Danger Of Vitamin D Deficiency

May 7, 2011

“Look, I don’t know if I believe in this whole ‘natural thing’ or not.”

That’s a direct quote from my former dermatologist.

She’s part of that fear-of-sunshine crowd that believes every man, woman and child must cover all exposed skin with sunscreen, every day in every season.

I guess if you don’t “believe in this whole natural thing,” slathering synthetic chemicals on your skin every morning makes perfect sense.

Of course, you and I know hiding from the sun is a foolproof plan for reducing vitamin D levels, which will increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cognitive decline.

Even so, there are plenty of clueless doctors out there who continue to spread the complete nonsense that sunshine exposure should be avoided.

And at least some of those ultraviolet worrywarts have helped plunge the UK back into the 17th century when bloodletting and raising blisters were state-of-the-art medical treatments.

The not-so-good old days

Dr. Nicholas Clark — a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon in Southampton, England — recently told a newspaper about a medical development that he calls “quite astonishing.”

You see, rickets has returned to the British Isles. And that’s bad.

This bone condition — known as the “17th century disease” — is primarily caused by vitamin D deficiency in children. Their bones become soft, leading to fractures and deformities.

For most of the past 80 years, rickets has been considered one of those diseases that was easily controlled with modern knowledge of nutrition. But in recent years, cases of rickets have occasionally been reported in Scotland and other northern areas.

And now this long-gone condition is occurring even in the south of England.

And it’s not just a case here or there — over the past two years Dr. Clark has treated more than 200 children with serious bone problems. He estimates that well over 20 per cent have significant vitamin D deficiencies.

Overuse of sunscreen isn’t the only problem. Many parents keep their children indoors to avoid sun exposure, especially during the summer — exactly the time they would get the most benefit from exposure.

Happily, Dr. Clarke is not afraid of sunshine. He knows that sensible exposure is exactly what these children need in order to stay healthy.

And here’s what else I like about Dr. Clarke: He isn’t afraid to give an unqualified thumbs-up to supplement use. He recommends widespread vitamin D supplementation to put a stop to the rise in rickets cases.

As long as we’re talking “widespread,” let’s include the US as well. Because, believe it or not, even they’ve had cases of rickets reported there in recent years.

I really don’t expect that’s going to grow into a serious problem. But this we do know: With so many sunshine-phobic mainstreamers encouraging daily sunscreen use and general sunlight avoidance, you can be sure that many of our children are not getting the high-quality D they need.

There are lots of theories about why spring seems to bring an uptick in cases of the common cold.

People are out and about and mingling more when the weather turns nice… those slightly over-zealous about the sudden sunshine drink a bit more than usual whilst enjoying the weather outside, which lowers their defences…

Whatever the cause, there always seems to be a cold bug going around in March, April, and May.

But according to recently published research in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, you can cut your cold short with a little zinc.

Researchers looked at 13 placebo-controlled trials that tested zinc vs. the common cold.

Their findings:

– Zinc syrup, lozenges or tablets reduced length and severity of colds when treatment was started within 24 hours of first symptoms

– Zinc use reduced likelihood that symptoms would last more than seven days

Also, two preventive trials showed that five months or more of zinc supplementation in children reduced the number of colds, school absenteeism, and antibiotic prescriptions.

And of course, less antibiotic use is an excellent benefit because the common cold is viral, so antibiotics have NO EFFECT AT ALL!

If you do take a zinc supplement to fend off colds, don’t forget you need a daily milligram or two of copper. Excess zinc lowers copper levels and can prompt neurological problems. But check the contents of your multivitamin. Good chance you’re already getting the copper you need in the multi.