"If you think taking care of yourself is selfish, change your mind. If you don't, you're simply ducking your responsibilities."
- Ann Richards, author and former Texas Governor
Copyright © 2000-2015 by Barbara Brabec. All rights reserved.
Are You Deficient in Vitamin D?
I FIRST LEARNED ABOUT America's great vitamin D deficiency in my annual visit to my internist in 2009. When he ran the usual blood test to check my cholesterol and glucose levels, etc., he added a test for vitamin D levels, something none of my doctors had ever done before. When I asked why, he said it was because the government's guidelines for the amount of vitamin D we all need have long been way too low, and this had caused a national epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the past five years that physicians were only then becoming aware of.
On researching this topic further, I learned that this vitamin deficiency affects both young and old alike. In one of his newsletters, my online pharmacist friend West Conner wrote, "Could it be that one simple vitamin deficiency is causing the increase in diabetes, arthritis, many cancers, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and a host of other preventable diseases? Half of adults and 40 percent of all children in the United States are deficient in vitamin D, and nearly 100 percent of people with the diseases listed above lack the proper amounts of vitamin D in their body."
If you have always been aware of the importance of vitamins, you may already be supplementing with extra vitamin D, especially if you spend most of your time indoors or out of the sun. I've spent most of my life in an office, never being out in the sun much until recently, when I got interested in landscaping my yard and started several perennial gardens. But I never worried about my lack of sunlight or my vitamin D level because I was getting extra vitamin D every day in the calcium tablets I've taken for years to strengthen my bones and help prevent osteoporosis. I've also taken a multi-vitamin supplement for the past twenty-five years, so I was surprised to find that although my level of vitamin D came back "normal," I was at the absolute bottom of the normal scale.
My doctor said he was surprised to find that he also had a serious vitamin D deficiency and had begun to take 2500 IU daily to bring his levels up. He suggested I do the same, but my further research prompted me to up my daily amount to 4,000 IU. If that sounds like a lot, consider that Dr. Conner and many other doctors in the age-management field now believe that the current recommended allowances of from 200 IU to 600 IU (depending on your age) is not nearly enough. Dr. Conner recommends getting at least 15 to 20 minutes of sun daily in the summer, 25 to 30 minutes in the spring and fall, and 35 to 40 minutes in the winter since this sun exposure can get you up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D a day. If you can't do that, he recommends taking up to 5,000 IU a day.
NOTE: The normal range for vitamin D levels is 32.0-100.0. When I went back in 2110 for my annual checkup, my blood test revealed that my vitamin D level had gone up from 32 to 61.8, which made my doctor very happy. Then he told me I could back off now, saying that too much vitamin D could damage the kidneys. As a specialist in arthritis, I can't expect him to be as knowledgeable about vitamins as my pharmacist friend, who confirmed that one would have to take more than 40,000 IU of vitamin D to tax the kidneys, so I will continue to take a total of 5,000 IU in my combination of multivitamin, calcium, and added vitamin D3 capsules. I'd like to get a little higher on the "normal scale" for this all-important vitamin.
Vitamin D's Relationship to Swine Flu (H1N1)
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low bone mass, poor muscle strength and, some say, to increased risk of heart disease. Several doctors are now reporting that lower levels of vitamin D means a weakened immune system that could make it difficult for people to avoid the flu, and especially the H1N1 (Swine) flu.
Dr. David Williams, editor of Alternatives, one of the most respected and widely read alternative health newsletters in the world (which I've read for years), is a scientist who travels the world in search of new natural cures and treatments for today's serious health concerns. In his October 2009 newsletter, he discussed vitamin D in relation to the Swine flu saying "I'm convinced that very high levels are necessary in the face of an acute illness." He also believes that adults should be taking between 4,000 and 5,000 IU a day, and children 1,000 IU per every 25 pounds of body weight. If one contacts Swine flu, he recommends mega doses of Vitamin D (1,000 IU per pound of body weight per day for a week).
In the above-mentioned newsletter, I was linked to the following websites that you ought to check as part of your own vitamin D research:
Vitamin D Council. In particular, note the boxed content on the home page that links to reports from other doctors on the connection between vitamin D and H1N1 Swine flu.
Bio-Tech-Pharm. For therapeutic doses of vitamin D (50,000 IU).
Note that buying vitamin D from either of these sources will be MUCH less expensive than buying tablets at your local drug store.
In conclusion . . . if your doctor hasn't checked your vitamin D levels, ask him or her to do so as soon as possible. Meanwhile do some research on the Web to learn how much you and your loved ones may be at risk here. To get the latest guidelines on the use of Vitamin D3 and when too much can be toxic, do a keyword search for "high doses Vit D3 toxic."