The Winter was mild, but I got the flu, bronchial pneumonia, dislocated ribs and torn rib cartilage from coughing. I am on week 7 of this stuff, because I am still dealing with a lingering cough and torn ribs (which I just tore and dislocated again a couple of days ago). But the GREAT news is that today is the first day of Daylight Saving Time!
This is totally me when the sun comes out (and it’s not too hot). Sunshine is LIFE!
Read my article: Sunshine is a Source of Life.
Have you subscribed to my blog yet? Are you following me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest? What are you waiting for?
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I MADE IT THROUGH ANOTHER WINTER! Hallelujah! Tonight we turn our clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time!
For me, this means: More sunshine, time outside, time with my animals, time to BBQ, time for appointments and outings for Wayne and me (don’t have to be home so early to put up the goats), time outside after my hubby gets home from work, more dopamine, serotonin, energy at night and it marks a turning point day for me to look forward to Spring and Summer, warmer weather and swimming!!! … Must I go on?
PS) For all of you who whine about losing an hour of sleep, try to remember you gain one later. It is worth the 238 hours of extra sunshine in the evening when you get off work and your kids get out of school!
All Winter long, I count down the days until Daylight Savings Time starts again!
I NEED the sunlight! When we turn our clocks forward, I literally come out of a dark tunnel!
Time for sunshine on the patio, BBQ’s and more time outside!
Then, next thing I know, Spring is finally here, so I can do my Spring cartwheels and come ALIVE!
By Dr. Mercola
Every year, 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, making them one of the most prescribed drugs in the United States. The psychiatric industry itself is a $330 billion industry—not bad for an enterprise that offers little in the way of cures.
Despite all of these prescriptions, more than one in 20 Americans are depressed, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those depressed Americans, 80 percent say they have some level of functional impairment, and 27 percent say their condition makes it extremely difficult to do everyday tasks like work, activities of daily living, and getting along with others.
The use of antidepressant drugs—medicine’s answer for depression—doubled in just one decade, from 13.3 million in 1996 to 27 million in 2005.
If these drugs are so extensively prescribed, then why are so many people feeling so low?
Because they don’t work at addressing the cause.
Unfortunately, research has confirmed that antidepressant drugs are no more effective than sugar pills. Some studies have even found that sugar pills may produce BETTER results than antidepressants! Personally, I believe the reason for this astounding finding is that both pills work via the placebo effect, but the sugar pills produce far fewer adverse effects.
Many people forget that antidepressants come with a slew of side effects, some of which are deadly. Approximately 750,000 people attempt suicide each year in the US, and about 30,000 of those succeed. Taking a drug that is unlikely to relieve your symptoms and may actually increase your risk of killing yourself certainly does not seem like a good choice.
In addition, since most of the treatment focus is on drugs, many safe and natural treatment options that DO work are being completely ignored. No wonder so many people are suffering.
Detecting Depression in Yourself or a Loved One
Unfortunately, about two-thirds of people with depression go undiagnosed. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, which is a sad testament to the clinical astuteness of most physicians. The diagnostic clues provided in this past article are telling indicators that you or someone you love might be suffering from this illness, so please review them now.
Depression is much more than just feeling blue once in a while.
One set of diagnostic criteria used to assess depression is known as “SIGECAPS,” which stands for sleep, interest, guilt, energy, concentration, appetite, psychomotor and suicide. If four or more of these items are a concern, it strongly suggests major depression.
However, it is important to watch for symptoms besides mood changes, considering relevant information from family and friends as well.
If you have been feeling down for two weeks or more and have lost interest in activities you once enjoyed, I’d encourage you to consider the treatment options for healing depression suggested later in this article, as opposed to immediately leaping into potentially dangerous drugs.
Notes on Suicide: When to Worry
Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention. A person who appears suicidal needs immediate professional help.
If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone.
Help the person to seek immediate assistance from heir doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential suicide aids, including unsupervised access to medications.
Besides straightforward or “sideways” comments about not wanting to live any longer, some of the red flags that a person has a high risk for self-harm include:
- Acquiring a weapon
- Hoarding medication
- No plan for the future
- Putting affairs in order
- Making or changing a will
- Giving away personal belongings
- Mending grievances
- Checking on insurance policies
- Withdrawing from people
Your suicide risk is higher if you have recently experienced any of the following extremely stressful life situations (this is certainly not a comprehensive list):
- Loss of a significant relationship or death of a loved one
- Diagnosis of a terminal illness
- Loss of financial security or livelihood
- Loss of home or employment
- Abuse, rape or other serious emotional trauma
People sometimes become more suicidal as they begin the climb up out of depression, which is one means by which antidepressant drugs can increase suicide risk.
One of the reasons for this is, as lethargy (which is common in depression) lifts, you can more easily find the energy to carry out a suicide plan. Another possible reason is that you might feel more in control and therefore at peace with your situation once you’ve made a decision to end your own life.
This is important to keep in mind because people may appear as if they are feeling better, when in fact, they are more at risk.
Remember that these are only general guidelines, and often your own intuition is the best indicator that someone you love is really in trouble.
If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or call 911, or simply go to your nearest Hospital Emergency Department. You can’t make long-term plans for lifestyle changes when you are in a crisis!
First let someone help you through the crisis—then you can deal with your depression later, when you’re feeling more resourceful.
Why Antidepressant Drugs Don’t Work
Every time a new study about the efficacy of antidepressants hits the journals, we see antidepressants plunge further into the abyss.
A recent study in the January 2010 issue of JAMA concludes that there is little evidence that SSRIs (a popular group of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and others) have any benefit to people with mild to moderate depression, andthey work no better than a placebo.
That means that SSRIs are 33 percent effectiveas a placebo. And a study presented at the Neuroscience conference in 2009 tells a similar story. Researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shared two major findings:
- Antidepressant drugs were not invented for depression. Researchers used certain drugs to manipulate the behavior of stressed animals, and then concluded (erroneously) that the drugs would be “good antidepressants.” But chronic stress does not cause the same molecular changes that depression does, making the hypothesis incorrect.So, antidepressants were actually designed to treat stress, rather than depression—which is one reason they are so ineffective.
- An imbalance of neurotransmitters in your brain may not trigger depressive symptoms in the way that has long been believed. Instead, the biochemical events that lead to depression appear to start in the development and functioning of neurons. This means antidepressants focus on the effect of depression and completely miss the cause… yet another reason why they are so ineffective for most people.
Unfortunately, the lead researcher is hoping the research will “open up new routes to develop new antidepressants,” when in reality a drug solution is not the answer.
Similarly, in 2008, a meta-analysis published in PLoS Medicine concluded that the difference between antidepressants and placebo pills is very small—and that both are ineffective for most depressed patients. Only the most severely depressed showed any response to antidepressants at all, and that response was quite minimal.
In an interview, Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker explained that research suggests the use of antidepressant drugs may actually result in more relapses back into depression in the long run. In other words, these drugs may be turning depression into a more chronic condition.
The other worrisome effect is that antidepressant drugs appear to be converting people from unipolar depression into bipolar—meaning, fluctuating between mania and depression—and this disorder has much poorer long-term outcomes.
These are not new revelations.
Back in 2002, a meta-analysis of published clinical trials indicated that 75 percent of the response to antidepressants could be duplicated by placebo. Many antidepressants may actually make your “mental illness” worse. When your body doesn’t feel good, your mood crashes along with it.
The List of Terrifying Antidepressant Drug Side Effects Grows
Depression—or described another way, “unrepaired emotional short-circuiting”— can cause far more profound negative health consequences than all the damaged food and toxins you expose yourself to daily.
Psychiatric drugs kill 42,000 people every year—that’s 12,000 MORE people than successfully commit suicide due to depression! And the death count continues to rise.
Antidepressants are the largest category of psychiatric drugs. It wouldn’t be so bad if antidepressants were harmless sugar pills, occasionally showing benefit simply because you believe they will work.
But in addition to being ineffective, they are far from harmless and are now associated with many serious health problems:
- Diabetes: Your risk for type 2 diabetes is two to three times higher if you take antidepressants, according to one study.
- Problems with your immune system: SSRIs cause serotonin to remain in your nerve junctions longer, interfering with immune cell signaling and T cell growth.
- Suicidal thoughts and feelings and violent behavior: Your risk for suicide may be twice as high if you take SSRIs; seven out of twelve school shootings were by children who were either on antidepressants or withdrawing from them.
- Stillbirths: A Canadian study of almost 5,000 mothers found that women on SSRIs were twice as likely to have a stillbirth, and almost twice as likely to have a premature or low birth weight baby; another study showed a 40 percent increased risk for birth defects, such as cleft palate.
- Brittle bones: One study showed women on antidepressants have a 30 percent higher risk of spinal fracture and a 20 percent high risk for all other fractures.
- Stroke: Your risk for stroke may be 45 percent higher if you are on antidepressants, possibly related to how the drugs affect blood clotting
- Death: Overall death rates have been found to be 32 percent higher in women on antidepressants.
Diabetes or stroke will kill you, but suicide is much quicker. The link between suicide and antidepressants is so strong that these drugs have been mandated to havesuicide warnings. Let’s consider one of the newer psychotropic medications that is now being given to people for depression: Abilify (also called aripiprazole).
Abilify is licensed for the treatment of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and major depression (when taken with antidepressants). It is used to augment the effects of the antidepressants—because, of course, they work so poorly!
But did you know that Abilify has 75 different side effects associated with it?
How absurd is it to take a drug that works about as well as a sugar pill but exposes you to this minefield of ills?
Andy Behrman, a former spokesman for Abilify and Bristol Myers Squibb, which manufactures Abilify, stopped taking the drug in order to avoid the final side effects—coma and death. He made a short video warning you about the drug.
If a former spokesman for the company is sticking his neck out to warn you, how warm and fuzzy does that make you feel about what the pharmaceutical companies are telling you?
Even More Reasons to Avoid Antidepressants, as if You Need Any More
Professor of Medicine Lennard J. Davis wrote an excellent article about SSRIs for the January 2010 issue of Psychology Today. He points out that physicians routinely prescribe not one, but two or three SSRIs and other psychopharmacological drugs in combination—with really no studies to back them up.
Physicians who engage in what is known as “polypharmacy” are hoping that if one didn’t work, maybe two or three will.
“Doctors are in essence performing uncontrolled experiments on their patients, hoping that in some scattershot way they might hit on a solution. But of course drugs have dangerous interactions and most physicians are shooting in the dark with all the dangers that attend such bad marksmanship.”
In fact, the entire serotonin hypothesis for depression should be given a serious review.
You have heard for years that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance of your neurotransmitters, mainly serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, but there’s a serious lack of research to prove it.
This theory has become so indoctrinated into our culture and media that most people just accept it as fact, simply because they’ve heard it so often. Even mental health practitioners!
But there is no way to measure your serotonin or your dopamine without cutting open your head. Scientists can’t even decide on what a “normal” serotonin level is, much less an abnormal one.
Why do some depressed folks have high serotonin levels, while many happy folks have low ones?
Your brain is far too complex for this overly simplistic explanation to work. More and more “psychiatric diseases” are appearing in the literature all the time, and many could be considered “lifestyle disorders”:
- Do you shop too much? You might have Compulsive Shipping Disorder.
- Do you have a difficult time with multiplication? You could be suffering fromDyscalculia.
- Spending too much time surfing the Web? It might be Internet Addiction Disorder.
- Spending too much time at the gym? You’d better see someone for yourBigorexia or Muscle Dysmorphia.
- And my favorite—are your terrified by the number 13? You could haveTriskaidekaphobia!
You get the idea.
The point is, each of these new “diseases” gets added to the next edition of the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) if enough people show up with those traits. And increasingly, the criteria for inclusion involves whether or not the disorder responds to a category of drugs.
If it does, the phenomenon is dubbed a disease.
Of the 297 mental disorders described in the DSM, none can be objectively measured by empirical tests. In other words, they’re completely subjective. Mental illness symptoms within this manual are arbitrarily assigned by a subjective voting system by a psychiatric panel.
So, they’re making up diseases to fit the drugs—not the other way around.
It’s almost impossible to see a psychiatrist today without being diagnosed with a mental disorder because so many behavior variations are described as pathology. And you have a 99 percent chance of emerging from your psychiatrist’s office with a prescription in hand.
Why so much reliance on popping a pill for every emotional ill?
Because writing a prescription is much faster and lucrative approach for the conventional model. Additionally most practitioners have yet to accept the far more effective energetic psychological approaches.
If Antidepressants Don’t Work, Then What Does?
There are five important strategies to consider if you are facing depression. These strategies have nothing but positive effects and are generally very inexpensive to implement.
1. Do a Bit of Emotional Housekeeping
It is helpful to view depression as a sign that your body and life are out of balance, rather than as a disease. What you need to do is regain your balance.
One of the key ways to do this involves addressing negative emotions that may be trapped beneath your level of awareness. My favorite method of emotional cleansing is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a form of psychological acupressure.
If you have severe depression, it would be best to consult with a mental health professional who is also an EFT practitioner. But for most of you with depression symptoms, this is a technique you can learn to do effectively on your own. In fact, it’s so easy that children are learning it.
There are other effective stress-management methods you could try as well, such as meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, yoga, or simply sharing your feelings with a close friend.
Experiment with a number of approaches, and then pick the methods you find most helpful but please remember that although it is very easy to learn EFT and far less expensive to use it yourself, it is nearly always better to seek a professional to perform EFT with you as it truly is an art that takes many years of refined practice to maximize its effectiveness.
2. Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is one of the “secret weapons” to overcoming depression. It works by helping to normalize your insulin levels while boosting the “feel good” hormones in your brain.
As Dr. James S. Gordon, MD, a world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, said:
“What we’re finding in the research on physical exercise is that exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed… physical exercise changes the level of serotonin in your brain. And it increases your endorphin levels, your “feel good hormones.”
And also—and these are amazing studies—exercise can increase the number of cells in your brain, in the region of the brain called the hippocampus. These studies were first done on animals, and they’re very important because sometimes in depression, there are fewer of those cells in the hippocampus.
But you can actually change your brain with exercise. So it’s got to be part of everybody’s treatment, everybody’s plan.”
For more information, please review my article about the many ways exercise can benefit your brain.
3. Improve Your General Nutrition
Another factor that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your body and your brain, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition planwill best support your mental and physical health.
Avoiding sugar (particularly fructose) and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which is another important aspect of depression. Sugar causes chronic inflammation, which disrupts your body’s normal immune function and can wreak havoc on your brain.
Sugar also suppresses a key growth hormone called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), which promotes healthy brain neurons and plays a vital role in memory. BDNF levels are critically low in people with depression, which animal models suggest may actually be causative.
4. Supplement Your Diet with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
I strongly recommend taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil. This may be the single most important nutrient for optimal brain function, thereby preventing depression.
DHA is one of the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish and krill oil, and your brain is highly dependent on it. Low DHA levels have been linked to depression, memory loss, Schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Let the Sun Shine Down on You
Have you ever noticed how great it can feel to spend time outdoors on a sunny day? Well, it turns out that getting safe sun exposure, which allows your body to produce vitamin D, is great for your mood.
One study even found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression than those who received adequate vitamin D. You canoptimize your vitamin D either by sunlight exposure or by using a safe tanning bed, or by taking a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement.
6. Think Twice Before Filling that Prescription
As Davis suggests in his article, “Think twice, be skeptical, and question a simplistic diagnosis you might receive after discussing your condition for a short time with a rushed practitioner.”
This is sound advice indeed.
It is easy to become seduced into thinking a pill might relieve your pain, especially when it comes with the endorsement of your physician. Feeling depressed is never pleasant, and you naturally want to escape it as quickly as possible.
But drugs should always be your last choice, and antidepressants are no exception.
There is a better way! You wouldn’t want to expose yourself to the enormous risks these drugs present, especially for so little gain. Hang in there, and if you implement the healthy strategies above, I bet you’ll soon find yourself feeling better.
- The Physical Toll of Loneliness
- Can Self-Help Make You Feel Worse?
- Dial H for Happiness: How Neuroengineering May Change Your Brain
- Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression
- Simple Strategy to Remain Happy
- The Secret of How to Be Happy
- Treatment Options for Healing Depression
Depression and Exercise
- Is Exercise the Best Drug for Depression?
- 5 Mind-Blowing Benefits of Exercise
- When Drugs and Therapy Don’t Cure Depression, Running Will
- Best Kept Secret for Treating Depression
Depression and Diet
- Links Between Sugar and Mental Health
- Can Your Diet Prevent Depression?
- Can Omega-3 Fats Prevent Depression?
- Is Salt Nature’s Antidepressant?
- How Eating This Type of Fat Offers New Hope for Depression…
- What’s In That? How Food Affects Your Behavior
- The Depressing Truth About Vitamin D Deficiency
Other Causative Factors
- Early Childhood Stress Can Have a Lingering Effect on Your Health
- Warning: Potentially Deadly Vitamin Deficiency Affects 25% Adults
- How Vaccines Can Damage Your Brain
- Vaccines, Depression and Neurodegeneration After Age 50
- The MOST Effective Treatment for Depression Isn’t Drugs… But You’ll Never Hear That From Your Psychiatrist
- Five Ways to Help Beat Depression Without Antidepressants
- New Study Finds Antidepressants No Better Than Placebo
- Antidepressants Linked to Increased Stroke Risk
- Why Antidepressants Don’t Work?
- Are Psychiatric Drugs Necessary?
- Warning! Drug Company Buries Unfavorable Antidepressant Drug Studies
- 10 Antidepressant Alternatives Proven to Work
- Do Antidepressants Make Bones Brittle?
- Acne Drug Linked To Suicide Risk
- Antidepressants and Violence
- The Secret Power of Sugar Pills
- Dangerous Antidepressants Elevate Diabetes Risk
- Antidepressants Increase Stillbirth Risks
- How Antidepressants Affect Your Immune System
- Adults Vulnerable to Suicidal Effects of Antidepressants
- Was Prozac’s Link to Suicide Intentionally Covered Up?
- Suicide Caution Mandated for Antidepressants
- Sugar Pills Work as Well as Antidepressants
- Prozac Possible ‘Link’ to Brain Tumors
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), aka “Winter Blues
- Light Therapy Promising for Treating Major Depression
- Winter Workouts Can Boost Your Mood
- 5 Tips to Conquer Your Winter Blues Now!
- The Bright Idea Behind Treating SAD
- How Sunlight Can Improve Your Mental Health
January 02, 2014
By Dr. Mercola
Vitamin D research continues to impress upon us the importance of appropriate sun exposure as the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D levels.
Winter limits sun exposure for many up to six months of the year. During those times, your next best bet would be artificial UVB light, as UV ray exposure also appears to have health benefits above and beyond the production of vitamin D.
One of the most damaging elements of standard tanning beds are the magnetic ballasts (which make that loud buzzing noise you hear in many tanning salons). If an electronic ballast is used, there are far less damaging EMFs, which provide most of the danger from tanning beds.
The other concern is related to the bulbs used, as some may contain only UVA light which is primarily responsible for the tan, but doesn’t increase vitamin D levels. For much of the northern hemisphere, vitamin D production is not possible from the sun during the winter months. You must use artificial UVB light or obtain vitamin D from your diet during this time.
The benefits of UVB exposure from the sun or artificial light include but are not limited to the production of nitric oxide—a compound that lowers your blood pressure. Despite its name, vitamin D is not a vitamin. It’s actually a potent neuroregulatory steroidal hormone, which helps explain some of its health impacts.
It has become abundantly clear that vitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic across the world and could be contributing to hundreds of common health problems. In fact, correcting your vitamin D deficiency may cut your risk of dying from any cause by 50 percent, according to one analysis.
If this sounds too incredible to be true, consider that vitamin D influences nearly 3,000of your 24,000 genes. This occurs via vitamin D receptors, which can be found throughout your body, and should come as no great surprise given that humans evolved in the sun.
Vitamin D Beneficially Affects Gene Activity
Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation. It also produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally-occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.
This is one of the explanations for why vitamin D is so effective against colds and influenza.
According to a January 2013 press release by Orthomolecular Medicine,1 there are now 33,800 medical papers with vitamin D in the title or abstract, and this veritable mountain of research shows that vitamin D has far-reaching benefits to your physical and mental health. Such research has shown that vitamin D can improve:
- Pregnancy outcomes (reduced risk of Cesarean section and pre-eclampsia)
- Type 1 and 2 diabetes
- Heart disease and stroke
- Autism, Alzheimer’s, and other brain dysfunction
- Bacterial and viral infections
Some of the most recently published studies, which I’ll review here, demonstrate how boosting your vitamin D levels can improve depression and pain in diabetics, Crohn’s disease, and breast cancer.
Relevance of Vitamin D in Crohn’s Disease
While previous research has associated low vitamin D levels with an increased risk ofCrohn’s disease and shown that correcting your vitamin D deficiency can improve symptoms of the disease,2 one of the most recent studies3 found a “significant interaction between vitamin D levels and Crohn’s disease susceptibility, as well as a significant association between vitamin D levels and genotype.”
Serum vitamin D levels were found to be significantly lower in patients with Crohn’s disease. Of the seven DNA sequence variations examined for effects, two variants showed a significant association with vitamin D levels in those with Crohn’s, and four variants were associated with vitamin D levels among controls.
In short, it shows that vitamin D can affect genetic expression associated with Crohn’s disease, and make matters either better or worse, depending on whether you have enough of it or not.
Vitamin D May Reduce Depression and Pain
In related news, vitamin D supplementation has been found to reduce both depression and pain in diabetic women. As reported by PsychCentral:4
“The investigators set out to determine how vitamin D supplementation might affect women with type 2 diabetes who were also suffering from depression.
At the beginning of the study, 61 percent of women reported neuropathic pain, such as shooting or burning pain in their legs and feet, and 74 percent had sensory pain, such as numbness and tingling in their hands, fingers and legs.
During the course of the study, the participants took a 50,000 IU vitamin D2 supplement every week for 6 months. By the end of the study, the women’s depression levels had significantly improved following the supplementation.
Furthermore, participants who suffered from neuropathic and/or sensory pain at the beginning of the study reported that these symptoms decreased at 3 and 6 months following vitamin D2 supplementation.”
According to lead researcher Todd Doyle, Ph.D., vitamin D supplementation “is a promising treatment for both pain and depression in type 2 diabetes.” However, I would note that you’d probably get even better results using vitamin D3 rather than prescription D2. In fact, previous research suggests vitamin D2 might do more harm than good in the long term…
Why I Recommend Vitamin D3 Over D2
Drisdol is a synthetic form of vitamin D2—made by irradiating fungus and plant matter—and is the form of vitamin D typically prescribed by doctors. This is not the type produced by your body in response to sun or safe tanning bed exposure, which is vitamin D3.
According to a 2012 meta-analysis by the Cochrane Database,5 which assessed mortality rates for people who supplemented their diets with D2 versus those who did so with D3, there are significant differences in outcome between the two. The analysis of 50 randomized controlled trials, which included a total of 94,000 participants, showed:
- A six percent relative risk reduction among those who used vitamin D3
- A two percent relative risk increase among those who used D2
That said, the featured research certainly sheds light on the role vitamin D can play in the management of type 2 diabetes and associated side effects. And when you consider that an estimated 60 percent of type 2 diabetics are vitamin D deficient,6there’s certainly plenty of room for improvement.
Additional support for the theory that vitamin D can be beneficial in the fight against type 2 diabetes was published in last year.7 Here, the researchers found “a strong additive interaction between abdominal obesity and insufficient 25(OH)D in regard to insulin resistance.” They also claim 47 percent of the increased odds of insulin resistance can be explained by the interaction between insufficient vitamin D levels and a high body mass index (BMI).
Yet another study 8 published in Diabetes Care also suggests vitamin D supplements may help prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus in people with pre-diabetes. While the study is only an observational one and cannot establish causality, the researchers report that the participants who had the highest vitamin D levels were 30 percent less likely to develop diabetes during the three-year evaluation period, compared to those with the lowest levels.
Cut Your Breast Cancer Risk with Vitamin D, Cancer Surgeon Suggests
Meanwhile, a recent Science World Report9 highlighted the recommendation by British breast cancer surgeon, Professor Kefah Mokbel, who urges women to take daily vitamin D supplements to cut their risk of breast cancer. According to the featured article:
“Prof. Mokbel has also requested Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, to make [vitamin D] pills freely available as this would result in saving about a 1,000 lives annually. ‘I am calling for all women from the age of 20 to be given free vitamin D supplements on the NHS because it is effective in protecting against breast cancer,’ Prof. Mokbel said.
…[R]esearch10, 11 conducted by the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb, which analyzed menopausal women from rural eastern Nebraska for over four years, revealed that taking vitamin D supplements along with calcium cut about 60 percent risk of cancer, including breast, lung and colon cancer…’It’s inexpensive, it’s safe, and it’s easy to take. It’s something that should be considered by a lot of people,’ says Joan Lappe, professor of nursing and medicine at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. ‘It’s low-risk with maybe a high pay-off.’”
Vitamin D Is Critical for Cancer Prevention
Indeed, an ever growing number of studies show that vitamin D has tremendous protective effects against a variety of different cancers, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, and skin cancers. Theories linking vitamin D deficiency to cancer have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory trials.
For example, a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine12concluded that a serum 25(OH)D level of more than 33 ng/mL was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer. And research published in the International Journal of Cancer two years ago13 found that a mere 10 ng/ml increase in serum vitamin D levels was associated with a 15 percent reduction in colorectal cancer incidence and 11 percent reduction in breast cancer incidence.
Another 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition14 found that after four years of follow up, cancer-free survival was 77 percent higher in women who received 1,100 IU vitamin D and 1,450 mg calcium per day, compared to those who received either a placebo or calcium by itself. According to Carole Baggerly, founder ofGrassrootsHealth, as much as 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer may in fact be related to vitamin D deficiency. Breast cancer has even been described as a “vitamin D deficiency syndrome,” much like the commoncold and seasonal flu.
Most Important—Maintaining Optimal Vitamin D Serum Levels
Of utmost importance is the maintenance of a therapeutically beneficial serum level year-round. Here, studies indicate that the bare minimum for cancer prevention is around 40 ng/ml. Research suggests an ideal level might be around 60-80 ng/ml. A 2009 review article15 titled: “Vitamin D for Cancer Prevention: Global Perspective,” published in Annals of Epidemiology states that:
“Higher serum levels of the main circulating form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), are associated with substantially lower incidence rates of colon, breast, ovarian, renal, pancreatic, aggressive prostate and other cancers. Epidemiological findings combined with newly discovered mechanisms suggest a new model of cancer etiology that accounts for these actions of 25(OH)D and calcium. Its seven phases are disjunction, initiation, natural selection, overgrowth, metastasis, involution, and transition (abbreviated DINOMIT). Vitamin D metabolites prevent disjunction of cells and are beneficial in other phases.
It is projected that raising the minimum year-around serum 25(OH)D level to 40 to 60 ng/mL (100–150 nmol/L) would prevent approximately 58,000 new cases of breast cancer and 49,000 new cases of colorectal cancer each year, and three fourths of deaths from these diseases in the United States and Canada, based on observational studies combined with a randomized trial.
Such intakes also are expected to reduce case-fatality rates of patients who have breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer by half... The time has arrived for nationally coordinated action to substantially increase intake of vitamin D and calcium.” [Emphasis mine]
General Supplementation Guidelines
As a general guideline, research by GrassrootsHealth suggests that adults need about 8,000 IUs per day to achieve a serum level of 40 ng/ml. That said, I strongly recommend boosting your vitamin D levels through appropriate sun exposure whenever possible. If you do opt for a vitamin D supplement, please remember that you also need to boost your intake of vitamin K2 through food and/or a supplement. If you’re getting your vitamin D from the sun, this is not as critical, although you’d be wise to make sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 from your diet either way.
How do you know if your vitamin D level is in the right range? The most important factor is having your vitamin D serum level tested every six months, as people vary widely in their response to ultraviolet exposure or oral D3 supplementation. Your goal is to reach a clinically relevant serum level of 50-70 ng/ml, and to maintain that level year-round. You should test at your highest point, which is typically August and again at your lowest point, which is usually February.
Knowing your vitamin D levels is one of the most important tests you can take, so please, if you haven’t checked your levels before do it now – I cannot stress the importance of this enough.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Projectby GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.
In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.
To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you “it’s time for your next test and health survey.”
I LOVE Colorado!! Just went outside for a visit with my girls (Pumpkin and Cookie), in my jammies and t-shirt! And it was only 40 degrees!
There is way too much hype about avoiding the sun. The truth is, sunshine is imperative for our brain and immune health!
Sunshine in the morning helps the metabolism and brain chemistry to kick into gear for the day. It can re-balance your sleep cycle when you stand in a window and look out into the lit up world for about 10 minutes. This tells your brain it is time to wake up, therefore making it easier to rise earlier and possibly fall asleep better, too!
Daylight is essential for your metabolic health, so step outside for a jog or walk first thing in the a.m. In fact, people who soak up the most sunlight early in the day have a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those who are out in the sun later in the day. Northwestern University researchers speculate that early morning sunlight may help regulate your circadian rhythm, which controls countless functions in your body including how well you sleep, how much food you consume, and how much energy you burn—all essential components of a healthy metabolic rate (8 Surprising Ways You’re Slowing Your Metabolism, Prevention.com, November 2014).
Sunshine contains a powerful pack of healing rays and vitamins, including vitamin D.
A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body (How Much Sunshine Does it Take to Make Enough Vitamin D?, Mercola.com, October 2009).
Lack of sunshine can lower your levels of D vitamins, immunity, brain function and raises your risk for cancer. Vitamin D deficiencies are found in people with immune and inflammatory disorders, cancer, Autism, ADD and more. Sunshine is the best way to get vitamin D. If it is not possible, taking a high quality supplement of D3 is best way to absorb and assimilate this precious vitamin.
Using sunglasses blocks the rays from getting into the pineal gland and sunscreen not only has toxic chemicals, but blocks the production of D vitamins. In fact, there is a lot of data about sunscreen actually causing vitamin D deficiencies and many other secondary health issues.
Following the advise of health officials to slather on sunscreen may increase your melanoma risk instead of decreasing it, which is certainly not what you want. Indeed, you never want to let yourself burn. However, if you practice safe sunning, you will avail yourself of all of the sun’s health benefits with none of the risk (Sensible Sun Exposure Can Help Prevent Melanoma, Breast Cancer and Hundreds of Other Health Problems, Mercola.com, July 01, 2013).
But make sure you practice safe doses of sunshine! Don’t burn and never look directly into the sun! If I am going to be outside for a long period of time, I use a natural, chemical free, mineral based sun block to avoid getting burned. If you take medicine or have a condition in which you are supposed to avoid the sunshine, please talk to your doctor!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Check with your doctor before changing any health regiment.