely wipe out the flu.

The Best Source of Vitamin D, and What Level You Need to Stay Healthy

Exposing your skin to sunlight is the best way to get vitamin D.

Sun exposure (without sunscreen) of about 10 to 15 minutes a day, with at least 40 percent of your skin exposed, is a general guide of how much you need, although people with dark skin will need to stay out significantly longer. Please read this past article for a list of safe tanning guidelines.

If you’re able to get out in the sun for an adequate time period each day, your vitamin D levels should be naturally optimized.

However  most of us struggle with seasonal vitamin D winters in which we  may not be able to get enough sun exposure during certain parts of the year. In that case, I also advise using a safe tanning bed (one that has the harmful emissions shielded) to have your own body produce vitamin D naturally.

A third option is taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement. The most important thing to keep in mind if you opt for oral supplementation is that you only want to supplement with natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is human vitamin D. Do NOT use the synthetic and highly inferior vitamin D2.

How do you know if you’re getting the right amount of vitamin D?

You need to have your blood levels tested, but not just any test -- or any lab -- will do.

I’ve discussed exactly what you need to know to get the right vitamin D test, with accurate results, here. The  OPTIMAL level of vitamin D you’re looking for is 50-65 ng/ml.

Though it may seem like a hassle to go out and get a blood test done, then continue to have your vitamin D monitored as you increase your sun exposure or supplementation, I can confidently say that it is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

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