What does vitamin D do?

The Good Life Letter 
31st October 2010

  • Find out why a medical expert was SACKED
    for being right
  • Sensational news, the deep fried Mars bar is
    not the cause of a major Scottish health
  • Find out what does vitamin D do and how it can make you HAPPIER and HEALTHIER

On Friday I wrote about how the change in our exposure
to sunshine over the winter can lead to real problems for
our mental well being. (Read it here in case you missed it:)

The power of the golden orb doesn't end with its effect on
the hypothalamus (which regulates our mood and
appetite), there is growing evidence that it has a far
impact on our physical health.

A Medical Research Council funded study says that we are
at greater risk of arthritis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes
if we don't get ENOUGH sunshine.

The Oxford University scientists who did the research
discovered that the amount of sunshine we are subjected
to directly affects the levels of vitamin D in our bodies.

This, in turn, has an influence on 229 genes that are
linked to these serious conditions.

The way our bodies produce vitamin D due to exposure to
the sun has long been understood.

The big problem for the medical profession has always
been making sure we get the RIGHT amount of sunlight.

Back in 2007 I told you about one of the world's principle
vitamin D researchers - Dr. Michael Holick.
You may have heard of this guy. He used to be Professor
of Dermatology at the Boston University School of
Until he was kicked out for his controversial views on
vitamin D...
He claimed we were missing out on essential vitamin D by
staying out of the sun. Something which he believes
causes thousands of deaths each year.
'People don't realise that 90% - 95% of your vitamin D
requirement comes from exposure from sunlight,' he told
the BBC. 
'And if you always wear sun block and never have direct
sun exposure you will become vitamin D deficient, and at
high risk of developing many serious chronic diseases.'
By this he only meant 5 minutes of exposure three or four
times a week. 
He was actually SACKED for this advice........ I think he
now has grounds for wrongful dismissal.

The Scottish diet is not to blame

Where you live has a big impact on your health.

A bit obvious I know because there are obvious links to
standards of healthcare, levels of pollution and so on. But
in this case I'm talking purely about the sun.

The farther north you travel from the equator, then the
higher the incidence of multiple sclerosis becomes.

Scotland has the highest percentage of MS sufferers in the
world. This is a disease which is unknown in Africa.

What the results of the Oxford University study begins to
show, is that links can be now be made to levels of
sunshine rather than genetic risk factors.

Naturally, diet also has to be a consideration - so the
much talked of deep fried Mars bar cannot escape
criticism...... but at least it is a lesser suspect in this case!

Very few foodstuffs contain vitamin D, those that do
include oily fish (mackerel, sardines & salmon), beef liver
and eggs - as long as they feature in our diet. Vegans in
particular are at risk of deficiency, and need to plan their
diet carefully.

Of course, the best source is the golden globe in the sky.

Unfortunately, increasing levels of this vitamin cannot
cure those who already suffer from the associated serious
conditions such as MS, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer,
diabetes and dementia. However, the study concludes that
supplements should be used to help in preventative

The Food Standards Agency says that as well as getting a
"little" sun, pregnant women and older people might
benefit from vitamin D supplements.

This is already part of the public health programme in
France where supplements are given alongside folic acid
for pregnant women.

A cautionary tale

Supplements on their own are not the answer.

Simply taking huge doses of over-the-counter vitamin D
pills doesn't necessarily make you healthier - in fact it can
put you at risk of other problems.

The issue is that excess vitamin D depletes vitamin A. The
good news is that you would need to take onboard a huge
amount of vitamin D for this to occur.

If you do decide to increase your intake levels with
supplements seek out the D3 version rather than the less
effective D2. However, vegetarians and vegans need to
take care as vitamin D is commonly sourced from fish
livers, or sheep lanolin.

The Scottish government is beginning a process of
consultation about providing supplements to children,
heavily influenced by a local campaign - Shine On

This is the work of 15 year old Ryan McLaughlin whose
mum is one of the 10,500 MS sufferers in Scotland - so
he has first hand experience of the disease and its effects.

In his You Tube video Ryan says "If we do nothing there
will be another 2,000 sufferers by the year 2020".

The Oxford University study results show that an increase
in exposure to the sun, or an improvement in dietary
vitamin D will have a major impact on this risk.

That's not too much to achieve is it?





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