Vitamin D Deficiency Can Be Serious

Sunlight is the body’s main supply of Vitamin D which is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is in almost every tissue so it is important for the health of the whole body. However, 50% of people over 50 have low levels of this vitamin which is not present in many of our foods. Studies have shown that a lack of it can lead to diabetes, depression, heart disease, hip fractures, muscle spasm and multiple sclerosis.

If we don’t get enough Vitamin D our cells can multiply too fast and grow to become malignant tumours increasing risk of breast, colon, prostate, ovary, oesophagus and lymphatic cancers. Lack of vitamin D can also interfere with insulin secretion so it could affect diabetes sufferers It was found in ‘Archives of General Psychiatry’ that deficiencies lead to depression because it affects the tiny parathyroid glands behind the thyroid and they become overactive producing to much of a hormone which is often associated with depression.

Other studies at Emory University show a link with Parkinson’s with patients having more than twice the lowest levels of Vitamin D in their blood. Whilst another study showed that lack of Vitamin D could lead to hip fractures in post-menopausal women due to a deficiency making it harder to absorb calcium and maintaining bone density as well as keeping the muscles strong. It is also believed to play a role in MS, muscle pains and even some types of kidney disease. Studies show the older you get the more you need.

As important it is to get some sun, we still need to cover up and limit sun exposure of 15 to 20 minutes on unprotected skin, at least twice a week is a good idea. You can check if you are deficient in Vitamin D through a blood test just like we test for cholesterol or glucose.

Food wise best sources are salmon, mackerel, eggs, cod liver oil, and milk or dairy foods but avoid dairy if you have sinus or susceptibility to colds and flu. Supplements are also available to help you get Vitamin D into the body and are available at the health food store but this is not as good as a dose of good old sunshine.

Many scientists believe too much sun will cause skin cancer but Marianne Berwick, head of the Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention Program at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque says that: “Sunscreen is probably effective against a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, but there’s little evidence that it prevents another type called basal cell carcinoma.” There are no data showing that sunscreen protects against malignant melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

There are tests being done on how good sunscreen protects against ultraviolet light UVA and UVB, however to be safe I would limit your time in the sun and still wear protective clothing. Also confine yourself to early morning or late afternoon sun. Generally, try to balance your sun exposure and you should do alright.

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