Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Vitamin D: Benefits
Dr. Holick went to visit a woman in a hospital. The woman had a lot of bone pain, muscle pain and aches. She couldn't even walk. Dr. Holick recognized the problem right away. The lady was African American suffering from adult rickets: softening of the bones. He put her on a therapy of vitamin D and sun exposure. And, in fact, in a month/two, the lady was able to walk with a walker.
Here's something else.
African Americans have the highest death rate of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers," said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., American Cancer Society chief medical officer.
And YET, research is showing that vitamin D helps lower the risk of many cancers including prostate, breast, and colon. The Cancer Recovery Foundation claim that vitamin D helps reduce certain cancer by 77%. The Vitamin D Council goes so far as to say that prostate cancer IS a vitamin D deficiency that people just are not aware of!
I really wanted to understand this.
Bursting forth from the hot sun are invisible rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. The UVB ray is considered the "burning" ray, but it also causes our bodies to make vitamin D.
So, I'm outside. The UVB ray hits my skin, and a flurry of activity begins. A certain type of cholesterol goes through a series of transformation that results into an active form of vitamin D. (It's D3)
And why exactly do I want this?
It definitely makes us feel good. And as we're learning, vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. It helps regulate melatonin-the hormone that causes us to fall asleep. But the really amazing part is that it helps regulate cell growth, in the prostate, breast, colon, and other tissues. And that may be why vitamin D helps combat cancer. (B/c cancer is growth out of control)
Unfortunately, many African Americans are deficient in vitamin D. The NHANES(National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) found that among African American women in their child-bearing years, 42% were vitamin D deficient. (Next was Mexican Americans, and then Caucasions who were low by only 4%.
Well, considering that African Americans have a natural barrier called melanin against the sun, and that SPF can block up to 95% of UV rays, it's understandable why many of us may be vitamin D deficient.
However, despite the benefits of sunlight, many of us shy away from it...