Originally published June 4 2008
Are You Vitamin D Deficient?
by Teri Lee Gruss
(NaturalNews) John Cannell, MD, founder of the Vitamin D Council is a tireless champion for Vitamin D research. He understands, like a growing number of scientists do, how devastating vitamin D deficiency is to our overall health. His website, vitamindcouncil.org is a virtual mega resource for vitamin D research, information on diseases related to deficiencies, the physiology of vitamin D, treatment for deficiencies and much much more.
Current U.S. recommendations for vitamin D are too low for millions of Americans
Dr. Cannell recently attended the Vitamin D Symposium in San Diego, California (April 2008) where top researchers in the exploding field of vitamin D research presented new data that supports a growing consensus that current government recommendations for vitamin D need to be raised, and soon.
Dr. Cannell's not for profit website and newsletter provide practical solutions for how you can make sure you are meeting your vitamin D requirements, instead of depending on foot dragging government agencies to raise the bar on vitamin D requirements. Sooner or later, official requirements will be raised, but in the mean time you or members of your family may be among the millions of people that are deficient in this extraordinarily important nutrient. We are learning that a vitamin D deficiency puts us at risk for a very long list of degenerative diseases.
Vitamin D is a prohormone, supplied in nature via UVB sunlight, at least for those of us that have access to sunlight and dare to expose our skin for around 20 minutes during midday, without sunscreen. Skin pigmentation, aging skin and illness decrease our ability to manufacture and store vitamin D.
Highlights from the Vitamin D Symposium
Dr. Cannell's May 2008 Vitamin D Council Newsletter highlights the latest findings from top Vitamin D researchers including William B Grant, PhD, Bruce W Hollis, PhD, and Robert P Heaney, MD.
Dr. Grant, an ex-NASA scientist has taken on vitamin D research full time. He presented evidence that "15 cancers (colon, esophageal, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, rectal, small intestinal, bladder, kidney, prostate, breast, endometrial, ovarian, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) are associated with lower UVB light" and said that "257,000 cancer deaths in 2007 in the USA were accounted for by inadequate vitamin D levels".
These numbers illustrate why screening, using the inexpensive vitamin D blood test, the 25(OH)D test is a logical, sensible, proactive way to identify and treat children and adults with a vitamin D deficiency, in order to decrease risks for the development of diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency, including certain cancers and osteoporosis.
The Vitamin D blood test, 25(OH)D, and therapies to correct deficiencies, including adequate exposure to sunlight and/or nutritional supplements are remarkably economical. The blood test is available for $25 at the Life Extension Foundation. That is incredible, considering what the results can tell you about your current health and future risks.
Physicians should order this test for patients and insurance companies should pay for it. It could save them billions of dollars in long term health care costs and save millions of people from many unnecessary degenerative health disorders, including the development of certain cancers.
Professor Neil Binkley, a Vitamin D researcher at the University of Wisconsin presented his important discovery that "the body doesn't start storing cholecalciferol (D3), until levels reach about 50 ng/ml." This means that current "normal" lab values showing serum concentration at 20-56 ng/mL are inappropriately low to optimize health. Along with Binkley, Dr. Hollis believes that "50 ng/ml should be considered the lower limit of adequate 25(OH)D levels".
An important question was posed by Dr. Heaney. "Do different disease states use up vitamin D quickly? The answer is probably yes." This means that people with certain diseases including some cancers may require higher doses of vitamin D than currently recommended.
Based on today's government recommendations, a healthy 50 year old or one with cancer, should get about 200 IU of vitamin D from dietary and supplement sources daily.
Research suggests this recommendations could be hazardous to your health. Add the standard medical/media warnings to avoid any "unprotected" exposure to sunlight and it is easy to see the potential for wide spread vitamin D deficiency
Key recommendations from Dr. Cannell
* Tell your family and friends about the importance of vitamin D
* Tell your doctor about the importance of vitamin D
* Have your family tested for 25(OH)D levels. Ask your doctor to order the test but if he won't it is available at the Life Extension Foundation or from Direct Labs.
* Supplement with D3 cholecalciferol if necessary
Current government recommendations for optimal intake of Vitamin D are too low
At the same time that such prolific vitamin D research is taking place, our Food and Nutrition Board and the Institute of Medicine (FNB/IOM), responsible for setting dietary intake recommendations, appear quagmired in research assessment, unable to move forward in a timely fashion, to raise current vitamin D recommendations to higher, healthier levels, based on a staggering amount of scientific evidence.
In 1997 the FNB/IOM set the tolerable upper limit (UL) , a safe upper intake for vitamin D at 2000 IU, for children and adults. The U.S. recommendations for "Adequate Intake (AI)" of vitamin D remains at 200 IU for infants to 50 year olds, 400 IU for 51-70 year olds and 600 IU for those 71 and older.
The more we learn about health risks associated with vitamin D deficiencies and the reality of a deficiency epidemic, the FNB/IOM recommendations look more and more like "inadequate" recommendations.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI)- Micronutrient Center at Oregon State University, a valuable site frequented by nutrition students, "the AI values established in 1997 reflect vitamin D intakes likely to maintain serum 25(OH)D levels of at least 15 ng/mL, which many experts now feel is too low".
This current government recommendation perpetuates serum levels of vitamin D in a severe deficiency range for many people in the U.S., including those who don't have access to regular exposure to sunlight or dietary sources of vitamin D.
Regarding toxicity, the LPI Micronutrient Center notes that "Hyperglycemia has been observed following daily doses of greater than 50,000 IU of vitamin D . Research published since 1997 suggests that the UL for adults is likely overly conservative and that vitamin D toxicity is very unlikely in healthy people at intake levels lower than 10,000 IU/day ".
Dr. Cannell warns that if the FDA embraces the European Union model of Codex, which regulates the sale, dosage and personal use of nutritional supplements, Vitamin D supplements could become unavailable.
He says that more likely, the dosage of vitamin D supplements could be limited to the current "Adequate Intake" dosages. If this does happen (and it shouldn't if enough of us demand health freedom legislation from our elected representatives), a person could have to swallow many more pills to get the dose desired to bring their vitamin D to healthy levels.
This would be an inconvenience for sure and would discourage those that won't or can't swallow pills, (ie. children and the elderly) from taking vitamin D supplements. What a tragic scenario.
Something else to consider -- Do low cellular cholesterol levels decrease our ability to synthesize vitamin D naturally?
We need normal levels of cholesterol to manufacture vitamin D from sunlight. Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D synthesis in the human body, activated by UVB rays from the sun. What happens to natural vitamin D synthesis when we drop cholesterol to abnormally, even artificially low levels with inappropriate use of statins?
To learn more about the latest from the Vitamin D Symposium, please open the link to Dr. Cannell's May 2008 Vitamin D Council Newsletter. Also Dr. Cannell has graciously made slides of the symposium presentations freely accessible at (http://www.grassrootshealth.org/seminar_pres...) .
The Vitamin D Council - May 2008 Newsletter
Hollis BW, Wagner CL, Drezner MK, Binkley NC. Circulating vitamin D3 and 25-hydroxy vitamin D in humans: An important tool to define adequate nutritional vitamin D status. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):631-4.
The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University:
About the authorTeri Lee Gruss, MS Human Nutrition
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