The Institute of Medicine Recommendations on Vitamin D are a New Low in Ignorance

The Institute of Medicine (IOM), a health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, has just released its long-awaited vitamin D supplementation recommendations. To the disappointment of the world’s leading vitamin D scientists, those recommendations make a mockery of an exhaustive body of scientific research.

The IOM suggests that 600 international units (IU) of supplemented vitamin D3 per day is ideal, and that a blood level of 20 ng/ml is sufficient for optimal human health. The IOM also suggests that supplementation with higher quantities of vitamin D could be harmful and that there are no randomized controlled trials to prove the safety or efficacy of higher levels of supplementation.

The Sunlight Institute declares that the IOM’s recommendations are ill-conceived and dangerous for the following seven reasons:

1. Extensive research indicates that if there were no other dietary source of vitamin D, 600 IU per day in adults would produce a blood level, on average, of about 6 ng/ml, a level so low that it correlates to the occurrence of the disease osteomalacia or “adult rickets.” Incredibly, in the press conference, it was stated that 600 IU would be adequate at the North and South Poles.

2. The IOM considers the 600-IU-per-day recommendation, added to dietary sources and sunlight exposure, to be sufficient for optimal health. In reality, little vitamin D is present in foods. For example, three glasses of vitamin D-fortified milk provides only 300 IU; 3.5 oz. of farmed salmon, 200 IU; a glass of fortified orange juice, 100 IU totaling a mere 1,200 IU per day including the IOM-recommended 600 IU supplement. Sunlight exposure, the most natural and productive source of vitamin D, could easily fill in the gap to a 2,000 IU level during the summer, but in the winter, north of latitude 340,(On a line from Los Angeles to Atlanta, for example) little or no vitamin D is produced. In the northern US and in Canada, “vitamin D winter” (the time during which the body cannot produce any vitamin D from the reduced amount of available sunshine) lasts for several months. Ninety-five percent of Canadians are considered (by non-IOM measures) to be D deficient in winter, and Americans in the Northern states are not much better. A 600-IU supplement plus the IOM’s recommended food sources is a recipe for a winter health disaster, which may include highly increased susceptibility to colds, influenza, cancer, heart disease MS, septicemia and numerous other maladies. It was also stated at the IOM press conference that the average American gets 200-300 IU from food.

3. Vitamin D blood level of 20 ng/ml are not really even sufficient for bone health, and that number sets research back several years. The “normal vitamin D range” printed on laboratory blood-test results prior to 2005 was from 8.9 ng/ml to 46.7 ng/ml. Based on newer research findings, that range changed after 2005, and lab test results began carrying the statement, “Recent studies consider the lower limit of 32 ng/ml to be a threshold for optimal health” with a reference to research conducted by Dr. Bruce Hollis who is widely regarded as one of the world’s top vitamin D scientists. (Hollis BW. J Nutr 2005;135:317-22) Dr. Hollis stated: “The current adult recommendations for vitamin D, 200-600 IU per day, are very inadequate when one considers that a 10-15 min whole-body exposure to peak summer sun will generate and release up to 20,000 IU vitamin D-3 into the circulation.” Hollis has also established that pregnant and lactating women need as much as 6,000 IU daily to provide for their own and their infants’ needs (Hollis, BW. J Bone Miner Res 2007;22, suppl 2:V39-44). The IOM’s low recommendations attempt to take us back to the Dark Ages of vitamin D knowledge.

4. The fact that up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D can be produced by sunlight exposure (the natural source of vitamin D) defines the IOM recommendation of 600 IU as being ludicrous. 600 IU is produced in summer sunlight in less than one minute in a light skinned individual. If God or nature created a system that produces such a vast quantity of D, there is a reason for it, and it is obvious that 5,000 IU per day is not harmful. Dr. Reinhold Vieth has presented compelling information that there is no evidence of any toxicity or adverse effects at prolonged intakes of 10,000 IU per day (Vieth, R Ann Epidemiol;2009;19:441-5).

5. The IOM also inexplicably recommended the same vitamin D intake for infants as for adults (600 IU), which to any reasonable person, is illogical.

6. The IOM used only bone health to make its recommendations, but bone health is a terrible indicator of adequate vitamin D levels because only very small quantities of vitamin D are adequate to ensure bone health. The IOM, by ignoring both observational and randomized controlled trials showing that low levels of vitamin D correlate to a multitude of health problems including cancer, heart disease, depression, influenza, Multiple Sclerosis, and autism, has done a dreadful disservice to those struggling with these and other health issues that are impacted by low vitamin D levels.

7. Ironically, the IOM consulted with several leading vitamin D researchers but then completely ignored their recommendations. This indicates a bias that may extend beyond simple ignorance and descend into the realm of concealing information.

Another of the most prolific researchers in the vitamin D field, Dr. William Grant, gave the Sunlight Institute this statement regarding his feelings about the IOM report:

“The Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium committee of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies was essentially a tool of the agencies that funded the study, including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Federal sponsors defined the key questions, and a technical expert panel was assembled to refine the questions and establish inclusion and exclusion criteria for the studies to be reviewed. By excluding ecological studies and case-control studies in which serum 25(OH)D levels were measured at time of diagnosis, they in essence dictated the conclusion that vitamin D has no health benefits other than for healthy bones. Since 90% of our vitamin D comes from the sun, they throw out 90% of the evidence. The work of this committee contrasts with well-conducted scientific reviews such as that by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which included over 600 scientists contributing to the report and 500 scientists as reviewers. The process was open rather than behind closed doors and resulted in a Nobel Prize for the contributors. If only health policy were treated as a science instead of a business tool.” William B. Grant, Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center (SUNARC), San Francisco

In putting forth its report, the IOM has destroyed any credibility it might have had with those who conduct the science of vitamin D. The IOM has misled the public and placed itself on a level with those who, in the past, ignorantly told us to avoid sunlight exposure at all costs. If the public follows their recommendations we will return to the Dark Ages of health awareness; the report is an absurd suppression of critically important research.

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Is There a 45% Reduction of Breast-Cancer Risk with a Combination of Sunlight and Vitamin D?

A new study from France has shown that women who were exposed to a combination of sunlight and dietary vitamin D had up to a 45% reduced risk of contracting breast cancer (BC).[1] The researchers noted that “high” dietary vitamin D by itself did not correlate to a reduced risk of BC, whereas sunlight exposure alone did correlate to a lowered risk.

This research should come as no surprise, since there is a miniscule amount of vitamin D in the typical diet. For instance, the typical 3 ½-oz piece of farmed salmon contains about 175 International Units (IU) of vitamin D; 8 oz. of fortified milk 100 IU; 8 oz. fortified orange juice 100 IU. The amounts typically derived from eggs, oils and margarine is negligible. It is now felt by many experts in the vitamin D field that 4,000-5,000 IU of vitamin D supplementation is necessary for optimal health, so it can be seen that trying to optimize breast health with the paltry 400-500 IU from diet is like trying to color the ocean red with a cup of tomato paste.

Conversely, 20 minutes full-body exposure to summer sunlight at noon can produce as much as 20,000 IU;[2] so this study, showing that sunlight correlates far better to lowered BC risk than does dietary vitamin D, would be expected. However, most people are not actively seeking the sunlight and are not even close to producing the 20,000 IU mentioned. Therefore, in this French BC study, it was probably the combination of both sunlight-produced vitamin D and dietary vitamin D that sufficiently increased blood levels to a threshold that triggered vitamin D’s cancer protection mechanisms, which are numerous.

Other research—a double blind, placebo controlled interventional study—has shown that when vitamin D supplementation is over 1,100 IU daily, there is a profound correlation to a lowered risk (from 60-77%)of all cancers in women.[3]

And as to sunlight per se, Dr. Esther John and colleagues conducted research on the sun-exposure habits of women and correlated those habits to the risk of developing BC. Those women who had the greatest exposure to sunlight were 65% less likely to develop BC.[4]

After the Institute of Medicine (IOM) made their inanely low recommendations for vitamin D supplementation (600 IU daily for all ages), it is good to see that research belying that foolishness continues to surface. We must remember that sunlight exposure is the most natural way to produce vitamin D, and that if supplements are going to be used when sunlight is not available, a minimum of 2,000-4000 IU daily is necessary to optimize blood levels for best health.

 


[1] Engel P, Fagherazzi G, Mesrine S, Boutron-Ruault MC, Clavel-Chapelon F. Joint effects of dietary vitamin D and sun exposure on breast cancer risk: results from the French E3N cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2010 Dec 2. [Epub ahead of print]
[2] Hollis BW. J Nutr 2005;135:317-22
[3] Lappe J, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies M, Recker R, Heaney R. Vitamin
D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:1586 –91. [4] John, E. et al. Vitamin D and breast cancer risk: The HANES 1 epidemiologic follow-up study, 1971-1975 to 1992. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention 1999;8:399-406.

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Experts Advise Going Out in Midday Sun to Keep Up Vitamin D Levels

By: Mike Swain December 17, 2010–

 

Braving the midday sun is not such a crazy thing to do after all – in Britain.

In fact, it could be the best time to soak up the rays so that your body gets enough vitamin D for healthy bones.

Contrary to the cover-up message in Noel Coward’s famous song, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, experts reckon that some unprotected sun exposure around noon is vital to health.

Seven leading health groups and charities recommend up to 15 minutes of bare skin exposure three times a week in summer. And midday is best.

Before 10am and after 4pm the rays are too weak in the UK even in summer to stimulate vitamin D synthesis in the skin.

But they stress that people should “never be red” at the end of the day as sunburn could lead to skin cancer. After 15 minutes it is time to go in, cover up or slap on sunscreen.

The guidance hopes to make it clear that “little and frequent” sun exposure is a good thing and that it is important to strike a balance between adequate vitamin D and avoiding skin cancer.

Professor Rona Mackie, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “Some of the messages about sunbathing have been a bit too negative. UK sunshine is not desperately strong.

“Exposing your face, arms and legs three times a week will do no harm.

“But your skin should not look as if it has been in the sun all day.”

And in the dark days of winter she advises keeping up vitamin D levels with “a holiday to the Canaries”.

Link: http://bit.ly/g8FfPx

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Weekend Sunshine Can Protect Against Skin Cancer

By Richard Gray–

 

Researchers studying how sun exposure affects the risk of developing melanomas discovered that those who spent between four to five hours in the sun each day over the weekend were less likely to develop tumours.

The findings appear to contradict the commonly-held belief that longer time spent in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer.

Instead, the study shows that while excessive exposure to the sun – and particularly sunburn – can lead to melanomas, regular doses of sun for up to five hours a day at weekends can be protective.

The study comes just days after Andy Flowers, the England Cricket team head coach, underwent surgery to remove a malignant melanoma below his right eye.

Professor Julia Newton Bishop, an epidemiologist who led the research at Leeds University, said it seems regular exposure helps the skin adapt and protect itself against the harmful affects of sunshine. Increased levels of vitamin D made in the skin while exposed to sunlight may also be protective.

Professor Newton Bishop said: “The relationship between the amount of sun we are exposed to and the risk of melanoma is complicated – we have known for a long time that melanomas are something to do with sun exposure and fair skin.

“Our paper suggests that moderate regular sun exposure may actually reduce the risk. We are talking about quite high levels of sun exposure for the protective effect with an average of four to five hours a day at weekends.

“It appears that in moderation, sun exposure can be protective, but it is when you have extreme sun exposure that it becomes a problem. So in the UK sunburn is a potent risk factor because we have a habit of not getting much sun at home and then suddenly exposing our skin when we go abroad.”

Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and around 10,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the disease each year. The incidence of the disease is rising faster than any other cancer in the UK and has quadrupled since then 1970s. Around 2,000 die each year in this country from skin cancer.

Public health experts blame the rise in skin cancer in the UK on growing use of sun beds and an increase in the number of holidays people take abroad.

Harmful ultraviolet light from the sun is thought to trigger skin cancer by causing damage to the DNA in the skin.

But the new study by Professor Newton Bishop and her colleagues, which is published in the European Journal of Cancer, suggests that regular sun exposure can help the body prevent this damage.

The researchers examined the sun exposure behaviour and skin type of 960 melanoma patients and 687 controls who had not been diagnosed with skin cancer.

After adjusting the results to account for deprivation, they found that participants with fair skin, freckles and blonde or red hair, were most at risk of developing melanomas as where those who had suffered severe sunburn.

But they also found that regular exposure to the sun at weekends of more than five hours had the most significant effect that protected the participants from developing melanoma.

Unfortunately for those with sensitive skin, this protective effect was not seen in people who had red hair and freckles, perhaps due to their tendency to burn far more quickly.

The researchers also measured levels of vitamin D in 1,167 of the participants, who were aged between 18 and 76 years old, and found that those who received regular doses of sun exposure at weekends also had raised levels of vitamin D.

Professor Newton Bishop said: “There is some evidence from other studies that suggests that vitamin D may help to reduce melanoma size and improve prognosis, but it could be that there is some adaptation going on in the skin which reduces the damage from ultraviolet light.

“Melanoma, in the UK, is a cancer of people who work inside who have short bursts of sunshine when they are on holiday. If they are working in offices all week, then when they go sunbathing on holiday, they don’t have the protection that might naturally develop.

“Regardless, people need to take steps to avoid getting sunburnt – particularly at this time of year when the days are shorter and there is much less sunshine around. People who go away for winter sun holidays are particularly at risk.”

Link: http://bit.ly/ecwgze

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Women Who Sunbathe Live Longer: Study

By: Peter Vinthagen Simpson December 2, 2010–

“Our studies show that women with active sunbathing habits live longer,” said chief physician Håkan Olsson at the division of oncology at Lund University, to the local Göteborgs-Posten (GP) daily.

Studies of the sun exposure habits of 40,000 women in southern Sweden have found that the health benefits of spending extended periods in the sun outweigh the negatives, such as the increased risk for skin cancer.

Olsson argued that he was not alone in claiming “that there can be other factors other than the sun which affect the risks for developing malignant melanomas”, and that exposure to the sun could help protect against a slew of other conditions.

Researchers claim that exposure to the sun is attributed to helping against blood clots, which are twice as common in the darker periods of the year than in the summer, the newspaper reported.

Furthermore the incidence of type 2 diabetes also shows seasonal variations, with the winter boom in cases attributed to a lack of vitamin D.

Skin cancer is however an increasing problem in Sweden, including the occurrence of dangerous malignant melanomas and the role of vitamin D is becoming an increasing popular cancer research area as scientific evidence mounts of its positive health benefits.

While doctors agree that avoiding sunburn and exercising caution in the sun is important, there is some dissent over blanket recommendations against solariums, protective clothing and comprehensive use of sunscreen, GP reported.

“We know that we are inside much more than before – this is certainly a factor to the declining levels of vitamin D,” Håkan Olsson told the newspaper.

Link: http://bit.ly/eZJQp9

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Sunlight Avoidance Leads to Rickets

The Front page of a British newspaper, The Telegraph, leads with this headline: Middle Class Children Suffering Rickets. It continues by saying that rickets is a 17th Century disease that is now caused by covering children in sunscreen and limiting time outside in the sunshine. Rickets is a horrible, crippling disease of children that causes malformation of bones and can totally ruin the child’s opportunity.

Dr. Nicholas Clarke, who is alarmed about the dramatic increase in the disease in just 24 months, states, “We are facing the daunting prospect of an area like Southampton, where it is high income, middle class and leafy in its surroundings, seeing increasing numbers of children with rickets, which would have been inconceivable only a year or so ago.” Every physician in the world knows that rickets is a vitamin D-deficiency disease caused by a lack of sunlight, which is the most natural source of vitamin D. The fear of developing melanoma has driven us to slather ourselves with sunscreens that block up to 99% of vitamin D production. It has also caused us to otherwise avoid the sun like the plague, which ironically, brings on a plague of rickets, other bone diseases, cancer and heart disease, as well as myriad other maladies I discuss in my book.

The advice by the Powers of Darkness to avoid sunlight is one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated on the public, whether in England or America. We know from an impressive analysis by Dr. Robyn Lucas and colleagues that if those who would have us avoid the sunlight were totally successful, the outcome would be disastrous: for every case of death and disability prevented by sunlight avoidance, there would be 2,000 cases of death and disability (caused by bone diseases alone) due to sunlight avoidance! Of course, one of those diseases is rickets. Rickets, originally thought to be a disease of poor children who didn’t get enough sunlight due to working indoors, was thought to have been eradicated 80 years ago. It is now increasing rapidly. The blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of those who profit from frightening us out of the sunlight. Non-burning sunlight, when available, can easily prevent or reverse this disease, and vitamin D supplements or tanning lamps can help raise vitamin D levels in pregnant mothers and their offspring-to-be. It is time to return to the sunlight! Just be sure not to burn.

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8128781/Middle-class-childr…
[2] Robyn M Lucas, Anthony J McMichael, Bruce K Armstrong and Wayne T Smith. Estimating the global disease burden due to ultraviolet radiation exposure. International Journal of Epidemiology ;37(3):667-8. – See more at: http://www.sunlightinstitute.org/sunlight-avoidance-leads-rickets#sthash.ZJpIhSF5.dpuf

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A Lack of Vitamin D and Sunlight leads to Weight Gain

By Lynn Lamb —

 

Vitamin D is known to play a major role in the health of humans. The many functions of vitamin D include its ability to control blood pressure, its role in calcium absorption and its involvement in the development of healthy bone and teeth. More recently, it has been suggested that Vitamin D is also necessary for maintaining a healthy weight.

Vitamin D Deficiencies Research suggests that inadequate levels of vitamin D not only causes many health related problems but is associated with weight gain. University of Michigan researchers found that children having deficiencies in vitamin D accumulated fat around the waist and gained weight more rapidly than children who were not vitamin D deficient. (1). This type of fat gain has been associated with greater risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

University of Southern California and McGill University Health Center researchers found that young women with a vitamin D insufficiency were significantly heavier and had an increased body mass than young women with normal vitamin D levels. The lack of vitamin D caused fat accumulation and increased risks of future chronic diseases (2).

Dr Helen Macdonald, of Aberdeen University’s department of medicine and therapeutics, suggests that obese people are just not getting enough sunlight and that the vitamin D they do have is going into fat stores and is not accessible (3).

Insufficient vitamin D in the blood interferes with the hormone leptin, which signals to the brain when the stomach is full (3).

Sources of Vitamin D The most common source of Vitamin D comes from ultraviolet sun rays. The ultraviolet rays are absorbed through the skin. The amount of Vitamin D produced in the body is determined by absorption levels.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays are strongest closest to the equator and at high elevations. Absorption of Vitamin D decreases the further from the equator you get. Individuals with darker skin absorb less Vitamin D than those with lighter skin; younger individuals absorb more Vitamin D than older individuals. Individuals that avoid sunlight by remaining inside or by staying covered up when outside will have limited Vitamin D absorption. Age, skin color, clothing, exposure time and where you live all determine the amount of Vitamin D your body will be able to produce.

Vitamin D can also be found in some foods. It occurs naturally in fatty fish, fish liver oil and egg yolks. Salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines and tuna also contain Vitamin D. Milk and dairy products, orange juice, breakfast cereals, bread and soy products are often fortified with Vitamin D.

Vitamin D Requirements There has been controversy around the amount of Vitamin D required for healthy living. However, there is agreement that the tolerable upper level of intake is 2000 international units (IU) per day for anyone over one year (4). Health Canada suggests the adequate intake of Vitamin D for anyone under 50 years old is 200 IU, 400 IU for individuals from 51 to 70 years old and 600 IU for anyone over 70 years old (5).

Ensuring that you get the enough Vitamin D is an essential component for everyday health including maintaining a healthy weight. Enjoy the sun and make some Vitamin D today.

References 1. University of Michigan. “Low Blood Levels of Vitamin D Linked to Chubbier Kids, Faster Weight Gain.” ScienceDaily, 8 November 2010. Web. 8 November 2010. http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2010/11/101108161228.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29&utm_content=Google+International

2. McGill University Health Centre (2008, December 11). Lack Of Vitamin D Causes Weight Gain And Stunts Growth In Girls. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 8, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210122238.htm

3. Current TV: Exposure to sunlight may be key to weight loss. http://current.com/news/89103283_exposure-to-sunlight-may-be-key-to-weig…

4.Health Canada. Vitamin D Recommendation and Review Status. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/vitamin/vita-d-eng.php

Link: http://bit.ly/a0fmYv

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Brain Health from the Sun

By Joan Sumpio, RND–
Many experts are still in denial that a big number of Asians are suffering from, if not at risk of having, Vitamin D deficiency. Experts who say that it is next to impossible for Asians to have vitamin D deficiency do not have a clear picture of the way of life of Asians.

Individuals who live in a tropical country would actually often shelter themselves from the sun’s rays to keep their skin from getting darker. This practice alone already puts most Asian populations at risk of having inadequate vitamin D.

To the working Asian population, longer office hours keep them from being exposed to the sun’s rays for a reasonable time. Many would say that they leave for work before the sun rises and go home when the sun has set – another reason why many people miss the sun’s health benefits. Although it is true that many foods are now fortified with vitamin D, we cannot guarantee that this is enough. Note that a lot of foods have been fortified with vitamin A, Iron and Iodine, and yet, its deficiency is still a big public health problem.

Vitamin D is well known to be a very important bone nutrient. Its primary function is to maintain blood levels of calcium and phosphorus concentrations at a range that will support body processes, neuromuscular functions and bone building/strengthening activities. Aside from these important functions, vitamin D also acts like a hormone that stimulates maturation of cells including those of the immune system.

Vitamin D is also beneficial to our brain functions. In one study, participants with vitamin D deficiency were found to have higher risk of substantial cognitive decline by 60 percent compared to those with sufficient vitamin D levels. As we age, our cognitive performance naturally declines. With vitamin D deficiency, this decline is accelerated.

If you do not experience this accelerated decline in cognitive function, you should have regular exposure to sunlight for at least 15 minutes in day.

On days when you are most sheltered from sunlight, make sure you incorporate vitamin D food sources into your meal plans. Foods like salmon, sardines, and those fortified with vitamin D (milk, cheese/cheese spreads, breakfast cereals, pasta and margarine)are sources of vitamin D.

Presently, our recommended daily intake for vitamin D is 5ug for the general population. For those aged 50 – 64 years old there is higher recommended intake of 10ug and for those above 65 years old, a daily intake of 15 ug is recommended. Prolonged exposure under the sun does not pose any risk because the body can regulate the production of vitamin D3 from the sun; it is our exogenous intake of vitamin D that we have to watch out for as chronic excessive intake can lead to bone resorption.

Link: http://bit.ly/d0qxvH

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Keeping Health in the Dark

By: Joanne Hunt–

If you needed another reason to moan about the Irish weather – US vitamin D specialist Dr Michael Holick is the man to talk to.

The professor of Medicine at Boston University Medical Center and author of The Vitamin D Solution believes Ireland’s lack of sunshine, needed to stimulate the production of vitamin D in the body, is making us all less healthy.

Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, it not only helps us absorb up to twice as much calcium from our food for good bone health, but Holick says it can also play a role in everything from labour pains to multiple sclerosis.

The modern lifestyles “of avoiding the sun, putting on sun screen and working indoors” is thwarting Mother Nature, something that’s further exacerbated by Ireland’s northerly latitude, says Holick.

“You get no Vitamin D in Ireland from November through March,” he says. “The sun is coming in at an angle at that time of year and the vitamin D producing rays are being absorbed by the ozone layer.”

Our summers aren’t much good either, according to Holick, particularly if we’re being sun smart. “If you go out in the early morning and late afternoon as you’ve been taught, you get no vitamin D in summer either because the sun is coming in just like winter sunlight.”

So how does he explain sunburn at these off-peak times? “UVA radiation makes no vitamin D, but it can still cause redness to the skin – it’s not UVA rays you’re after, it’s UVB and it mainly comes in from 10am to 3pm.”

Before sun-worshippers take Dr Holick’s words as carte blanche to hit the garage roof with some reflective foil and a slick of baby oil, he urges caution.

“Get out for five or 10 minutes, protect your face because it’s the most sun damaged – but exposing your arms or legs a couple of times a week won’t cause any problems and will definitely improve your vitamin D status.”

So what can the sunshine vitamin do for us? “We’ve shown that pregnant women who are vitamin D deficient in their first trimester have a higher risk of vaginal infection and of pre-eclampsia,” he says.

“We did a study of 400 women to see if vitamin D levels had an effect on the numbers requiring C-section – we found a 400 per cent reduced risk of a C-section if they simply were vitamin D sufficient at the time they gave birth.”

Holick says a deficiency of the vitamin in utero and in the first year of life brings a higher risk of eczema and wheezing disorders and also impairs growth.

He says “there’s no food that naturally contains vitamin D other than oily fish. It’s mainly in foods especially fortified with vitamin D, like milk.”

For pregnant women, he advises pre-natal vitamins containing vitamin D and two glasses of D-fortified milk a day.

There are also benefits for teens, he says. “There’s data in the US that teenagers who are D deficient have over twice the risk of having high blood pressure and four times the risk of having type 2 diabetes.”

Holick claims vitamin D can also have a powerful effect on multiple sclerosis (MS) and again draws a parallel between our geographic location and the disease.

“We know that if you live north of Atlanta Georgia, so basically all of northern Europe, for the first 10 years of your life, you have a 100 per cent increased risk of getting MS for the rest of your life,” he says.

Holick agrees that he gets a certain amount of criticism from skin cancer lobbyists for his pro-sun advice.

“I do get criticism, but I can tell you that 40 per cent of Australians are vitamin D deficient – it turns out the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap!’ campaign has caused a major epidemic in vitamin D deficiency.

“Even the Australian Cancer Council and the Australian Dermatology Association have now recommended some sensible sun exposure.”

This wonder vitamin might just be good for government coffers too, according to Holick. He believes that Ireland’s annual healthcare budget could be decreased by up to 25 per cent if we all had higher levels of vitamin D.

Let’s hope for a fine summer then.

Link: http://bit.ly/eO1Ofo

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Sunlight, Vitamin D and Brain Disorders. If You Want to Stay Smart, get some Sunlight!

A recent study on the relationship between cognitive impairment (thinking disorders) and vitamin D levels came to some very interesting conclusions. Dr. David Llewellyn, the lead researcher, stated the following: “Compared with those patients with sufficient levels of vitamin D, those participants who were very vitamin D deficient had a 6-fold higher risk for cognitive impairment, with a doubling of risk still for those who were considered deficient (>25 to <50)”[1]” Dr. Llewellyn also stated that “low levels of vitamin D are just genuinely bad for the brain.”

Vitamin D research continues to amaze. The evidence mounts that vitamin D deficiency has a profound negative influence on the function of the brain. Previously, I wrote of the compelling evidence that autism is a vitamin D deficiency disease and also presented research indicative of a role of vitamin D in reducing depression, elevating mood and increasing happiness. I also came across a small study of 17 psychiatric patients. Of these patients, two were borderline deficient and 15 were deficient. Seven had such low levels that blood tests could not produce an accurate reading. Encouragingly, the researchers recommended that mental-health inpatients receive adequate exposure to sunlight.[2] In my book, I documented the critical importance of sunlight/vitamin D to the development and health of the brain:

1. Prenatal vitamin D deficiency in animals profoundly alters brain development.[3] [4]] Dr. Darryl Eyles and his colleagues state, “rats born to vitamin D-deficient mothers had profound alterations in the brain at birth.” The cortex was longer but not wider, the lateral ventricles were enlarged, the cortex was proportionally thinner and there was more cell proliferation throughout the brain… Our findings would suggest that low maternal vitamin D(3) has important ramifications for the developing brain.”

2. Rats born to vitamin D-deficient mothers also have permanently damaged brains into adulthood[5] and exhibit hyperlocomotion (excessive movement from place to place) at the age of ten weeks.[6] Could this relate to hyperactivity in our children? Such rats also show impairment in learning and memory skills.

3. People hospitalized for bipolar disorder, and who are exposed to sunlight daily, are able to leave the hospital almost four days earlier than those who are not exposed,[7] and people hospitalized for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) also have shorter stays when they are placed in rooms on the sunny side of the hospital.[8]

4. Two studies of mice with abnormal vitamin D receptors (VDR) in the brain found an increase in anxiety, aggression, poor grooming, maternal pup neglect and cannibalism.[9] [10] Abnormal VDR cause a situation similar to vitamin D deficiency; the vitamin D that is available cannot properly stimulate the genes that prevent the anxiety, cannibalism, etc.

5. Another vital function of vitamin D is in inducing the production of nerve-growth factor (NGF), a protein that is essential for proper development of nerve cells in the brain and elsewhere.[11] [12] It is obvious that if vitamin D is not present, nerve cells will simply not develop as they should in the central nervous system and brain, leading to the mental disorders we discuss here.

Can it be that the Powers of Darkness (the “sunscare” promoters) are partially responsible for the widespread depression, negativism, anxiety and psychological disorder that plague our society to a greater extent each year? Their efforts, coupled with modern indoor lifestyles, are leading to increases in a plethora of diseases, some of which are disorders of the brain. I believe it will be only a matter of time until vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women will be correlated to abnormally low IQ in the children they bear. In another blog, I have already discussed autism as a vitamin D deficiency disease, and there is an indication that women who conceive in the fall and winter tend to bear more dyslexic children,[13] as well as children with other learning and reading disabilities.[14] [15] [14] The nervous system’s critical time to develop neural connections is in the first months after conception. If the pregnant woman is low in vitamin D during that time, it could affect the development of the fetal brain.Activated vitamin D is a potent hormone that is essential for proper brain development.

As a society and as parents, we cannot wait for more research before acting on the crying need for optimal vitamin D levels. Our mental and physical health, as well as that of our children, depends on regular, non-burning exposure sunlight, or other sources of vitamin D.

 

[1] Susan Jeffery, Low Vitamin D Levels Associated With Increased Risk for Cognitive Impairment Medscape Today, July 13,2010. [2] Tiangga, E. et al. Psychiatric Bulletin 2008;32:390-93 [3] Eyles, D. et al. Vitamin D3 and brain development. Neuroscience 2003;118:641-53. [4] McGrath, J. et al. Vitamin D3-implications for brain development. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2004;89-90:557-60. [5] Feron, F. et al. Developmental vitamin D3 deficiency alters the adult rat brain. Brain Res Bull. 2005 Mar 15;65(2):141-8. [6] Burne, T. et al. Transient prenatal Vitamin D deficiency is associated with hyperlocomotion in adult rats. Behav Brain Res 2004;154:549-55. [7] Benedetti, F. et al. Morning sunlight reduces length of hospitalization in bipolar depression. J Affect Disord 2001;62:221-23. [8] Beauchemin, K. et al. sunny hospital rooms expedite recovery from severe and refractory depressions. J Affect Disord 1996;40:49-51. [9] Kalueff, A. et al. Increased anxiety in mice lacking vitamin D receptor gene. Neuroreport 2004;15:1271-74. [10] Kalueff, A. et al. Behavioral anomalies in mice evoked by Tokyo disruption of the vitamin D receptor gene. Neurosci Res 2006;54:254-60. [11] Kiraly,S et al. Vitamin D as a neuroactive substance: review. Scientific World Journal 2006;6:125-139. [12] Carlson, A. et al. Is vitamin D deficiency associated with peripheral neuropathy? The Endocrinologist 2007;17:319-25. [13] Livingston, R. et al. Season of birth and neurodevelopmental disorders: summer birth is associated with dyslexia. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993;32:612-6. [14] Badian, N. Reading Disability in an Epidemiological Context: Incidence and Environmental Correlates. J Learn Disabil. 1984;17:129-36. [15] Martin, R. Season of birth is related to child retention rates, achievement, and rate of diagnosis of specific LD. J Learn Disabil 2004;37:307-17 – See more at: http://www.sunlightinstitute.org/sunlight-vitamin-d-and-brain-disorders-if-you-want-stay-smart-get-some-sunlight#sthash.JzZjCaNl.dpuf

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