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Archive for March, 2008

Lack Of Sunlight May Increase Lung Cancer Risk

Posted by D3forU on March 31, 2008

ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2007) — Lack of sunlight may increase the risk of lung cancer, suggests a study of rates of the disease in over 100 countries. Lung cancer kills over a million people every year around the globe.

The researchers looked at the association between latitude, exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) light, and rates of lung cancer according to age in 111 countries across several continents.

They took account of the amount of cloud cover and aerosol use, both of which absorb UVB light, and cigarette smoking, the primary cause of lung cancer

International databases, including those of the World Health Organization, and national health statistics were used.

Smoking was most strongly associated with lung cancer rates, accounting for between 75% and 85% of the cases.

But exposure to sunlight, especially UVB light, the principal source of vitamin D for the body, also seemed to have an impact, the findings showed.

The amount of UVB light increases with proximity to the equator. And the analyses showed that lung cancer rates were highest in those countries furthest away from the equator and lowest in those nearest.

Higher cloud cover and airborne aerosol levels were also associated with higher rates of the disease.

In men, the prevalence of smoking was associated with higher lung cancer rates, while greater exposure to UVB light was associated with lower rates.

Among women, cigarette smoking, total cloud cover, and airborne aerosols were associated with higher rates of lung cancer, while greater exposure to UVB light was associated with lower rates.

The associations for a protective role for UVB light persisted after adjusting for smoking.

The link between cancer and sunlight is chemically plausible, say the authors, because laboratory research has shown that vitamin D can halt tumour growth by promoting the factors responsible for cell death in the body.

“Although cigarette smoking is the main cause of lung cancer, greater UVB exposure may reduce the incidence of the disease,” they conclude.

Journal reference: Could ultraviolet B irradiance and vitamin D be associated with lower incidence rates of lung cancer? J Epidemiol Community Health 2007; 62: 69-74.

Adapted from materials provided by British Medical Journal, via Newswise.

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A few more Vitamin D Studies

Posted by D3forU on March 31, 2008

Related Stories


Deficiency In Exposure To Sunlight Linked To Ovarian Cancer (Nov. 2, 2006) — Using newly available data on worldwide cancer incidence, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at UCSD have shown a clear association between deficiency in exposure to sunlight, specifically …  > read more
Lack Of Sunlight May Increase Lung Cancer Risk (Dec. 23, 2007) — Lack of sunlight may increase the risk of lung cancer, suggests a study of rates of the disease in over 100 countries. Lung cancer kills over a million people every year around the globe. The …  > read more
Deficiency In Exposure To Sunlight Linked To Endometrial Cancer (Nov. 16, 2007) — Using newly available data on worldwide cancer incidence, researchers have shown a clear association between deficiency in exposure to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B, and endometrial …  > read more
More Sun Exposure May Be Good For Some People (Jan. 8, 2008) — A new study suggests that the benefits of moderately increased exposure to sunlight — namely the production of vitamin D, which protects against the lethal effects of many forms of cancer and other …  > read more
Vitamin D Backed For Cancer Prevention In Two New Studies (Feb. 8, 2007) — Two new vitamin D studies using a sophisticated form of analysis called meta-analysis, in which data from multiple reports is combined, have revealed new prescriptions for possibly preventing up to …  > read more

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Global View Shows Strong Link Between Kidney Cancer, Sunlight Exposure

Posted by D3forU on March 31, 2008

ScienceDaily (Sep. 19, 2006) — Using newly available data on worldwide cancer incidence to map cancer rates in relation to proximity to the equator, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have shown a clear association between deficiency in exposure to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B (UVB), and kidney cancer.

Map of renal cancer incidence rates in males, 175 countries. (Courtesy of Sharif B. Mohr, University of California, San Diego)

UVB exposure triggers photosynthesis of vitamin D3 in the body. This form of vitamin D also is available through diet and supplements. Previous studies from this core research team have shown an association between higher levels of vitamin D3 and a lower risk of cancers of the breast, colon and ovary.

“Kidney cancer is a mysterious cancer for which no widely accepted cause or means of prevention exists, so we wanted to build on research by one of the co-authors, William Grant, and see if it might be related to deficiency of vitamin D,” said study co-author Cedric Garland, Dr. P.H., professor of Family and Preventive Medicine in the UCSD School of Medicine, and member of the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

There will be approximately 208,500 cases and 101,900 deaths from kidney cancer worldwide in 2006, including 39,000 new cases and 12,700 deaths in the United States, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the American Cancer Society.

The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer’s online edition dated September 15, is the research team’s newest finding relating exposure to the sun as a source of vitamin D, and estimated vitamin D deficiency to higher rates of several major types of cancer.

This paper used worldwide data only recently available through a new tool called GLOBOCAN, developed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. GLOBOCAN is a database of cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence for 175 countries.

The researchers created a graph with a vertical axis for renal cancer incidence rates, and a horizontal axis for latitude. The latitudes range from -90 for the southern hemisphere, to zero for the equator, to +90 for the northern hemisphere. They then plotted incidence rates for 175 countries according to latitude. The resulting chart was a parabolic curve that looks like a smile (see accompanying images).

“The plot points created a curve roughly resembling a smile, with countries with high incidence rates at the left and right, and those with low incidence rates in the center, just a few degrees from the equator,” said Garland. “Countries with the highest cancer rates were places like New Zealand and Uruguay in the southern hemisphere and Iceland and the Czech Republic in the northern hemisphere. Clustered at the bottom of the curve with lowest incidence rates were Guam, Indonesia and other equatorial countries on most continents, including many varied equatorial cultures.”

In addition to UVB, the researchers analyzed cloud cover and intake of calories from animal sources for their association to kidney cancer. The scientists were able to determine the contributions of each independently. After accounting for cloud cover and intake of animal protein, UVB exposure still showed a significant independent association with incidence rates.

“Because the distinctive “smiley” parabolic curve is present for both sexes, it is unlikely that the international differences are due to occupational exposures, which usually vary according to gender, ” said co-author Sharif B. Mohr, M.P.H.

In the paper, the authors discuss and account for other possible variables such as ozone, aerosols and obesity.

“This was a study of aggregates, or countries, rather than individuals. Findings that apply to aggregates may not apply to individuals,” said co-author Edward D. Gorham, M.P.H., Ph.D.

“Since ecological studies may not be able to control for all relevant confounding factors, observational studies of the effect of vitamin D from sunlight, diet and supplements on the risk of kidney cancer in individuals would be desirable,” Gorham added.

The study was co-authored by Mohr, Gorham, Cedric F. Garland, and Frank C. Garland, Ph.D., of the UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Moores UCSD Cancer Center; and William B. Grant, Ph.D., of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, San Francisco.

Adapted from materials provided by University of California – San Diego.

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Vitamin D, Calcium May Cut Cancer Risk

Posted by D3forU on March 31, 2008

ABC News

Nutrients Lower Cancer Risk by 77 Percent, Researchers Say

OPINION by JOHN G. SPANGLER, M.D.

June 8, 2007 —

Vitamin D

Researchers say the benefits of vitamin D and calcium may be more far reaching than once thought.

(Photo Disc)

I’ll never forget my mother’s health advice to us as children: Drink your milk, eat your greens and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine.

When it comes to cancer prevention, it turns out mom was right.

Two new studies have uncovered exciting evidence of exceptionally strong cancer-protective effects of calcium and vitamin D from food or supplement sources.

The first study was published last week in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine by Dr. Jennifer Lin and colleagues from Harvard. They report that premenopausal women with high levels of vitamin D and calcium in their diets have a lower risk of breast cancer compared to women with lower intakes of these nutrients.

The second study, published in today’s issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Dr. Joan M Lappe and colleagues at Creighton University, goes even further: Dietary supplementation of these nutrients reduces the risk of multiple types of cancer.

Together, these studies provide robust evidence of the beneficial effects that calcium and vitamin D can have on cancer prevention.

Exploring Cancer’s Nutrient Links

Research over the past half-century has pointed to a relationship between calcium, vitamin D and reduction of cancer risk, although the results have not been definitive.

In the 1950s, for example, scientists examined weather data and health statistics to show that areas of the country with the highest amount of sunshine, which stimulates the body to make vitamin D, had the lowest rates of colon cancer death.

Since that time, studies in both humans and animals have pointed toward cancer-preventive effects of both vitamin D and calcium, mainly for breast and colon cancers, but for other cancers as well, ranging from prostate cancer to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Lin and her Harvard colleagues focused on these nutrients’ effects on breast cancer by analyzing data from the Women’s Health Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

This study followed 10,578 premenopausal and 20,909 post-menopausal women 45 years or older who were initially free of cancer over 10 years, collecting data on diet, over-the-counter supplement use and subsequent development of breast cancer.

Amazingly, what they found was that calcium and vitamin D intake reduced the risk of developing breast cancer, but only among premenopausal women.

For these women, those with the highest intake of calcium were 39 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those with the lowest intake. Those in the group with the highest intake of vitamin D were also 35 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.

What’s more, high intakes of calcium and vitamin D among premenopausal women seemed to reduce the most aggressive breast tumors, including larger tumors, those which spread to the lymph nodes and those with the most dangerous types of cancer cells.

Unfortunately, among post-menopausal women, there was no relationship between calcium and vitamin D intake and prevention of breast cancer. Nonetheless, when the two nutrients were taken together in high amounts, there was a suggestion of benefit.

Beyond Breast Cancer

In a second study, Lappe and colleagues followed nearly 1,200 women from a nine-county area in eastern Nebraska to see whether vitamin D and calcium supplements might reduce not just breast cancer, but all cancers.

Compared to those women taking a placebo, cancer risk of any kind over 10 years decreased by 60 percent in those taking both calcium and vitamin D, and by 47 percent in those taking calcium alone.

Moreover, when they excluded those cancers that occurred in the first year of the study  based on the assumption that these cancers were likely present at the start of the study  the benefit of calcium plus vitamin D appeared even more dramatic: a 77 percent decrease in cancer risk.

These are stunning results. Even if the authors could not definitively say calcium reduced cancer risk, a number of other studies bore out calcium’s protective effect. The authors can say with a strong degree of confidence that combining calcium with vitamin D is highly beneficial.

How It Works

Experimentally, calcium and vitamin D have been shown to exert their anti-cancer effect by interfering with the action of a hormone called insulinlike growth factor, or IGF.

The IGF hormone stimulates breast cancer cells  as well as cells of other types of cancer  to divide. Calcium and vitamin D interact with IGF to disrupt such cell growth; in fact, vitamin D can effectively block IGF’s effect.

Other factors might also come into play. In laboratory animals, for example, diets low in vitamin D and calcium increased the number of breast tumors. Amazingly, diets rich in these nutrients caused the disappearance of many worrisome breast cells, the types of cells that can eventually become cancerous.

While the Harvard study evaluated self-reports of usual food intake from dietary questionnaires, the Nebraska study actively gave patients calcium and vitamin D pills. This has important implications: Cancer risk can be reduced both by calcium and vitamin D in the diet, as well as by using over-the-counter supplements of these nutrients.

One should note, however, that both studies were carried out exclusively among women, and thus might not fully apply to men. However, given previous studies suggesting a reduction in male cancers (e.g., prostate cancer) by calcium and vitamin D, it is likely that this effect is not bound by gender.

Moreover, some of the cancers prevented among the women in the Nebraska study included cancers that also affect men, such as colon and lung cancers and leukemia.

Protect Yourself With Diet

Calcium is largely derived from the diet and is found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fortified juices and nuts. Many people, particularly women, also take calcium supplements to strengthen their bones.

Vitamin D is found in oily fish (salmon, sardines), as well as fortified foods such as milk and some cereals. Another major source of vitamin D for most people is exposure to sunshine.

Although the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 400 IU, some authorities suggest that up to 1000 I,U might be necessary to achieve optimal blood levels, especially when sun exposure is rare (e.g., during the winter or among home-bound individuals).

Of course there are other important benefits of adequate vitamin D and calcium intake: the prevention of osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones that increases bone fragility making bones more likely to break.

So follow mom’s advice: Drink your milk, finish your spinach and get plenty of fresh air and sunshine. And dietary supplements of calcium and vitamin D are also important. If you are a woman who has not gone through menopause, you likely will decrease your risk of breast cancer.

And no matter what your age, you will improve the health of your bones, and probably your overall cancer risk as well.

Dr. John Spangler is a professor of family medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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Vitamin D casts cancer prevention in new light

Posted by D3forU on March 31, 2008

The main way humans achieve healthy levels of vitamin D is not through diet but through sun exposure.

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

For decades, researchers have puzzled over why rich northern countries have cancer rates many times higher than those in developing countries — and many have laid the blame on dangerous pollutants spewed out by industry.

But research into vitamin D is suggesting both a plausible answer to this medical puzzle and a heretical notion: that cancers and other disorders in rich countries aren’t caused mainly by pollutants but by a vitamin deficiency known to be less acute or even non-existent in poor nations.

Those trying to brand contaminants as the key factor behind cancer in the West are “looking for a bogeyman that doesn’t exist,” argues Reinhold Vieth, professor at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and one of the world’s top vitamin D experts. Instead, he says, the critical factor “is more likely a lack of vitamin D.”

What’s more, researchers are linking low vitamin D status to a host of other serious ailments, including multiple sclerosis, juvenile diabetes, influenza, osteoporosis and bone fractures among the elderly.

Not everyone is willing to jump on the vitamin D bandwagon just yet. Smoking and some pollutants, such as benzene and asbestos, irrefutably cause many cancers.

But perhaps the biggest bombshell about vitamin D’s effects is about to go off. In June, U.S. researchers will announce the first direct link between cancer prevention and the sunshine vitamin. Their results are nothing short of astounding.

A four-year clinical trial involving 1,200 women found those taking the vitamin had about a 60-per-cent reduction in cancer incidence, compared with those who didn’t take it, a drop so large — twice the impact on cancer attributed to smoking — it almost looks like a typographical error.

And in an era of pricey medical advances, the reduction seems even more remarkable because it was achieved with an over-the-counter supplement costing pennies a day.

One of the researchers who made the discovery, professor of medicine Robert Heaney of Creighton University in Nebraska, says vitamin D deficiency is showing up in so many illnesses besides cancer that nearly all disease figures in Canada and the U.S. will need to be re-evaluated. “We don’t really know what the status of chronic disease is in the North American population,” he said, “until we normalize vitamin D status.”

Sunshine vitamin

For decades, vitamin D has been the Rodney Dangerfield of the supplement world. It’s the vitamin most Canadians never give a second thought to because it was assumed the only thing it did was prevent childhood rickets, a debilitating bone disease. But the days of no respect could be numbered. If vitamin D deficiency becomes accepted as the major cause of cancer and other serious illnesses, it will ignite the medical equivalent of a five-alarm blaze on the Canadian health front.

For many reasons, Canadians are among the people most at risk of not having enough vitamin D. This is due to a quirk of geography, to modern lifestyles and to the country’s health authorities, who have unwittingly, if with the best of intentions, played a role in creating the vitamin deficiency.

Authorities are implicated because the main way humans achieve healthy levels of vitamin D isn’t through diet but through sun exposure. People make vitamin D whenever naked skin is exposed to bright sunshine. By an unfortunate coincidence, the strong sunshine able to produce vitamin D is the same ultraviolet B light that can also causes sunburns and, eventually, skin cancer.

Only brief full-body exposures to bright summer sunshine — of 10 or 15 minutes a day — are needed to make high amounts of the vitamin. But most authorities, including Health Canada, have urged a total avoidance of strong sunlight or, alternatively, heavy use of sunscreen. Both recommendations will block almost all vitamin D synthesis.

Those studying the vitamin say the hide-from-sunlight advice has amounted to the health equivalent of a foolish poker trade. Anyone practising sun avoidance has traded the benefit of a reduced risk of skin cancer — which is easy to detect and treat and seldom fatal — for an increased risk of the scary, high-body-count cancers, such as breast, prostate and colon, that appear linked to vitamin D shortages.

The sun advice has been misguided information “of just breathtaking proportions,” said John Cannell, head of the Vitamin D Council, a non-profit, California-based organization.

“Fifteen hundred Americans die every year from [skin cancers]. Fifteen hundred Americans die every day from the serious cancers.”

Health Canada denies its advice might be dangerous. In an e-mailed statement, it said that most people don’t apply sunscreen thoroughly, leaving some skin exposed, and that people spend enough time outside without skin protection to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.

However, the Canadian Cancer Society last year quietly tweaked its recommendation to recognize that limited amounts of sun exposure are essential for vitamin D levels.

Avoiding most bright sunlight wouldn’t be so serious if it weren’t for a second factor: The main determinant of whether sunshine is strong enough to make vitamin D is latitude. Living in the north is bad, the south is better, and near the equator is best of all.

Canadians have drawn the short straw on the world’s latitude lottery: From October to March, sunlight is too feeble for vitamin D production. During this time, our bodies draw down stores built by summer sunshine, and whatever is acquired from supplements or diet.

Government regulations require foods such as milk and margarine to have small amounts of added vitamin D to prevent rickets.

Other foods, such as salmon, naturally contain some, as does the cod liver oil once commonly given to children in the days before milk fortification. But the amounts from food are minuscule compared to what is needed for cancer prevention and what humans naturally can make in their skin.

Vitamin D levels in Canada are also being compromised by a lifestyle change. Unlike previous generations that farmed or otherwise worked outside, most people now spend little time outdoors.

One survey published in 2001 estimated office- and homebound Canadians and Americans spend 93 per cent of waking time in buildings or cars, both of which block ultraviolet light.

Consequently, by mid-winter most Canadians have depleted vitamin D status. “We’re all a bit abnormal in terms of our vitamin D,” said Dr. Vieth, who has tested scores of Canadians, something done with a simple blood test.

How much is enough?

Just how much vitamin D is required for optimum health is the subject of intense scientific inquiry.

Dr. Vieth has approached the matter by asking: What vitamin D level would humans have if they were still living outside, in the wild, near the equator, with its attendant year-round bright sunshine? “Picture the natural human as a nudist in environments south of Florida,” he says.

He estimates humans in a state of nature probably had about 125 to 150 nanomoles/litre of vitamin D in their blood all year long — levels now achieved for only a few months a year by the minority of adult Canadians who spend a lot of time in the sun, such as lifeguards or farmers.

For the rest of the population, vitamin D levels tend to be lower, and crash in winter. In testing office workers in Toronto in winter, Dr. Vieth found the average was only about 40 nanomoles/L, or about one-quarter to one-third of what humans would have in the wild.

The avalanche of surprising research on the beneficial effects of vitamin D could affect dietary recommendations as well. Health Canada says that, in light of the findings, it intends to study whether recommended dietary levels need to be revised, although the review is likely to be years away.

A joint Canadian-U.S. health panel last studied vitamin D levels in 1997, concluding the relatively low amounts in people’s blood were normal. At the time, there was speculation vitamin D had an anti-cancer effect, but more conclusive evidence has only emerged since.

“There needs to be a comprehensive review undertaken and that is planned,” says Mary Bush, director general of Health Canada’s office of nutrition policy and promotion.

But Ms. Bush said the government doesn’t want to move hastily, out of concern that there may be unknown risks associated with taking more of the vitamin.

Those who worry about low vitamin D, however, say this stand is too conservative — that the government’s caution may itself be a health hazard.

To achieve the vitamin D doses used for cancer prevention through foods, people would need to drink about three litres of milk a day, which is unrealistic.

If health authorities accept the new research, they would have to order a substantial increase in food fortification or supplement-taking to affect disease trends. As it is, the 400 IU dosage included in most multivitamins is too low to be an effective cancer fighter.

Dr. Vieth said any new recommendations will also have to reflect the racial and cultural factors connected to vitamin D. Blacks, South Asians and women who wear veils are at far higher risks of vitamin D deficiencies than are whites.

Although humans carry a lot of cultural baggage on the subject of skin hue, colour is the way nature dealt with the vagaries of high or low vitamin D production by latitude.

Those with very dark skins, whose ancestors originated in tropical, light-rich environments, have pigmentation that filters out more of the sunshine responsible for vitamin D; in northern latitudes, they need more sun exposure — often 10 times as much — to produce the same amount of the vitamin as whites.

Dr. Vieth says it is urgent to provide information about the need for extra vitamin D in Canada’s growing non-white population to avoid a future of high illness rates in this group.

Researchers suspect vitamin D plays such a crucial role in diseases as unrelated as cancer and osteoporosis because the chemical originated in the early days of animal evolution as a way for cells to signal that they were being exposed to daylight.

Even though living things have evolved since then, almost all cells, even those deep in our bodies, have kept this primitive light-signalling system.

In the body, vitamin D is converted into a steroid hormone, and genes responding to it play a crucial role in fixing damaged cells and maintaining good cell health. “There is no better anti-cancer agent than activated vitamin D. I mean, it does everything you’d want,” said Dr. Cannell of the Vitamin D Council.

Some may view the sunshine-vitamin story as too good to be true, particularly given that the number of previous claims of vitamin cure-alls that subsequently flopped. “The floor of modern medicine is littered with the claims of vitamins that didn’t turn out,” Dr. Cannell allowed.

But the big difference is that vitamin D, unlike other vitamins, is turned into a hormone, making it far more biologically active. As well, it is “operating independently in hundreds of tissues in your body,” Dr. Cannell said.

Referring to Linus Pauling, the famous U.S. advocate of vitamin C use as a cure for many illnesses, he said: “Basically, Linus Pauling was right, but he was off by one letter.”

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Vitamin D Deficiency: An Epidemic?

Posted by D3forU on March 31, 2008

by Neil Gonter, MD
Thursday, October 19, 2006 There has been a lot of blame thrown around for this recent, troublesome discovery. Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is the new hot topic in osteoporosis. Some have even gone as far as blamed the dermatologists for making us avoid the sun and making us apply sunscreen with extremely high SPF’s.

Let us see if we can clarify what vitamin D is, does, and figure out how we can help ourselves in getting the appropriate amounts.

What is it?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble substance (it dissolves in and can be stored by fat deposits in the body). It is present in salmon, mackerel, sardines, and cod liver oil; fortified foods including milk, breakfast cereals, and some juices; and vitamin supplements. It can also be produced in the skin during sun exposure. Vitamin D (in its active form, which is created after several modifications by the body) functions as a hormone which means it binds to receptors in various tissues to influence the expression of genes, thereby affecting a range of processes, especially the regulation of calcium.

It has long been known that vitamin D is crucial for healthy bones. The presence of vitamin D in the small intestine aids in the absorption of dietary calcium—people with vitamin D deficiency are able to absorb only a third to half as much calcium as those with sufficient levels—and calcium is vital to the hardness of bone. The two diseases traditionally associated with severe vitamin D deficiency—rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults—are characterized by deformation or softening of bone. Chronic vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked to osteoporosis.

Deficiency
The common assumption has been that with the fortification of milk, instituted in the United States in the 1930s, and casual exposure to sunshine, most people get all the vitamin D they need. However, a recent resurgence of rickets has brought new studies. It has become clear that vitamin D deficiency (usually defined as blood levels of less than 15 ng/mL [or nanograms/milliliter]) and insufficiency (less than 20 or according to most experts probably less than 30 ng/mL) are far more widespread than researchers had expected. The elderly, who often receive little sun, are at particular risk, as are African Americans and other dark-skinned people, since skin pigmentation, which protects against damage by UV rays, also interferes with vitamin D production.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, has been the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among women of childbearing age and among healthy children and adolescents. It is possible that chronic insufficiency early in life may prevent proper bone development and increase the risk of disorders, such as osteoporosis, later in life.

Benefits of Vitamin D
Laboratory, animal, and epidemiologic evidence suggests that vitamin D may be protective against some cancers. These include colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Deficiency has also possibly been found to be a source of chronic, non-specific musculoskeletal pain (2003 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings). It is also been studied in autoimmune diseases to possibly prevent the occurrence of various diseases.

How much do we need?
Current guidelines established by the National Academy of Sciences currently recommend daily values of 200 IU (International Units) for children and adults up to age 50, 400 IU for adults ages 51-70, and 600 IU for adults over 70. However, many experts believe that a daily value closer to 800-1000 IU may be more beneficial.

Where can we get it?
Sunlight is an important way for our skin to convert vitamin D to its active form. Only a small amount of sun exposure, perhaps ten minutes a few times a week, is all that is needed to produce adequate amounts. However, this varies based on skin type, season, time of day, and location. It is important to note that UV light is a known carcinogen and it is difficult to make regulations for limited usage. This is because people will often abuse this thinking, ‘if a little is good, more is better.”

Diet is another important way. However, as with calcium intake, it is difficult to get enough from dietary amounts, especially with lactose intolerant individuals, calorie counting, and extensive drinking of soft drinks.

While the vitamin D story is not yet over, it is important, especially if one has osteoporosis or decreased mineralization, to get their level checked and discuss with their physician the proper way to maintain adequate levels.

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Baby’s Soft Spot Linked to Vitamin Deficiency

Posted by D3forU on March 31, 2008

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — A soft spot on the top of the head is common in newborns, but it might not be as normal as some people think. A new study out of Japan suggests the condition is linked to a deficiency of the “sunshine vitamin” — vitamin D.

Researchers arrived at those conclusions after assessing 1,120 newborns for a softening of the skull bones, known medically as craniotabes. Twenty-two percent of the babies were found to have the condition, and further analysis linked the occurrence of craniotabes with the season of birth. That could mean babies born in lower sunshine months are more at risk for the condition because they and their mothers received less sunlight.

The research also raises questions about the link between breastfeeding and craniotabes, finding breastfed babies, who were not receiving a formula fortified with vitamin D, were more likely to have lower blood levels of the vitamin.

Since vitamin D deficiency has been associated with lower bone density and other health problems, the researchers suggest supplements may be in order for mother and child.

“Until more research is done on the effects of perinatal vitamin D deficiency, we suggest treating breastfed infants with craniotabes with vitamin D, or preferably, treating all pregnant women with vitamin D,” study author Tohru Yorifuji, M.D., Ph.D., of Kyoto University Hospital, was quoted as saying.

To be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
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Sunshine and the Elderly

Posted by D3forU on March 31, 2008

Peak performance isn’t just for elite athletes. While Vitamin D may make a difference in performance for those competing at the highest levels, it can also make a difference for the rest of us seeking to improve or maintain physical performance in our daily lives.

According to a recent New York Times article:

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.”

“In contrast,” the experts continued, “trials using 700 to 800 I.U. found less fracture incidence, with and without supplemental calcium. This change may result from both improved bone health and reduction in falls due to greater muscle strength.”

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.

Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council notes in his newsletter, Why Athletic Performance Matters, that:

Many people don’t realize how fatal falls can be in the elderly. In 2003, the CDC reported that 13,700 persons over 65 died from falls in the USA, with 1.8 million ending up in emergency rooms for treatment of nonfatal injuries from falls. Falls cause the majority of hip fractures which, if they don’t result in death, often result in admission to a nursing home. That’s 13,700 deaths, hundreds of thousands of surgeries, countless nursing home admissions, and tens of billions in health care costs every year—all from impaired athletic performance. That’s why it matters.

A Reuters report on how Vitamin D affects physical function in elderly, finds that “Older men and women who fail to get enough vitamin D — either from their diets or exposure to the sun — are at heightened risk for muscle weakness and poor physical performance, a study shows. This is troubling, researchers say, given the high numbers of older folks who are deficient in vitamin D.” According to research done by Dr. Denise K. Houston at the Wake Forest University of Medicine: “…physical performance and grip strength were 5 to 10 percent lower in people with low blood levels of vitamin D levels, compared with those with normal levels.”

However simply getting more exposure to the sun may not be enough without other lifestyle changes. Being overweight can reduce Vitamin D levels in the blood according to this Science Daily report:

It’s not yet clear why overweight elderly adults have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. However, researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (USDA HNRCA) have found that lack of sun exposure may not account for low levels of vitamin D in elders who are overweight. … “The most likely explanation seems to be that vitamin D is sequestered in fat tissue, reducing its entry into the blood.”

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Effects Of Vitamin D And Skin’s Physiology Examined

Posted by D3forU on March 30, 2008

The benefits of moderately increased exposure to sunlight – namely the production of vitamin D, which protects against the lethal effects of many forms of cancer and other diseases – may outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer in populations deficient in vitamin D. (Credit: iStockphoto/Wolfgang Amri)

ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2008) — Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that previtamin D3 production varies depending on several factors including skin type and weather conditions. Excessive exposure to sunlight does not result in Vitamin D intoxification because previtamin D3 and vitamin D3 are photolyzed to several photoproducts. During the winter at latitudes above ~35 degrees, there is minimal if any previtamin D3 production in the skin.

Increased skin pigmentation, application of a sunscreen, aging and clothing have a dramatic effect on previtamin D3 production in the skin. It has been speculated that people living at higher latitudes may be able to more efficiently produce vitamin D3 in their skin because there is less ozone to absorb the UVB photons. Forty-five nursing home residents who were taking a multivitamin that contained 400 IU of vitamin D2 showed a dramatic decline in their 25(OH)D levels from the end of summer to the beginning of the following summer. Forty-nine percent, 67 percent, 74 percent, and 78 percent of the nursing home residents were vitamin D deficient in August, November, February, and May respectively

Fifteen healthy adults aged 20-53 received exposure three times per week from a commercial tanning bed that emitted five percent of its UV energy in the UVB range 290-320 nm to most of their body while in a bathing suit. 25(OH)D levels were determined weekly for a total of seven weeks.

Exposure of 7-dehydrocholesterol to tanning bed irradiation revealed -1 percent production of previtamin D after one minute and a linear increase to -10 percent at 10 minutes. After one week, there was a 50 percent increase in 25 (OH)D levels that continued to increase over a period of five weeks to -150 percent above baseline levels. The blood levels of 25 (OH)D plateaued after five weeks and were sustained out to seven weeks.

“Vitamin D deficiency is common in both children and adults worldwide,” said Michael Holick, PhD, MD, director of the General Clinical Research Center and professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at BUSM and senior author of this study. “Exposure to lamps that emit UVB radiation is an excellent source for producing vitamin D3 in the skin and is especially efficacious in patients with fat malabsortion syndromes.”

It has been observed that living at higher latitudes and being more prone to vitamin D deficiency markedly increases risk of many deadly cancers including cancer of the colon, prostate, breast, and esophagus, according to Holick, who is also director of the Bone Healthcare Clinic and the vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University Medical Center. Living at higher latitudes also increase the risk of having hypertension, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases including tuberculosis and influenza.

According to researchers, most experts now agree that a minimum of 1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day is necessary to maintain circulating concentrations of 25(OH)D.

The study will appear in the March 2008 issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

This study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the Ultraviolet Light Foundation.

Adapted from materials provided by Boston University.

Source 

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Tanning is associated with optimal vitamin D status

Posted by D3forU on March 30, 2008

 Conclusion: The regular use of a tanning bed that emits vitamin D–producing ultraviolet radiation is associated with higher 25(OH)D concentrations and thus may have a benefit for the skeleton. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:1645–9.

The use of tanning beds has been promoted to the public for the cosmetic purpose of tanning, but this study shows that a moderate use of tanning beds may also provide some medical benefit.

Higher concentrations of 25(OH)D throughout the year may have a significant effect in enhancing intestinal calcium absorption and improving bone health (7, 8, 42). Blood concentrations of 25(OH)D in tanners are  75 nmol/L, which is considered to be necessary for maximum intestinal calcium transport (23, 42).

This may explain why higher serum 25(OH)D concentrations are associated with higher bone density. There is mounting evidence that a healthy concentration of 25(OH)D (ie, 75 nmol/L) may reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, hypertension,
and autoimmune diseases (2, 3, 39–42).

In conclusion, the regular use of a tanning bed results in higher 25(OH)D concentrations and prevents increased seasonal prevalence of vitamin D deficiency during the winter.

The subjects who had used tanning beds for a mean of5 y had higher BMD
at the hip than did the nontanners (control subjects). Larger studies should be conducted to investigate the potential positive effect of chronic use of tanning beds on vitamin D status and bone health.

Source

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Shedding light on skin color

Posted by D3forU on March 30, 2008

Nina Jablonski, speaking in Philadelphia, says the key to skin color lies in the need for two kinds of vitamins - and in the sun.
APRIL SAUL / Inquirer Staff Photographer
Nina Jablonski, speaking in Philadelphia, says the key to skin color lies in the need for two kinds of vitamins – and in the sun.

Shedding light on skin color

At the beginning of anthropologist Nina Jablonski’s lecture yesterday at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, it appeared her audience of about 100 was composed of several different races. By the end of the free lecture, titled “The Evolution of Human Skin Color,” the Pennsylvania State University professor had made a case that we are all just people with varying levels of melanin.

As author of the book Skin: A Natural History, Jablonski has studied all aspects of skin, perhaps none more important than why it appears in such a puzzling array of hues. It all comes down to the planet’s uneven distribution of sunlight and the universal human need for two vitamins, she explained.

This knowledge was very recently acquired. “Only in the last decade or so has our data allowed us to crack open the mystery,” Jablonski said as she began her lecture at the 152-year-old science museum near Temple University.

Nature has painted human skin using one major brown pigment, melanin, which evolved in many species. “It’s a natural sunscreen,” she said, which is important because humans have a troubled relationship with the sun.

Since we are relatively hairless creatures, our skin gets bombarded by ultraviolet light, which can burn us, destroy the DNA in skin cells, and lead to cancer. Hence an advantage of dark skin.

But there is more to melanin than protection from skin cancer and sunburn. Scientists recently realized that ultraviolet rays penetrating skin destroy the B-vitamin folate. With too little folate, or folic acid, men cannot make adequate sperm and women cannot start healthy pregnancies. So in very sunny places, any genetic mutations that created light skin would likely die out with their owners.

But with melanin offering so many advantages, the question was why anyone would evolve light skin.

Lighter shades came about because humans need some sunlight to penetrate skin and trigger a chemical reaction that produces vitamin D.

To illustrate the devastating effects of vitamin D deficiency, Jablonski showed slides of children with badly bowed legs and softened bones. In women, a lesser deficiency can lead to a narrowed pelvis, making childbirth impossible.

The original skin color was almost certainly very dark, since scientific evidence points to sunny Africa as the cradle of humanity. But once some branches of the human family starting moving north to Asia and Europe, the need for vitamin D gave those with lighter skin an advantage in absorbing the meager sunlight in winter.

Because vitamins lie at the heart of our color differences, locally consumed foods also play a role. Whales and fatty fish can give people some vitamin D, Jablonski said, so diet may explain why the Inuit, who live in Alaska and Greenland, are much darker than people from Northern Europe.

Recent findings from genetics labs show that there are many roads to what we think of as white and black skin – both of which, or course, are really shades of brown. In 2005, for example, scientists found that Europeans became light-skinned through a different combination of mutations than did Northern Asians.

Last year, scientists scraped enough DNA from the bones of a Neanderthal man to show that this extinct branch of humanity carried genes associated with fair skin and red hair.

Currently, Jablonski said, researchers are seeking genetic variants that led to dark skin in far-flung peoples – those from Australia, New Guinea and southern India as well as Africa.

While Jablonski hopes that examining skin through science can help defuse racism and racial tension, she said, she is also concerned with what she calls colorism. Colorism has more to do with perception of beauty, she said. Its primary victims are women.

With a slide of people frying on the beach and an advertisement for bronzer, she explained that colorism has white women thinking they look sickly without a tan. More dangerous still, dark-complexioned women in some countries are driven to use dangerous skin-lightening products, many containing arsenic, mercury and other poisons.

“Why are we always trying to change the way we appear?” Jablonski asked. “Skin color is a beautiful product of evolution. . . . We should revel in it.”

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Even If You Live in Sub Tropical Environments You Can Be Vitamin D Deficient

Posted by D3forU on March 27, 2008

arizona, navajo monument, sunlight, sun, sunburn, vitamin D, D3, tanning, safe tanning, longitude, latitude, vitamin D deficiency, sunshineVitamin D deficiency has been observed among many populations in the northern United States. But few studies have examined the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in areas of high sun exposure, such as Arizona.

A new study has shown adults in southern Arizona are commonly deficient in vitamin D, particularly those with darker skin who produce less vitamin D in response to sunlight.

More than a quarter of Arizona adults tested had dangerously low blood levels of the vitamin.

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Why Vitamin D Supplements Are NOT the Same as Sunlight

Posted by D3forU on March 27, 2008

sunlight, sun exposure, vitamin DThe assumption that vitamin D supplements will protect you against diseases associated with low vitamin D levels is incorrect, according to Australian researchers. The report found that vitamin D supplements are immunosuppressive and may actually make diseases worse.

Vitamin D Nuclear Receptor (VDR) influences the expression of over 1,000 genes, including those associated with diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. According to the new study, supplemental vitamin D actually blocks VDR activation, which is the opposite effect to that of sunshine.

Instead of positively impacting gene expression, vitamin D supplements appear to suppress your immune system.

Vitamin D deficiency, the researchers pointed out, is likely not a cause of disease but rather is a result of the disease process. And increasing vitamin D intake may make the diseases worse.

The body regulates production of all the vitamin D it needs, the researchers said, and dysregulation of vitamin D by supplementation has been associated with many chronic diseases.

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Tanning and Vitamin D: Is Shunning the Sun a Medical Mistake?

Posted by D3forU on March 24, 2008

Debate is raging over how much sun you should get. For years, we’ve been warned that sunscreen is a must, but now some health professionals are saying some exposure to the sun’s rays is necessary. An American Academy of Dermatology survey finds that ten percent of Americans in their 40s, 50s, 60s and even 70s hit the tanning bed.

Sunlight, even artificial is a prime source of Vitamin D, a nutrient that helps the body absorb calcium and one a growing body of research suggests may also help prevent diseases from cancer to diabetes. Unfortunately, up to half of the population is not getting enough, according to the Duke Diet Center’s Elisabetta Polilti.

“Vitamin D sources are not very common,” she explained.

Oily fish like salmon and fortified milk are among the few dietary sources of Vitamin D. That leaves supplements and sunshine, unless you wear sunscreen.

“The skin lotion is preventing vitamin D from being absorbed,” Politi said.

While it’s doubtful we’ll ever say ‘so long’ to sunscreen, the Vitamin D dilemma does have the scientific and medical communities taking a closer look at the safe sun message.

Boston University’s Dr. Michael Holick calls it “sensible sun exposure.”

“Typically maybe five to ten minutes of arms and legs, two to three times a week, followed by good sun protection is a good recommendation,” he said.

It’s a recommendation that has gotten heat from major skin and cancer organizations who’ve noted the rise in skin cancer. All parties do agree people aren’t getting enough of the sunshine vitamin.

link

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Sun and Skin

Posted by D3forU on March 23, 2008

 

Beach


There’s more fuel for the debate over the risk of skin cancer versus the benefits of vitamin D produced in our skin by sunlight. As this ScienCentral News video explains, it turns out that vitamin D might actually help the skin protect itself. Vitamin D and SunlightVitamin D has long been known to be important for helping our bodies absorb calcium and maintain strong bones, and a host of other benefits of vitamin D have been revealed in recent years.

Our bodies’ main source of the vitamin is our own skin, which produces it in response to UV rays in sunlight. But, why? Stanford University pathology researchers have made two important discoveries about how vitamin D produced in the skin by sunlight can trigger a protective immune response in the skin itself.

Hekla Sigmundsdottir and colleagues in Eugene Butcher’s Stanford University lab studied immune system cells called T lymphocytes, or T-cells, which circulate in our bodies and attack foreign or abnormal cells.

 
   
 

Sigmundsdottir Researcher
Hekla Sigmundsdottir, Stanford University

“In order for them to do their job, they have to know that there’s a danger, and that’s the job of another type of cells called dendritic cells,” Sigmundsdottir explains. “These dendritic cells scan the body and when they find something, they eat it up and then go to the T-cells and the T-cells then judge if this is harmless or something harmful that needs to be responded to. But the body is a big place and scientists have wondered, do they get some extra help to find the site more quickly. And that’s where the vitamin D would come in,” she says.The researchers isolated T-cells with dendritic cells and exposed them to different forms of vitamin D, including vitamin D3 from sunlight and vitamin D2, which is the type often added to milk and other foods. They found that, contrary to scientists’ beliefs, dendritic cells in the skin can convert vitamin D produced by sunlight into its active form. And they found that the active form triggers the protective T-cells to travel to the skin.

 
   
  Sigmundsdottir says the process was most efficient with vitamin D produced from sunlight. “Vitamin D that we obtain through the diet seems to be less effective than the vitamin that is generated in the sun,” she says.As they wrote in the journal Nature Immunology, the research could help explain why vitamin D is important to our skin’s immune system functions.“I think just the fact that the vitamin D can attract or draw T-cells towards the skin is a function that’s needed, I think that’s why we make vitamin in the skin,” says Sigmundsdottir.

TCells
The researchers isolated T-cells, shown here in blue, with dendritic cells and exposed them to different forms of vitamin D.
image: Hekla Sigmundsdottir

It’s also a surprise that vitamin D can be activated in the skin. Scientists have long known that vitamin D produced in sunlight has to be converted by the body into its active form in order to be useful, but it was thought that that only happens in our liver and kidneys.

 
   
  “What we find in our study is that if you isolate these helper cells or these dendritic cells from the skin, they can do it themselves, indicating that it does not have to go through the liver or the kidneys to be converted to the active form,” explains Sigmundsdottir.Put together, the discoveries suggest our skin has evolved a clever trick to protect itself. While she cautions that her research is preliminary and the team is at work on further studies, “I think a little sunshine is good for you,” she says. “I think the reason we make vitamin D in the skin indicates that it’s there for a reason.”Sigmundsdottir also points out that it’s too soon to know if this process may protect skin from the harmful effects of sunlight itself. “We are now in the process of examining this further,” she says, “but there are many other reasons why we would need enhanced immunity in the skin. There’s infections, there is all kind of exposure to harmful substances in the environment …”

And sun worshippers beware: Sigmundsdottir means it when she says “a little” sun exposure is good, because too much sun is still bad for you.

How much?

Beach

Sunscreen blocks out the UVB light that triggers vitamin D production in skin. But it only takes 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure a couple of times a week to make enough vitamin D for your body’s needs.More sunlight than that doesn’t make more vitamin D, but it can increase your risk of skin cancer and other skin damage. Dermatologists also warn that a tan is evidence of skin damage– good reasons to use sunscreen if you are going to spend more time than that in the sun.

This research was published in Nature Immunology, March 2007, and was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Veterans Affairs, FACS Core Facility of Stanford Digestive Disease Center, the Arthritis Foundation and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

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Scientists Admit — Sun Exposure Benefits Outweigh Risks

Posted by D3forU on March 18, 2008

sun, sunlight, exposure, sunshineModerate sun exposure offers more health benefits than risks, particularly for people who are deficient in vitamin D or who live in colder, northern latitudes, according to U.S. and Norwegian researchers.

The study found that vitamin D levels, which were calculated based on sun exposure, were linked to survival rates for cancer patients. Those who lived in sunnier, southern latitudes, and had higher vitamin D levels, were less likely to die from cancer than people in northern latitudes.

The researchers analyzed the amount of vitamin D generated by sun exposure at different latitudes, and cross-referenced it with data of cancer incidence and survival rates for people living in varying locations.

They found that people in northern latitudes produce significantly less vitamin D than people nearer to the equator. Specifically, they found Australians produce 3.4 times more vitamin D than people in the United States, and almost five times more vitamin D than Scandinavians.

Meanwhile, rates of major cancers such as colon, lung, breast and prostate increased from north to south, while survival rates decreased from north to south.

The researchers said the findings provide further support for sun-induced vitamin D on cancer prognosis.

Previous studies suggest that vitamin D may protect against cancer by discouraging out-of-control cell reproduction and hindering the formation of new blood vessels for tumors.

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Can Sunshine Fight Cancer?

Posted by D3forU on March 18, 2008

Fighting cancer with vitamin D

Healthy levels of serum vitamin D provide significant protection against many types of cancers, according to University of Maine researchers, who did a literature survey of vitamin D studies conducted in the past 37 years.

“These studies find that the higher the UV exposure, dietary intake and serum level of 25(OH)D, the lower the incidence and mortality from cancers of the breast, colon, lung, pancreas, prostate, melanoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” write UMaine researchers Betty Ingraham, Beth Bragdon and Anja Nohe in the journal “Current Medical Research and Opinion.

Vitamin D, obtained from diet, supplements and sunlight, is essential in cell growth and function. In particular, calcitriol, an active form of vitamin D, has a critical role in regulating cellular mechanisms involved in cancer development.

But while epidemiological, preclinical and clinical trials provide overwhelming evidence that calcitriol can prevent cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, ovary and pancreas, as well as Hodgkin’s lymphoma, nearly all studies indicate that most people have below-normal levels of serum vitamin D.

The clinical research community is now revising upward recommendations for optimal serum levels and sensible levels of sun exposure.

The last time that the recommendations were set in 1997, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommended daily adult dietary intake of vitamin D at 400 IU. Since then, most researchers in the field believe that, for optimal health, intakes between 1,000-4,000 IU would lead to a more healthy serum level of approximately 75 nmol/L.

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Catch some rays to get vitamin D

Posted by D3forU on March 18, 2008

Nina Rao
For the News-Leader

This week’s expert: Dr. Lance Luria is an internal medicine physician and the associate medical director of St. John’s Health Plans.

Q. Over the past few years, vitamin D has been making headlines. Why is that?

A. Vitamin D was discovered in the early part of the 20th century when it was found that adding a fat-soluble factor “D” to the diet prevented rickets, a disease that results in defective bone growth and bowed legs.More recently, numerous large studies have raised questions as to whether the standard recommendations assure optimal vitamin D levels.

These questions come on the heels of mounting evidence pointing to the important role vitamin D plays in promoting bone health, in addition to preventing osteoarthritis, diabetes, cancer and mental, cardiovascular and neuromuscular diseases.

Q. Where does vitamin D come from?

A. Since our bodies have the ability to make vitamin D, it is not technically a vitamin, but falls more in the category of a steroid-like hormone that just needs a jump-start from sunshine. The problem is that most of us aren’t getting enough ultra-violet (UVB) rays to generate sufficient vitamin D.

Here are some interesting points:- During the summer, 10 minutes of exposure of your hands and face (without sunscreen) provides about 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D3. A young person whose entire body is exposed to simulated sunlight produces the equivalent of 10,000-25,000 IU of vitamin D taken orally.

– Don’t worry about getting too much vitamin D from sunlight. The same UVB rays that help make vitamin D will also destroy what is not absorbed quickly enough.

– Wearing sunscreen blocks your body’s ability to make vitamin D.

– People living north of the 37th degree-latitude line, which includes Springfield, don’t get enough UVB rays in winter. A good rule of thumb is that you don’t get enough during the seasons when your shadow at noon is taller than you are.

– Your ability to make vitamin D decreases as you reach old age.

– Darker-pigmented people have more melanin in their skin, and since melanin acts like sunblock, less vitamin D is made. In fact, a black person with very dark skin pigmentation will require about a tenfold longer exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D as a light-skinned white person.

– Vitamin D is stored in fat cells, which can act as a reservoir for the winter months. Paradoxically, obese people have about one-half the levels of circulating vitamin D levels as people of normal weight. It is thought that large fat depots act as a sort of sinkhole for vitamin D.

Q. How much vitamin D is needed?

A. Current recommendations call for 200 international units (IU) for children and adults up to age 50, 400 IU from age 51 to 70 and 600 IU for adults 71 and older. However, based on more recent studies, most authorities are now recommending at least 800 IU of vitamin D3 daily for children and adults if you’re not getting enough UVB exposure and at least 1,000 IU daily for those that do not get any UVB exposure.

A safe upper limit is 2,000 IU daily. Although a number of studies have shown that higher daily intakes do not result in toxic effects, these higher doses are not routinely recommended.

If you’re not sure that your intake is adequate, taking a daily supplement of 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 is currently recommended by a number of authorities.

Tests to show vitamin D blood levels are available but costly, but they can resolve those situations where there remains a question as to whether you are getting enough.

Q. Why is vitamin D needed?

A. Maintaining adequate blood levels of vitamin D is important not only for bone health but also in the prevention of a number of chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, hypertension and prostate, breast and colon cancers.

Q. Are there food sources of vitamin D?

A. Naturally occurring vitamin D is relatively rare in foods. Oily fish and egg yolks contain significant amounts, as do mushrooms.

Q. What’s the difference between vitamin D2 and D3?

A. Supplemental vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) or D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 comes from UVB-irradiated yeast and plants; vitamin D3 comes from UVB-irradiated lanolin from animal sources.

It was originally thought that vitamins D2 and D3 were pretty much the same, but now we know that the D2 form is only about 20 percent to 40 percent as effective as D3. Vitamin D2 also doesn’t last as long in our circulation and may even cause premature breakdown of circulating D3.

Fortified foods can contain either vitamin D2 or D3, but recent studies in the United States and western Canada noted that up to 80 percent of milk did not contain the advertised amount of vitamin D and half the milk tested contained less than 50 percent of the advertised amount. Remarkably, 15 percent of the skim milk samples contained no detectable vitamin D at all.

Q. How common is vitamin D deficiency?

A. It is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide don’t get enough vitamin D. That includes vitamin D deficiency among 40 percent to 100 percent of independently living elderly Americans and Europeans. Further, in the United States, half of women receiving treatment for osteoporosis, 73 percent of pregnant women (and 80 percent of their infants at birth) and between 48 and 52 percent of adolescent girls in the Northeast show vitamin D deficiency.

This is a problem because without vitamin D, only 10 percent to 15 percent of dietary calcium is absorbed, and bone mineral density is directly correlated with vitamin D levels.

Q. How can you get enough vitamin D?

A. If you believe you need to increase your vitamin D levels, here are some tips:

– During the spring, summer and fall, 5 to 15 minutes of sunshine between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., two or three times weekly, should do the trick. (But, if your skin becomes slightly pink, you’ve gotten too much sun. )

– Tanning beds, when used in moderation, provide ample vitamin D and may be particularly helpful in the winter months.

– Milk, cereals and bread products that contain vitamin D may be highly variable in their vitamin D content and should not be depended upon as a reliable source.

– Don’t forget that vitamin D2 (from yeast and plants) is probably only one-third as effective as vitamin D3 (from animals). So when you go shopping for supplements, remember that 1,000 IU of D3 is comparable to 3,000 IU of D2.

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Lack of Sunshine Causes One Million Deaths a Year

Posted by D3forU on March 15, 2008

If vitamin D3 levels among populations worldwide were increased, 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers could be prevented each year, according to researchers from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

This includes nearly 150,000 cases of cancer that could be prevented in the United States alone.

The researchers estimate that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing intake of vitamin D3, particularly in countries north of the equator.

The study examines the dose-response relationship between vitamin D and cancer, and is the first to use satellite measurements of sun and cloud cover in countries where blood serum levels of vitamin D3 were also taken.

Serum vitamin D levels during the winter from 15 countries were combined, then applied to 177 countries to estimate the average serum level of a vitamin D metabolite among the population.

An inverse association between serum vitamin D and the risk of colorectal and breast cancers was found.

Protective effects began when 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (the main indicator of vitamin D status) ranged from 24 to 32 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). In the United States, late winter 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels ranged from 15 to 18 ng/ml.

Previous research has suggested that raising levels to 55 ng/ml was actually optimal to prevent cancer, the researchers said.

To increase your vitamin D3 levels, the researchers recommended a combination of dietary methods, supplements and sunlight exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes a day, with at least 40 percent of your skin exposed.

Nutrition Reviews August 2007 Volume 65, Supplement 1, pp. 91-95(5) (Registration Required)
The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology March 2007; 103(3-5):708-11

Eurekalert August 21, 2007

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Scientists Admit — Sun Exposure Benefits Outweigh Risks

Posted by D3forU on March 15, 2008

sun, sunlight, exposure, sunshineModerate sun exposure offers more health benefits than risks, particularly for people who are deficient in vitamin D or who live in colder, northern latitudes, according to U.S. and Norwegian researchers.

The study found that vitamin D levels, which were calculated based on sun exposure, were linked to survival rates for cancer patients. Those who lived in sunnier, southern latitudes, and had higher vitamin D levels, were less likely to die from cancer than people in northern latitudes.

The researchers analyzed the amount of vitamin D generated by sun exposure at different latitudes, and cross-referenced it with data of cancer incidence and survival rates for people living in varying locations.

They found that people in northern latitudes produce significantly less vitamin D than people nearer to the equator. Specifically, they found Australians produce 3.4 times more vitamin D than people in the United States, and almost five times more vitamin D than Scandinavians.

Meanwhile, rates of major cancers such as colon, lung, breast and prostate increased from north to south, while survival rates decreased from north to south.

The researchers said the findings provide further support for sun-induced vitamin D on cancer prognosis.

Previous studies suggest that vitamin D may protect against cancer by discouraging out-of-control cell reproduction and hindering the formation of new blood vessels for tumors.

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A Dermatologist Who ‘Sees the light”

Posted by D3forU on March 15, 2008

Does Sunshine Really Cause Skin Cancer?

Dermatologist Dr. Bernard Ackerman devotes many hours of his time diagnosing cases of cancer. On a recent trip, he didn’t seem worried about the potential risk of the disease while he sunbathed without the use of sunscreen or a hat.

Ackerman, an expert in the field of dermatology, said that the connection between melanoma and the sun is both inconclusive and inconsistent.

Commonly Held Assumptions on the Sun and Melanoma

  • If a person is badly sunburned, to the point of blistering at an early age in their life, they will develop skin cancer later on in life. Ackerman pointed out there were contradictions in the studies supporting this theory.
  • Another common assumption is that sunscreen acts as a protection against melanoma. To counter this theory, Ackerman referred to a study completed in a dermatology journal on the subject that didn’t provide any factual evidence to support this theory.

The more intense the exposure to the sun, the greater the likelihood of developing melanoma. Ackerman claimed that much of the epidemiological research is inaccurate and doesn’t evaluate cause and effect findings.
Ackerman advised keeping out of the sun if you’re concerned about premature aging or if you’re very fair-skinned due to the increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a less dangerous form of cancer. Otherwise, Ackerman said it was not wise to hold onto the beliefs that included avoiding the sun and using sunscreen as ways to protect against melanoma.

Ackerman further challenged the “epidemic” of melanoma by questioning why African Americans and Asians developed melanoma on their skin mainly on areas that haven’t been exposed to the sun such as the palms, soles, nails and mucous membranes.

Another dermatologist who disagreed with Ackerman’s ideas stated that people who developed melanoma in areas that weren’t exposed to sun were a result of the way sunlight suppressed immune cells in the surface of the skin that normally kept cancer at bay.

Ackerman explained that this “immune-system argument” lacked evidence and acted as a hypothesis to the sun-exposure-causes-melanoma hypothesis.

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Vitamin D in a New Light

Posted by D3forU on March 15, 2008

There are thirteen vitamins humans need for growth and development and to maintain good health. The human body cannot make these essential bio-molecules. They must be supplied in the diet or by bacteria in the intestine, except for vitamin D. Skin makes vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from the sun. A light-skinned person will synthesize 20,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D in 20 minutes sunbathing on a Caribbean beach. Vitamin D is also unique in another way. It is the only vitamin that is a hormone, a type of steroid hormone known as a secosteroid, with three carbon rings….

Rest of the Story 

Donald Miller (send him mail) is a cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a member of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness and writes articles on a variety of subjects for LewRockwell.com. His web site is www.donaldmiller.com

Copyright © 2007 LewRockwell.com

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Which Vitamin Will Improve Your Life Expectancy the Most?

Posted by D3forU on March 15, 2008

Vitamin D supplements may lower your risk of dying from any cause, according to a new European study.

Researchers from the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, reviewed 18 trials of more than 57,000 people.

The trials involved doses of vitamin D ranging from 300 international units (IUs) to 2,000 IUs. The average dose was 528 IUs.

After a period of six years, the data showed that people who took vitamin D supplements had a 7 percent lower risk of death compared to people who did not take the supplements.

Further, according to the nine trials that collected blood samples, people who took vitamin D supplements had a 1.4- to 5.2-fold higher level of vitamin D in their blood than those who did not.

Because vitamin D can reduce the proliferation of cells, which occurs in cancer, the researchers believe their finding could lead to new drugs to fight cancer and other illnesses.

Vitamin D also helps your body to uptake calcium for bone health.

The researchers recommend taking between 400 IUs and 600 IUs of vitamin D daily. Your skin can also produce its own vitamin D by getting moderate sun exposure each day.

Archives of Internal Medicine September 10, 2007;167:1730-1737
Forbes.com September 10, 2007

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Experts Starting to Agree — More Vitamin D is Better

Posted by D3forU on March 15, 2008

A new study indicates that at least 2,000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D3 — which is currently considered the upper limit of intake — are needed to ensure adequate blood levels of the vitamin for post-menopausal African-American women.

Over 200 women took part in this three-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that there is an urgent need to review current recommended daily intake levels of the vitamin.

Vitamin D3 is produced in the skin during exposure to sunlight. However, increased skin pigmentation reduces the effect of UVB radiation, meaning darker-skinned people are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

As much as 4000 IU per day may be required for individuals who are already deficient in the vitamin.

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Study shows effects of vitamin D and skin’s physiology

Posted by D3forU on March 15, 2008

Public release date: 20-Feb-2008

Contact: Michelle Roberts
michelle.roberts@bmc.org
617-638-8491
Boston University

Study shows effects of vitamin D and skin’s physiology

Effects of vitamin D and skin’s physiology

Boston, MA— Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that previtamin D3 production varies depending on several factors including skin type and weather conditions. The study will appear in the March 2008 issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Excessive exposure to sunlight does not result in Vitamin D intoxification because previtamin D3 and vitamin D3 are photolyzed to several photoproducts. During the winter at altitudes above ~35 degrees, there is minimal if any previtamin D3 production in the skin. Increased skin pigmentation, application of a sunscreen, aging and clothing have a dramatic effect on previtamin D3 production in the skin. It has been speculated that people living at higher altitudes may be able to more efficiently produce vitamin D3 in their skin because there is less ozone to absorb the UVB photons.

Forty-five nursing home residents who were taking a multivitamin that contained 400 IU of vitamin D2 showed a dramatic decline in their 25(OH)D levels from the end of summer to the beginning of the following summer. Forty-nine percent, 67 percent, 74 percent, and 78 percent of the nursing home residents were vitamin D deficient in August, November, February, and May respectively.

Fifteen healthy adults aged 20-53 received exposure three times per week from a commercial tanning bed that emitted five percent of its UV energy in the UVB range 290-320 nm to most of their body while in a bathing suit. 25(OH)D levels were determined weekly for a total of seven weeks.

Exposure of 7-dehydrocholesterol to tanning bed irradiation revealed -1 percent production of previtamin D after one minute and a linear increase to -10 percent at 10 minutes. After one week, there was a 50 percent increase in 25 (OH)D levels that continued to increase over a period of five weeks to -150 percent above baseline levels. The blood levels of 25 (OH)D plateaued after five weeks and were sustained out to seven weeks.

“Vitamin D deficiency is common in both children and adults worldwide,” said Michael Holick, PhD, MD, director of the General Clinical Research Center and professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at BUSM and senior author of this study. “Exposure to lamps that emit UVB radiation is an excellent source for producing vitamin D3 in the skin and is especially efficacious in patients with fat malabsortion syndromes.”

It has been observed that living at higher altitudes and being more prone to vitamin D deficiency markedly increases risk of many deadly cancers including cancer of the colon, prostate, breast, and esophagus, according to Holick, who is also director of the Bone Healthcare Clinic and the vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University Medical Center. Living at higher altitudes also increase the risk of having hypertension, type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, and infectious diseases including tuberculosis and influenza.

According to researchers, most experts now agree that a minimum of 1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day is necessary to maintain circulating concentrations of 25(OH)D.

###

This study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the Ultraviolet Light Foundation.

For more information on Boston University Medical Center, please visit http://www.bumc.bu.edu/.

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Vitamin D Boosts Mood and Memory

Posted by D3forU on March 10, 2008

We now know that vitamin D affects virtually all body tissues, including the brain. And a new study suggests that getting enough D can improve some mood and memory problems. In a group of older people, those with low blood levels of vitamin D were more likely to have mild depressive symptoms such as lack of interest or indecisiveness than people with adequate blood levels. Deficiency was also linked to poor thinking skills like memory, judgment and problem-solving. (Wilkins, CH et al: Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2006; 14:1032-1040)Therapeutic Dosage: Leading experts now recommend 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D a day, and we concur. Some 25% to 54% of all adults over age 60 are low in vitamin D.

LINK TO THE FULL STORY 

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Round-the-World News About Vitamin D

Posted by D3forU on March 6, 2008

Research reports keep rolling in on the importance of vitamin D in our diet-beyond its familiar role in helping us to build strong bones. Here are some of the findings: Periodontal disease, in a dental study of 6,700 people from 13 to 90, the gums of patients with higher blood levels of vitamin D were 20 percent less likely to bleed.

“The evidence on gingivitis and tooth loss suggests that vitamin D influences oral health by decreasing inflammation,” said Bess Dawson-Hughes, director of the Bone Metabolism Lab at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.Cancer.

Studies by Reinhold Vieth at the University of Toronto have reported a substantial reduction in the rates of colon cancer as blood levels of vitamin D went up. Dr. Vieth suggests that vitamin D inhibits a mechanism by which cancer cells spread or it may boost the function of blood vessels or the immune system.

Diabetes. A number of studies have found that people with higher blood levels of vitamin D had a lower risk of diabetes than people with lower levels. Researchers have suggested that vitamin D seems to influence responsiveness to insulin.

Fitness. A study at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that people with low blood levels of vitamin D scored from 5 to 10 percent lower on tests measuring grip strength, balance and walking speed than those who had higher levels. Apparently vitamin D helps build and repair muscles as well as bones.

Longevity. People who take vitamin D supplements may also live longer, according to Sara Gandini, Ph.D., of the European Institute of Oncology in Italy, and Philippe Autier, M.D., of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France. “The intake of ordinary doses of vitamin D supplements seems to be associated with decreases in total mortality rates,” they reported.

“The results are remarkable,” according to Edward Giovannucci, M.D., ScD., of the Harvard School of Public Health, in an editorial on vitamin D research in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

What to do. Adults should try to get 800 international units (IU) daily of vitamin D-or 1000 IUs a day if you are 70 or older. The average U.S. adult intake of vitamin D is 230 IUs daily, according to a study reported in the journal Nutrition Reviews.

Vitamin D is available from sunlight, of course, and from foods such as fatty fish, eggs, fortified milk and fortified cereals as well as supplements.

-Sources: Bottom Line Health, CSPI Nutrition Action Letter, and Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter

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11 Ways to Slow Aging

Posted by D3forU on March 3, 2008

Sensible Sunlight

Vitamin D is one of the most underrated vitamins in the world.

Your body makes it, but only when you’re exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D enhances performance, fights cancer and builds bones.

Older adults who don’t get enough are at increased risk for both poor physical performance and for disability.

It’s possible — but difficult — to get enough vitamin D from food.

We need the sun.

For most Caucasians who are living where there is sunlight, exposing 10 percent of your body a couple times a week is enough to get your vitamin D requirement.

Darker people or people who live in the northern latitudes need more.

Don’t be sun phobic.

Sensible sun could extend your life.

See the other 10 Ways to Slow Aging 

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The Sunscreen Myth: How Sunscreen Products Actually Promote Cancer

Posted by D3forU on March 2, 2008

Seven Important Questions About Sunscreen

The next time you see some public service advertisement urging you to smother yourself and your children with sunscreen chemicals, think hard before taking action. Ask yourself these seven commonsense questions:

1) Is the sun really dangerous to humans? If so, how did humans survive for the last 350,000 years on planet Earth?

2) Have the chemicals used in sunscreen products ever been safety tested or approved by the FDA? (The answer is no.)

3) Who financially benefits when you keep buying and using sunscreen products?

4) What is the environmental impact of sunscreen chemicals washing off into the ocean, a lake, a swimming pool or being washed down the drain in your shower?

5) Sunscreen manufacturers say the skin doesn’t absorb their chemicals. If that’s true, then how do nicotine patches work? How do transdermal drugs get absorbed through the skin if sunscreen chemicals don’t? (Answer: ALL these chemicals get absorbed through the skin. The skin is not selective about what it chooses to absorb.)

6) If the sun is so dangerous, then why is the vitamin generated by sunlight (vitamin D) so healthy for humans? Why would humans evolve a mechanism for generating a vitamin from sunlight if we weren’t supposed to be exposed to sunlight in the first place?

7) If sunlight is so dangerous, then why is virtually every living creature on planet Earth dependent on sunlight for survival? Plants use sunlight to generate their nutrition, too, and most animals eat either plants or other animals that originally ate plants. Nearly all life on planet Earth is powered by sunlight. Why does the cancer industry believe sunlight causes death when, in reality, sunlight delivers life?

Once you answer these questions, the reality of the situation becomes obvious: Sunlight is good for you, and sunscreen is a hoax.

The idea that sunscreen prevents cancer is a myth. It’s a myth promoted by a profit-seeking tag-team effort between the cancer industry and the sunscreen industry. The sunscreen industry makes money by selling lotion products that actually contain cancer-causing chemicals. It then donates a portion of that money to the cancer industry through non-profit groups like the American Cancer Society which, in turn, run heart-breaking public service ads urging people to use sunscreen to “prevent cancer.”

The scientific evidence, however, shows quite clearly that sunscreen actually promotes cancer by blocking the body’s absorption of ultraviolet radiation, which produces vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D, as recent studies have shown, prevents up to 77 of ALL cancers in women (breast cancer, colon cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, brain tumors, multiple myeloma… you name it). Meanwhile, the toxic chemical ingredients used in most sunscreen products are actually carcinogenic and have never been safety tested or safety approved by the FDA. They get absorbed right through the skin (a porous organ that absorbs most substances it comes into contact with) and enter the bloodstream.

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Vitamin D Deficiency Widespread During Pregnancy

Posted by D3forU on March 2, 2008

“This study is among the largest to examine these questions in this at-risk population,” Marjorie L. McCullough, Sc.D., senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society, wrote in an accompanying editorial. “By the end of pregnancy, 90 percent of all women were taking prenatal vitamins and yet deficiency was still common.”

PITTSBURGH, February 27, 2007 — Even regular use of prenatal multivitamin supplements is not adequate to prevent vitamin D insufficiency, University of Pittsburgh researchers report in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the publication of the American Society for Nutrition. A condition linked to rickets and other musculoskeletal and health complications, vitamin D insufficiency was found to be widespread among women during pregnancy, particularly in the northern latitudes.

“In our study, more than 80 percent of African-American women and nearly half of white women tested at delivery had levels of vitamin D that were too low, even though more than 90 percent of them used prenatal vitamins during pregnancy,” said Lisa Bodnar, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) and lead author of the study. “The numbers also were striking for their newborns – 92.4 percent of African-American babies and 66.1 percent of white infants were found to have insufficient vitamin D at birth.”

A vitamin closely associated with bone health, vitamin D deficiency early in life is associated with rickets – a disorder characterized by soft bones and thought to have been eradicated in the United States more than 50 years ago – as well as increased risk for type 1 diabetes, asthma and schizophrenia.

“A newborn’s vitamin D stores are completely reliant on vitamin D from the mother,” observed Dr. Bodnar, who also is an assistant investigator at the university-affiliated Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI). “Not surprisingly, poor maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy is a major risk factor for infant rickets, which again is becoming a major health problem.”

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Lack of milk, sunshine and exercise hurts kids’ bones

Posted by D3forU on March 2, 2008

 

U.S. children break their arms more

often today than four decades ago —

girls 56 percent more,

and boys 32 percent more,

according to a Mayo Clinic study.

 

 

Too little milk, sunshine and exercise: It’s an anti-bone trifecta. And for some kids, shockingly, it’s leading to rickets, the soft-bone scourge of the 19th century.

But cases of full-blown rickets are just the red flag: Bone specialists say possibly millions of seemingly healthy children aren’t building as much strong bone as they should — a gap that might leave them more vulnerable to bone-cracking osteoporosis later in life than their grandparents are.

“This potentially is a time-bomb,” says Dr. Laura Tosi, bone health chief at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington.

Now scientists are taking the first steps to track kids’ bone quality and learn just how big a problem the anti-bone trio is causing, thanks to new research that finally shows just what “normal” bone density is for children of different ages.

Dr. Heidi Kalkwarf of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital led a national study that gave bone scans to 1,500 healthy children ages 6 to 17 to see how bone mass is accumulated. The result, published last summer: The first bone-growth guide, just like height-and-weight charts, for pediatricians treating children at high risk of bone problems.

Next, the government-funded study is tracking those 1,500 children for seven more years, to see how their bones turn out. Say a 7-year-old is in the 50th percentile for bone growth. Does she tend to stay at that level by age 14, or catch up to kids with denser bones? If not, is she more prone to fractures?

Ultimately, the question is what level is cause for concern.

 

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The National Institutes of Health lists sunlight as “the most important source of vitamin D

Posted by D3forU on March 1, 2008

In recent years, several groups have launched smear campaigns against the sun and tanning, blurring the line between overexposure—a very real threat to our heath—and any exposure at all. The sunscreen industry constantly warns the public to “cover up” before venturing outside. Store shelves are flooded with products promising increasingly higher sun protection factors (SPFs), and the latest children’s swim trunks cover more skin than a nun’s habit.

As a result, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 180 million Americans—60 percent of the population—are not getting enough vitamin D.

.” Our bodies produce the aptly named “sunshine vitamin” when ultraviolet (UV) rays reach our skin. In order to produce the amount that most experts now agree is the minimum daily requirement (about 1,000 to 2,000 international units), some individuals would need to bare it all for about 20 minutes in the sunshine every day. Most of the United States doesn’t even come close.

Without vitamin D, our bodies cannot build strong bones or maintain a healthy immune system. New research indicates that the sunshine vitamin plays a vital role in the prevention of many deadly illnesses, including multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, schizophrenia and heart disease. Health officials estimate that as many as 47,000 cancer deaths could be prevented each year in the United States if adequate vitamin D levels were attained.

Vitamin D deficiency is contributing to hundreds of thousands of cases of chronic and terminal diseases. That means the sunlight myths perpetuated by the skin care industry aren’t only misleading—they’re deadly.

Most are largely unaware that spending five to seven minutes in a tanning bed a few times a week provides people with the necessary amount of vitamin D to stay healthy. In fact, most people aren’t even aware that they could be at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

 

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