Vail health column: Vitamin D is good preventative medicine
Are you getting enough Vitamin D from sun exposure? Many of my patients are landscapers, ski instructors’ and construction workers. These are individuals who get hours of sun exposure a day. Yet, when we check their vitamin D levels, they are low. So why is vitamin D important? Many studies are showing that vitamin D can prevent breast cancer, colon cancer, asthma, flu and even osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with other diseases such as rickets, osteomalacia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, infectious disease, hypertension and even heart disease.In fact, it’s a global problem, whether you’re in Brazil, Australia, Mexico or United States, we are all at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency is probably one of the most common medical problems, worldwide. Fifty eight percent of women with osteoporosis are deficient in vitamin D. Studies also show that patients who are obese tend to be low in vitamin D. Researchers examined the relationship between serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D and BMI in 740 cancer patients at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America between January and June 2008. The study showed the heavier the person, the greater the risk for cancer and the greater risk for vitamin D deficiency. Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that vitamin D deficiency was found to be prevalent among cancer patients, regardless of nutritional status, suggesting that screening for vitamin D deficiency and vitamin D repletion should be considered for all cancer patients. Other studies have demonstrated that raising one’s serum level of vitamin D can lower the risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence. In the Jan. 30 article in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, researchers examined two previous studies – the Harvard Nurses Health Study and the St. George’s Hospital Study. They found that patients with the highest blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had the lowest risk for breast cancer. The investigators found that patients with serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D of approximately 52 ng/mL had a 50 percent lower risk for breast cancer than those with serum measuring less than 13 ng/mL.A study in the British Medical Journal showed that high vitamin D levels are linked to a forty percent reduction in colon cancer. A meta-analysis found that raising the serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D to 34 ng/mL would reduce the incidence rates of colorectal cancer by half. There may be a two-thirds reduction in incidence of colorectal cancer with serum levels of 46 ng/mL.Another study showed that that you have 50 percent less risk of having your first myocardial infarction if you are vitamin-D sufficient. Heart disease is the number one killer in men and woman today. We may be able to cut that risk by simply getting patients vitamin D levels checked. And why should you get your vitamin D levels checked? Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means it stays in your blood stream longer so you do not want to take too much because it can be toxic. Therefore it is best to get your vitamin D levels checked to be at the optimal range to prevent breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis etc. This is an inexpensive way to prevent many health problems.As a community service we will offer a blood test to check serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D at a reduced rate of $60 (this is our cost) on Thursday and Saturday at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic & Natural Pharmacy between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. No appointment necessary. Prevention is the key to optimal health. Deborah Wiancek is a naturopathic physician at the Riverwalk Natural Health Clinic in Edwards. She can be reached at 970-926-7606 or Wiancek@healthref.com or http://www.healthref.com or her blog, http://riverwalknaturalhealth.blogspot.com.