Tag Archives: sunlight

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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Exposing the Sunlight/Melanoma Fraud: Part 2

By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–

Is the purported increase in melanoma a fraud?

In the last post, I made a case that sunlight does not cause melanoma, and that if Melanoma is increasing, as stated by the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF), it is doing so while sunlight exposure is decreasing. But suppose that the increase in melanoma is not an increase at all? Some believe that there is no proliferation of melanoma, but only a proliferation of dermatologists, and a proliferation of diagnoses of skin spots as being melanoma by some dermatologists in an attempt to make more money. An article by Harmon Leon,[1] writing for the Huffington Post, served as a reminder of the potential for fraud among (unscrupulous) dermatologists. I strongly suggest you read that article. I am indebted to Mr. Leon for a few of the points made in this post.

I do not mean to suggest that all dermatologists are dishonest. Many of the facts that I gather are derived from research performed by dermatologists who are trying to awaken the public to the fraudulent actions of some members of their profession.

Those who profit from scare tactics regarding melanoma I call The Powers of Darkness. They have frightened us away from the sunlight, or as Dr. Michael Holick (an honest dermatologist) says, “scared the daylights out of us to scare us out of the daylight.” The consequence is widespread vitamin D deficiency that has led to millions of cases of death and disability. Dr. Arthur Rhodes, a dermatologist, wrote in a 2003 editorial for an independent dermatology newspaper[2] that melanoma’s public message—that sunlight was the sole cause of melanoma—was causing death among patients and medical professionals alike. In it he suggested that many people were not taking care of melanomas that occurred in areas of little or no sunlight exposure; this was because they assumed that only sunlight could cause melanoma. The following are some of the examples that he gathered from his experience with this most deadly of skin cancers:

1. A dermatology trainee died of melanoma at age 28. He watched a mole change in his armpit for years, but because that area never received UV light, he assumed it was not melanoma and delayed seeking help. 2. A 40-year-old woman had a sore on the bottom of her heel and believing only sunlight caused melanoma, she had no idea that it was melanoma. She died three years later. 3. A Harvard-trained lung specialist ignored a sore on his upper back. He and his fiancée, a Harvard-trained pediatric resident, observed the change for several years without having it examined. They didn’t know that melanoma could occur in an area that never received sunlight. He died six months after diagnosis at age 29.

Here is a quote from this enlightened dermatologist: “If a medical resident can misinterpret public health messages about sun exposure and melanoma, and two Harvard-trained physicians were ignorant about the most important risk factors for developing melanoma, then the general public will tend to make the same potentially fatal mistakes. Those mistakes lead to delayed diagnosis of this potentially lethal cancer—particularly when we pound out the message that the culprit in melanoma is sun, sun, sun, and we are not sufficiently emphasizing the most important risk factors for developing melanoma.”

Dr. Rhodes states that “melanoma is a heterogeneous disease with multiple causes, arising from potential precursor moles that have little or nothing to do with sun exposure [emphasis mine], including dysplastic nevi, congenital nevi, and abnormal moles on acral surfaces and mucous membranes.”

Another celebrated dermatologist, Dr. Bernard Ackerman, wrote a meticulously documented 440 page monograph called The Sun and the “Epidemic” of Melanoma: Myth on Myth.[3] In it he presents nearly every piece of research regarding sunlight and melanoma up until 2008, and concludes that the purported “epidemic” of sunlight-caused melanoma is a myth.

I agree with these dermatologists. The “epidemic” of melanoma is a myth, and dermatologists themselves are paying a price. Their own sunlight avoidance is causing widespread vitamin D deficiency among members of their profession. Australian dermatologists, while living in one of the sunniest areas of the world, have an average blood-vitamin D level of only 13 ng/ml—a level considered to be severely deficient.[4] At least this group is following their own advice to avoid the sun. As you will see, not all dermatologists are following their own advice—especially those in the USA.

There are still other dermatologists who refuse to sing in the official choir of the Powers of Darkness. Writing in the British Medical Journal in 2008, Dr. Sam Shuster argued that the purported increase in melanoma is not really an increase at all, but an artifact due to non-melanoma lesions being diagnosed as melanoma.[5] In 2009, another study by dermatologists— Dr. Nick Levell and his colleagues, including Shuster—this time published by the British Journal of Dermatology, came to a similar conclusion and called the “increase” in melanoma a “midsummer night’s dream.”[6] They concluded, after tracking the reported increase in Melanoma in the Eastern region of the UK between 1991 and 2004, that benign lesions were being classified in increasing numbers as stage-one melanoma. No other stages of the disease increased, and the increase in mortality due to melanoma was either miniscule or non-existent. This was true even though all grades of tumors were diagnosed at first presentation. They also noted that “the distribution of the lesions reported did not correspond to the sites of lesions caused by solar exposure,”—in other words, the “cancers” were occurring on areas of the body seldom exposed to sunlight. Levell and his group also say that “the large increase in reported incidence is likely to be due to diagnostic drift which classifies benign lesions as stage 1 melanoma.”

They further stated that “These findings inevitably challenge the validity of epidemiology studies linking increasing melanoma incidence with UV radiation, and suggest the need for a search for other ways in which the disease may be caused.”

Dr. Ackerman agreed. In his meticulously documented monograph, he notes that “researchers have created an epidemic of melanoma when, in fact, the only change has been an “epidemic” in diagnoses of melanoma.”

Notwithstanding the research presented by these dermatologists, the American Academy of Dermatology (AADA) and other melanoma organizations continue to spread misinformation regarding the disease. Dr. William James, president of the AAD has said that melanoma has become the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old, testifying to that statement before the FDA.[7] Yet, he did not mention data from the National Cancer Institute indicating that death due to melanoma has decreased by 50% among women of ages 20-49 since 1975.[8] That means young women have less than one chance in 100,000 of dying from melanoma, which does not even place it in the top 15 causes of cancer death.[9] And, the American Cancer Society states that “since 2000 melanoma has been decreasing rapidly in whites younger than 50, by 3% per year in men since 1991 and by 2.3% per year since 1995 in women.” We might ask why these figures are not included in the statements by dermatologists regarding the “epidemic” of melanoma. Could it be because of a cozy financial relationship with pharmaceutical companies that produce sunscreen?[10]

Harmon Leon gave another reason to question the “epidemic” of melanoma: The USA has 4.5% of the world’s population, yet has 52% of the world’s melanoma. The American Cancer Society estimates 68,720 new melanomas in the US during 2009,[11] whereas the World Health Organization estimates 132,000 new cases yearly worldwide.[12] Something is very strange here. It certainly seems that the exceptionally high melanoma figures in the USA might be doctored to produce sunscreen sales, dermatology visits and the removal of benign leisions. If you want to read about how this is done, click on this link. http://www.cnbc.com/id/27087326 In addition, Dr. Ackerman points out the following in his monograph:

1. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society sold their seals of recognition to manufacturers of sunscreens, based on research conducted solely by the sunscreen industry. The price, he says, was “substantial in terms of dollars but incalculable in terms of honor.” For instance, for an application of $10,000 and an annual fee of 5,000, sunscreen manufacturers may boast approval of their products in the form of the “Seal of Recognition” of the American Academy of Dermatology. They then display this seal on the front of their tubes. The American Cancer Society allows its logo to be placed on tubes of Neutrogena sunscreens in exchange for $300,000 annually. 2. In 2007, the year in which the Seal of Recognition program for the AAD was implemented, the past president of the board, who chaired the Seal program, and half the members of the board had financial ties to companies that manufacture sunscreen. And in 2008, all four new members of the board had those ties. 3. Darrell Rigel, a former president of the AAD, affirmed how important it was to avoid the sun while he, himself, was on vacation in Hawaii. 4. The AAD ran announcements for and updates on their scientific meetings, stating that they took place in “Sunny San Diego” and “Sunny San Antonio.” [Aren’t they supposed to avoid the sunlight?]

We now have two possibilities (see parts 1 and 2 of this post). (1.) Either melanoma has increased exponentially while sunlight exposure dramatically decreased or (2.) There has been no increase in melanoma; the purported increase is nothing more than an increase in the number of harmless skin spots that are being diagnosed as melanoma by an increasing number of dermatologists. In either case, the idea that regular, non-burning sunlight exposure is the cause of melanoma is a fraud—an idea promulgated by dermatological academies, sunscreen manufacturers and melanoma foundations driven by the desire for profit.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harmon-leon/is-profit-behind-dermatol_b_64… [2] Rhodes, A. Melanoma’s Public Message. Skin & Allergy News 2003;34 (4):1-4 [3] Ackerman, B. The Sun and the “Epidemic” of Melanoma: Myth on Myth. Ardor Scribendi, New York 2008. [4] D. Czarnecki, C. J. Meehan and F. Bruce. The vitamin D status of Australian dermatologists. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 2009;34, 624–25. [5] Shuster, S. Is sun exposure a major cause of melanoma? No. BMJ 2008;337:a764 [6] N.J. Levell, C.C. Beattie, S. Shuster and D.C. Greenberg. Melanoma epidemic: a midsummer night’s dream? British J Dermatol 2009;161:630–34 [7] http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/american-academy-of-dermatology-… [8] Age-adjusted mortality rates by Cancer site, Ages 20-49, White, Female 1975-2007. National Center for Health Statistics, Center for Disease Control, April 10, 2010. National Cancer institute. [9] http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/content/full/59/4/225/TBL6 [10] http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb4393/is_3_39/ai_n29418761/ [11] American Cancer Society Cancer reference Information 2009. http://nccu.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_1X_What_are_the_key_s… [12] http://www.who.int/uv/faq/skincancer/en/index1.html

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Exposing the Sunlight/Melanoma Fraud: Part 1

For the purposes of this article, we discuss regular, non-burning exposure to sunlight–the type of sunlight that slowly produces a tan–and the type of sunlight exposure that can save your life. Never, ever burn yourself in the sunlight. See your medical professional before making any changes in your sunlight habits. Is melanoma caused by regular sunlight exposure, or are we being defrauded?

The Melanoma International Foundation (MIF), is one the Powers of Darkness–organizations that would have us all become vitamin D deficient and ill by avoiding the healing sun.[1] They, like many other sun phobes, believe that sunlight should be shunned as a detriment to human health and that “90% or more of melanoma is caused by ultraviolet radiation either from the sun or tanning salons.”[1] The MIF states that “Melanoma is epidemic: rising faster than any other cancer and projected to affect one person in 50 by 2010, currently it affects 1 in 75. In 1935, only one in 1,500 was struck by the disease.” In other words, they say there has been a 3,000% increase in melanoma since 1935. If true, then their statement that sunlight is the cause of melanoma flies in the face of reason. Consider the following:

1. If melanoma has indeed increased exponentially since 1935, and that increase is due to sunlight exposure, then sunlight exposure must also have shown a parallel or at least significant increase in that time. To determine whether that has happened, I analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) to determine if there was an increase or decrease in human sunlight exposure during the years from 1910 to 2,000.[2] I paid special attention to the changes since 1935, the year the MIF used as a baseline for measuring increases in melanoma incidence. The data showed that indoor occupations grew from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment between 1910 and 2000, and that during the same period, the outdoor occupation of farming declined from 33% to 1.2% of total employment, a 96% reduction. The data also show that approximately 66% of the decline in the occupation of farmers and 50% of the decline in the occupation of farm laborers occurred after 1935.

Further information from the EPA determined that as of 1986, about 5 percent of adult men worked mostly outdoors, and that about 10 percent worked outside part of the time. The proportion of women who worked outside was thought to be lower. [3] This material demonstrates a dramatic shift from outdoor, sunlight-exposed activity to indoor, non-sunlight-exposed activity during the 20th Century, including 1935, the MIF-baseline year. According to these facts, if there is a relationship between sunlight exposure and melanoma, the relationship is inverse—the greater the exposure to sunlight, the less is the risk of melanoma.

It has been theorized that the answer to the statement above, is that a decreasing thickness of the ozone layer (allowing more intense sunlight exposure) is responsible for the increasing incidence of melanoma. However, research by Moan and Dahlback in Norway reported that yearly melanoma incidence increased 350% in men and 440% in women between 1957 and 1984—a period when there was absolutely no thinning of the ozone layer.[4] 2. If melanoma is increasing due to increased exposure to sunlight, it is clear that outdoor workers, being exposed to far more sunlight, would also have far more melanoma. Nevertheless, Godar, et al.[5] present evidence that outdoor workers, while receiving 3-9 times the UVR exposure as indoor workers,[6] [7] have had no increase in melanoma since before 1940, whereas melanoma incidence in indoor workers has increased steadily and exponentially. Many other studies corroborate the Godar findings that outdoor workers have fewer melanomas than indoor workers.[8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23]

I repeat: the greater the exposure to sunlight, the less is the risk of melanoma. 3. If sunlight exposure is the reason for the increase in melanoma, we would expect that areas of the body that receive the most exposure would also be the areas of greatest occurrence of the disease. This is not the case. Research by Garland, et al.,[24] assessing the incidence of melanoma occurring at various body sites, found higher rates on the trunk (seldom exposed to sunlight) than on the head and arms (commonly exposed to sunlight). Others have shown that melanoma in women occur primarily on the upper legs, and in men more frequently on the back—areas of little sunlight exposure.[25] In African Americans, melanoma is more common on the soles of the feet and on the lower legs, where exposure to sunlight is almost non-existent.[26]

Again: the greater the exposure to sunlight, the less is the risk of melanoma. How, then can sunlight cause melanoma? Keep in mind that sunscreen use has increased dramatically in the last four decades, paralleling the increase in melanoma. Sunscreens are meant to block sunlight, no? This is one more indication that melanoma risk is increased by sunlight deficiency. 4. A question: If melanoma is caused by sunlight exposure, why do melanomas occur on areas that seldom or never receive sunlight exposure—areas such as inside the mouth,[27] on sexual organs[28] and armpits?[29]

Mull over this information and you will see that the promoting of sunlight as the cause of melanoma is the promoting of a fraud—a fraud that is creating death and destruction due to vitamin D deficiency, which correlates to more than 100 serious diseases and disorders (see my book for documentation). The Powers of Darkness will continue spreading falsehoods about sunlight and melanoma until the truth is brought forth. Join the sunshine movement and help to spread truth and light. And remember: when you enjoy the sunlight, be sure never to burn. Be sure to look for Part 2 in my next blog. Perhaps the biggest fraud of all is that some dermatologists are diagnosing harmless skin spots as melanoma–a means to defraud insurance companies and increase profits. We will also show that melanoma incidence may not be increasing at all. Stay tuned. The next blog will provide information from enlightened dermatologists who believe that their own profession is misleading the public!

 


[1] Melanoma International Foundation, 2007 Facts about melanoma.
[2] Ian D. Wyatt and Daniel E. Hecker. Occupational changes in the 20th century. Monthly Labor Review, March 2006 pp 35-57: Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics
[3] U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Catching Our Breath: Next Steps for Reducing Urban Ozone, OTA-O-412 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 1989).
[4] J. Moan and A. Dahlback. The relationship between skin cancers, solar radiation and ozone depletion. Br J Cancer 1992; 65: 916–21
[5] Godar DE, Landry RJ, Lucas AD. Increased UVA exposures and decreased cutaneous Vitamin D3 levels may be responsible for the increasing incidence of melanoma. Med hypothesis (2009), doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2008.09.056
[6] Godar D. UV doses worldwide. Photochem Photobiol 2005;81:736–49.
[7] Thieden E, Philipsen PA, Sandby-Møller J, Wulf HC. UV radiation exposure related to age, sex, occupation, and sun behavior based on time-stamped personal dosimeter readings. Arch Dermatol 2004;140:197–203.
[8] Lee J. Melanoma and exposure to sunlight. Epidemiol Rev 1982;4:110–36.
[9] Vågero D, Ringbäck G, Kiviranta H. Melanoma and other tumors of the skin among office, other indoor and outdoor workers in Sweden 1961–1979 Brit J Cancer 1986;53:507–12.
[10] Kennedy C, Bajdik CD, Willemze R, De Gruijl FR, Bouwes Bavinck JN; Leiden Skin Cancer Study. The influence of painful sunburns and lifetime sun exposure on the risk of actinic keratoses, seborrheic warts, melanocytic nevi, atypical nevi, and skin cancer. Invest Dermatol 2003;120:1087–93.
[11] Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the USA Navy. Arch Environ Health 1990; 45:261-67.
[12] Kaskel P, Sander S, Kron M, Kind P, Peter RU, Krähn G. Outdoor activities in childhood: a protective factor for cutaneous melanoma? Results of a case-control study in 271 matched pairs. Br J Dermatol 2001;145:602-09.
[13] Garsaud P, Boisseau-Garsaud AM, Ossondo M, Azaloux H, Escanmant P, Le Mab G. Epidemiology of cutaneous melanoma in the French West Indies (Martinique). Am J Epidemiol 1998;147:66-8.
[14] Le Marchand l, Saltzman S, Hankin JH, Wilkens LR, Franke SJM, Kolonel N. Sun exposure, diet and melanoma in Hawaii Caucasians. Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:232-45.
[15] Armstong K, Kricker A. The epidemiology of UV induced skin cancer. J Photochem Biol 2001;63:8-18
[16] Crombie IK. Distribution of malignant melanoma on the body surface. Br J Cancer 1981;43:842-9.
[17] Crombie IK. Variation of melanoma incidence with latitude in North America and Europe. Br J Cancer 1979;40:774-81.
[18]Weinstock MA, Colditz,BA, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ. Bronstein, BR, Speizer FE. Nonfamilial cutaneous melanoma incidence in women associated with sun exposure before 20 years of age. Pediatrics 1989;84:199-204.
[19] Tucker MA, Goldstein AM. Melanoma etiology: where are we? Oncogene 20f03;22:3042-52.
[20] Berwick M, Armstrong BK, Ben-Porat L, Fine J, Kricker A, Eberle C. Sun exposure and mortality from melanoma. J Nat Cancer Inst 2005;97:95-199.
[21] Veierød MB, Weiderpass E, Thörn M, Hansson J, Lund E, Armstrong B. A prospective study of pigmentation, sun exposure, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:1530-8.
[22] Oliveria SA, Saraiya M, Geller AC, Heneghan MK, Jorgensen C. Sun exposure and risk of melanoma. Arch Dis Child 2006;91:131-8.
[23] Elwood JM, Gallagher RP, Hill GB, Pearson JCG. Cutaneous melanoma in relation to intermittent and constant sun exposure—the western Canada melanoma study. Int J Cancer 2006;35:427-33
[24] Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the USA Navy. Arch Environ Health 1990; 45:261-67.
[25] Rivers, J. Is there more than one road to melanoma? Lancet 2004;363:728-30.
[26] Crombie, I. Racial differences in melanoma incidence. Br J Cancer 1979;40:185-93.
[27] Burgess, A. et al. Parotidectomy: preoperative investigations and outcomes in a single surgeon practice. ANZ J Surg 2008 Sep;78(9):791-3.
[28] Ribé, A Melanocytic lesions of the genital area with attention given to atypical genital nevi. J Cutan Pathol. 2008 Nov;35 Suppl 2:24-7.
[29] Rhodes, A. Melanoma’s Public Message. Guest editorial, Skin and Allergy News 2003;34 – See more at: http://www.sunlightinstitute.org/exposing-sunlightmelanoma-fraud-part-1#sthash.tMzz9z1n.dpuf

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The Sunlight-Avoidance Insanity is Causing Severe Vitamin D Deficiency

Due to fear of melanoma, a deadly disease that has been erroneously attributed to sunlight exposure, the people are leaving the sunlight and becoming more like cave dwellers. For those of you who believe in evolution, can you imagine that after millions of years under the sun, human beings have been frightened away from their heritage?

There is an inconvenient truth about melanoma that the Powers of Darkness (those who would take away our sunlight) would prefer you not know: people who work regularly outdoors have a lower risk of melanoma than those who work indoors.

Godar, et al.[1] present evidence that outdoor workers, while receiving 3-9 times the UVR exposure as indoor workers,[2] [3] have had no increase in melanoma since before 1940, whereas melanoma incidence in indoor workers has increased steadily and exponentially. Other research corroborates the idea that outdoor workers have fewer melanomas than indoor workers.[4] Vagero, et al.[5] showed that melanomas were less common among indoor office workers and other indoor workers than among outdoor workers, and Kennedy, et al.[6] showed that a lifetime of sunlight exposure correlated to a reduced risk of melanoma. Garland, et al.[7] showed that those who worked indoors had a 50% greater risk of melanoma than those who worked both indoors and outdoors, and Kaskel, et al.[8] demonstrated that children who engage in outdoor activities are less likely to develop melanoma than those who do not. Many other papers in the scientific literature show that both incidence and death rate from melanoma are reduced with increasing exposure to sunlight.[9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

This is not to say that sunburn does not contribute to melanoma, but it certainly shows that habitual, non-burning sun exposure correlates to a reduced risk of this deadly disease. In addition, there are approximately 105 additional diseases that are reduced among those who have higher sunlight exposure and therefore have higher levels of vitamin D (see my book for a discussion on each disease). We cannot live without vitamin D, which is not a vitamin at all, but in its most active form is a potent steroid hormone that controls at least 1,000 genes.[20] It is also important to understand that 90% of all vitamin D is produced in the skin by the action of sunlight on skin.[21]

However, blood levels of this important hormone are dropping precipitously in the American population, with a near doubling of the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency that existed 10 years ago, and with 90% of Blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and 75% of the white population now suffering from the disorder.[22]

So what does this mean to the health of US citizens? I have calculated in a manuscript currently in preparation, that the diseases that correlate to sunlight deprivation/vitamin D deficiency kill approximately 1.42 million people per year in the US. Diseases that correlate to sunlight exposure kill approximately 1,500 people per year. That produces a ratio of about 948:1. I will continue with my mid-day sunbathing, thank you!

Remember that no one is advising the injudicious use of sunlight; baking in the sun for hours is neither necessary nor desirable, but regular sunlight exposure is a sine qua non for vibrant health. To say that we should avoid sunlight is like saying we should avoid water. Water correlates to drowning, but no one asks us to avoid water; if we did the results would be catastrophic, as are the results of vitamin D deficiency due to sunlight deprivation.

Of course, there are some extremely rare conditions that may preclude sunlight exposure. Check with your (enlightened) physician.

Is it time to return to reasonable, habitual, non-burning sunlight exposure? It could save your life!

[1] Godar DE, Landry RJ, Lucas AD. Increased UVA exposures and decreased cutaneous Vitamin D3 levels may be responsible for the increasing incidence of melanoma. Med hypothesis (2009), doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2008.09.056
[2] Godar D. UV doses worldwide. Photochem Photobiol 2005;81:736–49.
[3] Thieden E, Philipsen PA, Sandby-Møller J, Wulf HC. UV radiation exposure related to age, sex, occupation, and sun behavior based on time-stamped personal dosimeter readings. Arch Dermatol 2004;140:197–203.
[4] Lee J. Melanoma and exposure to sunlight. Epidemiol Rev 1982;4:110–36.
[5] Vågero D, Ringbäck G, Kiviranta H. Melanoma and other tumors of the skin among office, other indoor and outdoor workers in Sweden 1961–1979 Brit J Cancer 1986;53:507–12.
[6] Kennedy C, Bajdik CD, Willemze R, De Gruijl FR, Bouwes Bavinck JN; Leiden Skin Cancer Study. The influence of painful sunburns and lifetime sun exposure on the risk of actinic keratoses, seborrheic warts, melanocytic nevi, atypical nevi, and skin cancer. Invest Dermatol 2003;120:1087–93.
[7] Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the USA Navy. Arch Environ Health 1990; 45:261-67.
[8] Kaskel P, Sander S, Kron M, Kind P, Peter RU, Krähn G. Outdoor activities in childhood: a protective factor for cutaneous melanoma? Results of a case-control study in 271 matched pairs. Br J Dermatol 2001;145:602-09.
[9] Garsaud P, Boisseau-Garsaud AM, Ossondo M, Azaloux H, Escanmant P, Le Mab G. Epidemiology of cutaneous melanoma in the French West Indies (Martinique). Am J Epidemiol 1998;147:66-8.
[10] Le Marchand l, Saltzman S, Hankin JH, Wilkens LR, Franke SJM, Kolonel N. Sun exposure, diet and melanoma in Hawaii Caucasians. Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:232-45.
[11] Armstong K, Kricker A. The epidemiology of UV induced skin cancer. J Photochem Biol 2001;63:8-18
[12] Crombie IK. Distribution of malignant melanoma on the body surface. Br J Cancer 1981;43:842-9.
[13] Crombie IK. Variation of melanoma incidence with latitude in North America and Europe. Br J Cancer 1979;40:774-81.
[14]Weinstock MA, Colditz,BA, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ. Bronstein, BR, Speizer FE. Nonfamilial cutaneous melanoma incidence in women associated with sun exposure before 20 years of age. Pediatrics 1989;84:199-204.
[15] Tucker MA, Goldstein AM. Melanoma etiology: where are we? Oncogene 20f03;22:3042-52.
[16] Berwick M, Armstrong BK, Ben-Porat L, Fine J, Kricker A, Eberle C. Sun exposure and mortality from melanoma. J Nat Cancer Inst 2005;97:95-199.
[17] Veierød MB, Weiderpass E, Thörn M, Hansson J, Lund E, Armstrong B. A prospective study of pigmentation, sun exposure, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:1530-8.
[18] Oliveria SA, Saraiya M, Geller AC, Heneghan MK, Jorgensen C. Sun exposure and risk of melanoma. Arch Dis Child 2006;91:131-8.
[19] Elwood JM, Gallagher RP, Hill GB, Pearson JCG. Cutaneous melanoma in relation to intermittent and constant sun exposure—the western Canada melanoma study. Int J Cancer 2006;35:427-33
[20] Luz E. Tavera-Mendoza and John H. White. Cell Defenses and the Sunshine Vitamin. Scientific American 2007;November, p.42.
[21] Reichrath J. The challenge resulting from positive and negative effects of sunlight: how much solar UV exposure is appropriate to balance between risks of vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer? Prog Biophys Mol Biol 2006;92(1):9-16.
[22] Adams, J and Hewison, M. Update in Vitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2010;95: 471–478.

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Could Sun Cream Fuel The Obesity Crisis This Summer?

By Graham Pembrey

Summer is on the horizon and it is only natural that many of us will be reaching for the sun cream, in an attempt to keep our pale British skin from burning in the heat. One thing that many of us will not realise as we do so, however, is that while sun lotion blocks out harmful rays from the sun, it also prevents our bodies from absorbing an important vitamin that helps us to fight off obesity.

You see, while excessive sunshine might burn us, sunshine is also an important source of what is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ – vitamin D. Vitamin D has many benefits. It helps bone growth, prevents depression, and aids weight loss. When we lack in this vitamin, our bodies can suffer. As can our emotions – which is one of the major reasons why seasonal affective disorder, commonly known as SAD, affects many people in the cold season, giving them the ‘winter blues’.

There is some good news for people who want to tan without burning, but also want to avoid obesity; vitamin D can be found in certain foods including oily fish, eggs and dairy products. The vitamin can also be found in margarines, and in cod and liver oil. By eating plenty of these foods, it may be possible to make up for some lack of exposure to sunlight. Still, you should try to get at least 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight most days.

Link: http://bit.ly/9g6DxE

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The Sunshine Vitamin Cure-All

40% of Children Have Vitamin D Deficiency How to Make Sure Your Kid Isn’t One of Them

By Dan Shapley April 6, 2010

At least 40% of infants and toddlers, and 42% of teens, aren’t getting enough vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” according to new research.

Vitamin D is produced when the body reacts to sunlight, and helps the body absorb calcium. Without it, people are prone to bone disease, autoimmune diseases like diabetes, multiple sclerosis and certain cancers, as the Washington Post put it — as well as increased risk for heart attacks (learn more here).

The new Boston Children’s Hospital research, on infants and toddlers, suggests that nursing mothers should be giving their children Vitamin D supplements, since human breast milk lacks the fortification given to store-bought milk.

Teens may also need supplements, researchers told the Post.

Another solution we humbly suggest? Go outside. While it is important to be careful to avoid overexposure to the sun, there’s no reason people can’t get more Vitamin D the natural way.

In our hyperconnected, hyperfearful times, we’re more apt to stay indoors plugged into a computer, video game, television or PDA than to take a walk outside, play sports, fish or otherwise get some sun. Parents are increasingly concerned about the threat of pedophiles and the like, so children are less apt to just take off for the great outdoors unsupervised.

There were already good reasons to make sure – via whatever extra effort is necessary – that children aren’t suffering from so-called nature deficit disorder. There’s the food for the soul argument, the inspiration for creativity argument, the exercise for health argument, and now there’s another: good nutrition.

It’s a poignant commentary about a society when its children lack the sunshine vitamin.

Link: http://bit.ly/cBK2i0

 

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An Oldie Vies for Nutrient of the Decade

By Jane E. Brody

The so-called sunshine vitamin is poised to become the nutrient of the decade, if a host of recent findings are to be believed. Vitamin D, an essential nutrient found in a limited number of foods, has long been renowned for its role in creating strong bones, which is why it is added to milk.

Now a growing legion of medical researchers have raised strong doubts about the adequacy of currently recommended levels of intake, from birth through the sunset years. The researchers maintain, based on a plethora of studies, that vitamin D levels considered adequate to prevent bone malformations like rickets in children are not optimal to counter a host of serious ailments that are now linked to low vitamin D levels.

To be sure, not all medical experts are convinced of the need for or the desirability of raising the amount of vitamin D people should receive, either through sunlight, foods, supplements or all three. The federal committee that establishes daily recommended levels of nutrients has resisted all efforts to increase vitamin D intake significantly, partly because the members are not convinced of assertions for its health-promoting potential and partly because of time-worn fears of toxicity.

This column will present the facts as currently known, but be forewarned. In the end, you will have to decide for yourself how much of this vital nutrient to consume each and every day and how to obtain it.

Where to Obtain It

Through most of human history, sunlight was the primary source of vitamin D, which is formed in skin exposed to ultraviolet B radiation (the UV light that causes sunburns). Thus, to determine how much vitamin D is needed from food and supplements, take into account factors like skin color, where you live, time of year, time spent out of doors, use of sunscreens and coverups and age.

Sun avoiders and dark-skinned people absorb less UV radiation. People in the northern two-thirds of the country make little or no vitamin D in winter, and older people make less vitamin D in their skin and are less able to convert it into the hormone that the body uses. In addition, babies fed just breast milk consume little vitamin D unless given a supplement.

In addition to fortified drinks like milk, soy milk and some juices, the limited number of vitamin D food sources include oily fish like salmon, mackerel, bluefish, catfish, sardines and tuna, as well as cod liver oil and fish oils. The amount of vitamin D in breakfast cereals is minimal at best. As for supplements, vitamin D is found in prenatal vitamins, multivitamins, calcium-vitamin D combinations and plain vitamin D. Check the label, and select brands that contain vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol. D2, or ergocalciferol, is 25 percent less effective.

Vitamin D content is listed on labels in international units (I.U.). An eight-ounce glass of milk or fortified orange juice is supposed to contain 100 I.U. Most brands of multivitamins provide 400 a day. Half a cup of canned red salmon has about 940, and three ounces of cooked catfish about 570.

Myriad Links to Health

Let’s start with the least controversial role of vitamin D — strong bones. Last year, a 15-member team of nutrition experts noted in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that “randomized trials using the currently recommended intakes of 400 I.U. vitamin D a day have shown no appreciable reduction in fracture risk.”

A Swiss study of women in their 80s found greater leg strength and half as many falls among those who took 800 I.U. of vitamin D a day for three months along with 1,200 milligrams of calcium, compared with women who took just calcium. Greater strength and better balance have been found in older people with high blood levels of vitamin D.

In animal studies, vitamin D has strikingly reduced tumor growth, and a large number of observational studies in people have linked low vitamin D levels to an increased risk of cancer, including cancers of the breast, rectum, ovary, prostate, stomach, bladder, esophagus, kidney, lung, pancreas and uterus, as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

Researchers at Creighton University in Omaha conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (the most reliable form of clinical research) among 1,179 community-living, healthy postmenopausal women. They reported last year in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that over the course of four years, those taking calcium and 1,100 I.U. of vitamin D3 each day developed about 80 percent fewer cancers than those who took just calcium or a placebo.

Vitamin D seems to dampen an overactive immune system. The incidence of autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis has been linked to low levels of vitamin D. A study published on Dec. 20, 2006, in The Journal of the American Medical Association examined the risk of developing multiple sclerosis among more than seven million military recruits followed for up to 12 years. Among whites, but not blacks or Hispanics, the risk of developing M.S. increased with ever lower levels of vitamin D in their blood serum before age 20.

A study published in Neurology in 2004 found a 40 percent lower risk of M.S. in women who took at least 400 I.U. of vitamin D a day.

Likewise, a study of a national sample of non-Hispanic whites found a 75 percent lower risk of diabetes among those with the highest blood levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that when consumed or made in the skin can be stored in body fat. In summer, as little as five minutes of sun a day on unprotected hands and face can replete the body’s supply. Any excess can be stored for later use. But for most people during the rest of the year, the body needs dietary help.

Furthermore, the general increase in obesity has introduced a worrisome factor, the tendency for body fat to hold on to vitamin D, thus reducing its overall availability.

As for a maximum safe dose, researchers like Bruce W. Hollis, a pediatric nutritionist at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, maintain that the current top level of 2,000 I.U. is based on shaky evidence indeed — a study of six patients in India. Dr. Hollis has been giving pregnant women 4,000 I.U. a day, and nursing women 6,000, with no adverse effects. Other experts, however, are concerned that high vitamin D levels (above 800 I.U.) with calcium can raise the risk of kidney stones in susceptible people.

Link: http://nyti.ms/d1jAPm

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Vitamin D: Sunshine and So Much More

If this vitamin isn’t in your medicine cabinet, it probably should be.

By Linda B. White, M.D.

What do the following conditions have in common: osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer? Give up? Experts suspect that insufficient levels of vitamin D raise your risk of getting these diseases. Unfortunately, most of us probably are vitamin D deficient.

About all I was taught in medical school is that vitamin D keeps bones strong. Recently however, this area of study has exploded as scientists uncover the vitamin’s far-reaching effects. Because it increases calcium levels, vitamin D indirectly fortifies bones and teeth. It also regulates cells all over the body, which explains vitamin D’s disparate roles, such as influencing insulin production and immune function, as well as helping prevent inflammation and cancer.

The scary thing is that vitamin D deficiency appears to be quite common. A recent British study found that 87 percent of volunteers had low blood levels of the vitamin in winter and spring, and 61 percent had low levels in summer and fall. Why the seasonal variation? Our chief source of vitamin D is sunshine.

Why We’re D-ficient

In response to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in sunlight, our skin transforms a derivative of cholesterol normally found in the skin into vitamin D3 (cholecaliferol). The liver, kidneys and other tissues further activate this molecule. Given that the skin is a veritable vitamin D factory, why is deficiency so rampant? History — ancient and recent — holds the answers.

Humans evolved near the equator and spent days outdoors, allowing the skin to generate ample amounts of this vitamin. About 50,000 years ago, some of our ancestors migrated toward the poles, where winter sunlight isn’t intense enough for vitamin D production. However, their diet of vitamin D-rich fish compensated for the deficit.

But rickets became prevalent in the 18th century during the Industrial Revolution, when people shifted to indoor labor and the skies darkened with pollution. This manifestation of severe vitamin D deficiency causes skeletal deformities, such as bowed or knocked knees and bony knobs along the ribs, known as rachitic rosary. During the 1930s, the decision to add vitamin D to milk nearly eradicated rickets in the United States. But nowadays, kids and adults drink less milk and more juice and sodas, and sadly, rickets is making a comeback in American children according to a study released last year.

Starting about 30 years ago, another cultural shift deepened our vitamin D deficit: public health campaigns to avoid the midday sun, cover up and apply sunscreen. They were justified attempts to save our skins from sun-induced aging and cancer, but now we’re not making enough vitamin D. These days, vitamin D deficiency has become commonplace, even in the tropics. For instance, a sampling of adults in sunny Honolulu showed that half were low in D.

Of course, we can take supplements, but current government recommendations are cautious — 200 IU a day for young adults, 400 for people 51 to 70, and 600 for those over 70. Vitamin D expert Bruce W. Hollis, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina, says such doses might be enough to prevent rickets, but aren’t sufficient to fulfill other important functions.

Most of us don’t even meet these inadequate guidelines. A German study found that 80 percent of sampled adults didn’t get recommended amounts, and nearly 60 percent had low blood levels of vitamin D, a statistic that rose to 75 percent in women over 65 years old. Furthermore, those women with low blood levels of vitamin D were more likely to have high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Results of D-ficiency

So what are the dangers of too little vitamin D in your system? A whole host of chronic conditions.

Weak bones and muscles. Rickets was the first disease tied to vitamin D depletion. This severe deficiency during childhood can prevent kids from reaching their potential for full height and peak bone mass. (Bone mass peaks in early adulthood; after that it slowly declines.)

In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis (thin, brittle bones) and osteomalacia (rubbery, demineralized bones). The latter causes bone pain, and both elevate the risk of broken bones.

Additionally, vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness and discomfort. One study found that patients with aches and weakness were often severely vitamin D deficient. Hollis says he’s hearing from doctors that vitamin D supplementation often resolves these aches and pains, adding, “A lot of ‘fibromyalgia’ is probably D deficiency.”

Weakened muscles increase the risk of falls and fractures — a dangerous combination for the elderly. The research shows that, although the recommended dose of 600 IU a day doesn’t prevent falls and fractures in older adults, doses over 800 IU do. In fact, consuming 700 to 800 IU of vitamin D a day (plus or minus calcium) could prevent a quarter of hip fractures in older people, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Cancer. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to several types of cancer, including breast, prostate, colon and melanoma. In fact, for more than 60 years, research has found that people living at higher latitudes with less exposure to sunlight showed an increased risk of cancer mortality. Adequate vitamin D levels seem to protect against some cancers. In a recent study, researchers followed healthy postmenopausal women whom they assigned to take either 1,400 to 1,500 milligrams a day of supplemental calcium plus 1,100 IU a day of vitamin D3, or a placebo for four years. After the first year, vitamin D supplementation led to a 57 percent reduction in cancer.

Cardiovascular disease. In addition to cancer and bone disease, vitamin D may also be healthy for your heart. Vitamin D levels are inversely associated with the risk of high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Exposing people with high blood pressure to ultraviolet light has been shown to improve the condition.

Asthma. Preliminary studies show that vitamin D also may help alleviate respiratory problems, such as asthma. According to one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children of mothers with lower intakes of vitamin D during pregnancy are more likely to develop asthma.

Autoimmune disorders. Vitamin D reduces inflammation and plays a role in the maturation of the immune system. Deficiency is common in autoimmune diseases where the immune system attacks normal cells, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS). Emerging research shows that vitamin D may have a preventive effect. One study examined two large groups of women for 10 years and found a reduced risk of MS was associated with vitamin D supplementation. A study of Finnish children taking 2,000 IU a day (10 times the current recommendation) showed they had a decreased risk of developing type l diabetes. In an analysis of the Iowa Women’s Health Study, women consuming higher levels of vitamin D showed a reduced risk for rheumatoid arthritis.

Mental health. Psychiatrist John Cannell, M.D., founder of the nonprofit Vitamin D Council, says that vitamin D may contribute to several emotional disorders. In a study of elderly people, mood and cognitive skills deteriorated with lower levels of D. Cannell points out that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression whose onset follows the waning daylight of autumn and winter. An Australian study found that vitamin D supplements lifted the mood of people with SAD.

How to Get Enough D

Expose yourself. Your skin can tackle much of your vitamin D needs. If you’re young, fair, scantily clad and near the equator, 10 to 15 minutes of peak sunshine produces 20,000 IUs.

However, Hollis says a dark-skinned person requires 10 times that exposure to make an equivalent amount of D. And a 70-year-old person makes only a quarter of the vitamin D that a 20-year-old can produce. During the fall and winter in higher latitudes (above 37 degrees latitude ­— San Francisco is just above 37 degrees), the levels of UVB fall below the threshold needed for even a fair-skinned person to produce enough vitamin D. Additionally, complete cloud coverage cuts UV energy in half, and shade reduces it by 60 percent.

Sunscreens also block UVB waves, the wavelength that stimulates the skin’s vitamin D production. According to Michael F. Holick, M.D., Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, a sunblock with SPF 8 reduces the skin’s vitamin D production by 95 percent. “If you wear sunscreen ‘properly,’ you’ll become vitamin D deficient,” he says.

But what about skin cancer? Despite increased sunscreen usage, skin cancer rates have risen. One reason is that, until recently, sunscreens didn’t impede deeply penetrating UVA light, and presumably, our false sense of security led to more time in the sun and an increase in skin cancer.

What should you do? “Be sensible,” Holick advises. “Know your own skin sensitivity.” For instance, if you turn pink after 30 minutes in the summer sun, thenspending five to 10 minutes (in a bathing suit) in the sun should generate plenty of vitamin D. After that, apply sunscreen, cover up and seek shade.

Eat D-licious foods. Only a few foods contain much vitamin D. Sources of vitamin D include cod liver oil (1,360 IU per tablespoon); oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel (about 350 IU per 3.5 ounces); eggs (about 20 IU per yolk); and fortified milk, soy milk and orange juice (98 IU per 8-ounce serving). (We’re testing pasture-raised chicken eggs for vitamin D as part of our 2007 egg testing project. See October/November 2007 for the initial results. — Mother)

Shiitake mushrooms can be an exceptional source of vitamin D, as noted in research published in Paul Stamets’ book, Mycelium Running. Shiitake mushrooms grown and dried indoors have only 110 IU of vitamin D per 100 grams. But when the shiitakes were dried in the sun, the vitamin D content rose to 21,400 IUs per 100 grams. Even more surprising, when the mushrooms were dried with their gills facing up toward the sun, their content rose to 46,000 IU!

Take supplemental D. Most North Americans can’t maintain healthy blood levels of D from sunlight and good diet. Therefore, many experts recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day — several times the government guidelines of 200 to 600 IU.

The exact amount depends upon several things. If you’re dark-skinned or spend little time outdoors, you’ll obviously need more than a Caucasian lifeguard. And if you’re already deficient in vitamin D, you’ll need hefty doses just to get your blood levels up to normal.

If you’re pregnant or nursing, you’ll also need more. Hollis and colleagues are currently researching the effects of different vitamin D doses in pregnant women of various races. Until the results of that trial are finalized, he can’t recommend more than 2,000 IU per day.

When asked how much vitamin D they normally take, Hollis says he takes 4,000 IU a day, while Holick says each member of his family takes 1,000 IU of D3 a day. Holick also spends reasonable amounts of time outdoors.

Be aware that many supplements provide vitamin D as ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), rather than cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). D3 is the form naturally occurring in our bodies and is more effective.

No one really knows how much vitamin D might be too much; however, toxicity is exceedingly rare. The Food and Nutrition Board sets the upper level for daily dietary intake at 2,000 IU, though Hollis thinks that’s not enough to maintain health at northern latitudes. Accumulated research demonstrates 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 to be a more realistic upper limit.

Who’s at Risk?

The only way to measure vitamin D blood levels is to check a form of vitamin D called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Doctors don’t routinely perform this test, and Holick thinks universal screening would be too expensive. If you’re at risk for, or already have symptoms of, deficiency, then you might want the blood test.

Just who’s at risk? Research shows the following populations face greater risk of vitamin D deficiency:

Dark-skinned people. Melanin darkens skin and absorbs UV light, which protects against sun damage and limits vitamin D production. Holick’s research shows that 80 percent of African-Americans studied in Boston over age 65 were vitamin D deficient — at the end of summer!

Northerners. People who live at higher latitudes where winters are long and dark run a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. Holick notes that even fair-skinned people living above 37 degrees latitude make little vitamin D during the winter.

Older adults. The skin production of vitamin D and its activation in the kidneys declines with age. Further, the elderly typically spend more time indoors. Vitamin D deficiency in this age group contributes to osteoporosis and falls.

Breast-fed infants. Research in Iowa by Hollis and colleagues found that vitamin D deficiency, including severe deficiency, was common among breast-fed infants without vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D deficiency in nursing mothers is the reason breast milk is D deficient. Unfortunately, early deficiency can have lifelong consequences.

People with intestinal disorders. Disorders that interfere with fat absorption include celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, pancreatic insufficiency, liver disease or cystic fibrosis. Fat-soluble vitamins such as D are absorbed from the intestine with dietary fat, so people with low ability to absorb fat may need vitamin D supplements.

Sun avoiders. People who cover up for religious, cultural or health reasons also run the risk of deficiency. Clothing blocks UVB waves, interfering with or preventing the skin’s formation of vitamin D.

The obese. In a British study, obese people were twice as likely as those of normal weight to be low in vitamin D. Hollis explains it’s because fat sponges up vitamin D and stores it, but doesn’t release it.

Link: http://bit.ly/9mBisk

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