I was shocked last week to hear that the long awaited revision of Vitamin D recommendations ignored most of the of studies showing the benefits of Vit D for preventing serious illness and optimizing health. The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board – a supposedly independent government funded board – did indeed revise their recommendations for Vitamin D intake, but by such a small amount as to be almost insignificant. And more seriously, it gives the public, and allopathic doctors the impression that low Vit. D levels are not a cause of concern.
I beg to differ – this is a very big cause for concern! Thousands of studies have showed that higher levels of Vitamin D helps prevent 17 different types of cancer (including breast, prostate and colon cancer) the flu, asthma, heart attacks, strokes, autoimmune disorders, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, bone disorders, depression, chronic pain, poor balance and weakened immunity in addition to osteoporosis! These new recommendations ignore most of the newest information available and if followed, would leave millions of Vitamin D deficient people vulnerable to a host of largely preventable diseases.
I thought the Vitamin D story had finally been told, that the world was ready to acknowledge that perhaps we have been wrong to slather ourselves with sunscreen and hide from the sun. But I fear I have underestimated the medical establishments preference for fast-tracking un-proven, expensive drugs over anything that might be called – dare I say it – “natural? And it seems that they really don’t mind that we are seeing rickets in children again, as they try to lower the acceptable 25-OH Vit. D blood levels from 30 to 20 (the threshold for rickets is around 18) when current studies show that optimal levels are 50-80!
Consider that people who live near the equator and get plenty of sun have 25-OH Vit. D blood levels of 60-80. Consider that a full grown adult in shorts and tank top lying in the midday summer sun in New York without sunscreen can produce 10,000-20,000 IU of Vitamin D in 30 minutes. We would not have this capacity if we didn’t need lots of Vitamin D to keep our bodies functioning optimally. Perhaps our bodies have a bit of wisdom of their own, without the benefit of the Food and Nutrition Board…
We evolved in warm climates, with plenty of sunshine, and easily get all the D we need from those beneficial rays – not so easily from foods, especially with a modern diet. So those of us who have limited exposure to the sun – either from lifestyle, or living far from the equator where the sun’s rays are too weak for us to make Vitamin D for half the year – need to supplement with Vitamin D3. Recommendations for adults based on the latest research are for 2000-5000 IU/day.
The new recommendations are a puny 400 IU/day for infants under a year, and then 600 IU/day for adults. But 600 IU/day will do nothing to raise deficient levels, and it is estimated that at least 50% and possibly 77% of the U.S. population suffers from some vitamin D deficiency. I’ve had clients taking 2000 IU/day and still showing seriously low blood levels, and their levels didn’t go up until they took 5000-6000 IU/day.
Tens of millions of pregnant women and their breast-feeding infants have severely low levels of vitamin D, resulting in a great increase in that medieval disease rickets and a significantly increased risk of neonatal pneumonia, a doubled risk for preeclampsia, a tripled risk for gestational diabetes, and a quadrupled risk for primary cesarean section. Professor Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina has shown pregnant and lactating women need at least 5,000 IU/day, not 600.
To me, the real question is why does our economic (oops, I meant healthcare!) system perpetuate the fear of natural health modalities, like nutritional supplements, herbs and getting healthy sun exposure, yet allow drug companies to create an un-ending array of dangerous drugs that create more health problems, and fund the studies that pressure doctors to prescribe them. Hmmm… could it have something to do with money? Let’s see, sunlight is free, Vitamin D is one of the cheapest supplements around, and no drug company can patent a natural substance and make billions off of it. And who makes money off of healthy people? Too cynical, you think? Read on…
According to the Alliance for Natural Health, Glenville Jones, PhD, one of the committee members who determined the new Vitamin D guidelines and who is quoted as saying that “We think there has been an exaggeration of the public’s interest in Vitamin D deficiency,” is an advisor for a drug company that is working on a patentable synthetic Vitamin D! Once they have a way to make money off of it, they will no doubt want us to take their money-making “drug.” Until then, best we not trouble our little brains about preventing disease with anything natural like Vitamin D3 or the sun. After all, disease is big business!
The FNB also reported that Vitamin D toxicity might occur at an intake of 10,000 IU/day (250 micrograms), although they could produce no reproducible evidence that 10,000 IU/day has ever caused toxicity in humans and only one poorly conducted study indicating 20,000 IU/day may cause mild elevations in serum calcium but not clinical toxicity.
According to a paper in the current British Medical Journal, “more than 50% of the adult population in Great Britain had insufficient levels of vitamin D and 16% had severe deficiency during winter and spring.” Another recent study found that an alarming 69 percent of pregnant women (and 78 percent of women who aren’t pregnant) are vitamin-D deficient. Indeed, it is estimated that 77 percent of the U.S. population suffers from some vitamin D deficiency. Certainly, the levels in my clients bear this out – I have only had 3 people in the last six months test in a healthy range for Vitamin D. And I have seen frighteningly low levels in some of my clients with cancer, MS, Parkinson’s and osteoporosis.
The October 6, 2010 issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery reports that nearly half of orthopedic surgery patients are deficient in vitamin D, and a high percentage of vitamin D insufficiency was observed in Sports Medicine and Arthroplasty (hip and knee replacement) services. Could it be that treating Vitamin D deficiency could decrease the number of hip and knee replacements and put lots of orthopedists out of business? And it is estimated that for every case of skin cancer eliminated by avoiding sun exposure or sunscreen use, there are 20 or more cases of breast or prostate cancer caused by the ensuing lack of Vitamin D! How big a business is cancer treatment…
So where do we go with all this information? Can we trust that the ‘medical authorities’ have our best interests and our optimal health at heart? I think it is fairly clear that we cannot. Can we look to nature to learn about how our bodies were designed and do our best to live as natural lifestyle as possible in these modern times – healthy, natural foods, fresh air and sunshine? I think it is imperative that we do.