©By Dori Cranmore R.N., Herb Specialist
We are hearing so much about the flu vaccines in the media, I wish there was equal exposure for the amazing effects of Vitamin D3 for protection. Not everyone is a candidate (or desires) to get the vaccines. There have been extensive studies done (Dr J Cannell MD of www.vitaminDcouncil.org, Dr Norris Glick MD, Dr Ellie Campbell DO) showing evidence based proof that having an adequate level of Vitamin D in your body can actually protect you from getting viruses/flu of all sorts including H1N1 flu. (Epidemiol Infect 2006)They have epidemiological evidence indicating that a Vitamin D deficiency is a stimulus that can activate the influenza virus. They confirmed that lower respiratory infections are more frequent in patients with low D levels.
What have we learned about Vitamin D? Natural Vitamin D is a fat soluble hormone (cholecalciferol) or D3. It is generated in the skin of animals when light energy UVB is absorbed. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones and promotes bone mineralization with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones. Vitamin D is thus not a true vitamin, because individuals with adequate exposure to sunlight UVB(only south of the 35 N latitude line, which doesn’t include Alaska) do not require dietary supplementation. Vitamin D3 is found in egg yolk, organ meats, cod liver oil and wild fish.
Synthetic D2 has been tested to be only 10.6% effective compared to D3 and found to have toxicity at the higher dose ranges. D2 (ergocalciferol), which is found in fortified foods and some supplements comes from plants and made active by irradiation, is less biologically active. D2 is the prescription form.
How much vitamin D3 do we need? There are multiple variables in deciding as everyone is different with unique vitamin D receptor genotypes.
Sun Exposure/Location– We need 10-30 min/day without sunscreen-IF you live south of the35th N latitude.
Age: 35 and above tend to need more as the skin looses the ability to activate sufficient levels of D.
Dark Skin: Lots of pigment in the skin will shield many UVB rays you need.
Weight: If you’re overweight your body requires more Vitamin D to keep the levels up.
Chronic Illness: Cancer? Chronic illness? When you are sick the body demands more Vitamin D.
Blood testing is Crucial. If you live in Alaska it’s pretty much a given you are deficient in Vitamin D. Dr Cannell suggests taking about 1000 iu’s for every 25 pounds body weight and then testing after about 8 weeks. We have found that in my clients the numbers are coming back fairly low, but again it depends on the variables. He estimated that for each 1000 iu increase it will raise the blood level about10ng/ml.
Many people are taking Vitamin D once or twice a week and some even once a month. Newer studies say the blood levels are coming back too variable and that it is recommended to take D on a daily basis or every other day to maintain consistent blood levels. For depressed people this is essential.
Natural diets typically do not contain adequate quantities of vitamin D, and exposure to sunlight or supplementation are necessary to prevent deficiencies. Without vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, soft, or misshapen. Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in most of the diseases of civilization.(Alt Med Rev March 2008). Always take a form of calcium with your D supplement or it can pull calcium from the bone.
Clinical studies now show vitamin D deficiency to be associated with common cancers: Breast, Prostate, ovarian, Colon and Skin. Vitamin D deficiency has been clearly linked with Syndrome X, abnormal blood fats, obesity, and high blood pressure and has been mistaken for fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and peripheral neuropathy. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with insulin deficiency and insulin resistance and a major contributor in type one diabetes in children. Multiple Sclerosis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis and Crohn’s disease have all been linked with low vitamin D levels. There is some evidence that steroids may impair vitamin D metabolism, further contributing to the loss of bone and development of osteoporosis. If you are on steroid medications please have your vitamin D levels checked. Low vitamin D may contribute to chronic fatigue and depression. And finally for us in Alaska, Seasonal Affective Disorder has been treated successfully with vitamin D3.
Vitamin D toxicity can cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, kidney stones and weight loss. It can also raise blood levels of calcium. Most people with toxicity recover rapidly by simply stopping the vitamin D.
The correct test to ask for is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D and optimum values should be 60-90 ng/ml . (some cancers may require a higher level)
Are you getting enough vitamin D?
Dori Cranmore is a Registered Nurse, Holistic Health Practitioner and the owner of All About Herbs Wellness Center in Wasilla (376-8327) and Palmer (745-8387). This information is for educational purposes and is not medical advice or meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.