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Vitamin D levels drop as winter's gloom nears



If living a long and healthy life is a priority, it is imperative to know that simply having  a low level of Vitamin D is associated with an amazing 26 percent increased rate of death, from all causes, according to an August, 2008 Archives of Internal Medicine study.

A plethora of studies in the last decade also have demonstrated that low Vitamin D levels are a major factor in the pathology of: at least 17 varieties of cancer; heart disease; stroke; high blood pressure; autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, which is uncommon at the equator; diabetes; depression; chronic pain; osteoarthritis; osteoporosis; muscle weakness and wasting; birth defects; periodontal disease; weakened immunity, such as the flu and the common cold; inflammatory bowel disease.. the list goes on and on.

If cancer is a concern, a 2007 research team from the University of California, San Diego reported that up to 50 percent of all breast and colon cancer cases could be prevented by consuming more vitamin D. Only 29 percent of the American population is estimated to have adequate vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D deficiency is more common in: the elderly, wintertime residents of Northern California; people with darker skin who get little direct sun exposure or use sunscreens above SPF8, people who live in smoggy, foggy or cloudy areas.  

After exposure to the same amount of sunlight, the elderly make only about 25 percent as much vitamin D as 20-year-olds.
Despite the abundant Vitamin D-fortified summer sunshine in Davis, as winter approaches, Vitamin D levels drop precipitously creating the perfect internal environment for wintertime flues and other nasty immune challenges.

Research from around the world has clearly demonstrated that people do less well in the winter because Vitamin D levels drop as the winter progresses.

Vitamin D has profound and multiple effects on human immunity. Influenza occurrence parallels vitamin D deficiency in time and space. Norwegians, who get less sun exposure than any other Europeans, have less flu epidemics and a smaller wintertime spike in mortality because their diet includes fish oil and the highest wintertime vitamin D levels.

Due to increased skin melanin, African-Americans generally have lower vitamin D levels than Caucasians and may explain why African-American children get pneumonia twice as often as Caucasian children, and why African-American adults often have higher blood pressure.
Children with rickets, the classic vitamin D deficiency illness are 11 times more likely to have lower respiratory infections than matched controls without rickets.

Flu shots in the elderly and immuno-compromised may even be unnecessary if Vitamin D were at optimal levels by stimulating innate immunity.

It's November! Are your vitamin D 25 OH levels at the optimal 60-80 ng/mL? If you are not sure, talk to your doctor or a healthcare practitioner for a simple blood test.  Ask for the vitamin D 25 Hydroxy test.


Dr. Dennis Godby, Doctor of Naturopathy, Sutter Medical Foundation.

He may be reached online or at his Sacramento Office (916) 446-2591.



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