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"Replacing the Sun" Dr. Myron Wentz on the need of more Vitamin D

Today medical research is discovering more and more functions of vitamin D in the human body, every one of them critical for optimal health. For example, vitamin D regulates blood levels of essential minerals such as phosphorus and calcium; it regulates the parathyroid gland, which controls the activity of bone tissue; it is essential to our immune system, plays a role in preventing high blood pressure, and protects against a wide range of diseases, from several forms of cancer to diabetes to multiple sclerosis. One authority estimates that lack of sunshine—and the consequent reduced production of vitamin D—leads to nearly one million deaths per year around the world, 600,000 of those deaths from cancer alone. Many, many times more than caused by the H1N1 swine flu.
I agree with Dr. Michael Holick, when he says that vitamin D deficiency may be today’s real epidemic. Vast numbers of people are suffering from significant deficiencies of vitamin D. An estimated one billion people around the world have vitamin D deficiency. The rates of deficiency are especially high in the elderly in industrialized countries. According to several studies, 40 to 100% of U.S. and European men and women over 65 are deficient in vitamin D.1
To make matters even worse, we know that it’s not easy to obtain your vitamin D needs from your diet. Very little vitamin D is naturally present in our food. While oily fish and mushrooms are among the best sources and many foods in the U.S., such as orange juice and breakfast cereals, are fortified with vitamin D, most of us get 90 to 95% of our vitamin D requirement from our skin, when we are exposed to the sun.2
A misplaced fear of sun exposure has been responsible for untold illness and suffering. However, even if we get over being frightened of the sun’s rays, the cells in the dermis and epidermis will absorb sufficient ultraviolet B radiation to convert cholesterol into precursors of vitamin D only when the sun’s intensity is at a certain level. It may sound unfair, but in order to produce vitamin D we need to be out in the direct sun in the middle of the day on the right part of the earth at the right time of year.
The bottom line is that everyone who lives more than 37 degrees latitude north or south of the equator is at risk of vitamin D deficiency in the winter months. Look at a map to see if you’re in ‘sun deficient’ zone. So, with the sunshine in the other hemisphere, and only a few good sources of vitamin D in food, we are left with—you guessed it—supplementation.
Nutrition authorities recently raised the recommended level of vitamin D and are likely to raise it further in the near future. Today a blood level of over 30 ng/mL is considered to be just sufficient, and a daily intake of 800 to 1,000 IU is required to achieve that borderline level. We now believe that an optimal blood level is around double that.
Largely due to today’s busy lifestyles, along with avoiding the midday sun, overuse of sunscreens and living too far from the equator, most of us need to supplement with vitamin D all year-round, with increased amounts in the winter months. A tiny 2000 IU tablet of vitamin D is now available from USANA, the ideal amount for winter supplementation.
There’s a new interest in the benefits of vitamin D, and clinical study results are rolling in, which I will be reporting to you. Here’s one: Post-menopausal women who increase their vitamin D intake by 1,100 IU per day reduce their relative risk of cancer by 60 to 77%3. Wow.:

Dr. Myron Wentz founder of Usana Health Science and the Sanoviv Medical Institute

1 Holick MF Vitamin D Deficiency p. 267 N Engl J Med. 357:266-81. 2007.
2 Holick, MF The Vitamin D Epidemic and its Health Consequences. J. Nutr. 135:2739S-2748S. 2005.
3 Holick MF Vitamin D Deficiency p. 278 N Engl J Med. 357:266-81. 2007