This page is directed mainly to people who have reached the age of 65 and over (maybe even some younger but you will get the idea). They are called pensioners, oldies and even the Grey Brigade. The deficiency they may be suffering from is the BIG D deficiency, as in Vitamin D. A deficiency of this most important vitamin can be disastrous – perhaps even fatal! But let’s not be too exclusive, after all people of all races and any age can be deficient in Vitamin D.
There is so much hype these days about this vitamin. Actually it is actually a Pro-hormone, and has a fascinating story, some of which I will share here.
In recent years it has become increasingly clear that vitamin D is an extremely novel and important pro-hormone. Not only is vitamin D involved in calcium and bone metabolism including the prevention of osteoporosis, but it has several other functions of equal import. It was discovered by Dr. Michael Holick that vitamin D is converted to 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 (calcitriol) in the liver and kidneys, and this latter hormone is an important factor in inhibiting cancer cell growth.
Epidemiological evidence strongly suggests that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels in the blood markedly decreases the incidence of colon, breast, prostate and other cancers. Receptors for vitamin D are found throughout the body. Vitamin D may also play an important role in preventing heart disease. There are receptors for vitamin D in pancreatic islet cells involved in insulin secretion. In fact low vitamin D levels are associated with type I and type II diabetes mellitus. Vitamin D is important in cellular immunity and prevention of the autoimmune diseases. It is actively involved in brain metabolism with links to depression. Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal syndrome characterized by muscle pain and fatigue of unknown origin. It has been found that a majority of patients presenting with symptoms of fibromyalgia are deficient in vitamin D. Treatment with vitamin D3 is successful in relieving the symptoms of fibromyalgia in these cases.
That was only a brief introduction as to what optimum levels of vitamin D may prevent or alleviate. Powerful isn’t it!
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferers have recently been advised that there is a crucial link between low vitamin D levels and their disease.
If you live north of the line connecting San Francisco to Philadelphia and Athens to Beijing, odds are that you don’t get enough vitamin D. The same holds true if you don’t get outside for at least a 15-minute daily walk in the sun. African-Americans and others with dark skin, as well as older individuals, tend to have much lower levels of vitamin D, as do people who are overweight or obese.
Being “D-ficient” may increase the risk of a host of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, some cancers, and multiple sclerosis, as well as infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and even the seasonal flu.
Currently, there’s scientific debate about how much vitamin D people need each day. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), in a long-awaited report released in November 2010 recommends increasing the daily vitamin D intake for children and adults in the U.S. and Canada, to 600 IU per day for people ages 1 to 70, and 800 IU for people over age 70. The report also recognized the safety of vitamin D by increasing the upper limit from 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day, and acknowledged that even at 4,000 IU per day, there was no good evidence of harm.
The new guidelines, however, are overly conservative about the recommended intake, and they do not give enough weight to some of the latest science on vitamin D and health. For bone health and chronic disease prevention, many people are likely to need more vitamin D than even these new government guidelines recommend.
The further away from the equator your live the more likelihood you can become “D-ficient”. Even Australians who live south of the main island are being warned to check their levels. Yes the Island State of Tasmania must be very careful as well, and most people assume in Australia you would get plenty of sunshine.
There are many reasons we become deficient in this vital vitamin. Here are some that spring to mind.
People tend to spend more time inside during the winter months, and rug up against the cold weather.
Working in offices, factories, buildings, underground mines etc deprive people of much needed D.
House bound people such as the sick and the elderly and frail do not get about outside sufficiently to make and store D.
Those who are institutionalized, in hospitals and nursing homes would definitely be deprived of their much needed D.
People and cultures that practice covering their entire bodies for religious purposes are deficient in D. In fact there is a current resurgence of rickets, which is a vitamin D deficiency illness.
This resurgence is being blamed on (a) covering up of the entire body, and (b) children not playing outside in the sunshine – too much time on the computer and possibly even too much sunscreen when outside.
But the area that worries me considerably is with the older generation, who sometime rely heavily on other people to manage their care.
Low levels of vitamin D could mean greater risk of death for older adults – especially those who are frail, say researchers.
A randomized, nationally representative study found that older adults with low vitamin D levels had a 30 percent greater risk of death than people who had higher levels.
Overall, people who were frail had more than double the risk of death than those who were not frail. Frail adults with low levels of vitamin D tripled their risk of death over people who were not frail and who had higher levels of vitamin D.
So what can you do if you cannot get out and receive/store natural vitamin D from sunshine. What can you do for those you love who may be in this situation? I obtained this advice from the Vitamin D Council, whom I have much respect for.
Vitamin D supplementation
Vitamin D3 supplementation is an effective alternative to UV exposure, provided adequate doses are taken.
Vitamin D needs
Vitamin D from both capsules and liquid is equally effective in treating vitamin D deficiency.
Much individual variation exists in response to supplemental vitamin D. The amount needed to raise and/or maintain blood serum levels for one person may not be enough for another. This is due to various factors such as age, weight, absorption, overall health, and amount of sun exposure. Recent research has determined that genetic variants are also a factor.
Vitamin D Council recommended amounts
Based on the body’s indicated daily vitamin D usage, Vitamin D Council recommends the following amounts of supplemental vitamin D3 per day in the absence of proper sun exposure. Due to the variable response discussed above, these are only estimated amounts.
- Healthy children under the age of 1 years – 1,000 IU.
- Healthy children over the age of 1 years – 1,000 IU per every 25 lbs of body weight.
- Healthy adults and adolescents – at least 5,000 IU.
- Pregnant and lactating mothers – at least 6,000 IU.
If you care for and about the elders/seniors in your family and society in general, then do what you can to either educate them about Vitamin D, or see to it that they are provided with the right amount of, and type of vitamin D supplementation to meet their very specific needs. It is well known that the government recommendations are set far too low – actually what they recommend will barely prevent rickets! Good health requires more than the bare minimum being taken!
According to the Vitamin D Council, there is strong evidence the body prefers Vitamin D3 over D2 and it is available in most chemists and health food stores in your neighborhood. Don’t be misled by all the advertizing hype you see. Do your own research with reputable companies such as Life Extension or Thorne Research. (I have no affiliation with either company).
You owe it to yourself and those whom you love to learn as much as you can about Vitamin D. You might be deficient if you work inside, don’t get out and about in daylight hours. You could help boost your own health and immune system by taking a good supplement of vitamin D3…. it even helps keep influenza at bay! Why take an annual vaccination when your own body can fight these types of viruses naturally?
Why have Grandma and Grandpa vaccinated every year when they can have their own natural immunity?
Till next time…. Be well