Are you searching for a (natural) magic bullet for preventative health and curing illness? Including colds and flus? Well, you’re in luck because there’s growing evidence to suggest that the healing rays of the sun, even if the sunshine has to come in a pill, is exactly what the doctor ordered!
What is vitamin D? It’s a fat-soluble vitamin synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight that is also present at low concentration in some natural foods, and in many artificially-fortified food products.
Why is it so important? Not only does optimal vitamin D levels increase your immunity to common colds and flus, it helps treat a laundry list of illnesses and diseases.
Here are just a few:
- coronary disease
- lung disease
- autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupis
- many cancers including prostate, breast, colon, brain tumours, leukemia and myeloma
- osteoporosis/osteopenia and osteoarthritis
- depression and many other mental disorders including schizophrenia
- high blood pressure
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- diabetes mellitus (both types 1 and 2)
From Vitality in Dr. Rona’s article, Vaccination Controversy:
If you have an infection, the truth is you need more vitamin D. That’s a given. In other words, vitamin D acts as a natural antibiotic. It works against every type of microbe (viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites).
Vitamin D deficiency is common during the winter months, especially in countries located far from the equator. Health Canada says Canadians get inadequate ultraviolet exposure to stimulate formation of vitamin D in the skin for a large portion of the year. For example, at 52° N in Edmonton, no synthesis of vitamin D occurs in the skin between October and March.
(Health Canada will review and update the current data on vitamin D and it’s effects on health when Statistics Canada releases it’s results from a 2 year study in 2010.) Here’s the latest: some Canadian provinces are suspending the seasonal flu shot and recommended vitamin D to prevent swine flu (source: Dr. Mercola)
Back in 2002, printed in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Reinhold Vieth of Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, conducted a study which found that people living in northern climates need twice the amount of the current recommended doses (it hasn’t changed much since then) of vitamin D supplementation:
Canadians do not receive adequate exp0sure to sunshine year round to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D. Appropriate dosages for adults are not available and the typical Canadian diets do not provide sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
At that time, Dr. Reinhold concluded that 1000 IU of vitamin D was suitable for most adults. Health Canada currently recommends that the tolerable upper intake level for anyone over one year of age is 2000 IU per day from all sources, including milk and supplements.
However, it appears that these are highly conservative recommendations, probably because of the potential adverse effects associated with taking too much vitamin D.
However, Dr. Rona (in Vaccination Controversy) quotes his colleague, Dr. John Cannell, M.D., saying “most influenza deaths and many other respiratory infections, like the common cold, could be prevented if Americans, and their doctors, understood some simple facts:
- Vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a steroid hormone precursor, which has profound effects on innate immunity.
- The amount of vitamin D in most food and nearly all multi-vitamins is literally inconsequential.
- The correct daily dose of vitamin D for adults is approximately 5,000 IU/day, not the 200 to 600 IU recommended by the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Medicine and the FDA.
- The only blood test to determine vitamin D adequacy is a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, not the 1,25-di-hydroxy-vitamin D tests many physicians now order.
- Healthy vitamin D blood levels are between 70 and 90 ng/ml, levels obtained by fewer than 5% of Americans.
- The mechanism of action of vitamin D in infection, dramatically increasing the body’s production of broad-spectrum natural antibiotics (anti-microbial peptides or AMP), suggests pharmaceutical doses of vitamin D (1,000 IU per pound of body weight per day for several days) will effectively treat not only influenza and the common cold, but help treat a host of other seasonal infections, including meningitis, septicemia, and pneumonia, in both children and adults.
- In 1997, when the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) set the current guidelines for vitamin D intake, they forgot to correct for the widespread sun avoidance that began in the 1980s when the AMA’s Council of Scientific Affairs warned against sun exposure, recommending that all Americans make every effort to never let a photon of sunlight strike their skin. The failure of the 1997 FNB to compensate for sun-avoidance has led to millions of deaths around the world. (source: Vitamin D Council)”
Dr. Rona himself says that in the past decade he’s recommended that people ease off the oral supplements during the summer months, but not any more. This is because he’s found that a high percentage of individuals test for low levels of vitamin D in the blood and now recommends 10,000 IU daily all year round.
To verify safety, Dr. Rona tests both the 25 (OH) vitamin D and the ionized calcium blood levels every 3 to 6 months. To date, he has not found anyone to have a toxicity issue, even after a whole year of supplementing with 10,000 IU per day. Additionally, this is the dose Doc Rona recommends to prevent H1N1 (swine) flu.
Before you start self-dosing on vitamin D
Our ability to manufacture vitamin D through sun exposure depends on many variables: use of sunscreen, latitude, time of day, season of year, amount of exposed skin, pigmentation of the skin, age, weight, nutritional status, air pollution and more.
For this reason, it’s important to get tested to find out where you stand in relation to the vitamin D optimal levels (50–70 ng/mL). If you test low, talk to your health practitioner about how best to replete your levels. Check out this in-depth article about vitamin D testing and treatment by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN, NP.
A controversial alternative source of vitamin D
According to Dr. Michael Holick, Boston University, he says:
Vitamin D is produced when human skin is exposed to UVB radiation regardless of the source. Millions of years of evolution, long before supplements were available, has demonstrated that exposure to UVB radiation is an effective and practical vitamin D fortification strategy.
In fact, UVB radiation induced vitamin D from a tanning bed has been shown to stay in the body for a longer time and therefore provide longer lasting benefit. Exposure to UVB radiation from a tanning bed has resulted in 100% increase in blood concentrations of 25 (OH) D (25-hydroxyvitamin D).
When weighing the risks of tanning, read this 2006 article, “Tanning Beds: Trading Cancer for Cancer?”
If you decide to tan, because of the effectiveness of artificial UVB rays and the possibility of vitamin D toxicity, please make sure you know your current vitamin D levels and get advice from your doctor concerning safe amounts of tanning while supplementing.
Here are more sources to verify how vitamin D can save your life:
- Vitamin D Shortage Tied to Diseases (source: The Salt Lake Tribune)
- Heart Patients Lacking Vitamin D More Likely to be Depressed (source: CNN.com)
- Research: Lack of Vitamin D Hazardous to your Health (source: ksl.com)
- Low Vitamin D Levels May Raise Heart Risk (source: Webmd.com)
Considering the above information and the time of season, will you be making a doctor’s appointment to test your current vitamin D levels? And what do you think about tanning as a way to get your vitamin D production up to par?