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We Are Sunshine

Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked, Health Authorities Urge

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Vitamin D experts are now calling for people to get their vitamin D blood levels checked annually — an important step in realizing that vitamin D status cannot be measured through dietary intake.

The Vitamin D Council — a California group whose charge is to increase awareness of the many diseases now associated with deficiency of “the sunshine vitamin” — recommends optimal vitamin D blood levels of 50 ng/mL (125 nmol/L). To measure this, a “calcidiol” test can be done inexpensively whenever you have blood drawn.

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Experts say you should insist to see the actual levels from your “calcidiol test” — not just have a doctor tell you whether you passed or not. Many doctors don’t yet recognize the newer higher recommendations for vitamin D sufficiency, which more closely mimic vitamin D levels attained by outdoor workers.

UVB exposure to the skin is the body’s natural and most abundant source of vitamin D, accounting for an estimated 90 percent of vitamin D production.

An estimated 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of vitamin D

Most Americans and almost all Canadians are at risk for vitamin D deficiency in the winter, when sunshine is too weak to make any vitamin D naturally.

The Vitamin D Council believes this widespread vitamin D deficiency could be a liability for American doctors who have advised many patients to stay out of the sun.

“What about American physicians? They are apparently waiting for the American trial lawyers to smell a tort,” Dr. John Cannell, Vitamin D Council founder, wrote in a recent newsletter. “After all, the case is quite simple. Doctor, did you advise Mrs. Jones to avoid the sun?

“Doctor, did you tell her the sun is the source of 90% of circulating stores of vitamin D? Doctor, did you prescribe vitamin D to make up for what the sun would not be making? Doctor, did you measure her vitamin D levels? So you had no way of knowing if your sun-avoidance advice resulted in vitamin D deficiency? Doctor, do you know our expert tested her vitamin D level and it was less than 20? Doctor, did you tell her about any of the studies indicating vitamin D deficiency causes cancer?

“Doctor, did you know Mrs. Jones has terminal breast cancer and will be leaving behind a loving husband and two young children?”

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