Dr. Reese’s Bits and Pieces
August 2017 Newsletter
It can’t be August already! I’m sure every school kid and parent is saying that same thing either out loud or to themselves. Time flies when you are having fun!
One of the many great things about summer is the access to free vitamin D. Although vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin, there is no vitamin D in sunlight. The ultraviolet B rays in the sun combines with the cholesterol in your skin to be converted into vitamin D in your liver. The lighter your skin, the faster this conversion happens. The tanner or darker your skin, the slower this happens.
For most people, if you are laying out in the summer sun in your bathing suit for 20-30 minutes, your body makes about 8,000-10,000 IU’s of vitamin D. The thing you don’t want to do is sunburn your skin so you need to start slowly with sun exposure. There are skin types that never tan so you’ll need small doses of the sun each time but will still make lots of vitamin D.
In a recent Logical Health Alternatives newsletter, Dr. Pescatore, MD sites several studies that show the amazing health benefits of having normal levels of vitamin D:
By comparing the people who were struck by cardiovascular disease and those who weren’t, the researchers were able to determine that there was a strong association between vitamin D levels and heart risk… In fact, for every 10 ng/mL increase in blood levels of vitamin D, risk of suffering a cardiovascular disease event dropped by 10 percent, and risk of cardiovascular disease death plummeted 12 percent.
A brand new study out of France found that in people over the age of 65, low levels of vitamin D were associated with faster cognitive decline. And vitamin D deficiency increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease by three-fold.
Another huge meta-analysis of 47 different studies found that vitamin D not only helps stem the progression of multiple sclerosis, but also helps relieve some of the hallmark symptoms of the disease. Researchers noted that patients MS patients treated with vitamin D showed improvements in the brain lesions associated with the disease. Patients taking vitamin D also has improved walking ability.
In fact, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine found that subjects vitamin D levels above 40 had a 67 percent lower risk of cancer than those with lower levels.
A new study published in the Journal of Endocrinology found that vitamin D helps treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Another new study noted that vitamin D plays a role in the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle (called the circadian rhythm), and that vitamin D levels are inversely associated with pain. The researchers concluded that vitamin D “may have a therapeutic role, not only in sleep disorders but also in the prevention and treatment of chronic pain conditions.”
Speaking of pain, a recent study out of Finland found that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of chronic headache.
And another new study published a few months ago in the British Medical Journal shows that vitamin D acts as a sort of “natural antibiotic” against infections, as well as helping to prevent viruses like colds and the flu. The researchers concluded “This major collaborative research effort has yielded the first definitive evidence that vitamin D really does protect against respiratory infections. (http://drpescatore.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/07.2017-LHAissue-web.pdf)
Best Flu Shot
This is part of the reason we have a “flu season” every winter because our vitamin D levels drop since the angle of the sun can’t deliver ultraviolet B rays to our skin that is also mostly covered all winter long. The best flu shot is a dose of 8-10 thousand IU’s of vitamin D daily for adults all winter long. (children about half that amount).
Test Don’t Guess
It should be clear from the above information that vitamin D is vital to your health. The sad part is that rarely do I see it show up on blood tests I get from medical doctors. The oncologists are the worst and seem to never test it yet it is vital in the protection of your body from cancer.
There are some false beliefs being circulated that it’s easy to get your needed vitamin D dose from intermittent sun exposure. I’ve heard it said that just walking to and from your car to home or office is plenty of sun exposure. I know that is not true for most of you.
The only way to know if you have enough vitamin D3 in your body is with a blood test. Time in the sun or the deepness of your tan is not a good indicator since some people have a hard time making vitamin D, period. I’m one of them. After a trip to Mexico one summer, I was 10 shades darker than normal but my blood revealed a vitamin D level under 40. The ideal healthy blood range of D3 is 60-100 with 80 being a great average. Normal lab range is 30-100 but we want yours above 60.
You know that we can order practically any blood test you need at a fairly inexpensive rate due to the labs we work with. But, you don’t need us to order blood tests. Direct Labs will run any test you want and send you the results (www.directlabs.com).
I recommend doing a major blood panel (70-80 markers plus urine) at least twice a year and vitamin D should be included in that. If you’re vitamin D is below 60, I would suggest testing it every 4-6 weeks until you get it up near 80. As the seasons change here in Colorado, you need to adjust your dosages accordingly. My rule of thumb for adults is 1-5k (thousand) IU’s in the summer (depending on how much you get in the sun with your skin exposed), 4-5k in the spring and fall and 8-10k in the winter. Children can take about a quarter to a half of the adult dose depending on body weight.