Vitamin D deficiency and how you can avoid it

The Good Life Letter

Sunday 4th September 2011

  • Vitamin D deficiency linked with shorter life span
  • Vitamin D deficiency also proved to be a major cause of this common condition
  • Collins strikes first...again!

I hope that you have had a pleasant summer, and managed to get a bit of sun on your body and vitamin D in your system. 

There were precious few chances to do so in the UK, but we did have a couple of days where we could catch a ray or two of golden light and if you did you might just have saved your life!

A bit of a strong statement I know but it comes on the back of a new report about how Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met his maker.

It seems that he became such a recluse in his later years that he lived in virtual darkness, and was almost nocturnal in his habits.

He died at the tender age of 35 and scientists have regularly resurrected the story of his death with many gruesome stories about his final days.

It has become a case worthy of the New Tricks team - a bunch of ex-coppers who open unsolved crime cases and find the real villains...albeit in a bit of BBC fiction on a Monday night.

Well, the latest theory about Mozart's demise is that without sunlight on him the great maestro died of vitamin D deficiency.

His night time composing coupled with his Viennese location were the cause of his downfall; in common with most of central and Northern Europe, Vienna doesn't get much sunshine in the winter, and he died in December 1791 in the depths of vitamin D winter.

At the time there was no such thing as supplements (they didn't become available until the 1920s) so the only way to build up this essential vitamin was to spend time in the sun, because you make it naturally in your skin or to eat foods rich in it.

The challenge, at that time, was that there was no Marmite and few places sold 'fatty' fish like salmon or mackerel which are rich in the required vitamin, so it wasn't an easy thing to add into the diet.

So this is a lesson worth remembering from history about the importance of getting a bit of sun and keeping an eye on a healthy diet.

There is no excuse in modern times to be deficient in Vitamin D though is there?

The modern danger in vitamin D deficiency

For several years I have been tracking research and reports that link low levels of Vitamin D with the incidence of diabetes.

It has become apparent from several major studies that the evidence is now irrefutable, where levels of vitamin D drop below 30ng per decilitre of blood the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases exponentially.

In one study published in June last year Dr Krug at John Hopkins University in Baltimore found that 91% of her diabetes patients were deficient, and concluded that this vital vitamin was responsible for encouraging the pancreas to produce insulin.

Later studies have shown that it is also key in regulating how the body metabolises glucose as demonstrated recently in another US university, Tufts, who state that 'there are indications that vitamin D is of importance in glucose metabolism, and that supplementation with vitamin D may increase both insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity.'

Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing causes of illness in the Western world, and rates of diagnosis are expected to continue to rise as our diets become increasing dominated by highly processed foodstuffs.

The big problem is that diabetes is often diagnosed late in its presentation, with sufferers ignoring the early warning signs, which are;

- Frequent urination and/or unusual thirst

- Extreme hunger often with weight loss

- Extreme fatigue and irritability

- Frequent infections especially to the skin, gums or bladder.

- Blurred vision

- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal

- Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet

But in many cases the sufferer isn't aware of these changes, and often put them down to other causes.

Wouldn't it be fantastic if we were able to prove beyond doubt that a few hours in the sun, coupled with a change in the diet and maybe a healthy supplement was all we needed to ward off this hideous condition?

The problem would be that this approach denies the large pharmaceutical companies the chance to sell us Metformin, Pioglitazone and synthetic insulin along with other potent drugs, so don't expect the mainstream media to shout about it just yet.

If you do suffer from type 2 diabetes you need to talk through a change of approach with your GP, because there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. It might be that a change in your medication might be possible if you were found to be vitamin D deficient, and now there is the research to back you up.

We are all guilty of expecting our medics to sort us out, and sometimes we need to take responsibility for our own health through exercise and diet, and also by finding out our own information with which to talk through our conditions with the doctor; they are often grateful for the chance to look at alternatives.

Collins strikes first again

Just a few weeks ago I shared with you the secrets of staying happy and healthy which generated quite a mailbox from you thanking me for a simple approach to staying youthful.

It seems that the mainstream media picked up on the same message because the Daily Express ran an article from Age UK which listed the ten things you can do to enjoy a longer and healthier life...and my six were all in there!

Remember that you read it here first.

Yours as always,

 


 

 

 

 

 

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