By Clive Lindley-Jones | February 3, 2012 12:14 pm
The Sunshine Tonic
"What vitamin deficiency affects over half of the population, is almost never diagnosed, and has been linked to depression, dementia, many cancers, autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chronic muscle pain, and bone loss?
What vitamin is almost totally absent from our food supply? What vitamin do we need up to twenty-five times more of than the government recommends for us to be healthy? What vitamin is the hidden cause of so much suffering that is so easy to treat? If you guessed vitamin D, you are correct”. Dr. Mark Hyman.
It is that time of the year, when for several months most of us have spent the great majority of our time in doors, and when we have gone out, there is precious little sun, and if there is any it is too cold to expose more than a few square centimetres of our faces to it. February is a time when traditionally the food stored up for surviving the winter, would be getting low and possibly rotten, so in our time of great abundance we must not bemoan our lot. However, with all the advantages and wonders of our age there are bound to be a few unforeseen down sides, and perhaps our indoor life style and reduced passion for fatty fish has lead to part of the present problem we seem to be facing with Vitamin D.
Most of us know that we need to get out in the sun once in a while, and many of us love to do so. Part of that health benefit is the ability of the sun on our skin to be turned into this unusual vitamin, vitamin D. 20-30 minutes of direct sunshine a day, five days a week, is necessary to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D. Any sun cream over factor eight blocks the ultra violet light the body needs to create vitamin D. But increasingly the more that is known about this unusual vitamin the more it seems that many of us may be getting rather less than our optimum amount. Try this little quiz to see how you may be doing?
r I have a family history of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or the winter blues.
r I have experienced a loss of mental sharpness or memory.
r I have sore or weak muscles.
r I have tender bones (press on your shin bone to see if it hurts,).
r I work indoors.
r I avoid the sun.
r I wear sunblock most of the time.
r I don’t eat small, fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, or sardines (the main source of dietary vitamin D).
r I have a family history of osteoporosis.
r I have broken more than 2 bones or had a hip fracture.
r I have a family history of autoimmune disease (such as multiple sclerosis).
r I have osteoarthritis (vitamin D deficiency weakens bones and leads to
r I have frequent infections.
r I have a family history of prostate cancer.
r I have dark skin (any race other than Caucasian).
r I am 60 years old or older.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman (click here for more...). Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, author of the excellent ‘Ultra-Mind Solution’ (I will be reviewing this book in a future month) If you scored 9 and above you many have a severely low level of vitamin D.
Earlier last month, the chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, wrote to health professionals advising them to consider vitamin D supplementation for certain at risk groups, including pregnant mothers.
"We know a significant proportion of people in the UK probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including pregnant women and children under five, are already advised to take daily supplements. Our experts are clear - low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of poor bone health, including rickets in young children," she explained.
"Many health professionals... give advice on supplements and it is crucial they continue to offer this advice as part of routine consultations and ensure disadvantaged families have access to free vitamin supplements through our Healthy Start scheme.
"It is important to raise awareness of this issue, and I will be contacting health professionals on the need to prescribe and recommend vitamin D supplements to at risk groups.
"The Department of Health has also asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to review the important issue of current dietary recommendations on vitamin D."
Vitamin D is a generic term of cholesterol-like fat soluble substances called secosteroids, unlike other vitamins, it really also acts like a hormone. Many children who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or who were thought to have been abused by their parents have subsequently been shown to have been suffering from congenital vitamin D deficiency leading to weak bones and even Rickets. ( see BBC article) is particularly important to realise for those with more pigment in their skin may be at added risk, as this is likely to make it even harder to get sufficient vitamin D from our low sun levels at this latitutude. However, even then it is not that simple. Hazel Nunn, of Cancer Research UK, ( see BBC article) has reported on a study into melanoma and vitamin D levels in very fair skinned people, who it is believed may also not always be able to absorb adequate levels of Vitamin D, but who are at the same time up to three times greater risk of getting malignant melanoma if they get too much sun on their skin.
University of Oxford professor, George Ebers, has said rates of multiple sclerosis are so dire in Scotland, where levels of vitamin D are the lowest in the world, essential foodstuffs should be fortified with vitamin D as the link between MS and vitamin D levels are starting to be more clearly understood.
So not only can dark and very fair skinned people be at risk, but also surprisingly, exclusively breast fed infants, those with inflammatory bowel disease, the obese, pregnant mothers, young children and the elderly.
Because of its wide range of effects on our physiology research is increasingly seeing a wider role for vitamin D both in general health as well as some more serious chronic diseases. So vitamin D levels can effect cell differentiation and so your risk of some cancers, insulin regulation, blood pressure control, immunity/autoimmunity, some migraine headaches, mood and depression as well as musculoskeletal function.
Vitamin D deficiency Serum circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) level is the most reliable marker of vitamin D status. There is ongoing debate on the appropriate definitions of vitamin D deficiency and adequacy. Figures vary from country to country.
According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey:
· 90% of the general population have below optimal levels - 80nmol/L (32 ng/mL)
· 75% of young adults, the elderly and British Asian children are classed as deficient - 50nmol/L (20ng/mL)
· 5-20% of the general population are classed as severely deficient - 25 nmol/L (10ng/mL)
So while you may have heard it here first, expect to be hearing a lot more about this extra ordinary vitamin over the coming months and years. If in doubt you probably should be supplementing your diet with some Vitamin D. However you can get a simple vitamin D test first to see what your levels are and be careful not to over do it, while it would be unusual, you can take too much. Want to know more, ask us at your next visit to Helix House.
Every year at Helix House we see many children with a wide range of issues. Through a complex course of treatment focused on their nervous system through their body mechanics, their biochemistry through their food, and their emotions and beliefs through their mind, we help them make the most of themselves.
Children come to Helix House, sometimes directly and sometimes referred from the Charity The Sunflower Trust . The Sunflower Trust works hard to both research and further validate these methods to help children thrive, as well as providing bursaries for families who's financial circumstances make it hard for them to be able to afford the treatment on their own. We at Helix House are regularly involved in fund raising for this very purpose (Read the August 2010 blog for more..) To hear Clive Lindley-Jones discussing ADHD and other learning difficulties on the radio follow this link .
If you would like to know more about Sunflower Therapy or wish to discuss any thing issues you child may be experiencing, please feel free to contact us at Helix House.
Book of the month
Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography
by Walter Isaacson
It can hardly have escaped your notice that Steve Jobs, the charismatic co-founder of Apple, died of cancer in October 2011. Knowing his chances of a long life were slim, Jobs invited Isaacson, who had already written successful biographies of the likes of Einstein, to take on the challenge of writing Job’s life. As I write this on my superb i-mac computer, it is hard not to be curious about the life of someone who had such an impressive impact on the development, not only of the home computer, but also of the film industry through Pixar, the music industry through the i-Player, the phone industry through the i-Phone (which now accounts for half of Apples enormous profits) and the tablet computing industry through the i-Pad.
Isaacson takes use through Job’s early life as a happily adopted child born into silicon valley right at the crucial moment for the development of the computer industry. His early life is well covered and perhaps less well known than his later corporate battles and final spectacular product successes, and, in part, helps set the scene, not only for Job’s early meteoric rise to predominance in the new field of home computing with the development of the Apple and later the Mac computer, but it also sets the scene for some understanding of his, at times, difficult personality and cruel streak.
Jobs was an all or nothing guy, for whom most produces sucked until they were perfect. There was very little room in between. He was also dubbed 'the master of desire'. And for anyone who has wandered into the magic cave of a Mac shop and looked and handled the goods with delight, there is something both brilliant and slightly alarming in products so good that many of us want to own them, before quite knowing what they will actually do for us. They just look and feel so attractive.
If you have ever been seduced by the sublime lines, human-friendly interface and overall superior zen-like design of any of the impressive stable of Apple’s slim, but hugely impressive, line of products and shops, you are unlikely not to find this account fascinating and informative.
If you are interested in the interface of the humanities and technology or business and the importance of great product over sales as a focus for a profitable, you will find lots here to ponder on.
If, like me, you are not a computer geek who looks for the open system that can be hacked and tweaked, but rather want a machine to do its job easily, well with style and grace, then you too will find this an interesting account of a life and a journey.
Wherever you stand on the open v. closed computer systems debate, or even if you have no idea what I am on about, this still makes a good read, telling the story of one iconic life at the crest of the wave of late twentieth, early twenty first century, technology.
Job’s impact on our world of gadgets, whether you have one of his products or not, the role of high quality design in everyday products and the ultimate profitability in producing quality over the dominance of profit over product, is a salutary lesson for us.
For all his abrasive, narcissistic personality traits and, at times, obnoxious, brat-like behaviour, that, to his credit, Jobs did nothing to seek to have covered up in this biography, Jobs ultimate vindication and Apple’s enormous profitability and success highlight some worthy lessons for us all.
Do what you love, go for the very best that you can dream up, in what you make or do, not the wealth it might give you, and you, like Jobs, may be ultimately vindicated. Or if you are not, at least you will have an absorbing, purpose-driven, ride.