Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Sunshine Vitamin Part 1

Are you vitamin D deficient?

Unless you are living on the equator you are most likely to be deficient.  Vitamin D is fat soluble and a hormone in the past doctors would not test patients for vitamin D levels yet recently it has become common practice.  The deficiency of the vitamin has been called a pandemic at Boston University Medical Center they are researching the link between deficiency and the consequences for non skeletal health.

Who is at risk?

Yes, we have evolved into a society that works indoors with very little exposure to the sun.  Add to this the fact that most of us are online/indoors during our free time.  When we decide to go outside we are told to evade the sun, use sunscreen therefore we get very little sun exposure.  Where you live also influences your deficiency if you live in the North of the U.S. or Canada you will have a higher risk of being deficient.  The farther away from the equator you live the less hours of overhead sunlight there will be.  People who are obese or the elderly are also at risk of being deficient according to the Vitamin D Council.

If you are deficient you may feel no symptoms or you may feel fatigue, muscle/joint pain and experience frequent colds/infections.

Normal levels of Vitamin D range from 30.0 - 74.0 ng/mL.

Low vitamin D levels are associated with softening of the bones and suppression of the immune system it may also make you susceptible to disease and cancer.  A weakened immune system means that you are more likely to get an infection.  It is essential to get tested.  Multiple sclerosis (MS) an autoimmune disease that is more common in women seems to be linked with low vitamin D levels.  Is it that vitamin D levels that are low are the reason that people get the disease or is it that the body goes into shock and vitamin D levels drop to prevent the immune system from attacking?  Patients with MS that have lower levels of the vitamin are more likely to have attacks compared to patients with higher levels.  Does this mean that the disease causes your D levels to drop to make it easier to attack your own body?  Multiple sclerosis is more common at higher latitudes this includes countries like New Zealand, Australia, Europe, U.S. and Canada and is rare in Africa and Asia.  Is vitamin D deficiency a prerequisite to autoimmune disease? does deficiency increase your risk of developing disease or is it a reaction of the body once the disease is active?

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