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Reproduced from original article:
- Stay-at-home recommendations may have been a bad idea. In New York, 66% of new hospital admissions for COVID-19 were individuals who had been sequestering at home
- Chinese researchers have noted that a majority of outbreaks in the 320 municipalities reviewed were the result of indoor spread of the disease, with the home accounting for 79.9% of cases
- It’s well-known that vitamin D is important for innate immunity and that it boosts your immune function against viral diseases. Growing evidence suggests your vitamin D status may also play an important role in the development of COVID-19, as well as the severity of the illness
- Vitamin D concentrations are lower in patients with positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests for SARS-CoV-2, and countries with lower vitamin D levels have higher mortality rates from COVID-19
- Recent research also shows vitamin D levels are strongly correlated to the severity of the illness experienced
Recent scientific papers have highlighted the role vitamin D may be playing in the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in severe cases. Considering researchers have also shown that SARS-CoV-2 is rapidly inactivated by sunlight,1 areas that are banning people from parks and beaches, are undoubtedly committing a grave error.
Social Distancing Is a Miserably Failed Experiment
Stay-at-home recommendations in general may also have been a bad idea overall. Indeed, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated,2 May 6, 2020, that 66% of new hospital admissions for COVID-19 were individuals who had been sequestering at home.
A majority of those cases were also minorities such as African-Americans, who are far more prone to vitamin D deficiency due to their darker skin.3 When Cuomo first heard about it, he said he immediately thought maybe people had been going out in spite of the shelter-in-place order, and maybe taking public transportation.4
In actuality they were all at home where they were supposed to be. Interestingly, Dr. David Katz, president of True Health Initiative and founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, predicted5,6 this would happen.
Chinese researchers have also noted that a majority of outbreaks in the 320 municipalities reviewed were the result of indoor spread of the disease, with the home accounting for 79.9% of cases, followed by transportation at 34%.
According to the authors,7 “All identified outbreaks of three or more cases occurred in an indoor environment, which confirms that sharing indoor space is a major SARS-CoV-2 infection risk.” As noted in a May 11, 2020, American Thinker article:8
“Very likely, you already instinctively know that the guidelines suggesting that it’s somehow helpful to keep a six-foot space between healthy people, even outdoors, is not based on science, but just an arbitrary suggestion we’ve been conditioned to accept without evidence.
And your gut feeling would be right. There’s a reason that “social distancing ‘wasn’t a buzzword common to the American lexicon prior to 2020. There’s very little science behind “social distancing’ at all.
‘It turns out,’ Julie Kelly writes9 at American Greatness, ‘as I wrote10 last month, ‘social distancing’ is untested pseudoscience particularly as it relates to halting the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. On its website, the CDC provides no links to any peer-reviewed social distancing studies that bolster its official guidance.’ There’s a reason for the lack of peer-reviewed studies on the CDC website. She continues:
‘The alarming reality is that social distancing never has been tested on a massive scale in the modern age; its current formula was conceived during George W. Bush’s administration and met with much-deserved skepticism.
‘People could not believe that the strategy would be effective or even feasible,’ one scientist told11 the New York Times last month. A high school science project12 — no, I am not joking — added more weight to the concept.
‘Social distancing’ is very much a newfangled experiment, not settled science. And, Kelley writes, the results are suggesting that our ‘Great Social Distancing Experiment of 2020’ will be ‘near the top of the list’ of ‘bad experiments gone horribly wrong.'”
Banning Outdoor Activities — A Disastrous Idea
In the video above, published May 11, 2020, on Medscape.com, Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, professor of medicine and chief of the division of preventive medicine at Harvard Medical School, discusses the protective role of vitamin D against COVID-19.
Manson points out that growing evidence suggests your vitamin D status may in fact play an important role in your risk of developing COVID-19, as well as the severity of the illness. It’s well-known that vitamin D is important for innate immunity and that it boosts your immune function against viral diseases.
Importantly, as noted by Manson, vitamin D also has “an immune modulating effect and can lower inflammation, and this may be relevant to the respiratory response during COVID-19 and the cytokine storm that’s been demonstrated.”
Manson cites evidence from three South-Asian studies showing people with serious COVID-19 infection are far more likely to have insufficient levels of vitamin D compared to those with mild illness. Vitamin D deficient patients had, on average, an eightfold higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness compared to those with sufficient levels.
Harvard Medical School is starting a study to investigate whether vitamin D supplementation lowers the risk of COVID-19 specifically, and/or improves clinical outcomes, but in the meantime, Manson urges people to spend more time outdoors to improve their vitamin D levels through sun exposure, and to optimize their vitamin D levels through food and supplements.
Manson is far from alone in her recommendations. Irish researchers recently published an editorial13 highlighting the role of vitamin D deficiency in severe COVID-19 infections. According to the authors:14
“… the evidence supporting a protective effect of vitamin D against severe COVID‐19 disease is very suggestive, a substantial proportion of the population in the Northern Hemisphere will currently be vitamin D deficient, and supplements, for example, 1,000 international units (25 micrograms) per day are very safe.
It is time for governments to strengthen recommendations for vitamin D intake and supplementation, particularly when under lock‐down.”
Low Vitamin D Linked to Greater SARS-CoV-2 Infection Risk
A May 6, 2020, report15 in the journal Nutrients points out that vitamin D concentrations are lower in patients with positive PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests for SARS-CoV-2. As noted in this report, which retrospectively investigated the vitamin D levels obtained from a cohort of patients in Switzerland:16
“In this cohort, significantly lower 25(OH)D levels were found in PCR-positive for SARS-CoV-2 (median value 11.1 ng/mL) patients compared with negative patients (24.6 ng/mL); this was also confirmed by stratifying patients according to age >70 years. On the basis of this preliminary observation, vitamin D supplementation might be a useful measure to reduce the risk of infection.”
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Increased COVID-19 Mortality
Another May 6, 2020, report,17 published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research (its prepublication featured in the Daily Mail May 118), found that countries with lower vitamin D levels also have higher mortality rates from COVID-19. According to the authors:19
“The Seneca study showed a mean serum vitamin D level of 26 nmol/L in Spain, 28 nmol/L in Italy and 45 nmol/L in the Nordic countries, in older people. In Switzerland, mean vitamin D level is 23 nmol/L in nursing homes and in Italy 76% of women over 70 years of age have been found to have circulating levels below 30 nmol/L.
These are the countries with high number of cases of COVID-19 and the aging people is the group with the highest risk for morbidity and mortality with SARS-CoV2.”
In the preprint version20 of this paper, the authors concluded: “We believe that we can advise vitamin D supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV2 infection.” In the final version,21 they toned down the recommendation to: “We hypothesize that vitamin D may play a protective role for COVID-19.”
Data22 from a clinical trial by GrassrootsHealth — an organization that we have supported for over 13 years — also reveals a link between vitamin D status and COVID-19 severity.
Mark Alipio — who received no funding for his work — released data from an analysis of 212 people with lab-confirmed COVID-19 and for whom serum 25(OH)D levels were available. Using a classification of symptoms based on previous research, he employed statistical analysis to compare the differences in clinical outcomes against the levels of vitamin D.
Of the 212 people, 49 had mild disease; 59 had ordinary disease; 56 were severe and 48 were critical. In the initial study group of 212 patients (see Table 1 below), 55 had normal vitamin D levels, which Alipio defined as greater than 30 ng/ml; 80 had insufficient levels of 21 to 29 ng/ml and 77 had deficient levels of less than 20 ng/ml.
Vitamin D levels were strongly correlated to the severity of the illness experienced. It is important to note that most experts consider 30 ng/ml half of what an optimum vitamin D level should be, which is 60 to 80 ng/ml.
Of the 49 with mild illness, 47 had normal vitamin D levels. For those of you who are not good with math that means that 96% of the patients with mild illness had “normal” levels of vitamin D. Note again this “normal” level was above 30 ng/mL, and most experts would raise that to 60 ng/mL.
Of the 104 with severe or critical illness, only four had normal levels of vitamin D. That is 4% or the reciprocal of the mild group. How much stronger a correlation could one hope for? Alipio concluded:23
“… this study provides substantial information to clinicians and health policy-makers. Vitamin D supplementation could possibly improve clinical outcomes of patients infected with Covid-2019 based on increasing odds ratio of having a mild outcome when serum (OH)D level increases.”
Vitamin D Protects Against Viral Infections
Indeed, there is strong scientific evidence vitamin D plays a central role in your immune response and your ability to fight infections in general, so there’s little reason to think it wouldn’t provide similar protection against COVID-19.
In this video, Ivor Cummins, biochemist and chief program officer for Irish Heart Disease Awareness, explains how higher levels of vitamin D may reduce your risk of negative outcomes from COVID-19.
He also reviews some of the conditions associated with low vitamin D levels, such as insulin resistance and high levels of inflammation. As discussed in “The Real Pandemic Is Insulin Resistance,” obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease are comorbidities for severe COVID-19, and insulin resistance is the underlying problem in all of these.
As noted in “Vitamin D and the Antiviral State,” a literature review article published in the Journal of Clinical Virology in 2011:24
“Interventional and observational epidemiological studies provide evidence that vitamin D deficiency may confer increased risk of influenza and respiratory tract infection. Vitamin D deficiency is also prevalent among patients with HIV infection.
Cell culture experiments support the thesis that vitamin D has direct anti-viral effects particularly against enveloped viruses. Though vitamin D’s anti-viral mechanism has not been fully established, it may be linked to vitamin D’s ability to up-regulate the anti-microbial peptides LL-37 and human beta defensin 2.”
SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped type of virus,25 which means vitamin D may actually have a direct antiviral effect on it. Future studies will have to confirm that, but in the meantime, there’s absolutely no reason to ignore your vitamin D level. As reported in a recent GrassrootsHealth press release:26
“Vitamin D has several mechanisms that can reduce risk of infections. Important mechanisms regarding respiratory tract infections include:
- inducing production of cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral survival and replication rates as well as reduce risk of bacterial infection
- reducing the cytokine storm that causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the lungs that can lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome
Vitamin D deficiency has been found to contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome, a major cause of death associated with COVID-19 … To reduce risk of infection, it is recommended that people at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 consider taking 10,000 IU/day (250 micrograms/day) of vitamin D for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations, followed by at least 5000 IU/day.
The goal should be to raise 25(OH)D concentrations above 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/l), taking whatever is necessary for that individual to achieve and maintain that level. For treatment of people who become infected with COVID-19, higher vitamin D doses would be required to rapidly increase 25(OH)D concentrations.”
- 1 MedicalXpress April 24, 2020
- 2 CNBC May 6, 2020
- 3 Cooper Institute, African-Americans at greatest risk for vitamin D deficiency
- 4, 8 American Thinker May 11, 2020
- 5 New York Times March 20, 2020
- 6 New York Times March 20, 2020 (Archived)
- 7 Medrxiv, DOI 10.1101/2020.04.04.20053058
- 9 American Greatness May 4, 2020
- 10 American Greatness April 13, 2020
- 11 New York Times April 22, 2020
- 12 Medicalxpress May 9, 2006
- 13, 14 Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics April 20, 2020, Early review
- 15, 16 Nutrients May 9, 2020; 12(5): 1359
- 17 Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2020, doi: 10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8
- 18 Daily Mail May 1, 2020
- 19 Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2020, doi: 10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8, Discussions
- 20 Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2020, Preprint, DOI: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-21211/v1
- 21 Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 2020, doi: 10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8, Background/Aims
- 22, 23 GrassrootsHealth, Preprint Letter to the Editor, April 9, 2020 (PDF)
- 24 Journal of Clinical Virology March 2011, DOI: 10.1016/j.cv.2010.12.006
- 25 Medium March 21, 2020
- 26 GrassrootsHealth.net April 9, 2020
Reproduced from original article:
December 17, 2019
- Recent research claims “high dose” vitamin D supplementation did not result in a lower incidence of cancer or cardiovascular events than placebo
- The “high dose” given in this trial was a mere 2,000 international units (IUs) a day, which is still only a quarter or less of what many need to raise their blood level into a protective range
- The study did not test and track participants’ vitamin D blood levels, which is the only way to ensure sufficiency and adherence to the protocol
- Cancer is a slow-growing disease and effects of nutritional intervention typically only become evident after several years. When the first two years of follow-up data were excluded, people who took 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day had a 25 percent lower risk of cancer in the years following (years three through five)
- Many need upward of 10,000 IUs a day in order to achieve a blood level of 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) or higher, which is the bottom cutoff for health and disease prevention. Ideally, you’ll want a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL (150 and 200 nmol/L)
The effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation has again been questioned with negative headlines1,2 trumpeting its failure to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. What most researchers and journalists fail to address, however, is the fact that:
- The “high dose” given in this trial was a mere 2,000 international units (IUs) a day, which is still only a quarter or less of what many need to raise their blood level into a protective range
- They did not test and track participants’ vitamin D blood levels, which is the only way to ensure sufficiency
Based on those two factors alone, a negative result is precisely what one would predict. Still, despite such limitations, the study actually found some rather remarkable benefits that were simply glossed over.
In fact, had it been a drug trial, vitamin D would likely have been declared a miracle drug against both cancer and cardiovascular disease, based on the findings. This is the kind of perversion of science and selective reporting that shackles public health.
VITAL Study Conclusions
The study3,4 in question, which was in part funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was published in the January 2019 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). (A second study5 compared omega-3 supplementation against placebo for the same endpoints.) As detailed in the vitamin D paper, the study was:
“[A] nationwide, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, with a two-by-two factorial design, of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) at a dose of 2000 IU per day6 and marine n−3 (also called omega-3) fatty acids at a dose of 1 gram per day7 for the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease among men 50 years of age or older and women 55 years of age or older in the United States.
Primary end points were invasive cancer of any type and major cardiovascular events (a composite of myocardial infarction, stroke or death from cardiovascular causes). Secondary end points included site-specific cancers, death from cancer and additional cardiovascular events.”
In conclusion, the authors determined that “Supplementation with vitamin D did not result in a lower incidence of invasive cancer or cardiovascular events than placebo.”
What the VITAL Data Actually Reveals
However, as noted by GrassrootsHealth,8 a nonprofit public health research organization dedicated to moving public health messages regarding vitamin D and omega-3 from research into practice, “when the separate types of heart disease or death from cancer were analyzed, there were 30 different very significant results,” summarized in the graph9 below.
Importantly, when the researchers excluded data from the first two years of supplementation, cancer mortality “was significantly lower with vitamin D than with placebo.”10 The reason this is important is because cancer is a slow-growing disease and effects of nutritional intervention typically only become evident after several years. It’s unreasonable to think you can take a supplement and within weeks or months see a drastic difference in health outcomes. The paper states that clearly, and adds:
“Supplemental vitamin D also did not reduce the occurrence of breast, prostate or colorectal cancers. However, there was a suggestive 17 percent reduction in cancer deaths, which became a 25 percent reduction in analyses that excluded the first two years of follow-up.”
Let me repeat those two points for clarity:
- While incidence of breast, prostate and colorectal cancers were unaffected, those who took a non-ideal dose of vitamin D3 supplements still had a 17 percent lower risk of actually dying from those cancers
- When the first two years of follow-up data were excluded, people who took a mere 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day had a 25 percent lower risk of cancer in the years following (years three through five)
How is this not good news? Again, let’s remember that 2,000 IUs is really insufficient for most people, yet even at this insufficient dosage, the risk of cancer was cut by 25 percent.
For Most, 2,000 IUs a Day Is Suboptimal for Cancer Prevention
In years past, it was widely believed that 4,000 IUs was the upper safe limit, above which you risked vitamin D toxicity, but studies have since refuted this, showing there’s no risk of toxicity until you hit 30,000 IUs a day, or a blood level of 200 ng/ml (500 nmol/L).11 Still, the misconception persists.
A significant body of research shows many need upward of 10,000 IUs a day in order to achieve a blood level of 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) or higher, which is the bottom cutoff for health and disease prevention. Ideally, you’ll want a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL (150 and 200 nmol/L). This is where the majority of health benefits become really apparent.
As noted in a 2009 study12 on athletic performance and vitamin D, “At levels below 40 to 50 ng/mL the body diverts most or all of the ingested or sun-derived vitamin D to immediate metabolic needs, signifying chronic substrate starvation (deficiency).”
As noted earlier, the VITAL study did not use vitamin D blood levels as the marker for deficiency or sufficiency, and this is perhaps the most significant problem with this study. Blood levels were only measured in a subgroup of 1,644 participants (out of 25,871) after the first year of daily supplementation.
In this group, the mean vitamin D blood level increased from 29.8 ng/mL (74 nmol/L) at baseline to 41.8 ng/mL (104 nmol/L). In other words, most of those taking vitamin D supplements had barely adequate vitamin D levels, and were still significantly short of having ideal blood levels — levels at which research shows the risk of cancer is cut up to 80 percent.
Why You Cannot Trust Studies That Base Results on Dosage Rather Than Blood Measurement
This certainly is not the first time studies have claimed vitamin D supplementation is useless. Last year, a meta-analysis13 concluded once-a-month high-dose vitamin D supplementation had no impact on cancer risk. Here, participants received an initial bolus dose of 200,000 IUs of vitamin D, followed by a monthly dose of 100,000 IUs (so-called pulsed or pulsatile dosing) for a median of three years.
While the media played this up as a finding contradicting recommendations to optimize your vitamin D to lower your cancer risk, it really only made a case against once-a-month mega-dosing. As noted by GrassrootsHealth scientists, for optimal results, you need to supplement frequently (ideally daily) and focus on the achieved serum level, not the dosage.
What’s more, 100,000 IUs per month actually only comes out to about 3,000 IUs per day, which again is far below what most adults need to raise their vitamin D serum level into the protective range of 60 to 80 ng/mL, with 40 ng/mL being the low-end cutoff for sufficiency.
Indeed, this analysis noted the mean baseline vitamin D concentration was just over 26 ng/mL, and the mean follow-up level was just 20 ng/mL higher in the supplement group than the placebo group that received no vitamin D.
As in the current NEJM study, participants’ vitamin D levels were also not measured regularly throughout the study, and the association with cancer was not analyzed by serum level but by daily dosage.
This point really cannot be stressed enough: The key factor is not how much vitamin D you take but whether or not your blood level of vitamin D is within the “Goldilocks’ zone” of 60 to 80 ng/mL, and the only way to ascertain that is through blood testing.
How to Assess Study Quality
GrassrootsHealth scientists have also argued that pulsatile dosing at intervals greater than two weeks may actually cause a form of vitamin D deficiency at the cellular level.
According to GrassrootsHealth, to accurately ascertain the benefit of vitamin D in any given trial, researchers must track not only the baseline and final vitamin D serum level plus the dose given, but also the form (vitamin D2 versus D3) and the dosing interval.
Adherence to protocol is also measured by blood level. If a participant’s blood level doesn’t change, you know that individual was probably not taking the supplement as instructed, rendering their result null and void.
All of these factors can influence the results, and it’s important to get them all right. Identifying the ideal parameters are all part of what GrassrootsHealth is doing. Another study, published in 2017, claimed it found “no case” for vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.14
In reality, it found seven positive outcomes,15 including increased birth weight, a 40 percent reduction in gestational diabetes, an 18 percent reduction in preeclampsia and a 17 percent reduction in gestational hypertension.
What this study failed to find was a reduction in preterm birth, and this was ultimately translated into headlines that made it appear as though pregnant women have no need for vitamin D supplementation! In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.16,17
So, in summary, when evaluating vitamin D research, the following parameters are what you’re looking for in a high-quality study, as without these, the results are likely to be significantly flawed and likely negative:
•Supplementation should be frequent, ideally daily — Bolus doses given at intervals greater than two weeks are likely to be ineffective. According to Carole Baggerly, director and founder of GrassrootsHealth, pulsatile dosing at intervals greater than two weeks may actually cause a form of vitamin D deficiency at the cellular level.
•Dosage, baseline and final vitamin D serum level must all be tracked — Most studies fail in this regard, as most only track dosage and not serum level, which is the most crucial parameter of all.
In short, it doesn’t matter how large or small the dose is, as long as it gets the participants into a specific blood level range, as the individual response to any given dose varies widely, depending on several different factors, including intake of other nutrients (such as magnesium), age, ethnicity, body weight and amount of sun exposure.
•The form of vitamin D must be identified — Are they using vitamin D2 or D3? And are they tracking sun exposure, which is the primary way your body produces vitamin D?
There’s Strong Evidence Vitamin D Lowers Your Chronic Disease Risk
Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is vital for the prevention of many chronic diseases, including but not limited to:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- Well over a dozen different types of cancer, including skin cancer — the very cause of concern that has led so many to avoid the sun exposure necessary for vitamin D production
In the case of heart disease, vitamin D plays a vital role in protecting and repairing damage to your endothelium.18 It also helps trigger production of nitric oxide — which improves blood flow and prevents blood clot formation — and significantly reduces oxidative stress in your vascular system, all of which are important to help prevent the development and/or progression of cardiovascular disease.
Just last year, a Norwegian study19 published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found “a normal intake of vitamin D” significantly reduces your risk of death if you have cardiovascular disease.20
According to vitamin D researcher Dr. Michael Holick, vitamin D deficiency — defined as a level below 20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L) — can also raise your risk of heart attack by 50 percent, and if you have a heart attack while vitamin D deficient, your risk of dying is nearly guaranteed.
Vitamin D also has powerful infection-fighting abilities, making it a useful aid in the treatment of tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds and flu, while maintaining a healthy vitamin D level will typically prevent such infections from taking root in the first place. Studies have also linked higher vitamin D levels with lowered mortality from all causes.21,22,23
A Majority of Breast Cancer Cases Could Be Avoided by Raising Vitamin D Levels Among the General Public
Importantly, the ongoing research by GrassrootsHealth has firmly established that 20 ng/mL, which is conventionally considered the cutoff for sufficiency, is nowhere near sufficient for optimal health and disease prevention.
As mentioned, 40 ng/mL (100 nm/L) appears to be at the low end of optimal, and most participants in the featured NEJM study were likely hovering right around this low-end blood level (based on measurements from a very limited subgroup).
Still, recall the risk of cancer in Years 3 through 5 among those who supplemented with 2,000 IUs a day (thereby reaching a mean blood level of just under 42 ng/mL) went down by 25 percent. GrassrootsHealth research shows the ideal protective range is between 60 and 80 ng/mL (150 to 200 nm/L), and the higher the better within this range.
Research has actually demonstrated that most cancers occur in people with a vitamin D blood level between 10 and 40 ng/mL.24,25 Meanwhile, research shows women with vitamin D levels above 60 ng/mL have an 83 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with levels below 20 ng/mL.26 Data from GrassrootsHealth ongoing D*Action study actually suggests 80 percent of breast cancer incidences could be prevented simply by optimizing vitamin D and nothing else!
The key, however, is to achieve the proper blood level, which has nothing to do with dosage. And the reason this correlation has never been elucidated before is because no one was using high-enough dosage to actually get participants vitamin D levels above 60 ng/mL, which is where you really start seeing these dramatic reductions in disease.
Optimizing Your Vitamin D Is a Key Disease Prevention Strategy
The evidence in support of vitamin D optimization is overwhelming, and becomes all the more compelling when the blood level is the primary parameter being measured and tracked. The key take-home message here is that 2,000 IUs is insufficient for most people, although it may still cut the risk of cancer by about 25 percent.
Overall, research supports the idea that higher levels offer greater cancer protection, and even levels as high as 100 ng/mL appear safe and beneficial. Importantly, having a serum vitamin D level of 60 ng/mL has been shown to positively impact anyone with breast cancer or Type 1 diabetes, as well as pregnant women and lactating mothers.
It’s a shame that so many researchers still have not grasped the importance of measuring blood levels rather than simply going by dosage, and relatively low dosages at that. In reality, what this NEJM study (and others like it) show is that insufficient vitamin D dosage fails to achieve optimal results. It’s not that vitamin D itself is useless. GrassrootsHealth D*Action study is clearly leading the pack here, revealing what’s required.
It’s an ongoing study that relies on public participation, and you can join at any time. 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.” By participating in this project, you help move vitamin D research forward so that, hopefully, one day we can end this nonsensical debate about whether vitamin D optimization is worth pursuing or not.
- 1 Science News November 10, 2018
- 2 Science Based Medicine January 10, 2019
- 3, 6 NEJM January 3, 2019; 380:33-44
- 4, 10 NEJM January 3, 2019; 380:33-44 (Full study PDF)
- 5, 7 NEJM January 3, 2019; 380:23-32
- 8, 9 Grassrootshealth.com VITAL Trial Results
- 11 Grassrootshealth.com Vitamin D Intake and Toxicity
- 12 Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2009; 41(5): 1102-1110 (PDF)
- 13 JAMA Oncology 2018;4(11):e182178
- 14 New Daily December 3, 2017
- 15, 17 GrassrootsHealth, Vitamin D and Pregnancy, When Headlines Mislead
- 16 Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Feb;208(2):137.e1-13
- 18 International Journal of Nanomedicine January 19. 2018; 2018(13): 455-466
- 19 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism January 9, 2018, jc2017-02328
- 20 Medicalxpress.com March 1, 2018
- 21 Institute of Medicine, Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium, Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D
- 22 J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2013;98:2160-2167
- 23 PLOS One 2013: 8(12); e82109
- 24 PLOS ONE 2016; 11 (4): e0152441
- 25 Oncology Nurse Advisor April 22, 2016
- 26 European Journal of Cancer 2005 May;41(8):1164-9
Reproduced from original article:
December 05, 2019
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs seasonally, typically ramping up in the fall and winter months and disappearing come spring
- Helpful treatments include optimizing your vitamin D and omega-3 levels, light therapy (including blue light exposure in the morning, but not later in the day), optimizing your sleep, the Emotional Freedom Techniques and exercise
- Your health and mood are intricately tied to exposure to sunlight. For example, your serotonin levels (the hormone typically associated with elevating your mood) rise when you’re exposed to bright light. Your melatonin level also rises and falls (inversely) with light and darkness
- Vitamin D deficiency is very common, and should be a top consideration when you’re looking for a solution to flagging mood and energy — especially if it occurs during fall and winter months
- While light therapy can take up to four weeks before you notice improvement, it was shown to be more effective than antidepressants for moderate to severe depression in a 2015 study
The loss of daylight hours during winter is a common cause of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that hits seasonally and lifts as spring and summer rolls back around.
The fact that SAD occurs when the days begin to darken and sunlight is at a minimum is not a coincidence. Your health and mood are intricately tied to exposure to sunlight. For example, your serotonin levels (the hormone typically associated with elevating your mood) rise when you’re exposed to bright light.
Your melatonin level also rises and falls — inversely — with light and darkness. When it’s dark, your melatonin levels increase, which is why you may feel tired when the sun starts to set, and in the heart of winter, this may be at as early as 3 p.m. if you live far from the equator. Light and darkness also control your biological clock, or circadian rhythm, which impacts hormones that regulate your appetite and metabolism.
As explained in the paper, “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches,” published in the journal Depression Research and Treatment in 2015:1
“… SAD is a recurrent major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern usually beginning in fall and continuing into winter months. A subsyndromal type of SAD, or S-SAD, is commonly known as ‘winter blues.’ Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
Symptoms center on sad mood and low energy. Those most at risk are female, are younger, live far from the equator, and have family histories of depression, bipolar disorder, or SAD … Typical treatment includes antidepressant medications, light therapy, vitamin D, and counselling.”
Considering the many health risks associated with antidepressants, and the fact that their efficacy is right on par with placebos, my recommendation is to avoid them if at all possible.
Aside from light therapy and vitamin D, other drug-free treatment options include optimizing your omega-3 level, exercise, the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and normalizing your circadian rhythm, all of which will be reviewed here.
The Role of Vitamin D
People with SAD tend to have lower serotonin and higher melatonin levels, which can account for the fatigue, tiredness and depressed mood typically associated with this condition. According to the Depression Research and Treatment paper:3
“A systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression … During the winter months of November through February, those living about 33 degrees north or 30 degrees south of the equator are not able to synthesize vitamin D.
Many people with SAD and S-SAD have insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D, and although no further studies have confirmed the findings, research investigating this association suggests that taking 100,000 IU daily may improve their symptoms.
Taking vitamin D before winter darkness sets in may help prevent symptoms of depression. Adverse reactions or intoxication is rare but could occur from doses of more than 50,000 IU per day.”
Vitamin D deficiency is very common, and should be a top consideration when you’re looking for a solution to flagging mood and energy — especially if it occurs during fall and winter months.
Ideally, you’ll want to get your vitamin D level tested twice a year, in summer and winter, when your levels are highest and lowest. This will help you fine-tune your dosage over time. While regular sun exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D level, this isn’t possible in many areas during the winter, thus necessitating the use of oral supplements instead.
GrassrootsHealth has a helpful calculator that can help estimate the dose required to reach healthy vitamin D levels based upon your measured starting point. The optimal level you’re looking for is between 60 and 80 ng/ml, and for all-around health, you’ll want to maintain this level year-round.
Omega-3 Fats Are Important Too
Another nutrient that can be helpful is marine-based omega-3. As noted in a 2009 review4 of three studies looking at the impact of omega-3 supplementation on patients with unipolar depression, childhood major depression and bipolar depression:
“Twelve bipolar outpatients with depressive symptoms were treated with 1.5-2.0 g/day of EPA for up to 6 months. In the adult unipolar depression study, highly significant benefits were found by week 3 of EPA treatment compared with placebo.
In the child study, an analysis … showed highly significant effects of omega-3 on each of the three rating scales. In the bipolar depression study, 8 of the 10 patients who completed at least one month of follow-up achieved a 50% or greater reduction in Hamilton depression scores within one month.”
In another study5 published that same year, people with lower blood levels of omega-3s were found to be more likely to have symptoms of depression and a more negative outlook while those with higher blood levels demonstrated the opposite emotional states.
A more recent review,6 published in 2015, pointed out that “Cell signaling and structure of the cell membrane are changed by omega-3-fatty acids, which demonstrates that an omega-3-fatty acid can act as an antidepressant.”
Importantly, this paper also points to research showing that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is an important factor that can influence your depression risk. People with severe symptoms of depression have been found to have low concentrations of omega-3 in conjunction with considerably higher concentrations of omega-6.
You can learn more about the importance of this ratio in “Getting Your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio Right Is Essential For Optimal Health.” The key, really, to normalizing this ratio is to increase your omega-3 intake while simultaneously lowering your omega-6 consumption. This means you’ll need to ditch processed and fried foods, as they’re typically loaded with omega-6-rich vegetable oils.
Get Tested Today
GrassrootsHealth, which is conducting consumer-sponsored research into both vitamin D and omega-3, is one of your most cost-effective alternatives when it comes to testing.
Their vitamin D testing kit enrolls you into the GrassrootsHealth D*Action project, where your anonymized data will help researchers to provide accurate data about the vitamin D status in the population, the level at which disease prevention is obtained, and guidance on dosing to achieve optimal levels.
Their vitamin D, magnesium and omega-3 test kit is another option that will allow you to check the status of several vital nutrients at once. Each kit contains instructions for how to collect your blood sample. You then mail in your sample and fill out a quick online health questionnaire through GrassrootsHealth. A link to your test results will be emailed to you about a week after your blood samples have been received.
Light Therapy Is More Effective Than Antidepressants
Light therapy,7 using full-spectrum nonfluorescent lighting that has blue light to artificially mimic sunlight, is among the most effective treatment options for SAD. You want to avoid fluorescents as they emit large amounts of dirty electricity. Ideally, have the light exposure in the morning, well after sunrise. As noted in the Depression Research and Treatment paper:8
“Knowing the difference decreased daylight can make in triggering SAD and S-SAD, approaches seeking to replace the diminished sunshine using bright artificial light, particularly in the morning, have consistently showed promise …
Light boxes can be purchased that emit full spectrum light similar in composition to sunlight. Symptoms of SAD and S-SAD may be relieved by sitting in front of a light box first thing in the morning, from the early fall until spring …
Typically, light boxes filter out ultraviolet rays and require 20–60 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux of cool-white… light daily during fall and winter.
This is about 20 times as great as ordinary indoor lighting … Light therapy should not be used in conjunction with photosensitizing medications such as lithium, melatonin, phenothiazine antipsychotics, and certain antibiotics.”
While light therapy can take up to four weeks before you notice an improvement, it was shown to be more effective than antidepressants for moderate to severe depression in a 2015 study.9,10 In it, the researchers evaluated the effectiveness of light therapy, alone and in conjunction with the antidepressant fluoxetine (sold under the brand name Prozac).
The eight-week trial included 122 adults between the ages of 19 and 60, who were diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. The participants were divided into four groups, receiving:
- 30 minutes of light therapy per day upon waking, using a 10,000 lux Carex brand day-light device, classic model, plus a placebo pill
- Prozac (20 mg/day) plus a deactivated ion generator serving as a placebo light device
- Light therapy plus Prozac
- Placebo light device plus placebo pill (control group)
In conclusion, the study found that the combination of light therapy and Prozac was the most effective — but light therapy-only came in at a close second, followed by placebo. In other words, the drug treatment was the least effective of all, including placebo.
The mean changes in the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale from baseline to the eight-week end point was 16.9 for the combination therapy (active light- and drug therapy), and 13.4 for light therapy alone.
Blue Light During Daytime Hours May Improve Your Mood
In addition to the bright white light used in light therapy, blue light has also been shown to be useful. According to a 2010 study,11 blue light appears to play a key role in your brain’s ability to process emotions, and its results suggest that spending more time in blue-enriched light could help prevent SAD.
Blue light is prevalent in outdoor light, so your body absorbs the most during the summer and much less in the winter. Because of this, the researchers suggested that adding blue light to indoor lighting, as opposed to the standard yellow lights typically used, may help boost mood and productivity year-round, and especially during the winter.
Keep in mind, however, that blue light after sunset or before sunrise should be avoided, as it can disrupt your circadian rhythm. In fact, one of the reasons for insomnia and poor sleep is related to excessive exposure to blue light-emitting technologies such as TV and computer screens, especially in the evening.
The blue light depresses melatonin production, thereby preventing you from feeling sleepy. So, to be clear, you only want to expose yourself to blue light in the morning, and possibly afternoon, but not in the evening.
In “How the Cycles of Light and Darkness Affect Your Health and Well-Being,” researcher Dan Pardi explains the peculiar effect blue light has on your brain, which sheds further light on why it’s so important to expose yourself to blue light during daytime hours only, and why you need to avoid it at night:
“[R]ods and cones in the eye… are specialized cells that can transduce a photo signal into a nerve signal… In the mid-90s, a different type of cell was discovered… [called] intrinsically photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells (ipRGC).
It does the same thing as rods and cones: it transduced light to a nerve signal. But instead of the signal going to your visual cortex, it goes to your master clock. Those cells are most responsive to blue light. If you can block blue light, you can actually create something called circadian darkness or virtual darkness.
What that means is that you can see, but your brain doesn’t think that it’s daytime; your brain thinks that it’s in darkness. That is actually a practical solution for living with artificial light in our modern world…
With more awareness, future digital devices will adjust lighting in the evening to automatically dim and emit amber/red light [instead of blue]. This is much better for healthy circadian rhythms and sleep quality.”
As you can tell by Pardi’s explanation above, the blue light issue is closely related to your sleep quality and circadian rhythm maintenance, and this too is an important component of mental health.
Historically, humans went to sleep shortly after sunset and woke up when the sun rose. Straying too far from this biological pattern will disrupt delicate hormonal cycles in your body, which can affect both your mood and your health. Indeed, the link between depression and lack of sleep is well established, and sleep disturbance is one of the telltale signs of depression.12
Sleep therapy has also been shown to significantly improve depression. While there are individual differences, as a general rule, you’ll want to aim for about eight hours of sleep per night.
For many, this will require going to bed earlier, which can be difficult if you’ve been watching TV or using electronics beforehand, as the blue light from the screen suppresses your melatonin production.
So, an important part of the solution is to avoid screen-time for a couple of hours before bed. Alternatives to not watching TV or using electronics is to install a blue light modulating software such as Iris,13 or using blue-blocking glasses.
Just make sure you don’t wear blue blocking glasses during the daytime, which is when you need the blue light exposure. Also, make sure the glasses filter out light between 460 to 490 nanometers (nm), which is the range of blue light that most effectively reduces melatonin. You can easily tell this by looking at a blue light and if it doesn’t disappear with the glasses, it is not blocking that frequency.
Exercise Helps Prevent Depression
Like sleep, exercise can impact your risk of depression. Even a minimal amount of exercise may be enough to combat depression in some people — as little as one hour a week could prevent 12% of future cases of depression, according to one study.14
Participants were followed for 11 years in this study, during which time it was revealed that people who engaged in regular leisure-time exercise for one hour a week, regardless of intensity, were less likely to become depressed. On the flipside, those who didn’t exercise were 44% more likely to become depressed compared to those who did so for at least one to two hours a week.
Exercise benefits your brain and mood via multiple mechanisms, including creating new, excitable neurons along with new neurons designed to release the GABA neurotransmitter, which inhibits excessive neuronal firing, helping to induce a natural state of calm15 — similar to the way anti-anxiety drugs work, except that the mood-boosting benefits of exercise occur both immediately after a workout and on in the long term.
Exercise also boosts levels of potent brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress. What’s more, anandamide levels are known to increase during and following exercise.16 Anandamide is a neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid produced in your brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. It can also be activated with CBD products.
Tap for Symptoms of Depression
Last but not least, EFT, a form of psychological acupressure, is a noninvasive way that can help treat symptoms of depression, whether related to seasonal light differences or not.
Some people avoid energy psychology, believing it’s an alternative form of New Age spirituality. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is merely an advanced tool that can effectively address some of the psychological short circuiting that occurs in emotional illnesses.
It is not associated with any religion or spiritual outlook at all, but merely an effective resource you can use with whatever spiritual belief you have. In the video above, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman demonstrates how you can use EFT to relieve your symptoms.
It’s the Season To Be Glad, Not SAD
Since SAD is triggered by the loss of light, it makes sense that light therapy is among the most effective treatments. Vitamin D and/or omega-3 deficiency, as well as lack of sleep and exercise, can also play a significant role, so addressing these basic lifestyle factors could also be what you need to avoid the winter blues.
In closing, it may be worth noting that it’s natural for your body to want to slow down somewhat in the wintertime. While this can be difficult when your work and personal life dictate otherwise, allowing yourself to slow down a bit and surrender to the overwinter process may ultimately help you to respect your body’s circadian rhythm, and recharge.
That said, this doesn’t mean you should plant yourself on the couch for the winter and not venture outdoors. On the contrary, staying active and spending time outdoors during the day are among the best “cures” for SAD.
- 1 Depression Research and Treatment 2015; 2015: 178564
- 2 Depression Research and Treatment 2015; 2015: 178564, 2. An explanation of Seasonal Affective Disorder
- 3 Depression Research and Treatment 2015; 2015: 178564, 3.3 Vitamin D
- 4 CNS Neurosci Ther. 2009 Summer;15(2):128-33
- 5 Psychother Psychosom 2009;78:125–127
- 6 Integrative Medicine Research 2015 Sep; 4(3): 132–141, 2. Omega-3 fatty acids and depression
- 7 Live Science February 12, 2019
- 8 Depression Research and Treatment 2015; 2015: 178564, 3.2 Light therapy
- 9 JAMA Psychiatry November 18, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.2235
- 10 Reuters November 19, 2015
- 11 Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Nov 9;107(45):19549-54
- 12 Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008 Dec; 10(4): 473–481
- 13 Iris Blue Blocking Software
- 14 American Journal of Psychiatry October 3, 2017, DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16111223
- 15 The Journal of Neuroscience May 1, 2013; 33(18):7770-7
- 16 Transl Psychiatry. 2014 Jul 8;4:e408.
© 19th November 2019 GreenMedInfo LLC.
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Originally published on www.kellybroganmd.com
If you walk into a doctor’s office and tell a conventional doctor that you’re depressed, gaining weight, fatigued, having trouble concentrating, cold, and constipated, chances are that the doctor would tell you that it’s depression, aging, or just stress, and that’s why you’re feeling the way you do. They might prescribe you some medication and off you go.
But one thing that the doctor might fail to realize is that those very symptoms of depression also double as symptoms of a commonly underdiagnosed condition–namely hypothyroidism. An underperforming thyroid (hypothyroidism) is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions in America, yet it’s incredibly common–especially in women. Over 20% of all women have a “lazy” thyroid but only half of those women gets diagnosed. Science has known about the relationship between a dysfunctional thyroid and symptoms of depression for a long time.1 2 Depression often occurs concurrently with changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis, which is a hormonal feedback control loop that regulates metabolism.3
So exactly how many patients are told they have depression when it’s really a thyroid problem? A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Psychiatry is shedding a bit of new light onto that very question.
New Insight into Subclinical Hypothyroidism
In a 2019 study, researchers from several Malaysian universities used a meta-analysis technique to evaluate the association between subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) and depression amongst 12,315 individuals, hoping to further clarify the prevalence of depression in SCH and the effect of levothyroxine therapy, the most common synthetic thyroid hormone drug that is sold under the brand names of Synthroid, Tirosint, Levoxyl, Unithroid, and Levo-T.4
Though the relationship between depression and hypothyroidism has been evident to scientific research since around 200 years ago, the association between depression and hypothyroidism‘s sneakier and more subtle cousin, subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) has historically been more controversial. Subclinical hypothyroidism is an early, mild form of hypothyroidism where free hormones are low, but TSH is normal, a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.5 It’s estimated that a whole 3-8% of the general population (usually more women than men) is affected by SCH.6
In the study results, which the researchers found by compiling the data of many other studies, researchers found that:
Patients with SCH had higher risk of depression than patients with normal thyroid function controls, which means that patients with SCH were more likely to have depressive symptoms.
In individuals with SCH and depression, levothyroxine therapy didn’t help improve their depression or symptoms.
What does that mean? The researchers found that thyroid imbalance seems to be a driver of depression–and that trying to replacing those missing hormones with the most commonly prescribed synthetic T4 hormone, levothyroxine, doesn’t actually help alleviate depressive symptoms.7
This is an interesting finding because around 20 million Americans, mostly women, have some type of thyroid problem and are prescribed synthetic thyroid hormones such as Synthroid, a brand of the levothyroxine.8 Instead of using synthetic chemicals to “fix” our bodies, which apparently isn’t really working, we should be finding the root cause of the thyroid dysfunction and take a more holistic approach in healing our bodies.
To better understand why this study was interesting, we first need to understand more about the thyroid in general. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at your throat just a little under the Adam’s apple. The gland produces a range of hormones, but its two most active substances are T3, the active form of thyroid hormone, and T4, the storage form of thyroid hormone. A healthy thyroid regularly secretes T3 and T4 into the bloodstream so that most of the T4 can be converted into its active form, T3, around the body, including the brain.9 To do that, the process depends on a wide variety of factors: the amount of available specialized enzymes, optimal cortisol (your stress hormone) levels, and certain nutrients such as iron, iodine, zinc, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
But thyroids do much more than pump out hormones; they also take information in from the body to adjust its own pace. The thyroid sits in the middle of a complex and dynamic web of hormones and chemicals that controls metabolism, which is how fast and efficiently cells can convert nutrients into energy. In conversation with the brain, adrenal glands, and more, the thyroid indirectly affects every cell, tissue, and organ in the body–from muscles, bones, and skin to the digestive tract, heart, and brain.
One major way that thyroids affect us is through our mitochondria, the organelles in most cells that are widely considered to be the powerhouses of the cell. Mitochondria not only help generate energy for our body to do things, but they also determine the time of cell death and more. Our mitochondria are maintained by our thyroid hormone–which is why patients whose thyroids are underperforming experience an array of symptoms, including fatigue, constipation, hair loss, depression, foggy thinking, cold body temperature, low metabolism, and muscle aches.10 That’s partially why thyroid problems have such resounding and far-reaching effects on the body. When your mitochondria aren’t being properly cared for by your thyroid hormone, everything in your body has less energy to do the work it needs to do, and everything slows down.
What Makes the Thyroid Misbehave?
It’s no surprise that so many factors go into keeping the thyroid happy. The thyroid can be thrown off balance by all sorts of reasons: chemicals and food additives, like emulsifiers (found in commercial soda), synthetic plastic chemicals, fluoride (found in much of our tap water), and mercury (from large fish), or immune responses. Importantly, this circuitry is also influenced by another hormone, cortisol,11 which is produced by your adrenal glands at the command of your brain.
When we look at adrenal function, we have to take our analyses one step farther and understand what is causing adrenals to be stressed out.12 From there, we know that the adrenal glands are affected by gut, diet, and environmental immune provocation and that many lifestyle and environmental factors can influence this relationship, which in turn, can disturb the thyroid.
Thyroid Disease is a Psychiatric Pretender
The point of all of this is to say that because of how interconnected the relationship between the thyroid and other parts of the body are, thyroid imbalance often leads to the symptoms of depression when the culprit is an unhappy thyroid. The study that we talked about earlier is helping us better understand just how prevalent mistaking thyroid imbalance, particularly subclinical hypothyroidism, for depression is.
Of course, it doesn’t help that symptoms listed above are a vague bunch and could have many causes, so conventional doctors frequently write them off as a symptom of aging, depression, or stress in the few minutes they usually spend talking with patients. The way that lab tests for hypothyroidism (both subclinical and hypothyroidism) are run and the way reference ranges are established aren’t very accurate.
Keeping a thyroid healthy is an exercise in holistic medicine that requires you to pay attention to all aspects of your lifestyle. Check out our free symptom checker to see if your thyroid might be affected, or if you have any of the other Top 5 “Psychiatric Pretenders” (common physical imbalances that show up as mental or emotional symptoms).
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Reproduced from original article: www.naturalhealth365.com/sunlight-exposure-gut-health-3180.html
(NaturalHealth365) Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is incredibly important for your body. Unfortunately, research shows more than 41% of Americans are deficient in this essential nutrient, mainly because they don’t get enough sunlight exposure.
This obviously puts millions of people at an increased risk for issues like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and … impaired gut health?
A new study published in Frontiers in Microbiology discovered that “healthy” exposure to UV radiation can boost vitamin D levels and improve the diversity of friendly bacteria living in the gut in certain individuals. The implication of this is huge, because we know now that gut health is closely linked to immune health and overall well-being and longevity.
Modest sunlight exposure boosts vitamin D and can improve gut health, study reveals
In this article’s featured study, researchers exposed 21 women to three full body sessions of ultraviolet (UV) radiation – specifically, UVB, the type of UV radiation normally associated with sunburn and skin cancer (the researchers used a special type of UVB lamp that doesn’t cause burning). 9 of these women took vitamin D supplements for three months prior to the UV sessions.
What happened next?
After the UV radiation sessions, all women saw improvements in their serum vitamin D levels. But the women who were deficient in vitamin D prior to the sessions also developed better balance and diversity in their gut microbiomes. In fact, their gut health improved to match the women who had been supplementing with the gut-healthy vitamin for three months!
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This evidence, the authors conclude, “[suggests] the existence of a novel skin-gut axis that could be used to promote intestinal homeostasis and health.”
This research is consistent with past evidence that reveals a link between living at higher latitudes (where exposure to UV radiation is lower) and a higher risk of certain immune-related diseases including inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.
Overall, this latest study supports the consensus that sunlight is really the best source of vitamin D (which your skin cells produce from cholesterol after exposure to UVB radiation). The study also offers a possible reason as to why sunlight is so good for you, given the way it can boost gut health.
Fun in the sun: 4 ways to enjoy healthy sun exposure
There’s no debate about it – excessive UV radiation from the sun can be damaging to your health, and you should avoid overdoing it or getting a sunburn at all costs.
As an example, one 2014 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention showed that getting five or more blistering sunburns before age 20 increased a woman’s risk of skin cancer by as much as 80%!
However, we now know that healthy exposure to the sun helps our body produce vitamin D which is good not only for gut health but also bone and brain health. Vitamin D deficiencies are linked with dire health consequences such as cancer, osteoporosis, dementia, and even depression.
Since UV radiation exposure seems to be the most effective way to boost vitamin D levels in your body (especially if you’re already deficient in the nutrient), how can you get out in the sun safely while minimizing your risk of sunburns, cancer, wrinkles, and so on?
- Seek the high noon sun. Evidence suggests the body is most efficient at making vitamin D when exposed to midday sun. Because of this, you don’t need to spend as much time in the sun, which can mitigate the effects of excessive UV radiation exposure.
- Go without sunscreen – at least for the first 10 to 30 minutes. If you slather yourself in sunscreen your body won’t be able to use UV radiation to convert cholesterol into vitamin D. So go sunscreen-free for up to the first half hour in the sun, depending on how sensitive your skin is – remember, we DON’T want to burn!
- Expose as much skin as your modesty allows. Since your head and face are smaller areas, the skin there won’t produce as much vitamin D in response to sunlight. So go ahead and wear your polarized glasses and a wide-brimmed hat to avoid chronic eye problems and wrinkles – but wear a T-shirt and shorts to expose your limbs whenever possible.
- Supplement your sun exposure with a vitamin D rich diet. Sunlight is the best way to get more vitamin D in your body. But to boost your body’s supply (especially if you live in higher latitudes or have darker skin), consider taking a high quality vitamin D supplement (like cod liver oil) and eat vitamin D rich foods like fatty fish, beef liver, and eggs.
Sources for this article include:
Written by Brenton Wight – LeanMachine
Night Terrors can be a very emotional event for parents, especially if they become more common.
The good news is that there are things that will help, and most children “grow out of it” eventually. The average age for Night Terrors is from 3 to 12 years, although some start sooner and finish later.
Nightmares can happen at any age, often recurring in children at a particular age.
Difference between night terrors and nightmares
Children can have both, which makes things confusing, however, dealing with nightmares may be similar to the guidelines below for night terrors.
Night terrors frighten the parents, and the children have little or no recollection in the morning. During the event, they are still in a very deep stage of sleep. Children appear to be awake, but are in fact still in deep sleep as they scream or run around violently. They may not recognise their parents and usually refuse any offer of help.
Because the child is so active and seems awake but distressed, parents attempt to calm the child, but as the child does not hear the parents because of the deep sleep, they usually do not respond.
Any calming attempts fail, and trying to awaken the child may cause even more stress.
Night Terrors may last from a minute to an hour, and if they wake up during the event, they are often confused, and have no memory of the Terror.
The best approach seems to be to carefully restrain them, ensure their safety where they sleep, allowing an eventual return to natural sleep.
Nightmares (scary dreams) can and do frighten children.
Often they remember their nightmares, which happen during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep rather than Deep Sleep. During REM sleep, the child may more readily awaken during a nightmare.
This is the time for reassurance, and the child will respond to a hug and soft words.
What causes Night Terrors?
Night terrors can be caused by many things, including:
- Junk food
- Processed food
- Dairy or Grain-based foods
- Vitamin B group and or Niacin deficiency
- Bad sleep quality
- Sleep patterns out of routine
- Sleep deprivation – bed time too late
- Too hot or cold in bed
- Noisy sleep environment
- Stressful events – perhaps starting a new school, new teacher, new baby-sitter, bullying, etc
- Listening to parents arguing
- Watching violent TV (even the News)
- Playing violent video games
- Medication, especially antihistamines, decongestants, over-the-counter and prescription medication
- Genetics – children of Night-Terror parents are more likely to suffer
- Central nervous system problems or immaturity
What causes Nightmares?
Somewhat similar to night terrors.
Remedies for both conditions
Calm the child before bed. Read a story (not Ghostbusters or Friday 13th!)
A heavy blanket has a “hugging” effect which improves the sense of security. In warm weather, a light blanket with weights sewn into the corners may be helpful.
Discourage TV for an hour before bed.
Try to maintain a consistent routine and bed time each night.
Make bed time early, as children and adults tend to wake up when the sun comes up, so late bed time means less sleep.
Avoid junk food, improve nutrition
Avoid all processed food, especially those with a chemical number in the ingredients list.
Avoid all grain foods, especially wheat or wheat flour, as gluten sensitivity may be a problem. Even if the doctor says the child does not have coeliac disease, they may still have gluten sensitivity and/or Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Avoid dairy products as lactose or casein intolerance may be a problem.
Get the child to place all worries into an imaginary (or real) garbage bag, tie it up and place it in the bin (real or imagined).
Place a “Dream Catcher” over the bed – generally a wire loop decorated with string, beads, etc with “magic dream-catching” properties. The child may feel better if something in the room is their friend.
Lavender or other calming oils – a few drops on or under the pillow, or a sprig of real lavender.
Snack before bed – this may help children who have unstable blood sugar during the night (usually caused by a bad diet with too much sugar).
St.John’s Wort is a natural antidepressant (children’s dose only). Not to be used with any prescription medication as many meds use the same pathway in the body.
B Complex vitamins may help, also Niacin (Prolonged Release) if there is a deficiency.
GABA supplements have a calming effect and may help.
Vitamin D3 supplements may help, especially if the child does not get adequate direct sunshine in the middle of the day. This is a high dose, so once or twice a week is normally enough as this is a fat-soluble vitamin, not easily flushed away like the water-soluble vitamins.
White noise – such as recording of ocean waves gently rolling onto the beach can have a calming effect. Even subtle noise from running a fan or ioniser may help.
Classical music softly played during the night may help.
Uptated 16th January 2020 – Copyright © 1999-2020 Brenton Wight and BJ&HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285
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Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked – October 13, 2019
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- In “Cancer and the New Biology of Water,” Dr. Thomas Cowan explains why cancer is not a problem of oncogenes but rather a problem involving the cytoplasm — the structured water — of the cell
- Mitochondrial defects are an integral part of the breakdown of the structure in the water, which then triggers the formation of cancer
- Lifestyle strategies that will help restructure the water in your cells, thereby helping prevent cancer include eating a ketogenic diet and exposing your body to sunlight and near-infrared light such as near-infrared sauna
- Other strategies include grounding to the earth by walking barefoot, posing yourself to the biofields of other biological entities, such as the touch of other humans and animals, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Mistletoe therapy stimulates your fever response. It’s an immunostimulating medicine that also works like a chemo drug
Dr. Thomas Cowan is a practicing physician, founding board member and vice president of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
I’ve previously interviewed Cowan on a number of different topics, including the link between vaccines and autoimmune disease, the use of low-dose naltrexone for autoimmune disease and novel treatments for heart disease. Here, we discuss his latest book, “Cancer and the New Biology of Water.”
“I wrote a series of three books. The first one on the heart, the second one on vaccines and autoimmunity and then this one on cancer. As I got into it, I realized it was all about water,” Cowan says.
“The first book was basically two premises: One is that the heart doesn’t pump the blood. The reason for the movement of the blood in your body is not because there’s a propulsion by the heart [but] because of the dynamics of water …
Then I got into the vaccine book and what childhood illness means. That took me deeper into what cells are made of. Somehow it hit me that the whole problem of cancer is a cytoplasmic, i.e., water problem.
It became like the culmination of this series of writing and thinking about human biology, biology in general, and how wrong we have the whole thing, basically.”
Cancer and the Biology of Water
In 1971, President Nixon declared war on cancer. As noted by Cowan, we had just discovered the oncogene at that time, which was thought to be the reason for why people had cancer.
In the decades since, vast sums of money have been spent on cancer research. Were oncogenes the correct target, the war on cancer should have been won by now, yet we’re no closer to a cure today than we were back then. Cowan cites research by the Australian government, which concluded that improvement in cancer statistics as a result of chemotherapy is 2.3%.
“That’s an abysmal return on a $500 billion investment … Probably the costliest endeavor humans have ever undertaken, except maybe war,” Cowan says. “What’s the problem? The problem I submitted in the book is that cancer is not a problem of oncogenes. It isn’t even a problem of the DNA. It isn’t even a problem of the nucleus …
There have been a number of studies over the years where they transplant the nucleus from a healthy cell into another healthy cell and the progeny are normal, as you would expect.
But then they take the nucleus out of a cancer cell, where these oncogenes [are], the DNA that supposedly cause cancer, and put that into a healthy cytoplasm, the progeny are normal. When they take a normal nucleus and put it into the cytoplasm of a cancer cell, it turns the progeny cancerous.
That simple experiment tells you exactly where in the cell the problem of cancer lies, which is in the cytoplasm. The cell has two parts. Basically, it’s a lipid biomembrane that has a nucleus and a cytoplasm. The cytoplasm is basically structured water or a gel.
Now we know that the cytoplasm is the site of cancer. The events in the nucleus are a consequence of degeneration of the cytoplasm, not the other way around.
When these researchers did this, and identified clearly that the site of the cancer problem is in the cytoplasm, they postulated that something in healthy cytoplasm must be able to heal the mutations of the DNA in the nucleus, which there’s no evidence for.”
The Cytoplasm’s Role in Cancer
Cowan argues that the real problem in cancer lies in the structured water of the cell, i.e., the cytoplasm. Similarly, Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., whom I’ve interviewed on this topic as well, believes the studies Cowan mentioned above reveal the problem is rooted in the mitochondria, which also reside in the cytoplasm.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is certainly one aspect, Cowan admits, but more specifically, he believes mitochondrial defects are an integral part of the breakdown of the structure in the water, which then triggers the formation of cancer.
“When you look at what the function of the mitochondria is — which is essentially to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) — and you see what the role of ATP is and how integral ATP is to the structuring of the water in the cytoplasm, then you begin to see the connections between the mitochondrial dysfunction … [and the] deterioration of the cytoplasmic water that leads to cancer.”
Oftentimes, cancer can be palpated (provided the tumor is large enough). The tumor turns into a palpable lump because the density of the cells is too high, Cowan says. The cells are essentially clumped together, and they’ve lost their normal spatial orientation.
All cells have a certain spatial orientation because there’s an electrical charge around the cell. When two cells start coming together, the charge repels them apart. This allows all the cells to remain at an appropriate distance from each other. This distance varies depending on the cells and organs in question, but all tissues have a spatial orientation that allows the tissue to remain healthy and normal.
Structured Water Is Responsible for Cellular Charge
Conventional medicine says that the charge around each cell comes from the distribution of sodium and potassium across the cell membrane. However, Cowan points out that experiments by cell physiologist and biochemist Gilbert Ling, performed more than three decades ago, showed that for the sodium-potassium pump to be responsible for the creation of this charge, the cell would need about 30 times the energy at its disposal.
So, according to Cowan, this belief, while being a cornerstone of modern biology, is little more than a myth. Something else causes the charge, but what? Cowan answers that question with the following explanation:
“It comes about because in the cytoplasm is a mesh network of water, which, by some genius of nature, is so constituted that it, by itself, it traps potassium and excludes sodium … The proper healthy grid, mesh or structuring of the water, in itself, is the pump. No energy needed, just like the heart.
The whole idea of a stupid pump pushing is ridiculous. It’s done by the miracle of water. The charge distribution, the spatial orientation of a cell, is because of the structuring of the water. That’s one.
The second thing is the other hallmark of cancer cells: They all have an abnormal number of chromosomes. It’s called aneuploidy, as opposed to a diploid cell, which means humans have 46 chromosomes. If you get an abnormal number, that’s an abnormal cell we call cancer.
How does that happen? It happens because of events in the cytoplasm, which pulls the two chromosomes apart and makes new copies of mitosis. It doesn’t happen properly because the milieu in the cytoplasm, that structured water, is disturbed.
Therefore, you get all these errors of mitosis, and the energy used for mitosis is deficient. That’s because of the mitochondrial problem. You get errors in chromosome replication called aneuploidy. When you get an aneuploid cell that has an abnormal spatial orientation, that’s called a cancer cell.”
How to Restructure the Water in Your Cells
Once you understand the importance and influence of the cytoplasm, the structured water inside your cells, in the development of cancer, the next question becomes: How do you restructure that water? A significant portion of Cowan’s book covers this important topic.
To illustrate how structured water is made, he compares it to Jell-O. Jell-O is made by mixing gelatin proteins with water and then adding heat. The heat unfolds the proteins, exposing their hydrophilic surfaces, which then grab onto the water.
As the mixture cools, it forms a gel, “which is basically identical to the state that the cytoplasm is in,” Cowan says. To structure the water in your cells and basically mimic this Jell-O making procedure, you can:
- Eat a cyclical ketogenic diet — When fats are metabolized in your mitochondria, they create deuterium depleted water (DDW), which is hydrogen-rich. The more hydrogen you get, the more ATP your cells generate, which in turn allows your cells to create more structured water
- Regularly expose much of your skin to sunlight
- Regularly expose your skin to near-infrared light, such as a near-infrared sauna or a heat lamp bulb. Not only does it restructure water, but it also detoxifies your cells by creating sweating, which purifies the cytoplasm
- Expose yourself to the biofields of other biological entities, such as the touch of other humans and animals
Now, ATP is instrumental for protein unfolding — which is an integral part of the process of creating structured water — and if you have an ATP deficiency, “as happens when you have mitochondrial disease, it’s like trying to make Jell-O without heat,” Cowan says.
“You get clumps of dysfunctional proteins with water that can’t be structured. That’s what you see with cancer cells … If you want to have properly structured water, which then creates healthy cell division and healthy spatial orientation in the cells, you need sunlight, earth and human touch — the biofields of other biological entities, especially those who wish you well, so to speak, like your dog.”
Another alternative is hyperbaric oxygen therapy, although this is not something most people will be able to do at home. By providing more oxygen to the tissues at increased partial pressure, the oxygen is pushed into the mitochondria, allowing them to generate more ATP, which in turn allows your cells to create more structured water.
In his book, Cowan also discusses mistletoe therapy, which he recommends almost universally for his cancer patients. He expounds on the benefits of this therapy as follows:
“Cancer is growing and parasitizing you, sucking your nutrients, just like the mistletoe sucks the nutrients from the oak tree. But there’s a central difference, which is the mistletoe has learned to cooperate with the oak tree, and so each do better together than they would do alone, whereas in cancer, the tumor has parasitized you and you do worse.
What we need is a situation where we bring back that cooperation … This is not a survival of the fittest … That’s not how it works in nature. Nature is a cooperative venture … Mistletoe tells you to see it like that. Now, that’s the metaphor.
[Mistletoe] stimulates fever response, so it is an immunostimulating medicine. It stimulates white blood cells. It stimulates all these aspects of immune response. It stops cells from growing, so it works like a chemo drug, as well … We want the simulation, the purification, the detoxification that happens with fever therapy. Mistletoe does that.”
The idea that fever is a healing aid goes back to a cancer treatment developed in the 1890s by William Coley, a bone surgeon. The treatment, which involves giving isolated proteins from the erysipelas bacteria at a specific dose to induce a fever, is known as “Coley’s toxin.”1
“Around 1989, for I don’t know what reason, I get in the mail a book from Coley’s granddaughter about 2,000 cases he treated and the results — about 60% of them, stage 4. All different kinds of cancer were cured by Coley’s toxins. It’s very well documented.
It was the main adjunct of cancer therapy in the United States for a couple of decades. It was used up until the ’60s. Many, many papers written about it, peer-reviewed journals. There’s no doubt that it was more effective than any adjunctive therapy for cancer we have today.
In a sense though, it’s a blueprint. When you talk about hyperthermia, the problem is it doesn’t work as well as Coley’s toxins. I think the reason for that is [hyperthermia] doesn’t turn on your innate cellular immune system. It’s just heating up your cells.
I’m not saying that something good doesn’t happen from heating up your cells, but it’s not the same. Coley’s was a way of internally generating the temperature, and so is mistletoe, although mistletoe isn’t as dramatic as Coley’s toxins …
[Today, Coley’s toxin] is not available anywhere. It’s very sad. There should be a way of stimulating fever. I had occasion to use it a little bit years ago. You could basically generate any temperature you want. It’s pretty rigorous therapy. You get shakes and chills and not everyone wants to do that. But if you do that, you have a dramatic detoxification-purification response …
None of these strategies are a magic bullet. The point I’m trying to make is that healthy cytoplasm, which is basically a structured water gel, that’s the key focus … All those [factors discussed earlier] contribute to the quality of the gels that you’re going to produce. That’s what good health is.”
Cowan’s book ends with the story of Sleeping Beauty. “It’s what we tell children to teach them how the world works,” he says. Sleeping Beauty, a princess, is bewitched by an evil witch, which in fairytales always illustrates the materialistic side of life.
“When you’re bewitched by materialism … you fall into chaos and disrepair has happened in the story. Something has to come along to wake you up, not to a new way of seeing, as they say in the story, but to your true nature.
That’s where we’re at now. We’re living out the story of Sleeping Beauty. We’re bewitched by materialism and we can’t see our true nature. That’s become a real problem. [Getting out of that matrix involves] an interesting combination of all these techniques that we’re talking about …
Cyclical ketosis, sunlight, walking in the ocean, infrared saunas … fever therapy, bringing back therapies like Coley’s toxins. There’s another side too, which is to change our minds … Somehow, we have to change our mind and … see the world as it is.
I often tell people and patients, ‘If you see the world from a materialistic point of view and you realize that the matter we’re talking about is made of atoms, which are, themselves, 99% space, just empty, so how does that work? It’s an illusion.’ Once we see that we’re essentially crystallized energy, then you start to wake up.
The most hopeful thing I think I can tell people is that once you begin to open your mind, there’s more out there than was taught in school or that your doctors tell you. Somehow the world seems to feed you information or give you clues as to where to go next.
You don’t need me to tell you what to do or where to go next. Somehow it just happens. I don’t know if you would agree, but in my life, once you open yourself to this possibility, to me, it’s like the spiritual world comes in to offer a hand. The next thing you know, you meet this person. Next thing you know, you [learn] things that you didn’t know before.
You just keep opening your mind. If we keep doing that, we can build a different world. You don’t have to do anything. You just have to stop not doing things, believing that there’s nothing there.”
To learn more, be sure to pick up a copy of Cowan’s book, “Cancer and the New Biology of Water.” I definitely recommend it and all the resources in there. It’s a great read. Cowan tells a good story, which makes his books easy to digest. “I hope that it catalyzes some institution, some person — somebody — to say, ‘We’ve got to do things differently because this isn’t working,” Cowan says.