Yet another article on vitamin D! It was in USA Today (3/31/2011). The headline proclaims that “One-third aren’t getting benefit for heart, bones”.
For years I have been seeing warnings about not getting enough vitamin D, with particular concern for brittle bones in the aging population. Having had my AARP card for a couple of decades now, I tend to pay more attention to such stuff. I am enjoying life too much to want to shrink or break any more than I have to.
The article was like many others I have seen in recent years, in that it urges us to take supplemental vitamin D, principally for bone health although many sources ascribe a wide variety of problems to the deficiency including muscle weakness, cognitive impairment and cancer. But there seems to be little agreement among the experts on anything except bone health. There are simply too many variables in human health to be sure.
In trying to sort out what to do, if anything, I have come to some conclusions on the matter, and there is one article I found that pretty well sums them up at this LINK.
One thing that jumps out at me is this. If you’re fair-skinned, experts say going outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun—in shorts and a tank top with no sunscreen—will give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units of the vitamin.
Now if you look at the USA Today article you will see that 10,000 IU’s are vastly greater than any food source can provide. A serving of salmon only gets you 360 IU’s. Clearly, Mother Nature intended us to get our vitamin D from the sun. (It comes only from ultra violet B rays, UV-B, and only when the sun is high.) Further thinking on this, it occurs to me that people spend less time in the sun than they used to, and, vitamin D is only available when the sun is high. And think about all those people in nursing homes. See any good tans in there lately? Now there’s some food for thought.
We work indoors, most of us, and travel in cars. UV-B doesn’t penetrate glass. So is it any wonder that we are deficient? We evolved in the open and now we have placed ourselves in a completely different environment. Further, we have allowed experts to convince us that exposure to sunlight is going to doom us to skin cancer. The common-sense truth is that we need some sun exposure for good health because that’s the way it was for about 200,000 years. And it’s no accident that Homo Sapiens comes in a variety of colors – that’s nature’s way of coping with the wide variance of UV-B, intense in the tropics and completely lacking up north. (Eskimos get their’s from fish oil.)
Bottom line here, I intend to get a good 20 minutes of sunlight daily on my face and arms, Spring through Autumn, and take calcium citrate + D in the winter (500 mg). (Any more and I get side effects. Don’t ask.) The pharmaceutical industry keeps telling us we need pills, but we didn’t evolve with pills. Any time I can go natural, I’m gonna do it.
As one gets older one pays more attention to this stuff. If you have read this far, you are likely close to me in age. Young people think they are ten feet tall and bullet-proof. Reality is different, but I still like Dylan Thomas’ view of aging:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.