15 December 2008

Lack of Vitamin D Ups Heart Risk

I have always thought that medicine had shattered into speciality. I have no doubt that other things being equal sun exposure is bad for you, but sunlight tunes the immune system after sun damage and is an excellent example of hormensis, the way things that are bad for you in high doses are good for you in small doses. I am confident that ionising radiation from external sources (not ingested) will prove to be far less harmfull than once thought. I think most of the benefit of fresh fruit and vegs come from plant nutrients but evidence exists that the stress response to toxins evolved to combat herbivores are also part of the health benefit. The connection between autoimmune disease (MS,lupis) and lack of sunlight is pertinent and the capacity of sunlight to improve mood and energise the body are clear.

Credible medical evidence not directly funded by self interested party's for the effacy of most treatments of chronic disease such as statins and beta blockers simply doesn't exist. Even where it does exist, it is never acknowledged that rarely is a drug effective in more than 60% of the population due to individual genetic differences.

The burden of illness caused by adverse drug reactions, especially in the elderly, is vastly under reported and is responsible for 30% of elderly admissions. The capacity of blood thiners to cause bleeding after an acident, of drugs perscribed to curtail minor divergences in individual ECG's from a model beat in the elderly to greatly increase the risk of falls and for the metabolites of drugs to build up in the liver are largely unexamined.

Speaking personally, I beleive very strongly in the power of science to inform evidence based medicine and despise folk nonsense as much as I do the corruption of clinical practice by precision marketing and the psychological mapping of perscribers by the Drug Companies.

My advice is never to accept the advice of a doctor without a second opinion and more significantly reviews of databases of evidence based medical treatments. The Cochrane Collaboration is an example of best practice here.

I wanted to make my position absolutely clear before reposting this item discovered by Duncan.

"(NaturalNews) Vitamin D deficiency has long been linked with weak muscles and bones. Now research shows a lack of the "sunshine" vitamin may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, evidence is mounting from numerous studies that low vitamin D levels could play a role in a host of CVD risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. What's more, a lack of the vitamin may be a direct factor in cardiovascular events, including stroke and congestive heart failure.

In a review article just published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), James H. O'Keefe, M.D., cardiologist and director of Preventive Cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, and his co-authors list practical recommendations to screen for and treat low vitamin D levels, especially in patients with risk factors for CVD and diabetes. The article points out that recent data from the Framingham Heart Study suggests people with vitamin D levels below 15 ng/ml were twice as likely to experience a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event within the next five years compared to those with higher levels of vitamin D. This elevated risk remained even when researchers adjusted for other well-known cardiovascular risk factors.

"Restoring vitamin D levels to normal is important in maintaining good musculoskeletal health, and it may also improve heart health and prognosis. Vitamin D deficiency is an unrecognized, emerging cardiovascular risk factor, which should be screened for and treated," Dr. O'Keefe, M.D., said in a media release. "Vitamin D is easy to assess, and supplementation is simple, safe and inexpensive."

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) review points out that about half of U.S. adults and 30 percent of children and teenagers are estimated to have vitamin D deficiency. Low vitamin D levels are believed to raise the risk of hypertension and a stiffening and thickening of the heart and blood vessels. By altering hormone levels and immune system function, vitamin D deficiency can also increase the risk of diabetes, a major contributor to CVD.

According to Dr. O'Keefe's statement to the press, vitamin D deficiency is far more prevalent than once thought. This may be due to the fact most of the body's vitamin D usually comes from exposure to the sun , but indoor lifestyles and use of sunscreen, which eliminates 99 percent of vitamin D synthesis by the skin, means many people are not getting enough of the essential vitamin. "We are outside less than we used to be, and older adults and people who are overweight or obese are less efficient at making vitamin D in response to sunlight," said Dr. O'Keefe.

To increase levels of vitamin D, Dr. O'Keefe suggests exposing yourself to sunlight for 10 minutes between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., if you are Caucasian. If you have increased or dark skin pigmentation, you may need to spend more time in the sunshine. Other sources of vitamin D include salmon, vitamin D-fortified foods, some cereals and supplements.

About the author
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others."

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