Unless you've been living under a rock during the last few years you know that vitamin D is a vital component of human health. Vitamin D is crucial for proper bone growth and maintenance, and a deficiency in vitamin D results in an increased risk of osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain, and several other bad things. But ask yourself this: when is the last time you had your vitamin D level measured, and what are you doing to make sure that your body has enough of this important vitamin?
If you are like most people in the world, you have absolutely no clue if you are getting enough vitamin D. With some estimates placing as many as 1 in 3 of the world's 6 billion people deficient in vitamin D (and even higher for those in industrialized nations) don't you think it is time that you stopped ignoring the issue and started taking personal responsibility for it? After all, you do want to make it to the Singularity...don't you?
Even with vitamin D fortified foods such as milk it is extremely difficult to obtain enough of the vitamin through diet alone. Nearly all of a person's vitamin D is obtained when sunlight hits our skin and induces its creation within our bodies. Stay out of the sun (or wear sunscreen when you are in the sun) and your body isn't getting any vitamin D. Take a worldwide culture that is increasingly couped up in sun starved indoor work environments and combine this with a phobia of skin cancer that causes most of us to wear sun screen whenever we do actually go outside, and you have the perfect storm for a worldwide epidemic in vitamin D deficiency.
It sounds bad - and it is. Vitamin D joins obesity, type 2 diabetes, and several other epidemics that are entirely created by poor lifestyle choices. Want to avoid vitamin D deficiency? Simple: get in the sun! It is generally agreed that only 10 minutes per day of quality sun exposure is more than enough exposure to ensure proper vitamin D production within our bodies. It really is that simple, but for whatever reason at least a billion people across the globe are likely failing to do this. Don't be one of them!
In recent years there has been an avalanche of hype about the health benefits of vitamin D. Freaks are coming out of the woodwork to tell us that vitamin D, resveratrol, and a host of other chemicals will bring us unimaginable benefits to longevity and health. I wish it were true, but sadly it is my opinion that vitamin D really isn't that special of a chemical after all. It is not the presence of vitamin D that makes you healthier. Rather it is the absence of vitamin D that makes you sicker! As soon as we lock ourselves in sun deprived homes and offices and slap on the sun screen we are opening ourselves to a man-made epidemic of increased susceptibility to cancer, type 2 diabetes, bone disease, and a long list of other problems. Helping your body to accumulate its evolutionarily natural level of vitamin D within the body isn't going to make you any healthier than you are supposed to be. It merely allows your body to operate at the health profile that it is already designed for.
The first thing to do if you care about your vitamin D level is to go to your doctor and have your vitamin D level tested. A simple, cheap blood test accurately determines whether you are within the optimal range or not. If you are like most people in industrialized nations, you will find that you are either somewhat deficient or severely deficient in this crucial vitamin. In a recent test with my own doctor, I was shocked to learn that I was deficient in spite of several hundred IU of vitamin D that I was already receiving from my daily vitamin regimen. Apparently I am indoors blogging even more than I had realized! The obvious solution is to get more sunlight. If you work indoors like me all day and find it difficult to get enough sunlight, then do what I do and take a daily vitamin D pill (I now take 2000 IU per day and my vitamin D now measures normal). The pills are cheap and effective, but of course talk to your doctor before taking them.
If you really want to know all of the details about vitamin D - its chemical profile, metabolic function within the body, and much more, I encourage you to read one of the web's definitive papers on the topic written by Michael F. Holick titled "The Vitamin D Epidemic and its Health Consequences". For those that want a less intense look at vitamin D, below are a few of the more interesting factoids about vitamin D (based on a Natural News interview with Holick) that you don't want to miss:
- The healing rays of natural sunlight (that generate vitamin D in your skin) cannot penetrate glass. So you don't generate vitamin D when sitting in your car or home.
- A person would have to drink ten tall glasses of vitamin D fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into their diet.
- The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure you need to the sun in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the UK and most U.S. states are far from the equator.
- People with dark skin pigmentation may need 20 - 30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. That's why prostate cancer is epidemic among black men -- it's a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency.
- Sufficient levels of vitamin D are crucial for calcium absorption in your intestines. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless.
- Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: it takes months of vitamin D supplementation andsunlight exposure to rebuild the body's bones and nervous system.
- Even weak sunscreens (SPF=8) block your body's ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. This is how sunscreenproducts actually cause disease -- by creating a critical vitamin deficiency in the body.
Diseases and conditions cause by vitamin D deficiency:
- Osteoporosis is commonly caused by a lack of vitamin D, which greatly impairs calcium absorption.
- Sufficient vitamin D prevents prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, depression, colon cancer and schizophrenia.
- "Rickets" is the name of a bone-wasting disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.
- Vitamin D deficiency may exacerbate type 2 diabetes and impair insulin production in the pancreas.
- Obesity impairs vitamin D utilization in the body, meaning obese people need twice as much vitamin D.
- Vitamin D is used around the world to treat Psoriasis.
- Vitamin D deficiency causes schizophrenia.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by a melatonin imbalance initiated by lack of exposure to sunlight.
- Chronic vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia because its symptoms are so similar: muscle weakness, aches and pains.
- Your risk of developing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer is reduced 50% - 80% through simple, sensible exposure to natural sunlight 2-3 times each week.
- Infants who receive vitamin D supplementation (2000 units daily) have an 80% reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes over the next twenty years.