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Let the Sun Shine on Your Health with Vitamin D3

by Chris Beckett, special correspondent for The Best Years in Life

The Crucial role of Vitamin D3 and Good Health

(The Best Years in Life) Known as "the sunshine vitamin", vitamin D3, or Cholecalciferol, is one of the single most important vitamins necessary to maintain good health and ward off disease and illness.  Unlike a prescription drug, or most other vitamins and supplements, vitamins D3 is often available for free - because the skin produces ample amounts with only a small amount of exposure to sunlight.  And when lifestyle and climate do not permit enough exposure to the life giving rays of the sun, good quality vitamin D3 can be easily obtained at almost any vitamin and health food outlet.

In spite of the ease and low expense of producing and obtaining Vitamin D3, a great many people in the United States and around the world are deficient in this vitally important vitamin, often with tragic consequences for their health.

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone precursor that has recently been found to play a role in a wide variety of diseases. Current research indicates that vitamin D deficiency plays a role in causing seventeen varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, and periodontal disease.

This does not mean that vitamin D deficiency is the only cause of these diseases, or that you will not get them if you take vitamin D. What it DOES mean is that vitamin D, and the many ways in which it affects a person's health, should no longer be overlooked by the health care industry, or by persons striving to achieve and maintain a greater state of health and the prevention of both chronic and acute diseases.

Vitamin D and Cancer

According to the researcher Cedric F. Garland, Dr.P.H., 600,000 cases a year of breast and colorectal cancer could be prevented each year by adequate intake of vitamin D,   A new study looking at the relationship between vitamin D serum levels and the risk of colon and breast cancer across the globe has estimated the number of cases of cancer that could be prevented each year if vitamin D3 levels met the target proposed by researchers.  Dr. Garland, cancer prevention specialist at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and colleagues estimate that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented globally by increasing intake of vitamin D3, particularly in countries north of the equator.  Vitamin D3 is available through diet, supplements and exposure of the skin to sunlight.

The study was co-authored by Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H., Sharif B. Mohr, M.P.H., Edward D. Gorham, M.P.H., Ph.D., and Frank C. Garland, Ph.D., of the Division of Epidemiology at the UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Moores UCSD Cancer Center; and William B. Grant, Ph.D., of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, San Francisco.

Vitamin D and sunlight

An eminent American dermatologist, Dr. Michael Holick, in his book “The UV Advantage”, has a powerful message: “Sensible exposure to natural sunlight is the simplest, easiest and most important strategy for improving your health with vitamin D.”

In an interview with medical writer Mike Adams, Dr. Holick makes these important points about vitamin D and sunlight.

  1. Vitamin D is produced by your skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight. The body converts cholesterol in the skin into an inactive form of vitamin D that is subsequently converted into the active form in the liver and kidneys. It is nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet. A person would have to drink 10 large glasses of vitamin D-fortified milk each day just to get minimum levels of vitamin D into his or her diet. Sunlight exposure is the only reliable way to generate vitamin D in your own body.

  2. 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. This may be why prostate cancer is an epidemic among black men - a simple, but widespread, sunlight deficiency. The further you live from the equator, the longer exposure to the sun you need in order to generate vitamin D. Canada, the United Kingdom and most U.S. states are far from the equator and the huge populations of black people (which includes many Jamaicans) in those areas are at great risk of vitamin D deficiency. But even here in sun-torched Jamaica, many people deliberately avoid the sun and may be lacking in vitamin D.

  3. 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. There is more to healthy bones than just calcium.

  4. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight: It takes months of vitamin D supplementation and/or sunlight exposure to rebuild the body's bones and nervous system. 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. Even weak sunscreens block your body's ability to generate vitamin D by 95 per cent. Excessive sunscreen use may actually contribute to disease by creating a vitamin deficiency in the body. I suggest that sunscreens be used sparingly, primarily on the sensitive areas on your body.

  5. It is impossible to generate too much vitamin D in your body from sunlight exposure. Your body will self-regulate and only generate what it needs. If you feel pain when you press firmly on your breast bone, that may be an indication that you may be suffering from chronic vitamin D deficiency right now. By the way, the vitamin D that your body makes is more powerful that the vitamin D found in your multivitamin tablet.

  6. Vitamin D is 'activated' in your body by your kidneys and liver before it can be used. Therefore, having kidney disease or liver disorders can greatly impair your body's ability to activate vitamin D. People with disease of those organs should take regular sunbaths.

If you totally avoid the sun, recent research indicates you need about 4,000 units of vitamin D a day. Which means you can't get enough vitamin D from milk (unless you drink 40 glasses a day) or from a multivitamin (unless you take about 10 tablets a day), neither of which is recommended.

Most of us make about 20,000 units of vitamin D after about 20 minutes of summer sun. This is about 100 times more vitamin D than the government says you need on a daily basis.

The only way to be sure you have adequate levels of vitamin D in your blood is to regularly go into the sun, use a sun bed (avoiding sunburn), or have your physician administer a 25‑hydroxyvitamin D test. Optimal levels are around 50 ng/mL (125 nM/L).

If you don't get vitamin D the way Mother Nature intended, from sunshine, you need to take supplemental vitamin D3 cholecalciferol. Since most of us get a lot more vitamin D from sunshine than we realize, most of us need about 2,000 units a day extra.

Vitamin D is one of nature's most powerful healing agents and, when you are able to take advantage of sunshine, your body makes it absolutely free.

Best of all, no prescription is required!

About the author:  Natural health advocate Chris Beckett hails from England, where he researches, writes and blogs about natural health.  In addition to being a new contributor for both The Best Years in Life website and The Silver Bulletin e-Magazine, Mr. Beckett is one of the most respected contributors to the internationally prominent natural health site, CureZone.  Besides his knowledge and interest in vitamin D3, Mr. Beckett frequently contributes information based on his research, reading and personal experience in the vital areas of natural hygiene and fasting, particularly water fasting, both of which he is convinced played major roles in saving his life and leading to the good health he now enjoys.

See also:

New Study Shows Genetic Link between Vitamin D and Disease Prevention

Full-Spectrum Sunlight and Cancer

Winter Sun Makes It Difficult To Get Vitamin D Naturally



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