Wednesday, June 29, 2005

2005: The Year of Vitamin D

This year has brought more evidence about the importance and role of adequate intake of Vitamin D - and not just on the health of our bones!

Since the beginning of the year, Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to:
  • Skin Cancer [ironic, isn't it?]
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Fetal development problems [Maternal deficiency]
  • Learning and Memory dysfunction
  • Tuberculosis
  • Bone deformity
  • Low Bone Mineral Density
  • Seizures in Newborns [Maternal deficiency]
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Chronic Autoimmune Disease
  • Hip Fractures in the elderly
  • Nutritional Rickets

How are we, in the United States, doing when it comes to adequate Vitamin D levels?

Back in February, researchers from Canada published Vitamin D insufficiency in North America in the Journal of Nutrition [J Nutr. 2005 Feb;135(2):332-7]. Among their conclusions - we're not getting enough Vitamin D and that the response to vitamin D supplementation in clinical trials suggests current recommendations for dietary intake of this vitamin are too low and that a higher adequate intake should be recommended.

Throughout the spring many articles appeared in the media suggesting that our phobia of the sun and our obession with liberal use of sunscreens may be contributing to our Vitamin D deficiency. Sunshine is, afterall, the primary source of Vitamin D for the body. By screening out the sun's UV rays, sunscreens are robbing our bodies the ability to manufacture Vitamin D, so without intake from food or supplements, we risk deficiency in this essential Vitamin.

In the last week, a number of articles have once again sounded the warning that any exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays is damaging, so lather up with that sunscreen - and be sure it's also full-spectrum for UVA and UVB. These warnings are being issued by the American Academy of Dermatology and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Have they not read the over 100 studies published since January 1st? Have they missed the almost 10,000 abstracts specifically looking at Vitamin D deficiency?

Now, I'm not suggesting wanton exposure to the sun with no thought to the potential for damage to your skin - that can happen with too much exposure, especially if your skin burns.

What I am suggesting is providing your body with one of the essential Vitamins it needs to function properly - and this time of the year, you can do that with moderate time in the sun, about 10-20 minutes, without sunscreen on.

Not convinced that exposing your skin to moderate amounts of sunshine is a good thing?

Don't worry - there are other things you can do instead, and these things should be considered during the winter months in northern latitudes!

  • 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil daily provides all the Vitamin D you need, and it's in its natural food form, not a synthetic
  • Vitamin D is also present in some foods, most notably in Shrimp, a 4-ounce serving of boiled shrimp provides 40.6% of the DV; Salmon, 1 4-ounce cooked serving provides 95% of the DV; Tuna (canned in oil), a 3-ounce serving provides 50% of the DV; Sardines (canned in oil), a 1.75-ounce serving provides 70% of the DV; and Mackerel, a 4-ounce cooked serving provides 95% of the DV.
  • Other foods that are good sources of Vitamin D include: Large whole Eggs - one egg provides 5.7% of the DV; 8-ounces of whole Cow's Milk provides 25% of the DV; and 4-ounces of baked Pacific Cod provides 15.9% of the DV.
  • Fortified food sources can also be used, although the Vitamin D within them is synthetic
  • Supplements can also be used, but again the form of Vitamin D is synthetic

1 comment:

  1. There's a reason the late, great John Denver wrote and sang, "sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy"--not only will the Vitamin D produced by the body in response to moderate exposure to the sun give all the benefits Regina just talked about, it'll totally lift up anyone's mood, whether you suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or not. In my humble opinion, anyway. ;-)