Currently viewing the tag: "vitamin D"


The-Bright-Sun-Blue-Sky-Clouds (Copy)I am one lucky mother…I love the sun, and I live in Southern California. But like many people, believe it or not, I sometimes neglect my sun needs. Nothing is crazier, I know, when so many regions are sun-deprived for much of the year. It’s the equivalent of “starving children…” in the guilt-trip-you-for-not-doing-something-you’re-supposed-to-category. But, believe me, we pay the price for our negligence.

I had been feeling not so great recently, and frankly I was perplexed. I had been working out regularly; in fact, it was first time in long time I have been completely injury-free. Shoulders felt good. Low back good…I was eating well. Lots of vegetables; good portions. Juicing. Quit coffee, so sleeping much better than…ugh months. On purpose professionally and within my dharma…but somehow, I was not feeling “myself”. I was starting to wonder if this aging thing really has something to it. I have never been an ageist. I just believe that you can be in the best shape of your life at any age. I really do. But I was tired, a little blue, and skin as white as some new veneers. I said to myself, “This year, I am going to channel Apollo.” I will commit to daily sun for the entire summer—beach, canyons, festivals, everything, bikes, stilts, pogo sticks, you name it. No more Mr. Pasty guy. Not this year.

Before

So I started last week at the local swimming pool with my kids. I actually wore sunscreen, cos my white-a** skin was extremely vulnerable. I felt immediately different. That night I had that good ol’ familiar sun-glow; you know the one, that buzz around your entire sun-exposed body. And I had a sort of refreshing tiredness, if you know what I mean. Then Sunday, Fathers Day, I took my girls to the beach. It was overcast, but hot and humid. I used sunscreen again. We sat in the sun for about two hours, which was perfect. While I got a teeny bit red (I’m not worried about it) that night, I felt really good—that, “I just did something real nice for my body,” good.

Then this week, I hit the hiking trail — evening hikes, diminishing sun, cooler temps — and really got my coconut stick legs some exposure. In exactly one week that saw me in the sun five of seven days, I already notice the difference. My energy levels have been boosted significantly, so both for physical exertion, and for mental work that comprises the bulk of what I do. Both are different in need and stamina; in other words, just because you have energy to go to the gym, doesn’t mean you have it to sit down and do your taxes for five hours, and vice versa, of course. My sleep has been deep and satisfying, which has me the most grateful because that area has been real wacky for some time. My mood is uplifted, light and enthusiastic, and I look ten years younger (no seriously…stop).

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And none of this is surprising to me. Like everybody, I sometimes forget how vital sufficient sun exposure is to health and well being, and thus how vital to the way I feel. It’s so easy to forget, especially since I take 5000 IU vitamin D every day. Supplementing is not the same as the real thing. Supplementing is only to fill in the gaps—the bulk of any nutrient must come from its source (write that down). Vitamin D, as we have seen over the last decade and more, is involved in so many processes that it truly is the wonder vitamin. Being sufficient in vitamin D is as empowering as being deficient is debilitating. From increased cancer risk, to immune dysfunction, to increased blood pressure, a lack of sufficient quantities of vitamin D3 in your blood leaves you susceptible to disease, while optimal levels can make you feel and operate at you highest.

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Duh to me…but I am happy to remember the basics when I stop feeling quite right (we all oscillate through high and low health constantly, within our own unique yet variable physiological range). That’s all it takes. Nobody has to feel the need for perfection—it’s up-and-down over and over again—just remain mindful. I challenge any fellow well-meaning hermits to get in the sun daily this summer, even if just for a walk on your lunch break. Eat lunch outside, do your paperwork in the park, drop beats in the heat—whatever you have to do to get your sun in this year. Me…I’ll be at the beach.

Wow!  More out of the vitamin-D-has-greater-importance-than-we-ever-thought camp: Low vitamin D levels in the blood lead to unhealthy blood vessels.  You heard right, new research shows a link between vitamin D concentrations and cardiovascular health.

A study conducted by researchers from the Emory/Georgia Tech Predictive Health Institute showed that participants with the lowest D levels had an increased blood pressure, and thus increased risk of heart disease and stroke.  Even more amazing is that when the participants increased their blood levels of vitamin D, their blood pressure went down.  Amazing

Here’s how they found out: The 554 participants in the study were Emory or Georgia Tech employees with an average age of 47 and in general good health.  Blood levels of vitamin D were measured.  The average concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (a stable form of the vitamin reflecting diet as well as that produced in the skin) in participants’ blood was 31.8 nanograms per milliliter.  In this group, 14% had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels considered deficient (less than 20 nanograms per milliliter), and 33% had levels considered insufficient (less than 30 nanograms per milliliter).

Researchers monitored the blood vessels’ ability to relax by using a blood pressure cuff.  To allow blood to flow back into the arm, blood vessels must relax and enlarge–a change measured by ultrasound.  The researchers also examined the resistance to blood flow imposed by the arteries.

After controlling for factors like age, weight and cholesterol, people with lower vitamin D levels still had stiffer arteries and impaired vascular function.  Lead author Ibhar Al Mheid, MD, a cardiovascular researcher at Emory University School of Medicine said,

“We found that people with vitamin D deficiency had vascular dysfunction comparable to those with diabetes or hypertension.”

The researchers believe that vitamin D acts to strengthen the endothelial cells and muscles that surround blood vessels.  Al Mheid also believes that it could be reducing levels of angiotensin, a hormone that drives increased blood pressure, or regulating inflammation.  Wow, I wonder what these results mean for the overuse of statins?

But again, the best part: Those study participants with low blood vitamin D levels that then increased their concentrations by either supplementing or spending more time in the sun, were rechecked after six months and showed improvement to their vascular health measures and lowered their blood pressure.  Booyah!  Forty-two participants with vitamin D insufficiency whose levels later went back to normal had an average drop in blood pressure of 4.6 mmHg.  The study’s findings were reported at this year’s annual American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.

What can I say other than “heck yes!“  Why should I care about these results?  Because it makes the universe more understandable to me.  I know with certainty that human health operates within universal laws.  I know that the increased incidence of high blood pressure today is not due to a lack of statin medication.  I also know that health is not random (genetics), and that vitamin D insufficiency is epidemic in North America.  Furthermore, it is not lost on me that blood vitamin D levels are low in many people at a time when dermatologists have scared people out of the sunshine and into big hats and SPF5000.

Here is just some more evidence that sun energy is essential to human health.  Everybody needs unprotected sun exposure on a daily basis, period.  Supplementation helps, but nothing–and I mean nothing–beats the healing energy of our life-giving sun.

Aw yeh…looks like vitamin D proponents might be right: higher blood concentrations of the sun-vitamin dramatically cut the risk of several major diseases, including breast cancer.  Booyah!  A recent study shows that adults need 4,000-8,000 IU per day to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases–breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.

Some in the scientific community had warned of toxicity related to increased levels of vitamin D in the blood, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) even noted there were preliminary signals that there might be some harms associated with consuming high levels of vitamin D daily, even at amounts under the recommended upper safe limit.  But the IOM since last year has deemed 4,000 IU a day safe, a much lower level than the 10,000 IUs they consider to be at the lowest level of potential risk.

The study looked at several thousand people who took supplements ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 IU per day.  The volunteers also underwent blood tests to determinevitamin D metabolite levels circulating in their blood.  Researchers were surprised by what they found, that the levels required to ward of illnesses like cancer were so much higher than the 400 IU a day needed to vanquish rickets in the 20th century.

Well I, of course, love these results because I’m a BIG proponent of vitamin D supplementation.  Studies have uncovered that many North Americans are deficient in this essential life-giving nutrient.  Chalk it up to our fear of melanoma–thanks dermatologists.  Either way, this study is good evidence that supplementing is safe and effective at warding off chronic illnesses.  Give the body what it needs and it will do what it’s supposed to do.  Guaranteed.


Health care trumps sick care again, but this time on the road. That’s right, health care traveled to sick care’s arena–the illness center–and beat sick care at its own game. Booyah!

A recent Japanese study showed that children taking 1,200 IU of vitamin D supplements daily during the winter and early spring helped prevent seasonal flu and asthma attacks. A timely victory in my analysis of true health care versus government-championed sick care.

Sick care pushes the seasonal flu shot, which my regular readers might recall has been fingered by experts as inconclusive in its effectiveness. Proponents of health care, on the other hand, myself included, really push upping the vitamin D intake. I think 1,200 IU is pretty good for children, and most adults need much more, like 5,000 IU per day. As we become more aware of the pervasiveness of vitamin D insufficiency in all Americans, including children, getting adequate sunlight and supplementing becomes paramount.

The study conducted at Jikei University School of Medicine, Tokyo showed that children taking the vitamin D supplements were almost half as likely as catching the flu as those taking placebo. And as an added benefit, children taking vitamin D were almost six times less likely to suffer an asthma attack. Holy inhalers! That’s quite a hit to pharmaceutical manufacturers. You mean, that a simple $8 bottle of vitamin D can prevent what a $30.00-$60.00 Albuterol inhaler treats. Well bless my Obamacare–I wonder if vitamin D is covered on the plan.

According to Dr. Adit Ginde, of University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health: “This is the first time a study has been done that rigorously shows that vitamin D supplementation can reduce a type of influenza in a dedicated clinical trial.” Ginde and colleagues published a study a year ago showing that asthmatics with lower vitamin D levels were at five times the risk for colds and flu.

Take that, sick care. Another victory in the arena of truth in health. I’ll keep ‘em coming.



I just happened to see this commercial on T.V. today for an osteoporosis drug being plugged by The Flying Nun. I have to say, it got me a little PO’d. Here’s why: The opening line is a blatant distortion of the truth, and with a little investigation, one will find that Ms. Sally Field isn’t being exactly honest about her story, either. But, distortions are precisely what these commercials are geared for…to sell more drugs.“I always thought calcium and vitamin D and exercise would keep my bones healthy, but I got osteoporosis anyway, so my doctor started me on once a month Boniva…,” is how the piece begins. Hmm. As far as I was taught, that’s exactly what women must do to prevent osteoporosis. Was there something I missed in doctor school?

Let me do some fact checking, I thought.Sally Field, also known as Norma Rae, was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2005. She was, according to her own accounts, a regular exerciser. But did she really keep up with the nutritional requirements necessary to prevent the bone-thinning disease? Not according to this article on WebMD, which discloses that her vitamin D levels were, in fact, LOW!!! Thank you, I thought so.When I saw the commercial, the first thing coming to mind was that people who don’t know better are going to think that their current preventive routine of good diet and exercise isn’t enough. And in truth, if you are missing a step—women or men—you aren’t doing enough. You must take daily calcium (1,000 mg for women under 50, and 1,200 mg thereafter), daily vitamin D (1,000 mg) and do weight bearing exercises regularly (so cardio alone is not enough, ladies). Asian and Caucasian women are at the highest risk, but don’t be fooled my African American and Hispanic sisters, you can get osteoporosis, too. Pharmaceutical companies want you to question what you are doing currently, so that you will go ask your doctor if you need Boniva (way too many people asking their doctors for drugs by name these days). That leads to the greatest amount of drug sales. It’s called DTC (direct-to-consumer) marketing, and we know it works. Pharmaceutical sales have skyrocketed since the practice started. From Source Watch:

A November 2006 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office report noted that “studies we reviewed found that increases in DTC advertising have contributed to overall increases in spending on both the advertised drug itself and on other drugs that treat the same conditions. For example, one study of 64 drugs found a median increase in sales of $2.20 for every $1 spent on DTC advertising. Consumer surveys suggest that DTC advertising increases utilization of drugs by prompting some consumers to request the advertised drugs from their physicians, who studies find are generally responsive to these requests. The surveys we reviewed found that between 2 and 7 percent of consumers who saw DTC advertising requested and ultimately received a prescription for the advertised drug.”

And the use of celebrities, and now celebrity doctors, increases the likelihood that consumers pay attention to a drug campaign; thus the use of Gidget in GlaxoSmithKline’s Boniva commercials.Now you might say, “Isn’t DTC better for public health, to become better aware of illnesses and to catch them early?” To that I’d say, “Catching illness early is always better than catching it late, but prevention is even better. And best of all is living a lifestyle that promotes and maintains good health. That is done by getting proper nutrition, hydration, rest, exercise and bodywork, not by taking drugs.”Taking drugs is useful as a last line of defense. But the pharmaceutical industry, and let’s face it, the entire medical paradigm, pushes drug use as a first line of defense. Oh, they’ll pay lip service to healthy behaviors, but that’s all they’re doing. Nobody is paying Jack LaLane big bucks to sell gym memberships (yes, I know, but the juicers are his).So I appreciate Nora Walker’s dedication to fighting osteoporosis. But being dishonest about her experience to make the story sound better and get people to ask their doctors about Boniva, a post-menopausal osteoporosis drug, isn’t helping the public health at all. It’s simply perpetuating an already faulty paradigm that has people trying to maintain their health from the outside in, instead of the inside out, the way it’s supposed to be.

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