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Vitamin D Deficiency Is A World-Wide Epidemic. Are You Vitamin D Deficient?

Michael Holick, MD, Phd, who is one of the world's leading vitamin D researchers, has written a book titled The Vitamin D Solution. I highly recommend this book. The information about vitamin D is so important and so compelling that most people who read it are motivated to take action.

Dr. Holick made the following important statement, "Vitamin D is not only the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, but it is also the most common medical condition, affecting at least one billion people." An excerpt from Dr. Holick's book appeared in the September 2010 issue of the Life Extension Magazine.

Vitamin D is made in our body when natural sunlight strikes our skin. But, most people do not get enough sun exposure. That's why I encourage people to take a daily vitamin D supplement. I recommend that adults take 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, it should be taken at the largest meal of the day to enhance absorption.

Vitamin D was discovered in 1922 when it was found to prevent rickets in dogs. Because it was the fourth vitamin to be discovered (after vitamins A, B and C) it was named vitamin D. For over half a century, scientists thought vitamin D’s only function was to enhance calcium absorption and help prevent bone diseases like rickets and osteoporosis.

More recently, scientists have discovered that virtually all cells in the body have vitamin D receptors. In addition to bone health, we now know that optimal vitamin D levels are important for the prevention of heart disease, cancer, depression, cognitive decline and dementia. Also, vitamin D is one of the most critical factors for a healthy immune system and healthy pregnancies.

Vitamin D’s importance for a strong immune system has lead scientists to the realization that the annual increase in winter colds and flu is basically a vitamin D deficiency disease. Our primary source of vitamin D is direct exposure of sunlight on our skin. In the winter months, the sun’s rays are less direct and cold temperatures cause people to stay indoors more and wear clothing that prevents sunlight striking the skin.

What is the “optimal” vitamin D level? The accepted method of determining vitamin D is to measure blood levels of 25 hydroxy vitamin D. Many laboratories list 30 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) and above as being optimal but I think this is wrong. The world’s leading vitamin D researchers uniformly agree that optimal vitamin D levels should be between 50-70 ng/ml. The only way to really know your vitamin D status is to get yourself tested. However, my general recommendation for adults is 5,000 IU/day.

THE VITAMIN D COUNCIL'S RECOMMENDED 25 HYDROXY VITAMIN D LEVELS:

Deficient: Below 50 ng/ml

Optimal: 50-70 ng/ml

Treating Cancers & Heart Disease: 70-100 ng/ml

Excess: Over 100 ng/ml

Did you know there are two forms of vitamin D? Vitamin D2, which is synthetic, is not the form of vitamin D that is produced in the body. Vitamin D3 is natural vitamin D, which is identical to the vitamin D our body makes. Many physicians write prescriptions which instruct patients to take 50,000 IU of vitamin D2 once weekly. However, I think it is better to take the active D3 at a dose of 5,000 IU once daily.

According to a recent study, vitamin D3 is much better absorbed, making it approximately 87% more effective in raising and maintaining blood levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D3 also stays in the body 2 to 3 times longer than an equivalent amount of vitamin D2.

Vitamin C Boosts Immunity: Helps Prevent Colds & Flu

Ingesting vitamin C several times a day is one of the most effective ways to boost your immune system. Unfortunately, many people do not consume enough vitamin C to realize its vast array of health benefits. Most adults incorrectly assume that the government recommended RDA of 75-90 mg of vitamin C is an optimal daily dose. This RDA or “recommended dietary allowance” is only enough to prevent vitamin-deficiency disease states such as scurvy—but not nearly enough to provide optimal support for your immune system.

Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Linus Pauling was among the first to recognize the importance of high-dose vitamin C supplementation more than 30 years ago. Since then, scientists have amassed impressive evidence supporting the numerous benefits of high-dose vitamin C.

Vitamin C has anti-viral activity in the body, so it helps protect against winter colds and the flu. When the body is under stress (physical and/or emotional), vitamin C levels get depleted very quickly. Hence, much higher doses of vitamin C are required to support the immune system during times of stress.

Numerous studies have shown that vitamin C can dramatically reduce infection time as well as boost one’s resistance to infections. For example, studies of vitamin C supplementation in military personnel and other subjects living in close quarters have shown that pneumonia occurred a remarkable 80-100% less often in subjects taking vitamin C than in those who did not supplement with the vitamin.

In developing countries children are highly vulnerable to developing life-threatening infections. In this at-risk population, daily supplementation with up to 1000 mg of vitamin C, along with the mineral zinc, greatly reduced the likelihood of developing potentially deadly pneumonia, malaria, and infection-related diarrhea. In addition, supplementation with vitamin C improved outcomes even when infections had already occurred. This is just one of many studies reporting that vitamin C helps strengthen children’s resistance against infectious diseases. Based on these findings, I believe it is vital that young children also receive appropriate supplementation with vitamin C.

I recommend that adults take 1,000 mg of vitamin C two or three times daily. For children I recommend from 250 mg to 500 mg of vitamin C two or three times daily.

For more information, the Life Extension Foundation has a good article that I recommend reading titled: Newly Discovered Health Benefits of Vitamin C.

Omega-3 Fish Oils: Critical Essential Nutrients, Commonly Deficient

Omega-3 fish oils are the most serious and most common nutritional deficiency in America (possibly tied with vitamin D deficiency). And, the discovery of omega-3 fish oils has been called the greatest nutritional discovery since vitamins. I want to summarize the health benefits of omega-3 fish oils and tell the story of how they were discovered.

In 1968 a Danish medical doctor named Jorn Dyerberg learned that Greenland Eskimos or Inuits as they are called today, had very low rates of heart disease. This puzzled Dr. Dyerberg because these Eskimos consumed one of the highest fat-content diets in the world. Their diet consisted mainly of meat and blubber from seals, whales and walrus. And, this was at a time when rates of cardiovascular disease rates were skyrocketing and high-fat diets were thought to be the major cause of heart disease.

Dr. Dyerberg organized a team of scientists and went to Greenland to try and learn why a group of people who consumed an extremely high-fat diet had rates of heart disease that was about 1/10th the rate of U.S. heart disease. Dyerberg's team discovered that although the Eskimos consumed an enormous amount of fat, it was the type of dietary fat that made the difference. The Greenland Eskimo diet contained very high amounts of what are now called the omega-3 fish oils.

The names of the primary omega-3 fish oils (also called marine lipids) are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fats are part of every cell wall and cellular membrane throughout the body and they participate in and regulate a vast amount of biochemistry in our bodies.

How's this for omega-3 fish oil benefits: Reduce your risk of dying from sudden death by 45% and reduce your risk of sudden cardiac death by 90%. Lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by 50%(3). EPA and DHA are powerful anti-inflammatory agents, they lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots, have anti-depressant action and they play critical roles in regulating our immune system.

Quality is important when it comes to fish oil products. The fish oils are unstable, so they can easily oxidize and become rancid during processing. Also, toxins in the ocean accumulate in the fish. Hence, the extraction and processing of fish oils must be done carefully. Two brands that I trust and recommend are Nordic Naturals and the Life Extension Foundation. I recommend that adults take from 2 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA daily. Kids should take omega-3 fish oils supplements too and Nordic Naturals has lemon-flavored fish oil supplements that kids love.

In 2007, Dr. Dyerberg was honored by the American Heart Association in “Recognition of Outstanding Scientific Contribution for the Advancement of Heart Health Worldwide., and in 2008, was honored by the American Dietetic Association Foundation’ for his groundbreaking discovery.

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