Saturday, January 8, 2011

Vitamin D

There ARE times when being a naturopath causes a lot of mind games in my head.  Vitamin D has been ALL over the news lately.  It almost feels stupid to write a blog about something that is receiving so much attention and yet I believe Vitamin D is this important.

First of all, do this fun little activity with the people with which you live: take a globe and find the latitude line on which you live and follow it around the earth.  Compare the countries that are north or south of your latitude line.  If you are north of about 40 degrees you are in a northern latitude.  People in northern latitudes do no get sunlight - especially in winter.  More days are cloudy, and the days that aren't the sun isn't at a high enough angle and it's too cold for sunbathing anyway.  This means no Vitamin D is getting made by your body.  This is a problem.

Vitamin D regulates the protein expression for 1 out of 10 genes.  Cells that would go "rogue" by mutating or twisting their proteins and therein becoming cancerous are created.  Vitamin D facilitates and regulates immunity.  The immune system is the body agency that is in charge of taking out cancer cells.  So a Vitamin D deficiency leads to more cancer cells being potentially created, AND shorts out the agency that is eliminating cancer cells that are naturally produced in everyone.  Can the need for it be any plainer?

Everyone in my practice who I have tested have been deficient.  We are at 49 degrees latitude and well, Seattle has a little bit of a rain reputation for good reason.  You can ask your doctor to test you, but chances are really high you are low.

The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight, and it is the UV part of the spectrum in sunlight that is the key.  So, the second best source is tanning.  Last source is supplements.  I realize fully that this flies in the face of all the educational campaigns the American Cancer Society and dermatology and cosmetology groups have run over the past ten years to use your sunscreen.  If the body needs Vitamin D and it has been evolutionarily so important to life that the body has it's own way to make Vitamin D from UV exposure, does it not make logical sense that a) a deficiency of Vitamin D can be very detrimental, and b) skin cancer may not be the result of being in the sun?  I will be the first to say emphatically -- do NOT let yourself get sunburned!  Sunburn is cell damage.  Logically, enough repeated sunburning could lead to cancer.  But, you do not need sunburns to make Vitamin D!  Single BEST way to get Vitamin D is getting your skin exposed to sunlight or a tanning bed.  The more skin exposed the less time it takes.  Just be extremely careful to ramp up the amounts of time spent in the sun so the body's natural tanning response can build in the protection from burning.  If you can't get sunlight or tanning then take supplements.  I'm recommending 1,000 units of Vitamin D twice a day to my patients.  If you're chronically sick and run down, depressed in winter, or carry cancer genes then I'd go higher.

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