Category Archives: Vitamin D

Vitamin D: How much is too much of a good thing? – Study

When bare skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes Vitamin D, which is needed by our bodies to absorb calcium and ensure strong, healthy bones. With bathing suit skin exposure, it only takes about 10-15 minutes of sun exposure during the summer to generate all the vitamin D your body needs for the day.  Exposure to sunlight is diminished during the long winter months. This results in many turning to supplements to get the required vitamin D, according to the University of Calgary.

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For normal, healthy adults, Health Canada recommends a total daily intake of 600 international units (IU) up to age 70, and 800 IU after age 70. Other sources, like Osteoporosis Canada, suggest adults at risk of osteoporosis, a condition characterized by bone loss, should take 400 – 2,000 IU of Vitamin D. However, some people may be taking up to 20 times the recommended daily dose to prevent or treat a variety of medical conditions that might be related to having not enough vitamin D. So, what is the correct dose? And, how much is too much? Continue reading

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Does sunscreen compromise vitamin D levels?

I am somewhat paranoid about my bike riding in the sun as I have had three skin cancer operations. Foolishly, because I am Italian and tan don’t burn, I never felt the need for sunscreen. Not one of my best decisions. As my dermatologist said, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan.” I now lather up big time before riding in the sun.

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Here is the sun rising over Lake Michigan on a morning ride.

Sunscreen can reduce the sun’s adverse effects, but there are concerns that it might inhibit the body’s production of vitamin D. In a new British Journal of Dermatology study, however, investigators recorded an increase of vitamin D in participants during a week of cloudless weather, with very high UV index, even when sunscreens were used properly and prevented sunburn.

Sunlight contains UVA and UVB radiation, and the latter is essential for vitamin D synthesis. Two sunscreens with the same SPF were compared. Sunscreen with a high UVA protection factor enabled significantly higher vitamin D synthesis than a low UVA protection factor sunscreen, likely because it allows more UVB transmission.

The findings indicate that the benefits of sunscreen use can be obtained without compromising vitamin D levels.

“Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D. Sunscreens can prevent sunburn and skin cancer, but there has been a lot of uncertainty about the effects of sunscreens on vitamin D,” said lead author Prof. Antony Young, of King’s College London. “Our study, during a week of perfect weather in Tenerife, showed that sunscreens, even when used optimally to prevent sunburn, allowed excellent vitamin D synthesis.”

You can read more about skin cancer in general and my three skin cancers here.

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Study shows magnesium optimizes vitamin D status

I don’t know a lot about vitamin D except that our body manufactures that we can get too much of it.

A randomized trial by Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers indicates that magnesium optimizes vitamin D status, raising it in people with deficient levels and lowering it in people with high levels.

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The study reported in the December issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is important because of controversial findings from ongoing research into the association of vitamin D levels with colorectal cancer and other diseases, including a recent report from the VITAL trial. It gave confirmation to a prior observational study in 2013 by the researchers that linked low magnesium levels with low vitamin D levels.

The trial also revealed something new — that magnesium had a regulating effect in people with high vitamin D levels. The research provides the first evidence that magnesium may play an important role in optimizing vitamin D levels and preventing conditions related to vitamin D levels. Continue reading

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Low Magnesium Levels Make Vitamin D Ineffective – Study

​A study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association Suggests Up to 50 Percent of U.S. Population is Magnesium Deficient

There is a caveat to the push for increased Vitamin D: Don’t forget magnesium.

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A review published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found Vitamin D can’t be metabolized without sufficient magnesium levels, meaning Vitamin D remains stored and inactive for as many as 50 percent of Americans.

“People are taking Vitamin D supplements but don’t realize how it gets metabolized. Without magnesium, Vitamin D is not really useful or safe,” says study co-author Mohammed S. Razzaque, MBBS, PhD, a professor of pathology at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Razzaque explains that consumption of Vitamin D supplements can increase a person’s calcium and phosphate levels even if they remain Vitamin D deficient. The problem is people may suffer from vascular calcification if their magnesium levels aren’t high enough to prevent the complication.

Patients with optimum magnesium levels require less Vitamin D supplementation to achieve sufficient Vitamin D levels. Magnesium also reduces osteoporosis, helping to mitigate the risk of bone fracture that can be attributed to low levels of Vitamin D, Razzaque noted.

Deficiency in either of these nutrients is reported to be associated with various disorders, including skeletal deformities, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic syndrome.

While the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 420 mg for males and 320 mg for females, the standard diet in the United States contains only about 50 percent of that amount. As much as half of the total population is estimated to be consuming a magnesium-deficient diet.

Researchers say the magnesium consumption from natural foods has decreased in the past few decades, owing to industrialized agriculture and changes in dietary habits. Magnesium status is low in populations who consume processed foods that are high in refined grains, fat, phosphate, and sugar.

“By consuming an optimal amount of magnesium, one may be able to lower the risks of Vitamin D deficiency, and reduce the dependency on Vitamin D supplements,” says Razzaque.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body after calcium, potassium, and sodium. Foods high in magnesium include almonds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, cashews, egg yolk, fish oil, flaxseed, green vegetables, milk, mushrooms, other nuts, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, sweet corn, tofu, and whole grains.

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Some rheumatoid arthritis cells respond to Vitamin D – MNT

I have written numerous times about the arthritis problems in my thumbs. I suffer from osteoarthritis.This is the most common for of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, however, is also a painful, if less common, affliction. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is recognized as the most crippling or disabling type of arthritis.

After studying immune cells taken from the joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis, scientists have found that once the disease sets in, some types of cell lose their sensitivity to vitamin D, according to Medical News Today.

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The team — which comprised researchers from University College London and the University of Birmingham, both in the United Kingdom — reports the new findings in the Journal of Autoimmunity.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that arises because the immune system attacks healthy tissue — usually the joints — by mistake, leading to painful inflammation and swelling.

The disease often affects several joints at the same time, such as the knees, hands, and wrists. It inflames the lining of the joint and eventually damages the joint itself. This can lead to long-lasting pain, problems with balance, and deformity.

Estimates suggest that approximately 1 percent of the world’s population has rheumatoid arthritis, including around 1.3 million adults in the United States. It affects women more often than men, raising the question of whether hormonal factors may be involved.
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No Weight-Loss Protection from Vitamin D – Tufts

I have said time and again that losing weight is not a good goal. Instead, work at living a  healthy life, eat intelligently and exercise regularly. Do that and you will never have to lose weight. I have been doing it since six months into writing this blog and now, eight years later, I have fluctuated about five pounds on either side of my 155 pound weight.

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This info from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter, highlights postmenopausal women, but has wider implications.

While losing weight can protect you against chronic diseases, it does come with a downside – especially for postmenopausal women: Studies have shown that obese older women who lose weight also lose lean muscle mass and bone mineral density (BMD), particularly if they are inactive, potentially putting them at greater risk of frailty and falls. Continue reading

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Two keys to strong bones … Harvard

Although bone-weakening osteoporosis is quite common among older people, it isn’t an inevitable part of aging. There’s a lot you can do to shield your bones from this disease.

While it is true that women account for most cases of osteoporosis. I think the fact that they outlive men, and the disease usually hits after late 50’s, because women outlive us, a disproportionate number of women get the disease. The International Osteoporosis Foundation says that worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men aged over 50.

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The best insurance against osteoporosis is building the highest bone density possible by your 30s and minimizing bone loss after that. But if you’re already in midlife or beyond, there is still much you can do to preserve the bone you have and perhaps even to replace lost bone. Daily weight-bearing exercise, like walking, is the best medicine. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D are two other critical strategies for keeping bones strong.

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Low Vitamin D may raise bladder cancer risk – Study

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of developing bladder cancer, according to a systematic review of seven studies led at the University of Warwick.

Five out of the seven studies linked low vitamin D levels to an increased risk of bladder cancer.

The researchers then looked at the cells that line the bladder, known as transitional epithelial cells, and found that these cells are able to activate and respond to vitamin D, which in turn can stimulate an immune response.

 

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Sources of Vitamin D

This is important because the immune system may have a role in cancer prevention by identifying abnormal cells before they develop into cancer. Lead author of the study Dr. Rosemary Bland said, “More clinical studies are required to test this association, but our work suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may prevent the cells within the bladder from stimulating an adequate response to abnormal cells. Continue reading

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Vitamin D engages longevity gene to increase lifespan – Study

I  have written about the benefits of Vitamin D a number of times. You can check some of the links at the end of this post to read further. Now comes Neuroscience News with a report on  its possible impact on increased longevity.

Research in C. elegans shows the popular supplement engages longevity genes to increase lifespan and prevent the accumulation of toxic proteins linked to many age-related diseases.

A simple Google search for “what does vitamin D do?” highlights the widely used dietary supplement’s role in regulating calcium absorption and promoting bone growth. But now it appears that vitamin D has much wider effects — at least in the nematode worm, C. elegans. Research at the Buck Institute shows that vitamin D works through genes known to influence longevity and impacts processes associated with many human age-related diseases. The study, published in Cell Reports, may explain why vitamin D deficiency has been linked to breast, colon and prostate cancer, as well as obesity, heart disease and depression.

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“Vitamin D engaged with known longevity genes – it extended median lifespan by 33 percent and slowed the aging-related misfolding of hundreds of proteins in the worm,” said Gordon Lithgow, PhD, senior author and Buck Institute professor. “Our findings provide a real connection between aging and disease and give clinicians and other researchers an opportunity to look at vitamin D in a much larger context.” Continue reading

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Vitamin D – Do you get enough?

Vitamin D is considered by some to be the rock star of the vitamin world. To read further on its benefits check out: Vitamin D and Cognitive Function, Vitamin D Deficiency May be Linked to Heart Disease, Vitamin D Deficiency May Compromise Immune Function, Calcium and Vitamin D Help Hormones Help Bones, Vitamin D Improves Mood and Blood Pressure in Women with Diabetes, Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard, What are the ABC’s of Vitamins?

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Chemical Exposure Linked to Lower Vitamin D Levels – Study

Vitamin D has been called the rock star of vitamins. For an idea about all the good things our bodies get from vitamin D, check out these posts: How good is Vitamin D for you? Infographic, Vitamin D and your body – Harvard.

Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may reduce levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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The study is the first to find an association between EDC exposure and vitamin D levels in a large group of U.S. adults. EDCs are chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that can cause adverse health effects by interfering with hormones in the body. The Society’s Scientific Statement on EDCs examined more than 1,300 studies that found links between chemical exposure and health problems, including infertility, obesity, diabetes, neurological problems and hormone-related cancers. Continue reading

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Vitamin D May Help Prevent and Treat Diseases Associated with Aging

Researchers reviewed evidence that suggests an association between vitamin D deficiency and chronic diseases associated with aging such as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Vitamin D is really the rock star of vitamins. I have written about it before:
Vitamin D May Help Prevent and Treat Diseases Associated with Aging
Low Vitamin D Predicts More Severe Strokes, Poor Health Post-stroke
Adding Vitamin D for the Winter Months – Guest Post – Kelli Jennings
How Good is Vitamin D For You? – Infographic
Link Between Vitamin D and Dementia Risk Confirmed

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Vitamin D may play a vital role in the prevention and treatment of diseases associated with aging, according to researchers at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing (MNSON). These findings were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Aging and Gerontology.

Researchers reviewed evidence that suggests an association between vitamin D deficiency and chronic diseases associated with aging such as cognitive decline, depression, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.

“Vitamin D deficiency is a common, serious medical condition that significantly affects the health and well-being of older adults,” said Sue Penckofer, PhD, RN, study author and full professor, MNSON.

Older adults are at risk for vitamin D deficiency due to diet, reduced time outdoors and poor skin absorption of the nutrient. With the number of people ages 65 and older expected to more than double from 2012 to 2060, the problem…

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Low Vitamin D Predicts More Severe Strokes, Poor Health Post-stroke

“It’s too early to draw firm conclusions from our small study, and patients should discuss the need for vitamin D supplementation with their physician,” Henninger said. “However, the results do provide the impetus for further rigorous investigations into the association of vitamin D status and stroke severity. If our findings are replicated, the next logical step may be to test whether supplementation can protect patients at high risk for stroke.”

As you can see by the posts I have written about Vitamin D previously, it is a rock star of the vitamin world:
How Good is Vitamin D For You? – Infographic
Link Between Vitamin D and Dementia Risk Confirmed
Study Suggests Association between Vitamin D Levels and Cognitive Function
Vitamin D Improves Mood and Blood Pressure in Women with Diabetes
Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

Stroke patients with low vitamin D levels were found to be more likely than those with normal vitamin D levels to suffer severe strokes and have poor health months after stroke, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2015.

Low vitamin D has been associated in past studies with neurovascular injury (damage to the major blood vessels supplying the brain, brainstem, and upper spinal cord).

“Many of the people we consider at high risk for developing stroke have low vitamin D levels. Understanding the link between stroke severity and vitamin D status will help us determine if we should treat vitamin D deficiency in these high-risk patients,” said Nils Henninger, M.D., senior study author and assistant professor of neurology and psychiatry at University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worchester.

Henninger and colleagues studied whether low blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a marker of vitamin D…

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Adding Vitamin D for the Winter Months – Guest Post – Kelli Jennings

Regular readers know that I am a nearly daily bike rider here in Chicago. As such I read some cycling blogs, too. One of my faves is Loving the Bike.

And, one of that blog’s regular contributors is Kelli Jennings, an Expert Sports Nutritionist who writes Ask the Sports Nutritionist.

Kelli is not only a world class athlete, but also a first rate nutritionist who writes clearly and accurately about her healthy and intelligent eating.

She recently wrote an item Adding Vitamin D for the Winter Months that I thought would interest you. Most importantly, you do not have to be a cyclist to benefit from Kelli’s information. I have written about Vitamin D as beneficial to every person. These ideas should benefit you, too, whether you ride a bike or not.
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If you are out on your bike most days, you likely believe you get plenty enough sunshine to make plenty enough Vitamin D.  I get it.  I’m lucky enough to live in a state that boosts more than 300 days a year of sunshine.  So, how come so many of us are Vitamin D deficient?

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If you’ve never had your Vitamin D levels checked, you may be in for a surprise.  And, if you find your motivation and mood wavering and eventually diminishing each year in the cold-weather months, you may just find out why.

In fact, it’s not only an issue for athletes, but it’s estimated that at least 25-50% of adults in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D; which is a bit ironic, as it is the only vitamin that our bodies are able to produce (with adequate sunlight).  However, it may be this ability to produce it that gives us a false sense of optimism and a lack of urgency in eating Vitamin D food sources and supplementing.  There are many reasons why we become deficient, and even more reasons to make sure you’re not.

So, what are the implications for cyclists and how can you get enough?

It’s long been known that Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium, and therefore, for bone health.  In fact, it was historically thought that the main benefit of Vitamin D was to reduce risk of rickets.  In the last two decades, however, more and more research is finding that Vitamin D’s reach goes far beyond bones.  In fact, it has significant implications on overall health and wellness, respiratory infections, athletic performance, and mood.

Here’s what every cyclist needs to know:
Vitamin D for Athletic Performance:

Reduces Inflammation: After intense exercise, elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines circulate throughout athletes’ bodies.  Vitamin D, along with omega-3 fats from fish oil, reduce the production of cytokines, while increasing the production of anti-inflammatory components.  This can improve recovery, reduce fatigue, and improve overall health.
Improves Immune Function: In studies, Vitamin D deficiency has been correlated with colds, influenza, and respiratory infections. On the other hand, adequate levels of Vitamin D trigger our immune system macrophage cells to release antibacterial peptides, which play a role in infection prevention.  If you want to stay well this Winter, get your Vitamin D.
Prevents Muscle Weakness and Fat Accumulation in Muscles:  Vitamin D deficiency is associated with elevated fat accumulation in muscles, which in turn reduces muscle strength and performance.  In at least one study, the deficiency and loss of muscle strength was demonstrated independent of muscle mass…muscle was actually displaced with fat AND weaker than it should be.  What’s more, there is evidence that supplementation of Vitamin D in deficient persons increases fast twitch muscle fibers in number and size, and reduces injuries (in athletes) and falls (in elderly).
Improves Overall Performance: Studies have shown a steady decline in performance in low-sunlight months, improved performance when athletes are exposed to UV rays (1950s), and peak performance when blood levels of 25 (OH) D are at or above 50 ng/mL.  What’s more, maximum oxygen uptake, or VO2 Max, drops in athletes in months when less UV rays reach the Earth, such as in late Fall months.
Vitamin D for Overall Wellness:
In addition to athletic performance, Vitamin D’s also important for:

Regulating Blood Pressure
Normalizing Blood Sugars and Insulin
Preventing Cancer, especially bladder cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate, and rectal cancer
Steady Moods and Prevention of Depression

Now that we know how important Vitamin D is, it’s no wonder that many experts believe the recommended amounts, and  “normal ranges” for lab values should be much higher than previously established.  But what other factors contribute to our seemingly inadequate intake and levels? Continue reading

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Link Between Vitamin D and Dementia Risk Confirmed

Dementia is one of the greatest challenges of our time, with 44 million cases worldwide – a number expected to triple by 2050 as a result of rapid population ageing. A billion people worldwide are thought to have low vitamin D levels and many older adults may experience poorer health as a result.

Vitamin D is indeed the rockstar of vitamins. I have posted on it numerous times:
How Good is Vitamin D For You – Infographic, Vitamin D Deficiency May Compromise Immune Function, Vitamin D Improves Mood and Blood Pressure in Women with Diabetes, Calcium and Vitamin D Help Hormones Help Bones, Vitamin D and Your Body – Harvard.

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Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a substantially increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in older people, according to the most robust study of its kind ever conducted.

An international team, led by Dr David Llewellyn at the University of Exeter Medical School, found that study participants who were severely Vitamin D deficient were more than twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The team studied elderly Americans who took part in the Cardiovascular Health Study. They discovered that adults in the study who were moderately deficient in vitamin D had a 53 per cent increased risk of developing dementia of any kind, and the risk increased to 125 per cent in those who were severely deficient.

Similar results were recorded for Alzheimer’s disease, with the moderately deficient group 69 per cent more likely to develop this type of dementia, jumping to a 122 per cent increased…

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Study Suggests Association between Vitamin D Levels and Cognitive Function

“With just the baseline observational data, you can’t conclude that low vitamin D causes cognitive decline. When we looked four years down the road, low vitamin D was associated with worse cognitive performance on one of the two cognitive tests used,” Wilson said. “It is interesting that there is this association and ultimately the next question is whether or not supplementing vitamin D would improve cognitive function over time.”

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Vitamin D deficiency and cognitive impairment are common in older adults, but there isn’t a lot of conclusive research into whether there’s a relationship between the two.

A new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center published online ahead of print this month in the journal of the American Geriatrics Society enhances the existing literature on the subject.

“This study provides increasing evidence that suggests there is an association between low vitamin D levels and cognitive decline over time,” said lead author Valerie Wilson, M.D., assistant professor of geriatrics at Wake Forest Baptist. “Although this study cannot establish a direct cause and effect relationship, it would have a huge public health implication if vitamin D supplementation could be shown to improve cognitive performance over time because deficiency is so common in the population.”

Wilson and colleagues were interested in the association between vitamin D levels and cognitive function over time…

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