28 May 2014

Is Vitamin D magic in a capsule?

| Michelle Kirby
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Do you have enough Vitamin D for winter, optimal fertility, healthy mood and healthy cholesterol?

Vitamin D accumulates and needs regular topping up from sun exposure. Here in Canberra we are prone to spending a lot of time indoors while we’re at work. When we do venture outside we have sun block on so how are we going to top up the Vitamin D safely?

In late Autumn and winter if possible it’s good to get at least ten minutes daily sun exposure to the arms, or legs if you’re game! Then you need an efficient liver to convert it into a usable form where it’s sent to the kidneys for final conversion and use in our bodies.

If you haven’t had a blood test for a year, now would be the time to check your Vitamin D levels to see what you have left after summer. If you want optimal rather than poor or average immune health, ideally it should be >100 nmol/L. If it’s less than that your Naturopath will be able to prescribe the right amount to take to get it back up. If you don’t take the enough it can take months to replenish your Vitamin D stores. By then winter will be over!

Vitamin D doesn’t just help bone health. If your levels are low your anti microbial, anti-inflammatory and immuno modulatory actions won’t be as effective. This can leave you more susceptible to influenza and respiratory infections. Not something you want at this time of the year. Already we’re seeing patients who have had severe infections leading to bronchitis and coughs.

Accumulating evidence in many medical journals shows the important of optimal Vitamin D levels >100 for all aspects of fertility. IVF outcomes are better, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and Endometriosis are influenced positively. There are also favourable benefits for men’s fertility and testosterone levels.

75% of Canberra Wellness Centre patients with fertility issues have low Vitamin D levels. The IVF specialist we refer to also notices the same correlation.

Very Low Vitamin D < 25 can significantly increase inflammatory immune markers according to a medical study (in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism). It was found that the individuals who were Vitamin D deficient had many more inflammatory markers than there peers who were not deficient > 75. The results suggested that there could be an increase in susceptibility to conditions like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cognitive dysfunction in people who are Vitamin D deficient. Such a simple test and supplement to take for preventive health.

Another study shows that post menopausal women who took calcium and Vitamin D for 2 years had lower LDL (bad) cholesterol than women who didn’t take the supplements. This is very encouraging for women who are otherwise healthy and don’t want to take statins to lower cholesterol.

It is well known that low Vitamin D levels are found in those who die from colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. This is a very good reason to get tested annually, especially if you have a history of these cancers in your family.

We all hear so much about protecting ourselves from cardiovascular disease and heart attack risk. Sure, being fit, heaving a healthy weight and eating nutritious food makes a big difference. Did you know that low levels of Vitamin D can contribute to your heart health by having an influence on high blood pressure and diabetes?

Finally, because Vitamin D capsules are fat soluble they can go rancid. You definitely don’t want to take them then. Make sure to buy top quality supplements that are stored away from heat and are guaranteed to contain the dosage listed to their use by date.

Michelle Kirby is a Naturopath and Energy Restoration Specialist at the Canberra Wellness Centre.

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Any decent medical journal will say that vitamins in pill form are only useful if you have a natural deficiency and even then its doubtful that there is a benefit. I think praying to an imaginary god would be just as useful.

I recall reading somewhere (don’t be a peanut and ask for sources … but it was credible … probably the I F**king Love Science feed on Facebook, but possibly the NPR feed) that sunlight is far preferable to vitamin D pills because it has other indirect but significant benefits.
But pills are better than nothing.

I like the NHS’s view, which is that once you tick off this list:

quitting smoking
taking plenty of exercise
eating a healthy diet
trying to maintain a healthy weight
moderating your consumption of alcohol

Then you can start worrying about vitamin d.

patrick_keogh9:56 am 29 May 14

Or go for a walk or cycle a couple of times a week. For a peer reviewed study in a reputable journal, see http://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(13)70165-7/abstract.

Their answer to the question of whether Vitamin D is magic in a capsule is “No”.

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