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Apr 30, 2010

Vitamin D Linked to Diabetes, Cancer, Depression, and More

Care2 article, posted by Michelle Schoffro Cook Apr 29, 2010
New evidence shows that people with higher levels of vitamin D experienced a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University just released its study linking low levels of vitamin D to diabetes in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The authors of the study concluded that maintaining optimal vitamin D levels in the blood may be a type 2 diabetes prevention strategy.
Other recent research found that vitamin D plays a critical role in activating the body’s immune system against infectious diseases like the flu. Researchers noted that a deficiency in this important vitamin, which actually acts more like a hormone in your body, may result in a greater risk of contracting flu viruses. Additional research has linked low amounts of vitamin D to autoimmune disorders, cancer, depression, diabetes, and heart disease.
Vitamin D also plays essential roles in supporting our energy and balancing our moods. It also helps to build healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, and it supports the health of the thyroid gland-a butterfly gland in the throat that helps maintain a healthy weight, balanced metabolism, and energy levels.
While moderate sunlight exposure is the best source of vitamin D, many people incorrectly think that a small amount of sunshine exposure daily is sufficient to meet their vitamin D requirements.
However, after your skin is exposed to sunlight, it takes about 48 hours to convert it into vitamin D. During that time, the sunlight-initiated precursors to vitamin D can be washed off with soap and water. So, if you scrub your skin with soap in the shower, your body will not convert most of your skin’s sun exposure to vitamin D. I’m not suggesting that you avoid showering after sun exposure rather that you primarily soap the areas that don’t usually see the light of day and wash the newly tanned ones exclusively with water. Avoid excessive sun exposure since there are no health benefits of sunburn.
Some vitamin D deficiency symptoms include: bow legs or “knock knees,” burning in mouth or throat, constipation, dental cavities or cracked teeth, insomnia, joint pains or bone pains, muscle cramps, nearsightedness (myopia-can’t see distances), nervousness, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, frequent colds or flu, and poor bone development.
Vitamin D is also found in fish and fish oils, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, and many types of sprouts. People with low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) tend to have difficulty with vitamin D absorption and as a result, may have higher needs for this nutrient.
Many health experts recommend supplementation of 2000 to 4000 IU daily. However, you should always consult a qualified health professional before supplementing with vitamin D since excessive amounts can build up in the body creating a potential risk for toxicity and is contraindicated for some health conditions.
A complete list of references is published in The Phytozyme Cure.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, RNCP, ROHP, DAc, DNM, is a best-selling and six-time book author and doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, and The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan. Learn more at: 

Dec 10, 2009

Dr Frank Lipman, a newer member of Care2, is contributing interesting health articles. I especially appreciate Dr Lipman's enthusiasm for changing the way (American) children are educated and fed. Bravo!
*N.B. from Jenny. As this following article was written for American readers, I think it would be advisable for Australian (and New Zealand?) readers to double-check with their doctors before making changes to their habitual sun-exposure practices. 
This blog has been adapted (i.e. paraphrased etc by me) from a post by Dr. Frank Lipman in Care2's 'Greenliving' section

Doctors usually advise us to avoid the sun.
What does Dr Lipman think?

There is an old Italian saying...
Where the sun does not go the doctor does.

In the last 25 yrs, doctors (esp. dermatologists) have demonized sun exposure and repeatedly told us it is bad for you and causes cancer. But lately studies have shown that modest exposure to sunlight may actually be good for you, helping the body produce the vitamin D it needs to keep bones healthy and protect against cancer, including skin cancer
It’s almost impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food alone; sun is the best source.
 DON'T go bake in the sun or tanning salons. 
 DO get some sun without getting burned.

All you need is a little common sense when heading
outdoors; do it gradually and always avoid sunburn
 Remember to take antioxidants when
 you sit in the sun, as these can help
 prevent skin cells from sun damage.

How much sunshine do you need?
All living things need sun, the key is balance.

Too much sun exposure can cause melanoma and skin aging, while too little creates an inadequate production of vitaminD. The amount needed depends on the season, time of day, where you live, skin pigmentation and other factors.
*If you are not vitaminD deficient, about 20 minutes a day in the spring, summer and fall on your face and arms or legs without sunscreen is adequate.
It doesn’t matter which part of the body you expose to the sun. 
 If living further from the equator
  you need longer sun exposure  
  in order to generate vitaminD.

Why are tanning beds not recommended?
...because light sources vary with different tanning beds, so they are unpredictable;
...because most commercial tanning beds emit an unknown amount of EMF - it may be an unnecessary high dose.
Can I take cod liver oil to get my vitaminD?
No. Even though Cod liver oil contains vitaminD, it also contains high amounts of vitaminA. VitaminA antagonizes the action of vitaminD and can be toxic at high levels.

What are food sources of vitamin D?
--Fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil.
--Fatty wild fish like mackerel, salmon, halibut, tuna, sardines and herring
--Fortified milk, orange juice and cereal
--Dried Shiitake mushrooms
--Egg yolks
(But to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from food, you would have to eat at least 5 servings of salmon a day or drink 20 cups of fortified milk.)
How much vitamin D do I need?
As a general rule, old people need more than young people, big people need more that little people, fat people need more than skinny people, northern people need more than southern people, dark-skinned people need more than fair skinned people, winter people need more than summer people, sun block lovers need more than sun block haters, sun-phobes need more than sun worshippers, and ill people may need more than well people.
What Dr Lipman and colleagues (*ie America) are finding is that even people spending what we thought was adequate amount of time in the sun, are still showing up with low blood vitamin D levels.
I am not sure why at this stage, but there is an easy and cheap solution: vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D supplements (see more in original article) 
 N.B. take vitaminD3, (cholecalciferol)
  the active form of vitaminD.
DON'T take vitaminD2 -it is not as biologically active nor as effective, and nor as safe as vitaminD3.
And taking the right amount is crucial, most doctors tend to under dose. See original article and your doctor for dosage guidelines
It takes a good 6 months usually to optimize your vitamin D levels if you’re deficient. Once this occurs, you can lower the dose to the maintenance dose of 2,000 - 4,000 IU a day.
What about vitamin D toxicity?
 It is impossible to generate too much 
 VitaminD in your body from sunlight
 exposure: your body self-regulates;
 only generate what it needs.

Although very rare, it is possible to overdose and become toxic with supplementation ...if you are taking 5,000 IU or more daily, you should have your blood levels monitored approximately every 3 months.
Frank Lipman MD, is an author, and founder/director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, NYC. Emphasis is on preventive health care and patient education; Western/Eastern medicine plus other complimentary modalities. Hompage: 
Skin Cancer Statistics Within Australia 
Cancer Council Australia 
SunSmart; Risks and benefits of sun exposure 
According to Cancer Council Australia, "The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation is both the major cause of skin cancer and the best source of vitamin D. In Australia, we need to balance the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. Sensible sun protection does not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency."


Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.


Jenny Dooley
, 3, 2 children
Sydney, Australia
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