Showing posts with label Vitamin D. Show all posts

Vitamin D Essential to Good Health

vitamin d

The results of the first Canadian study of the effects of vitamin D deficiency have been released by Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, and they look worrying.

Northern Latitudes Lack Vitamin D

Health Canada says that “Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.” That, of course, comes from the sun, so Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin.”

However, Canada being a northern country means that the sun’s UVB is weaker than in tropical regions. The result, according to Health Canada is that “Vitamin D synthesis in the skin is absent during the winter months (October to March), and for an even greater part of the year in far northern latitudes. This means that for a significant portion of the year, Canadians must rely on dietary intake of vitamin D to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D in the body.”

Sources of dietary vitamin D include milk, fatty fish, and egg yolks. Also, inexpensive supplements in pill form are available at pharmacies and health food stores.

Canadian Kids Don’t get Enough Vitamin D

Doctors at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children say that one third of Canadian youngsters living in urban areas don’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin. In a report released on May 4, 2009, researchers say their “finding is markedly higher than the data from a previous study of toddlers in Boston that found 14 percent of that population was lacking Vitamin D.”

Between November 2007 and June 2008, the study team “evaluated 92 healthy children aged 24 to 30 months who were attending routine well-child visits at a community-based pediatric practice in Toronto.” They monitored dietary intake through questionnaires filled in by parents and established Vitamin D levels through blood tests.

“The study revealed that factors associated with lower levels of vitamin D included lower milk intake, higher Body Mass Index (BMI), and watching television while snacking.”

Negative Health Effects of too little Vitamin D

The study’s lead author is Dr. Jonathon Maguire, an Academic Fellow in the SickKids Division of Pediatric Medicine who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. He is quoted by the hospital as saying, “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a number of chronic medical conditions.”

He lists these as including rickets (a disease that may cause severe bone deformities and seizures), Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and certain types of cancers.

Other researchers have suggested that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with tuberculosis, high blood pressure, seasonal affective disorder, and memory loss.

Writing about the study in The Globe and Mail (May 4, 2009) Martin Mittelstaedt noted that researchers believe babies get enough vitamin D from fortified formula and/or breast milk. He added that the story with toddlers seems to be different: “The finding of widespread insufficiency indicates most children aren’t getting enough vitamin D either through diet or through sunlight exposure. Dr. Maguire said that developing strategies to prevent deficiencies “would seem to be a prudent thing to do.’ ”

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Let the Sun Shine!


Sunlight

The sun blesses our planet with life. In addition to washing the world with light, power, and warmth, its effect is felt right down to the molecules within our body chemistry which effort is to enhance the health of body, mind, and spirit.

The sun provides 98% of all the energy on earth. The other two percent is geothermal, originating in the earth’s hot liquid core. Light is in fact a relatively small portion of the massive energy the sun produces. There list is extracted from work done by Doctors Agatha and Calvin Thrash at their Uchee Pines Health Institute in Alabama.

  • Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin because it results from a sun-induced chemical reaction which converts cholesterol and ergosterol in the skin to vitamin D. Since this reaction uses cholesterol it reduces the stores of cholesterol in our body. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the absorption of calcium and utilization of phosphorus which are essential for strong bones and teeth. It is also essential in the thinking process.
  • Sunlight works to increase circulation, the number and efficiency of blood vessels in the skin, and cardiac output. It also increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and enables oxygen to reach tissues and joints by direct action and reflex action of the blood vessels. Thus it works in several ways to improve the circulatory system.
  • Sunlight contributes to a number of ways in which body functions are regulated. It has been found to decrease blood pressure, although other factors contribute to blood pressure levels as well. It also plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels, and by means of its action on the eye, it affects the pituitary gland which controls hormone production of the other endocrine glands in a beneficial way.
  • Sunlight increases the number of white blood cells and their capacity for fighting infection, and increases gamma globulin, which is part of the immune mechanism of the body. It promotes the healing of wounds and kills streptococci and other germs on exposure. Hanging your laundry outdoors in the sun to dry not only leaves clothes smelling fresh, but sanitizes them at the same time.
  • Sunlight increases liver function and stimulates the liver to produce a drug metabolizing enzyme which increases our ability to withstand pollutants in our environment.
  • Sunlight increases muscle tone and endurance. It has been found that people who exercise in sunlight build muscle faster than those who exercise indoors.

We are all familiar with the positive effect of sunlight on our mental outlook and sense of well-being. It fights depression, and lessens stress by working both through sensory receptors in the skin and well as by means of its psychological influence. As is the case with all good things, sunlight can become harmful by means of excessive exposure. One does not need to lie in the sun for hours to obtain its benefits. Outdoor exercise, gardening, or other activities will provide the necessary sun exposure to reap these benefits.
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