Naturopathic Health Care
For millions of years humans have been accustomed to receiving a plentiful dose of vitamin D by living in a natural sunny environment.  Not so for the modern population whose indoor lifestyle, abundant clothing and sunscreen protection account for epidemic vitamin D deficiency rates of 40-80%.


March 2007
Dr. Jon Dunn, Licensed Naturopathic Physician
Vitamin D: Revisited
                     Dr. Dunn's 
    Natural Health News
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Jon@DrJonDunn.com

Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated as a causative factor in a multitude of health concerns including:

Heart disease 
Hypertension
Depression
Inflammatory bowel disorders
Cancer (breast, prostate and others)
Colds & Flu 
Immune deficiency conditions
Autoimmune conditions 
Diabetes
Rheumatoid arthritis
Multiple Sclerosis
Rickets and Osteoporosis
Muscle pain including Fibromyalgia
Low back pain
Migraine headaches
Insulin resistance
Polycystic ovary disease
 
Vitamin D related ailments have two interesting casual characteristics; latitude and season.  It has long been known that the incidence of Multiple sclerosis (MS) increases the further north you go from the equator.  Research now shows that MS is associated with D deficiency.  Heart attacks, hypertension, autoimmune conditions and diabetes are associated with D deficiency, showing up most often during wintertime when D levels are lowest.  

Recent research findings suggest that seasonal deficiencies of vitamin D trigger the seasonal cycle of cold and flu. Vitamin D has profound effects on our immunity.  People today think of fish oil as an anti-inflammatory, yet historically fish oil (rich in vitamin D) was considered anti-infective, reducing the incidence of respiratory infections by 50%.  

Vitamin D is metabolically produced in our body following exposure of our skin to the sun or UV-B radiation, such as tanning beds. Diet alone will not provide enough vitamin D to achieve and maintain optimal health.
  
How much is enough?
Some physicians are now recommending from 1,000 – 2,000 IU daily for infants, 2,000 IU for children and 4,000 IU for adults.  Multiple studies using 4,000-10,000 IU per day of vitamin D in healthy adults for periods up to six months showed no adverse effects.  For best results it is important to take vitamin D3, the activated form. 

Caution
Thiazide type diuretic medications such as hydrochlorothiazide may cause vitamin D toxicity from excess calcium uptake.  Some health conditions such as sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, Crohn's disease, adrenal and thyroid disease also increase the risk for elevated blood calcium levels, the only mechanism of toxicity for this vitamin.  These individuals can still take the recommended dose of vitamin D, however dosage must be increased slowly and blood levels of calcium need to be monitored periodically to ensure they are in an acceptable range.

Vitamin D "Sound Bytes”
  Just 10 minutes of full exposure to mid-day (1 pm) summer sun can stimulate our body to produce up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D without toxicity.

  Continued sun exposure will destroy vitamin D, so long term sun exposure will not cause toxicity.  The body self-adjusts. 

  The elderly make only about 25 % of the vitamin D as a 20 year old from the same amount of sun exposure.  

  The likely cause and the cure of seasonal colds and flu: lifestyle habits; getting enough sun.  

  Vitamin D protects us from all flu virus strains while vaccines only work for the selected strains the manufacturers have targeted.  

  In one study a modest dose of vitamin D reduced blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) by 23 percent.  This is remarkable considering that CRP, an inflammatory compound, is one of the most sensitive markers for predicting the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

  Melanin in the skin reduces production of vitamin D.  African Americans have lower levels of vitamin D and their children get pneumonia twice as often as Caucasian children.  This may also explain why African American adults have an increased risk of death due to respiratory infections and pneumonia.  

  Investigators in one study administered 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day to more than 10,000 infants for their entire first year of life.  These children who were given vitamin D supplements on a regular basis in had their risk of type-1 diabetes reduced by an amazing 88 percent: with no adverse effects. 

  “Despite a widespread recognition that current official advice to the public about vitamin D is out of date, the process for revising recommendations like the RDA has stopped, apparently for budgetary reasons” (Wikipedia).

In Summary
Over millions of years human physiology has adapted to and depends on a plentiful supply of vitamin D.  The current trend of avoiding sunlight has resulted in epidemic vitamin D deficiency related ailments because we cannot get enough vitamin D from our diet. 

I have recently increased my daily dose of vitamin D to 2,000 IU daily, and now recommend this dosage to essentially all of my adult patients.  Vitamin D3 supplementation is safe, convenient and cost effective for both preventive and therapeutic value considering our 21st century lifestyle habits.

Further reading:
The UV Advantage by Dr. Michael Holick 


In Health,
Dr. Jon Dunn