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Can Vitamin D Save Your Life?
Discover Magazine ^ | Mariana Gosnell

Posted on 01/07/2008 2:02:52 PM PST by blam

Can Vitamin D Save Your Life?

New studies highlight the importance of the forgotten vitamin.

by Mariana Gosnell

For years doctors believed that vitamin D, sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because sunlight triggers the body to produce it, was important primarily in preventing rickets (a softening of the bones) in children. Once milk became fortified with vitamin D, rickets pretty much disappeared, and the problem of vitamin D deficiency seemed to have been solved. But according to Michael F. Holick, director of the Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory at Boston University Medical Center, who has spent 30 years studying the vitamin, “rickets can be considered the tip of the vitamin D–deficiency iceberg.”

Today a lack of the vitamin has been linked to a host of other maladies, including cancers of the colon, prostate, and breast; tuberculosis; schizophrenia; multiple sclerosis; hip fractures; and chronic pain. How can one vitamin play a role in so many diverse illnesses? The answer seems to lie in the fact that most tissues and cells in the human body (and not just those in the intestine and bone that help fix calcium) have receptors for vitamin D, suggesting that the vitamin is needed for overall optimal health. In addition, some cells carry enzymes for converting the circulating form of vitamin D to the active form, making it available in high concentrations to the tissues locally.

A recent laboratory experiment at Boston University revealed that by activating the circulating form of the vitamin, prostate cells could regulate their own growth and possibly prevent the rise of cancer. Directly or indirectly, Holick points out, “the active form of vitamin D controls up to 200 different genes,” including ones responsible for cell proliferation, differentiation, and death.

Theories about vitamin D’s cancer-prevention qualities have begun to be validated. In June, Joan M. Lappe, professor of nursing and medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, and her colleagues published the results of a 4-year, double-blind, randomized trial in which nearly 1,200 healthy postmenopausal women took calcium alone, calcium with 1,100 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day, or a placebo. The women who took calcium with vitamin D had a 60 percent lower risk of developing cancers of any type than the placebo group; the calcium-only group’s risk didn’t significantly change.

Currently, the median vitamin D intake of adult Americans is only about 230 IU a day; Lappe was prompted by the study’s findings to recommend the dose be increased to 1,500 to 2,000 IU. “It’s low risk, with maybe a high payoff,” she told a Canadian newspaper in June. Vitamin D comes from three sources: the sun’s ultraviolet (UVB) rays penetrating the skin, a few D-rich foods like fatty fish and some fortified foods, and supplements. The Canadian Paediatric Society has already recommended that pregnant or breast-feeding women get 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Some clinicians have suggested that increased vitamin D intake might help ward off multiple sclerosis (MS), believed to be a progressive autoimmune disease. Last December, a team of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions published results from the first large-scale prospective study of the relationship between vitamin D levels and MS. After analyzing stored blood samples taken from 7 million military personnel and identifying those individuals who developed MS during a 12-year period, the team determined that the risk of getting MS was 62 percent lower for those whose blood concentration of vitamin D put them in the top quintile than for those in the bottom quintile. The study did not make clear, however, whether low vitamin D levels were a cause of MS or a marker of MS risk.

Vitamin D status may also affect vulnerability to infections. For example, African Americans need more sun exposure than Caucasians to make sufficient vitamin D; they also suffer from increased risk of tuberculosis. In a breakthrough study published in March, scientists from several institutions, including UCLA, discovered a possible link. On encountering the TB bacillus, receptors on immune-system scavenger cells known as macrophages stimulate the conversion of circulating vitamin D to its active form, which produces a peptide that destroys the bacillus. If circulating levels of D are low, macrophages can’t activate the vitamin D to initiate this response. A similar scenario could be operating with other infectious agents, maybe even the influenza virus.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: d; sunlight; sunshine; vitamin
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1 posted on 01/07/2008 2:02:53 PM PST by blam
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To: blam

How much Vitamin D do you take? I’ve been taking 1000. Most of the recent studies show minimal or negative impacts for most vitamins, but D seems to be doing ok.

I take Omega 3, Cinnamon and Vitamin D. What do you take?


2 posted on 01/07/2008 2:07:46 PM PST by Fractal Trader (.)
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To: Fractal Trader

>> How much Vitamin D do you take? <<

Usually half an hour out in the sun is enough.

3 posted on 01/07/2008 2:10:39 PM PST by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: Fractal Trader
"How much Vitamin D do you take?"

400 IU a day and I eat one can of tuna daily.

4 posted on 01/07/2008 2:29:00 PM PST by blam (Secure the border and enforce the law)
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To: Fractal Trader

Make sure you are taking Vitamin D3. I just ordered 5000 IU pills a day.

5 posted on 01/07/2008 2:39:03 PM PST by Not gonna take it anymore
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To: blam
After reading the article, I thought that all I have to do is drink milk. Milk has vitamin D. However, the article says that I should get between 1,500 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day. A glass of vitamin D fortified milk contains about 100 IUs of vitamin D.

The next method of vitamin D intake is from moderate sun exposure. The body produces its own vitamin D through sun exposure. However, the darker your skin complexion and the older you are the less you will produce. One good thing is that the body has a way to eliminate excessive vitamin D production through sun exposure. If one were to lay in the sun for 15 minutes in a bathing suit, their body would produce around 10,000 IUs of vitamin D. For those who don’t get much sunlight during the cold winter months, I see supplementation as a good idea.

6 posted on 01/07/2008 2:42:07 PM PST by jonrick46
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To: Fractal Trader

1000 mg D3, fish oil, C, 200 mcg folic acid, 80 mg aspirin.

Do you take the cinnamon for blood sugar? Does it work?

7 posted on 01/07/2008 2:44:45 PM PST by heartwood
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To: heartwood

I take 4000IU D3, 2g Fish oil and 1g Krill oil daily.

8 posted on 01/07/2008 2:47:29 PM PST by traderrob6
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To: Fractal Trader

Lemon Flavored COD LIVER OIL (from Carlsons)’s got Vitamin D and the AHA/DHA’s you need......I take 2 Tbsp per day, plus a 2000iu Vit D3 pill in winter. Just don’t go really high on the Vit D, folks.....and get tested especially for 1,25 Dihydroxy. Those who live in states other than the extreme south probably need add’l Vit. D.

9 posted on 01/07/2008 2:49:21 PM PST by goodnesswins (Being Challenged Builds Character! Being Coddled Destroys Character!)
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To: goodnesswins

How much Vitamin D your skin makes depends, not only on the color of your skin and your age, but also your latitude. At high latitudes, laying in the weak sunlight all day naked wouldn’t do much for you in the non-summer months when you don’t get good verticals. That’s why people in Scandanavia, Inuits, and so forth have always made fish and fish oil a significant part of their diet.

It’s possible to OD on fat-stored vitamins like A and D, but it’s not easy. Hint: don’t eat polar bear liver.
I was reading that in some science book. Apparently alaskan and Artctic explorers have to bury polar bear livers under ice to keep their sled dogs from getting into it.

10 posted on 01/07/2008 3:02:17 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria)
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To: blam

Because of malabsorption after Duodenal Switch surgery 2 years ago, I take 50,000 IU about 3 or 4 times a week. I don’t know that it’s related, but I haven’t been sick once in over 2 years either.

11 posted on 01/07/2008 3:02:33 PM PST by Clintons Are White Trash (Lynn Stewart, Helen Thomas , Rosie ODonnell, Maureen Dowd - The Axis of Ugly)
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To: Fractal Trader
Be careful with the type of cinnamon, as there is a substance that is found in ground cinnamon that can damage the liver. Some brands of the spice may be contaminated with coumarin.
12 posted on 01/07/2008 3:05:25 PM PST by Robert357 (D.Rather "Hoist with his own petard!"
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To: blam
You could always install one of these in your bathroom:

13 posted on 01/07/2008 3:08:03 PM PST by dan1123 (You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. --Jesus)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

A good snopes or equivalent subject would be the governments own research on mercury and seafood ingestion correlation. I read somewhere they used some small native pacific islander control group, that ate nothing but seafood. Naturally, the story goes, they had an “off the chart” mercury blood level. Hence the “avoid intake of seafood” admonishments that are somewhat common.

Personally, I don’t worry about it too much. If you live long enough you’ll see the same diets come and go, under a new name. The Atkins diet, for example, was known as the “Drinking Mans diet” in the 1960s. Other than that, they are exactly the same recommendations by the “experts”. Others warned of kidney problems if following that kind of diet. Eggs are Bad! No, they’re good. Coffee is BAd! No, it’s actually good - with anti-oxidants. Moderate alcohol is Good... No, it’s bad, etc.

Baloney. I eat what I want, and exercise heavily, lots of fresh air and sunshine, and simple wholesome foods. If I don’t get hit by a truck, maybe I’ll get lucky. cheers!

14 posted on 01/07/2008 3:10:27 PM PST by Freedom4US
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To: Fractal Trader

5,000 units a day.

15 posted on 01/07/2008 3:13:58 PM PST by savedbygrace (SECURE THE BORDERS FIRST (I'M YELLING ON PURPOSE))
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To: Robert357

How do I know if I have the “good” cinnamon?

Cassia is also called cinnamon, confusing things further. I think that’s the “red hot” candy kind, that isn’t really cinnamon, either. Then there’s the powdery stuff that is good on sugared toast... Is that the difference?

16 posted on 01/07/2008 3:16:41 PM PST by Freedom4US
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To: Freedom4US

You might check out the following, which is something I read a while back because cinnamon, vinegar and green tea now seem to the be rage for weight loss.

17 posted on 01/07/2008 3:27:18 PM PST by Robert357 (D.Rather "Hoist with his own petard!"
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To: Fractal Trader

I had my cholesterol checked and my triglycerides were 363 and by HDL was down to 40.
I started Vitamin D 2000 IU
Fish oil
coral calcium
Decreased my carbs and increased my protein but really didn’t go on a really strict diet.
In three months I lost 20 lbs - my HDL was up to 60 and my triglicerides were down to 81.
Not to mention my knee pain is gone and I sleep like a baby.

Getting old doesn’t have to be hell but after 40 you do have to supplement.

18 posted on 01/07/2008 3:27:43 PM PST by ODDITHER
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To: blam

“and I eat one can of tuna daily.”

How’s the mercury poisoning working out for you?

19 posted on 01/07/2008 3:29:53 PM PST by toddlintown (Five bullets and Lennon goes down. Yet not one hit Yoko. Discuss..)
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To: toddlintown
“and I eat one can of tuna daily.” How’s the mercury poisoning working out for you?

He's glowing over it.

I had this concern when I was woofing down a can nearly every day so I switched to salmon. Tastes better and less mercury toxicity risk associated with it. More costly though.

20 posted on 01/07/2008 4:04:43 PM PST by Dysart
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