The Alliance for Natural Health USA is filing a Qualified Health Claim Petition with the FDA for vitamin D. For years, the FDA held that health claims could only be made if there was Significant Scientific Agreement (SSA) about the claim -- a standard almost impossible to reach in science. Following court losses, the Agency finally acknowledged that consumers benefit from more information.
As a result, the agency has established interim procedures whereby "qualified" health claims can be made, so long as the claims are not misleading.
According to the Alliance for Natural Health:
"It means that if the FDA accepts our petition, producers and sellers of vitamin D will be able to make certain specific claims about its ability to treat certain diseases or conditions."
In the event you decide to supplement, vitamin D3 is 87 percent more potent at raising vitamin D blood levels than vitamin D2, according to a new study. Vitamin D3 also produces a 2- to 3-fold increase over D2 in the storage of the vitamin.
Scientists gave 33 healthy adults 50,000 International Units (IU) of either vitamin D2 or D3 each week for a total of 12 weeks. About 17 percent of the D3 ingested was stored by the subjects, and the rest was consumed or metabolized.
According to the study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism:
"Given its greater potency and lower cost, D3 should be the preferred treatment option when correcting vitamin D deficiency."
You should also be aware that if you use strong sunscreen, it can lead to vitamin D deficiency. Take the case of Tyler Attrill, a 12-year-old girl whose condition came to light when she failed to recover properly from surgery.
According to BBC News:
"Tyler Attrill used factor 50 cream which, according to her consultant, could have deprived her of the essential vitamin and caused the bone disease rickets."
The condition, which is likely shared by many others, caused Tyler pain for a number of years before it was diagnosed.
It may not be long now before you will see vitamin D products endorsed with scientifically backed health claims, thanks to a Qualified Health Claim Petition filed by the Alliance for Natural Health USA.
The petition will go to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is likely to highlight vitamin D's link to reduced rates of certain types of cancer. If the FDA accepts the petition, vitamin D manufacturers will be able to let consumers know about certain diseases and health conditions that can be helped by vitamin D -- and for those who aren't yet aware, there is a lot of great information to be shared.
A Key Player in Disease Prevention and Overall Health Support
In recent years vitamin D has emerged as a star of the "vitamin" world. For example, there are currently over 800 studies showing vitamin D's effectiveness against cancer. Optimizing your vitamin D levels can literally cut your risk of several cancers by 50 percent!
Further, middle aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D could reduce their chances of developing heart disease or diabetes by 43 percent.
Scientists have actually identified a total of nearly 3,000 genes that are upregulated by vitamin D. Because vitamin D is actually a "prohormone," which your body produces from cholesterol, it influences your entire body -- receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones.
So what modern science has now realized is that vitamin D does more than just aid in the absorption of calcium and bone formation, it is also involved in multiple repair and maintenance functions, touches thousands of different genes, regulates your immune system, and much, much more.
Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, as well as chronic inflammation. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.
This is one of the explanations for why it's so effective against colds and influenza.
In addition, since vitamin D also modulates (balances) your immune response, it can prevent an overreaction in the form of inflammation, which can lead to a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn's disease for example. Research has even uncovered that vitamin D may be an effective therapeutic agent to treat or prevent allergy to a common mold.
Among the many other benefits that research is revealing, low levels of vitamin D also double your risk of stroke, which is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
This adds to research that also found vitamin D deficiency is associated with arterial stiffness, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A separate study from Finland also found that those with the lowest vitamin D levels had a 25 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, and when only stroke was looked at, those with the lowest levels had twice the risk as those with the highest.
So you can see that optimizing your vitamin D levels is easily one of the best ways to help prevent a myriad of diseases and conditions, ranging from heart disease, diabetes and cancer to autoimmune disorders, stroke, colds and flu.
What is the Best Form of Vitamin D?
Ideally, the best place to get vitamin D is from your skin being exposed to the UV-B that is in normal sunlight. Vitamin D from sunlight acts as a pro-hormone, rapidly converting into 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or vitamin D3. A common myth is that occasional exposure of your face and hands to sunlight is "sufficient" for vitamin D nutrition. For most of us, this is an absolutely inadequate exposure to move vitamin D levels to the healthy range.
To optimize your levels, you need to expose large portions of your skin to the sun, and you need to do it for more than a few minutes. And, contrary to popular belief, the best time to be in the sun for vitamin D production is actually as near to solar noon as possible.
If you want to get out in the sun to maximize your vitamin D production, and minimize your risk of malignant melanoma, the middle of the day (roughly between 10:00am and 2:00pm) is the best and safest time to go.During this time you need the shortest exposure time to produce vitamin D because UVB rays are most intense at this time. Plus, when the sun goes down toward the horizon, the UVB is filtered out much more than the dangerous UVA.
You just need to be cautious about the length of your exposure. You only need enough exposure to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink. This may only be a few minutes for some if you have a very pale skin.
Once you reach this point your body will not make any additional vitamin D and any additional exposure will only cause harm and damage to your skin.
Most people with fair skin will max out their vitamin D production in just 10-20 minutes, or, again, when your skin starts turning the lightest shade of pink. Some will need less, others more. The darker your skin, the longer exposure you will need to optimize your vitamin D production.
Unfortunately, the amount of sun reaching most of the U.S. is only sufficient to generate a healthy vitamin D response for far less than half the year -- and that's only if you take the time to go out in it.
So, for those times of the year when access to the proper amount of sun is not possible, you will want to consider an oral form of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Make sure, if you supplement, that you are using vitamin D3 and not the far inferior vitamin D2. As the latest research shows, D3 is approximately 87% more potent in raising and maintaining vitamin D concentrations and produces 2- to 3-fold greater storage of vitamin D than does D2. Another option is to use a safe tanning bed, paying careful attention to not getting burned.
New Way to Protect Against Sunburn
Another newer innovation in protecting you against sunburn and other sun-related injuries is to take astaxanthin, about 4 mg for three weeks prior to sun exposure. This should radically reduce your risk of sunburn. We hope to have that on the site in a few weeks, plenty of time before most of you will be getting serious sun exposures.
Sunscreen Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency
The sun's rays contain two primary wavelengths: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB is the more beneficial of the two, as this is what converts into vitamin D. UVA, meanwhile, is now believed to be a primary risk factor for cancer.
UVB has a wavelength that is more easily filtered through the atmosphere, so on a cloudy day you won't get as much of that beneficial radiation on your skin to make vitamin D. However, UVA does not get filtered as well and will penetrate the atmosphere more easily, so it will STILL increase your risk of cancer on cloudy days, in the early morning and late afternoon.
But, if you think you can protect yourself from UVA by using sunscreen, think again.
Many of the sun lotions on the market do not screen for UVA. Unless it specifically says so on the label, assume it doesn't. What most sunscreens end up doing, then, is screening out the beneficial UVB, and therefore limiting your vitamin D, while allowing the dangerous UVA to filter through!
This is exactly what happened to 12-year-old Tyler Attrill, whose mother dutifully applied 50 SPF sunblock onto the child, believing she was protecting him from the sun's rays. Unfortunately, the sunblock resulted in Tyler's developing a severe vitamin D deficiency that caused the bone disease rickets. So you need to be very careful with excess use of sunscreens.
In fact, I really only recommend using sunscreen when you know you'll be outdoors for a long period and won't be able to cover up (and then make sure you use a sunscreen that protects against UVA as well as UVB). Ideally, get out in the sunshine with no sunscreen just long enough to get your vitamin D, then cover up with some loose clothing and a hat.
How Much Vitamin D do You Need?
It is wise to consider oral vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter months, or year-round if you haven't time or sufficient access to the sun or a safe tanning bed.
Based on studies on healthy indigenous peoples, many vitamin D experts now agree that most adults, including pregnant women, require about 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily for optimal health – or 35 IU's of vitamin D per pound of body weight, which is well above the current RDA.
Most adults that are not getting sun or safe tanning bed exposure seem to need between 6,000 and 8,000 units of oral vitamin D3 (NOT D2) EVERY DAY to achieve healthy levels. Please remember that if you are outdoors with significant skin exposure your skin will make about 20,000 units of vitamin D so 6,000-8,000 is not high and can be safely taken by just about anyone for several months without checking levels.
But remember the ONLY way to determine how much you might need is by testing your blood level of vitamin D and ideally you should check your levels about four weeks after starting oral vitamin D. This is in fact a very important aspect of optimizing your vitamin D levels that you should not skip over.
Because while overdosing on vitamin D from sun exposure is highly unlikely as your body has a built-in "failsafe" feedback loop, which will tend to shut down production when your levels are healthy, it IS possible to overdose when taking supplements. The OPTIMAL value of vitamin D that you're looking for has recently been raised to 50-70 ng/ml, with even higher recommended levels required for more serious disease prevention, as shown in the chart below.
For even more information about vitamin D, be sure to watch my one-hour free lecture and also browse through the links below.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
Additionally, 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."