I recently received an email from a regular reader who told me that after reading about the risks of vitamin D deficiency, he spoke to his doctor about supplementing with vitamin D…
His doctor’s response was: “you are wasting your money”.
Getting the facts straight
If I had the time, I would write a book based on the mountains of research published in recent years on the risks of vitamin D deficiency and the benefits of maintaining optimum levels.
For instance, low levels of the sunshine vitamin have been linked to a higher risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer, osteoarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes and colon, breast and ovarian cancer… to name but a few. Optimum levels of vitamin D have been associated with protection against winter infections, halving the risk of asthma attacks, strengthening your bones, lowering the risk of developing heart disease and multiple sclerosis, and it offers protection against the severity of certain mental health conditions like depression… and the list goes on and on.
Back in 2012, health experts warned that vitamin D deficiency is a ‘major public health concern’ and that Britain is heading back to the 1920s when large numbers of children suffered bone pain and bowed legs from the effects of rickets.
In fact, many concerned doctors have described vitamin D deficiency as a ‘national epidemic’ and it’s no secret that the health risks associated with insufficient levels of the sunshine vitamin have been in the spotlight for quite some time now.
Vitamin D deficiency is such a big problem that in November 2014 the UK National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) published new guidelines and recommendations to ensure that healthcare professionals are aware of the benefits of vitamin D supplementation as well as the dangers of vitamin D deficiency.
So, for a doctor to tell a patient that supplementing with vitamin D is a “waste of money” leaves me speechless.
Even more so since one of the measures put in place by the NICE guidelines are computer-generated reminders prompting doctors to talk to their patients about supplementing with vitamin D… especially when they are consulting with patients who are at higher risk of being deficient, like pregnant mothers and people over the age of 65.
Did this reader’s doctor ignore those prompts? Are they not aware of the new guidelines? Or worse, are they simply forcing their own beliefs onto their patients?
Either way, it seems to me that someone needs to get their facts straight (or at least adhere to current guidelines)… and quickly, because telling patients not to take vitamin D is doing far more harm than good.
If you suspect that your doctor is failing to recognise the importance of supplementing with vitamin D, here are the basics facts you need to know:
- Living in the northern hemisphere means that you are exposed to less sunlight and are therefore very likely to be vitamin D deficient – our bodies produces vitamin D when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight.
- Vitamin D lasts for approximately 60 days in the body. This is why it’s so important to top your levels up regularly. The best way to do this is by spending about twenty minutes twice a week in the sun exposing your hands, arms and face in particular, to maintain reserves.
- During the winter months, it is important to maintain optimum vitamin D levels because numerous studies have shown that being deficient in vitamin D makes you more vulnerable to winter infections.
- When you supplement with vitamin D, make sure that you take the natural form – vitamin D3 – in combination with vitamin K2… or increase your intake of foods like kale, broccoli, mustard greens, beetroot greens and spinach, and certain cheeses such as Brie and Gouda.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Vitamin D: increasing supplement use in at-risk groups, published online nice.org.uk/guidance/ph56/chapter/7-Glossary#vitamin-d
Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry, Volume 18, Number 3, Pages 249-257,
Effects of vitamin D supplementation and circuit training on indices of obesity and insulin resistance in T2D and vitamin D deficient elderly women, Authors: H.-J. Kim, C.-K. Kang, H. Park, M.-G. Lee
How Vitamin D Can Benefit Diabetes Sufferers, published online 26.12.15, realdiabetestruth.com
BMJ Open Gastro, doi:10.1136/bmjgast-2015-000052
Journal of Clinical Oncology, 22 February 2016
Low vitamin D linked to osteoarthritis in knee, agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov
Could low levels of vitamin D help explain why we’re prone to infections in the winter?, by Dr. Briffa, published online 12.10.07, drbriffa.com
Vitamin D helps to combat tuberculosis, flu and other infections by Dr. Briffa, published online 22.06.07, drbriffa.com
Vitamin D supplements could halve risk of serious asthma attacks, published online 06.09.2016, theguardian.com
Higher vitamin D levels may be linked to lower risk of bowel cancer ‘ published online 25.01.10, info.cancerresearchuk.org
Obesity may cause low vitamin D levels, published online 07.02.13, nhs.uk