Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vitamin D: Sunshine or Pills - What's the Difference?

There are very few reliable sources of vitamin D in the diet. Typical diets - even many rich in fresh, whole foods including fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats - contain less than 100 IU of vitamin D. Most vitamin D is made by exposure of the skin to the sun.

In today's world, many people are living with minimal exposure of naked skin to the mid day sun. It's wonderful that vitamin D supplements are an option for these people. Supplements, however, might have different effects on the body than sunshine. What if, for instance, high levels of vitamin D in the skin activate genes that signal other organs in the body to make more or less vitamin D receptors? In other words, what if excellent health requires significantly higher levels of vitamin D in the skin than in other organs? What if pills preferentially build vitamin D levels in organs other than the skin?

Not nearly enough is known about the details of vitamin D metabolism. Mainstream medicine has overseen the deterioration of the health of the nation. More and more Americans are taking prescription drugs at younger and younger ages. Poor health in middle age is common. Don't believe for a second that the epidemic of chronic health conditions in middle aged people is due to poor genes. Just look at any identical twin studies - there are huge differences in health outcomes based on behavior and the environment. The single most important behaviorial and environmental factors are ample micronutrients, sunshine, clean air, and clean water - the fundamentals of nutrition. Yet doctors more often are experts in drugs, not nutrition. The most important nutrients are vitamins A, B, C, and D - the extracts discovered in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to contain constituents vital for health. I recommend that everyone study what is known about vitamins A, B, C, and D, and then make sure to get plenty of each of them. I recommend regular supplements of vitamins B1, B3, and C. Vitamin D is best obtained by getting plenty of sunshine.

Many readers will have some responsibility for the care of children. Thanks to computers and organized activities, kids are spending more and more time inside. With the best of intentions, children are behaving in ways that produce less and less vitamin D from sun exposure. It's time for adults to really think this through. Children have played near naked in the sun for millions of years. Today's children have plenty of health problems. More and more are taking prescription drugs. Are you sure that lack of vitamin D isn't a partial cause? Are you sure that vitamin D supplements in milk and multivitamins provide all the health benefits of sunshine? I'm not - so I'm making sure that the kids in my care know to get plenty of sun.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Prevent Cavities and Anorexia: Get Vitamin D from the Sun & Use Vitamin D Supplements with Care

Will historians view our time as one of mass suffering caused by epidemic vitamin D deficiency?

Surprisingly, there is a case to be made. Most people work indoors. Electronic entertainment works well at night and is ineffective out doors in the sun. Even exercising has moved indoors. Air conditioning keeps us indoors in the summer and heating keeps us indoors in the winter. Advertising teaches us that it is antisocial to be seen in public without looking good. These same social pressures teach us that old bodies should never be seen uncovered by clothing. There are fewer and fewer seniors sunbathing on the summer beaches.

Many people are trying to address vitamin D deficiency by taking vitamin D supplements. Many people are asking the question, "How much should I take?" I don't believe that there is even close to enough data to answer that question. Mainstream medicine is encouraging blood testing for vitamin D levels and is reacting to the test results with supplement dosage recommendations. I don't believe enough data is available to do a good job, and I am certain that physician supplement recommendations are doing considerable harm. If you don't believe me, go read the stories written in the comment section here.

The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun. Getting vitamin D from the sun is different than getting it from pills. Your body will self-regulate how much vitamin D is produced from sunshine. Getting vitamin D from the sun is natural and safer. Vitamin D supplements are neither.

Do we really live in a free society? Do we really have free will? Can you go in your back yard in full view of your neighbors in fully revealing swimware and lie in the sun? Can you go the pool and lie in the sun in fully revealing swimware? Can you lie in the sun in fully revealing swimware when visiting your family? If yes, can the seniors in your family do this too?

Many people are trying supplements instead of sunshine. Some of these will suffer vitamin D side effects and conclude that they don't need more vitamin D. For some, I suspect this will be a tragic conclusion.

Vitamin D supplements are empowering. When I'm attacked by an infectious disease, I use both supplements and sunshine to fight it off. I've experienced the discomforts of vitamin D side effects. I've found no evidence that vitamin D side effects cause any harm other than temporary discomfort. I have chosen temporary vitamin D discomfort over what I believe would be greater discomfort caused by waiting out an infectious disease. I believe we have an ethical responsibility to exchange the discomforts of infectious diseases for the discomforts of vitamin side effects. Walking around with an infectious disease harms others. Walking around suffering vitamin side effects does not. Vitamin D side effects are easy enough to manage if you know what to expect. To know what to expect, read more here.

Vitamin D is more important for your health than any drug. You can't optimize your health without choosing a dose. Humans are meant to get most of their vitamin D from the sun. Shockingly, there is no recommended daily allowance of sunshine.

Vitamin D is not available from unprocessed food. If you avoid the sun and eat what you grow, you will die from vitamin D deficiency. If you live naturally, then you have to choose a vitamin D dose by choosing your own dose of sunshine. If you choose minimal exposure to the sun, you place yourself at higher risk of immeasurable suffering from a multitude of diseases including cavities and gum diseases, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Worse still, caretakers choose for more than themselves. They choose for their children. I recommend just choosing sunshine and letting the children learn for themselves how much is too much.

Vitamin D is one of only four vitamins responsible for a deficiency disease. The other three are vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine. I recommend getting extra of all four of these vitamins. Extra for the average person is too little for some and too much for others. Just like everyone must figure out for themselves how much sunshine is plenty, everyone must figure out for themselves how many vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine pills are plenty.

Don't let anyone convince you that your health is predetermined by your genes. It is not that simple. Your choices play a huge role. The choices you make about vitamin D, vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine are particularly important. This site is here to help you choose wisely.