October 31, 2016

393 Vitamin D-Day [31 Oct 2016]

This Wednesday, November 2, is international Vitamin D Day (see www.vitamindday.net). It was created to highlight the estimated one third of the world (over 1 billion people!) that is deficient in this essential vitamin. This incredibly high deficiency rate is caused by two factors – people living in northern countries and people living a mostly indoor lifestyle.

It wasn’t stated but I suspect the date was chosen to reflect the beginning of the season where most Americans can no longer obtain any vitamin D from the sun. In Saskatchewan the date should be September 2. By mid-August we’d have to spend a half hour naked at noon to absorb enough UVB rays to synthesize sufficient vitamin D, so from September on we are dependent on supplements or sunlamps.

Why is vitamin D so important? Its role in calcium metabolism – essential for strong bones – is well known. More recently, research has shown that D deficiency is a risk factor for many different diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and infectious diseases like influenza. Vitamin D deficiency also makes some diseases more severe including respiratory diseases, and autoimmune diseases like MS and lupus. And researchers are finding that vitamin D can play an important role in the treatment of certain diseases including MS, cystic fibrosis, asthma and many more.

So vitamin D is probably the most important supplement you can take, and it’s inexpensive – about $.30 a day for 5,000 IU (if 5,000 seems like a high number, it’s really only 0.125 mg).

Ideally you should have your blood levels monitored, as people vary considerably in their ability to absorb and utilize the vitamin. Optimum levels are 100-150 nmol/L with anything below 75 considered deficient. If you don’t know your D levels, a supplement range of 5-10,000 IU daily should keep most people close to optimum. Make sure your vitamin D is the more effective D3 form.

There are two other options for winter vitamin D: holidays and sunlamps. A fun way to get your winter vitamin D is to spend several months down south where the sun is high enough. Remember to expose maximum skin at midday, without sunscreen, for 10 to 15 minutes, then cover up before the skin turns pink. The use of sunlamps for vitamin D synthesis will have to wait for another column.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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