Vitamin D3: Drug industry’s best kept secret?

I don’t check site stats very often, so I only recently found that my recent post on Vitamin D3 had drawn quite a few hits on the first post (in Greek) on the subject. However, most hits came from countries where people are not very likely to speak Greek, therefore I decided to rewrite it in English. And here it is:

It looks like vitamin D3 and its attributes is one of the best kept secrets of our time. Why would I say that?

Research on vitamin D3’s effects has been increased over the past 15 years. However, although results have already been produced and advisories have been issued by various Universities and health organizations all over the world, as to the consequences of vitamin D deficiency, the issue still does not seem to receive any particular attention from mainstream channels…

Could this be related to the fact that sufficient levels of vitamin D3 allegedly decrease chances of 17 different kinds of cancer to appear, by 30% to 77%, depending on the case? And also that survival prognosis increases for patients already with cancer? After all, treating a sickness is much more profitable than curing or preventing it, isn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that D3 is a cure for cancer; I’m just saying that D3, or the lack thereof, seems to be somehow related to cancer… and many more health conditions, for that matter (Vitamin D Council):

Technically not a “vitamin,” vitamin D is in a class by itself. Its metabolic product, calcitriol, is actually a secosteroid hormone that targets over 2000 genes (about 10% of the human genome) in the human body. Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.

Vitamin D3, aka “the Sun vitamin”, is produced in our skin by exposure to sunlight and UVB radiation in particular. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in populations of northern geographic areas, where they don’t get much Sun. But not only there, since the modern way of life keeps us indoors most of the time and encourages us to avoid the Sun, or pack ourselves with UV sunscreen or sunblock in the summer, for fear of skin cancer. Ever wondered how come cancer seems to be getting almost as common as the common cold? Could this be connected to our societies getting less and less exposure to sunlight?

Levels of D3 in our body can be measured by a simple blood test, called serum 25(OH)D. According to a Harvard University research, 25(OH)D levels should be  around 50 ng/mL or more:

Vitamin D status by blood levels of 25(OH)D*

Vitamin D status 25(OH)D in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)
Deficient Less than 20 ng/mL
Insufficient 20 to 29 ng/mL
Sufficient 30 ng/mL or more
Potentially harmful More than 150 ng/mL
*25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (vitamin D precursor)
Source: Holick MF. “Vitamin D Deficiency,” New England Journal of Medicine (July 19, 2007), Vol. 357, No. 3, pp. 266–80.

Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods, but it is also available as a dietary supplement. Currently suggested daily intake of Vitamin D3 is around 400IU, but that really should depend on where you live, the way you live and the amount of sunlight that you get. Most Americans and Europeans would seem to need at least 2000IU to maintain adequate levels of D3 in their blood (combined intake from food sources and dietary supplements, to make up for limited direct exposure to sunlight). People living further north (say, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Canada, etc) may even need 8000 or 10000 IU!

Here are some more external links:

Needless to say, medical advice should be obtained from your doctor before you start taking any food supplements, particularly if you’re pregnant of if you’re facing any health challenge. Also beware of D3 supplements containing Vitamin A and keep in mind that, along with serum 25(OH)D levels, you may also want to monitor PTH (Parathyroid Hormone) and Calcium

Stratos Laspas
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Stratos Laspas

O Στράτος Λάσπας είναι Certified Eating Psychology & Mind-Body Nutrtition Coach. Η προσωπική συμβουλευτική υποστήριξη στην ψυχολογία της διατροφής (Eating Psychology Coaching) είναι μια συναρπαστική και καινοτόμος προσέγγιση που αντιμετωπίζει με αποτελεσματικότητα θέματα βάρους, αδηφαγίας (binge eating), υπερφαγίας (overeating), συναισθηματικής υπερφαγίας (emotional eating), προκλήσεις σε σχέση με την προσωπική εικόνα που έχουμε για το σώμα μας (body image), τις αιώνιες, ατελείωτες και επαναλαμβανόμενες δίαιτες (yo-yo dieting), καθώς και ποικιλία ζητημάτων υγείας και σωματικών συμπτωμάτων που σχετίζονται με τη διατροφή, όπως η λειτουργία της πέψης, η αίσθηση κόπωσης, η πεσμένη ή ευμετάβλητη διάθεση, η λειτουργία του ανοσοποιητικού και άλλα.

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