Thursday, August 27, 2009

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

What do you do when you are out on those long and solitary training rides in the country... I listen to podcasts... Not too loud so I can't hear traffic and just some human voices to keep me sane..

One of them is Security Now! featuring Steve Gibson, normally expounding at (very) great length on various security (for your Windows system generally) issues. Always at length and in depth.

Another popular one is ABC's (that's A for Australian) Ockham's Razor. A short weekly podcast given to lectures by scientists (yes real actual scientists...) and other educated types. The point they are intended to illustrate is Ochkam's Razor, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one (that simplifies it but that suffices for a description..)

By coincidence both of these podcasts had the same or similar topic a few weeks ago. Ockams Razor had Prof. Christopher Nordin presenting a short talk entitled "Preventing osteoporosis", (listen or read here.) One of the main suggestions being that Vitamin D supplementation would be greatly beneficial (and save millions of dollars a year in hip replacements alone in elderly patients if supplementation was started in mid-life.)

Security Now! had a change of pace with Steve going over at great length what he has found out about Vitamin D and its possible role in our health. (listen or read here.)

The main point is that there appears to be an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency. Mainly due to less exposure to sun as people stay indoors and cover up more and use sun blockers when outdoors. But also because as people age it becomes much harder to get sufficient Vitamin D as your skin becomes less able to produce it using sunlight.

The second point being that there appears to be wide spread correlations between low Vitamin D and a large number of different ailments. As suggested in the Ockham's Razor podcast osteoporosis (from lack of calcium which in turn may be due to low Vitamin D); possible links to flu, Seasonal Affective Disorder, autism, various cancers etc.

Finally that the only way to get sufficient Vitamin D is through supplementation (especially as you get older). And that like treating Anemia with iron, you need to do blood testing to ensure you are not too low (more supplemenation) or too high (less.)

I have trouble with Anemia and yes, there also appears to be a link between that and Vitamin D...

There are some other interesting points concerning the type of Vitamin D to supplement with (you want D3, D2 is converted by your body to D3, and you need more of it.) And the amounts. The current suggested allowance of 400 IU appears to be far too low (possibly set from amount of Vit D in tablespoon of Cod Liver Oil, known to prevent Rickets and not cause any problems.) The conservative safe upper limit is suggested as 2000 IU.

The good news is that Vitamin D supplements are cheap. Steve quotes about $10 to get a 120 6000 IU pills. Take one every three days. Literally pennies a day..

Why don't we hear more about this? One of the problems is that Vitamin D supplements are cheap and patent free. So big pharma has little or no interest in studying the subject.. Unless they can come up with something they can get a patent on they will not spend money or doing trials or studies. So this research must be publically funded and done on a more ad hoc basis.

So, are you getting enough of Vitamin D? The answer could be important to your overall health.

Live long and prosper.... take your Iron and Vitamin D pills.


Anonymous said...

My tan lines prove that I get enough vitamin D!