Many People who live in the Midwest have conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency due to our limited sun exposure. As our days shorten and we move toward darker, colder months, it’s important to supplement our diet with vitamin D rich foods. Deficiency of vitamin D has been associated with the following diseases:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Autoimmune disease (multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosis)
- Heart disease
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis, gout, pseudo gout, tendinitis, bursitis)
- Gum disease/tooth loss
- Metabolic syndrome
- Vitamin D deficiency can also cause general symptoms such as:
- Joint pain and/or swelling
- Muscle pain
- Cramping and/or weakness
- Chronic pain
- Generalized muscle aches
- Seasonal affective disorder
These conditions often improve when vitamin D levels are normalized. Measuring vitamin D in the late spring is the best time since it is when people are at their lowest level of the year. Annual springtime measures can offer a reliable picture of deficits and indicate raised levels if using a supplement regimen. Normal vitamin D levels are between 50 and 70. D2 in the body is converted to the active form, D3 when exposed to UV rays. Using sunscreen to prevent sunburn, only after you have obtained a healthy dose of UV is a safe way to boost vitamin D with the sun. Because of the limited sun exposure in the northern states, it is nearly impossible to achieve normal vitamin D levels without supplementation. Oil based vitamin D3 is the supplement most readily absorbed and usable by the body.
What causes bone loss in the case of osteoporosis? Vitamin D is misunderstood as only a bone builder. Food is metabolized by the liver resulting in waste products. The waste can be acid or alkaline. When the body’s pH levels become acidic, buffers/antacids like potassium, magnesium, and calcium are needed to counter act the acidity to bring the body back to a neutral pH. Vitamin D will “leach” buffers from bones, joints and muscles to restore a functional pH. Similarly, a swimming pool needs to have the right pH to keep it free of algae and bacteria. The body also needs a reliable neutral pH to function optimally and ward off disease. Sadly, the standard American diet has a very acidic effect on our bodies. This process of taking minerals away from the skeletal system is a stress on the body and can cause structural changes and loss of integrity resulting in various pathologies.
Vitamin D levels are important, but also an adequate environment is necessary for vitamin D to function and maintain health. For example, vitamin D slows the growth of cells. This allows the body to make corrections during DNA replication and may reduce the risk of most cancers by 50%. Acid-base balanced diets are the key to helping vitamin D act as a bone builder and enable it to perform its other many duties. Meals with a 3 to 1 ratio of fresh produce to lean meat are recommended to provide enough buffers to support vitamin D. Magnesium is required to convert D2 to D3 and enable proper gene regulation. Dark green leafy vegetables are the best fresh produce since they are full of minerals and the key buffers, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Other easy snacks like citrus, bananas, dates, apricots, and coconut water can help to tip the balance. Salt, grains, and cheese are groups to minimize since they have acidic waste and low nutritional values. Even though low fat dairy products are a good calcium source, cheese actually creates twice the acidity of a serving of lean meat. Cheese also has high levels of sodium and saturated fat.
People of all ages, shapes, colors, and health can be positively impacted by a thoughtful, supportive plan to restore vitamin D levels. Children especially stand to benefit from learning an easy, daily practice of healthy choices to help them have longer, healthier lives since many diseases like osteoporosis have their start in childhood.
This article is information taken from The Vitamin D Cure, by Dr. James Dowd and Diane Stafford. This book is a great read for any healthcare professional or patient. It reads like a handbook for any person desiring to improve their health or the health of their family.
Freedom Physical Therapy Services offers a program for patients suffering from many of the above mentioned diseases including osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and arthritis. We empower patients to move toward better health and wellness by providing advice on diet, exercise and the best way to perform daily activities.