Most illnesses can be traced back to one of two things: toxicity or insufficiency. An insufficiency of a critical nutrient, or a toxicity that disturbs normal body functions. Modern life is full of toxicities and deficiencies – we are wild animals living in captivity. From our sedentary routines, to environmental pollution, to the many “edible food-like substances” available in the supermarket, we can easily live in ways that work against our genetic requirements. Currently, we know that 75% of chronic diseases are due to lifestyle factors, and genetic predispositions can be successfully countered with positive choices.
As we head into the fall season, many of my clients are walking through the door sniffling and sneezing. I suggest that these immune-compromised people may suffer from what I call “sunshine deficiency syndrome.” The sun gives life to plants, and in humans it produces vitamin D in unprotected skin. In northern climates like Minnesota, it is almost impossible for a modern human to get enough vitamin D through fortified foods alone. Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, which means transferring calcium from the intestines into the blood. Vitamin D also regulates more than 200 individual human genes. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with atherosclerosis and increased susceptibility to colds and flu. Studies show that having high vitamin D levels may even protect postmenopausal women against cancer. And isn’t every month cancer awareness month these days? Let’ do everything possible to stay well.
In the past twenty years, blood levels of vitamin D have decreased by 20% on average, from sub-optimal to truly pathological (lower than 25 ng/mL). This is especially alarming when we consider that this vulnerable, underprotected population includes children, who are playing outside less than their parents did. The most up-to-date research indicates that 40-80 ng/mL is the optimal level of vitamin D in your blood. The blood test for vitamin D (25-OH D) may require only a fingerprick. If you need to supplement, the good news is that vitamin D is a safe, inexpensive supplement that is available in liquid form for children.