by Phillip Day
IN THE LAST three years, a number of well-articulated studies have come out on vitamin D, extolling the virtues of this pre-hormone and demonstrating that it is one of the most important nutrients to human health. Previously sidelined as a vitamin whose deficiency produced the old medieval problems of soft bones and rickets, it now transpires that vitamin D up-regulates around 10% of the human genome. It is so vital to human health, says The Vitamin D Council, that “current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.”
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, which of course produces the attendant problems of a) getting enough sunlight and b) rejecting government scare stories that ‘sunlight kills’. Let’s deal with the latter first.
In the late 1980’s, the medical profession began telling the public that the sun was going to kill them. Dr John Cannell reports:
“In 1989, around the time autism began to rise, the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Council on Scientific Affairs warned about the dangers of sun exposure, advising mothers to “keep infants out of the sun as much as possible.” In 1999, when autism rates really exploded, the American Academy of Pediatrics went further, advising mothers always to keep infants out of direct sunlight, use sun-protective clothes and sunblock, and make sure children’s activities minimize sunlight exposure. Quite inexplicably, they said there was “no evidence” such “rigorous sun protection” would affect vitamin D levels. By 2002, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported such efforts were quite successful: “protection from sun exposure is reported for a high proportion of children.”
If ever there is an example of crass ignorance costing the lives of millions, this is it. As the environmental movement gained prominence in the final decades of the 20th century and began propagating the myth of man-made global warming, the sun also became the enemy in the public eye after big business. So people stayed out of the sun. And got sick. And died, in spite of medicine’s best efforts to save them.
Studies show today that the vast majority of Americans, British, Europeans, Australians, Russians and just about everyone who watches the BBC is vitamin-D-deficient. Yes, if you barbecue your flesh with the sun or a sunbed, you can get melanoma. I mean, drink enough water and you’ll drown. Should we give up water? How many have even been told of the sun’s amazing cancer-protecting benefits?
In researching and writing my booklet, The Essential Guide to Vitamin D, I was astonished at how little mainstream medicine knows or even cares about vitamin D. Why? The short answer is, because vitamin D doesn’t send kids through private school, and advising the public about a commercially worthless nutrient would directly compete with pharmaceutical drug revenues. You think this can’t happen? Witness the special interests scrum over swine flu; how governments are constantly over-hyping on the ‘dangers’ of H1N1, or measles, or—strewth—global warming. In my view, the vitamin D catastrophe is even more insidious since people aren’t being told.
Let’s cover some basics. Getting adequate vitamin D from the sun is not as straightforward as it seems. Let’s say you go out into the local park and strip completely naked and lie out on the grass. In the 20 minutes it takes for the police to arrest you, you’ll make at least 15,000 IU of vitamin D. If after being released, you go home and have a shower, you’ll wash most of it off the skin and down the plughole. Vitamin D takes around 48 hours to penetrate the skin and being fat-soluble, doesn’t take kindly to soap or other detergents. So now you’re asking, “I’ve got to go 48 hours without a bath?” No. Use soap and water on your underarms and naughty bits and water on the rest.
There’s two types of solar radiation: UVA and UVB. UVB is the beneficial form which causes suntans and allows your body to produce vitamin D. UVA is harmful and believed by many scientists such as Dr Dianne Godar of the US FDA to be the cause of the melanoma epidemic. So you need the sun, you just don’t need to barbecue yourself with it. And by the way, many sunscreens filter out UVB while allowing in UVA! That makes them carcinogens.
The official RDA for vitamin D varies from country to country, but an average is 200–400 IU. Research shows, however, that this is woefully short of the 4,000 IU required just to maintain the vitamin D levels you’ve already got. It’s best to get your vit D from the sunlight, but for those who can’t or won’t, sensible supplementation with a vitamin D3 supplement (cholecalciferol) should be in the range of 5,000 IU/day. For those who are sick, get your vitamin D level tested via a 25-hydroxy D test for calcidiol levels in your blood. If you are ill, you are almost certainly vitamin-D-deficient. Knowing where you are on the D scale and then optimizing your D level is the major step to getting better. Get a copy of my booklet for a full briefing. You might be staring recovery in the face and not even know it, sunshine.
VITAMIN D FACT FILE
Government RDA for Vitamin D: 200–400 IU/day
Needed just to maintain Vit D levels: 4,000 IU/day
Latitude above/below which the body cannot make vitamin D levels during winter: 52nd Parallel
Mothers who took 4,000 IU of vitamin D during pregnancy had their risk of premature birth reduced by half
Numerous studies show that optimising Vit D serum levels protects against 17 varieties of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, etc.
The Essential Guide to Vitamin D by Phillip Day