Barb73 Posted May 9, 2008 Share Posted May 9, 2008 http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbc ... /805080312 ARTICLE: . . . . . . . . . Vitamin D, the vitamin associated with strong bones, is gaining attention as a possible super nutrient. Vitamin D is a small organic molecule essential for normal metabolism and growth. It's known as the sunshine vitamin because it's produced when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light, but it's not even a vitamin. "It is a hormone," said Dr. Stephen Winters, chief of the division of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. "Vitamin D receptors are in blood cells, immune cells, muscle cells -- they are everywhere." Its potential for preventing or fighting a wide array of health problems is emerging in new research. For instance, a study of lung-cancer patients in Boston found that ample vitamin D at the time of lung-cancer surgery dramatically increased the odds that a patient would be alive and cancer-free five years later. A recently published study in the Archives of Disease in Children found giving children vitamin D supplements may protect against type 1 diabetes. Vitamin D may guard against colon, prostate and breast cancers, other research suggests. It's also being studied for its potential role in forestalling autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. And it may help prevent tuberculosis and heart disease too. Dr. John Cannell, a California-based psychiatrist and founder of the Vitamin D Council, said researchers say vitamin D affects more than 1,000 genes in the body. But widespread vitamin D deficiencies exist even in healthy people in developed countries, such as the United States, according to a special supplement on vitamin D published last month by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The World Health Organization says that 40 percent of Americans (and more than 500 million people worldwide) don't get enough vitamin D. Using blood samples, Winters and other U of L researchers found that about a third of a sample of women treated at the University Hospital emergency room had low levels of vitamin D. One of the biggest shocks revealed by research is the vitamin D deficiency that exists among child-bearing women and particularly African-American women whose pigmentation interferes with their production of vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D deficiencies often emerge in patients with osteoporosis, kidney disease and celiac disease, said Dr. Emily Veeneman, an endocrinologist with Norton CMA Endocrinology. Additionally, patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery or those using over-the-counter diet drugs that block the absorption of fat also can develop reduced vitamin D stores. General muscle fatigue or muscle pain similar to what you experience when you have influenza may be a symptom of vitamin D deficiency. But many times there is no symptom. How much is enough? A test that runs about $100 and that many insurance programs cover can detect vitamin D deficiency. But Veeneman cautioned that patients must seek a physician who uses a laboratory known for its reliability in measuring vitamin D levels, such as a specialty endocrinology laboratory. She also said that some physicians are more interested in and educated about vitamin D than others. While 25 to 40 nanograms per milliliter has been considered a target range for vitamin D levels, she and others are pushing the minimum upward. She seeks a minimum of 30 to 35 in her patients. To treat a deficiency, she prescribes a high-dose, once-a-week vitamin D supplement of 50,000 international units for a period of three months and then orders another test to see if levels are up. She assesses levels of stored vitamin D, which is called vitamin D25, not the active vitamin D. While some diseases prevent the production or storage of vitamin D, they don't appear to be the main reason for widespread vitamin D deficiencies. Most experts blame poor eating habits and lack of time in the sun. Veeneman urges patients to eat more vitamin D-fortified milk and grain products. The federal Office of Dietary Supplements recommends a daily intake range from 200 to 600 IU a day, depending on your age. But the National Academy of Sciences puts the upper tolerable limit for adults at 2,000 IU daily. Bruce Hollis, a professor of pediatrics and of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Medical University of South Carolina, recommends drastically higher daily intake recommendations than the federal government's. He told ScienceWatch.com, "Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked with a multitude of neoplasms (uncontrolled tissue growth), autoimmune dysfunction, compromised innate immunity and neurodevelopment" in the uterus. Skin cancer risk Hector DeLuca, a University of Wisconsin biochemist who is a pioneer in vitamin D research, takes 1,000 IU of vitamin D supplements daily. Because of the risk of skin cancer from sun exposure, DeLuca believes that use of vitamin D supplements and vitamin D-fortified foods is the best solution to getting adequate vitamin D, The Washington Post reported last week. Louisville board-certified dermatologist Tami Buss Cassis said that her mother was recently screened for vitamin D levels by her primary care physician, who discovered they were low. She said her mother will increase her vitamin D supplements and eat more oily fish and fortified foods, such as vitamin D-fortified orange juice. "We also bought her a bike so she can be outside more," said Cassis. But, just as she does with her patients, she has advised her mother to wear sunscreen and to avoid the harsh rays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cassis, who serves on the faculty at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said that sun will get to the skin to produce some vitamin D even when you wear sunscreen because people apply it poorly (they use too little and miss spots) and because sunscreens can't block out sun 100 percent. . . . . . . . . . (Courrier Journal, By Linda Stahl, May 8, 2008) Disclaimer: The information contained in these articles may or may not be in agreement with my own opinions. They are not posted as medical advice of any kind. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Join the conversation
You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.