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Vitamin D – It’s more than Sunshine.
By Tammera J. Karr, MSHN, CNC
Everywhere we turn there is information about the merits of vitamin D. Along with this information comes an astounding amount of myth, misunderstanding and confusion.
In the 1920s and 30s a researcher and dentist by the name of Dr. Westin Price discovered Factor X, which is found in dairy foods and fish oils. He found that butter made from spring milk was not only richer and darker in color, but also higher in its nutrient content. Dr. Price learned that individuals whose diets were high in Factor X, found in these foods, were far less susceptible to cavities, tuberculosis and chronic health issues. Later, Factor X was renamed to vitamin D and vitamin A. Physiologically each of us should be capable of producing upwards of 30,000 I.U. of vitamin D from fifteen to twenty minutes of sun exposure to the skin without sunscreen. Sadly, this is not the case and research supports the majority of the worlds population is vitamin D deficient.
For many years physicians have believed vitamin D is toxic when given in doses over 400 I.U. for prolonged periods. So this vital nutrient has been relegated to the basement closet in the world of importance for our health. We now know that vitamin D is vital for bone health, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Research shows that vitamin D not only prevents bone loss, but according to John Jacob Cannell, MD, founder of the non-profit vitamin D Counsel, “Current research indicates vitamin D deficiency plays a role in causing seventeen varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, and periodontal disease.”
a world of difference between synthetic vitamin D analogs, D2 and D3
Research shows there is a world of difference between synthetic vitamin D analogs, D2 and D3 (cholecalciferol). Toxicity occurs whenever we place a synthetic into our bodies. Natural forms of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) derived from lanolin are safe and effective at high levels. The current RDA standards for vitamin D are pitifully low, at 200 to 600 I.U. Healthy vitamin D blood levels are between 50-80 ng/ml, levels obtained by fewer than 5% of Americans.
The Vitamin D Council, one of the largest research bodies on vitamin D3, has found children through individuals in their 20s should be consuming 2000 I.U. of vitamin D3 daily; not vitamin D2, which is toxic to the liver. Adults 20 and older should be consuming 5000 plus I.U. daily for optimal health. The elderly, home bound or chronically ill are at greatest risk for vitamin D3 deficiency. Many individuals with blood levels of vitamin D3 lower than 32 ng/mL often times respond best to injectable vitamin D3 therapy.
By administering vitamin D3 shots clinicians are able to, in essence, fill the client’s empty fuel tank of vitamin D reserves without involving the liver. Many clients will find a marked increase in energy and a reduction in pain and depression within 72 hours of their first shot. This therapy is currently being done in a four- to eight-shot series based on the client’s repeat 25-Hydroxy blood test.
Northern European Ancestry
There is a correlation between individuals of northern European ancestry and low vitamin D levels. Many of these individuals are prone to digestive disorders such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), gluten sensitivity and thyroid problems. Possibly, the reason for this lies with the digestive system’s inability to manufacture healthy levels of vitamin D. Clinical research supports the use of injectable vitamin D3 for individuals with low D3 blood levels. This is determined by the health practitioner requesting a 25-Hydroxy blood test.
For other individuals oral or sublingual supplements may be adequate to restore healthy levels. The use of cod-liver oil is not advised for those with low levels as it could be potentially toxic from vitamin A at the doses necessary to reach optimal D3 blood levels. It is best to have your blood levels tested before beginning vitamin D therapies. This can be done through ZRT, Lab Corp, or Life Extension Labs. There have been calibration issues with some of the other labs.
157,000 Americans die from coronary artery disease
A study published in June 2008 showed that men with low vitamin D levels suffer 2.42 times more heart attacks. Each year about 157,000 Americans die from coronary artery disease-related heart attacks. If every American optimized their vitamin D status the numbers of deaths prevented would be 92,500. According to the latest study, men with higher vitamin D levels had 142% reduction in heart attacks. According to the American Heart Association, the annual cost of health care services, medications and lost productivity related to heart attacks is over 156 billion dollars.
At the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, Jared P. Reis, Ph.D., and his team of researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore announced their findings of a study of 3,577 adolescents, 12 to 19 years old (51 percent boys). “We showed strong associations between low levels of vitamin D and higher risk of high blood pressure, hyperglycemia and metabolic syndrome among adolescents, confirming the results of studies among adults,” Dr. Reis said. Children and adolescents with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 2.36 times more likely to have hypertension, 2.54 times more likely to have high blood sugar and about 4 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome — a group of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors that includes an increased waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels.
US government is promoting illness management
A world wide epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency is raging, and the US government is promoting illness management with high cost pharmaceuticals instead of cost effective nutritional supplements’, banning junk foods from schools and replacing vitamin D robbing florescent lighting with skylights, LED, or full spectrum lights.
If every American achieved optimal vitamin D levels, a minimum savings of 84 billion dollars plus in health care costs could be realized. If we add all the moneys saved by promoting wellness care through nutrition and life style to the 84 billion we would not have a healthcare crisis in this county. Currently, Medicare is looking at discontinuing vitamin D3 – 25-Hydroxy blood testing as a way of curbing escalating medical costs that are bankrupting the Medicare system. Wouldn’t it be better to look at more cost efficient therapies, real wellness management, improved food quality and reduce unnecessary and low efficacy medications? The Chinese model of pay the doctor to keep you well, don’t pay him if you become ill in my mind is one we could all benefit from. Fight for your health freedom – let your voice be heard.
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