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Sticks and Stones and Vitamin D Deficiency

Posted Jun 05 2009 4:56pm

In This Issue:

Vitamin D Deficiency — The Invisible Epidemic

By Dr. Bill Stillwell

vitamin D The brilliant sunshine streaming through my window reminds me that we can now spend moretime outdoors. Just in time, too. After the gray winter doldrums, especially in northern latitudes, say above the axis between Boston and northern California, there is a silent, invisible epidemic: vitamin D deficiency. This is a major component of widespread osteoporosis and resultant hip and wrist fractures that orthopaedists are called upon to treat.

You see, as important as calcium intake is to your bone health and integrity, it can’t get into your bloodstream and your bones without vitamin D. This essential vitamin is necessary to allow calcium ions in food to cross the intestinal wall.

Vitamin D is really not a vitamin though in the usual sense of the word. In fact, it is a steroid hormone, with an amazing array of bioactive properties. 2,4 More recently discovered functions of this exotic vitamin include:

  • Regulation of a number of genetic functions that help to reduce cell proliferation (dangerous cell growth).
  • Promotion of cell differentiation (transformation of different cell types).
  • Prevention of cancerous transformation and modulation of apoptosis (cell death). This means that vitamin D seems to prevent and even treat a variety of cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, lung, and lymphoma. 1

And that’s in addition to its regular functions like maintaining serum calcium and phosphate levels, promoting the normal mineral growth of bone, and preventing tetany (spastic contraction of muscles due to low levels of calcium).

Vitamin D prevents the “soft bone” diseases — rickets (in children) and osteomalacia (in adults). It promotes bone growth and bone remodeling, and along with calcium, it prevents osteoporosis in older adults. 1,4

Unfortunately, dietary sources of vitamin D are restricted to comparatively few foods like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines) or fish livers (i.e., cod liver oil), milk and dairy products, egg yolks, and beef liver. Other dietary sources are from fortified foods, to which vitamin D has been added.

The major source for humans is sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation4 which synthesizes vitamin D in our skin. 3,4

Whether you get plenty of sunlight, eat a lot of fish, eat fortified foods, or take dietary supplements, how can you tell if you’re taking the right amount of vitamin D — or even too much?

The answer to that question can vary depending on with whom you consult and your age.  Most health care professionals suggest daily intake from dietary or supplement sources at doses of between 200 IU and 1200 IU. And because it’s a fat-soluble substance, you can take too much, but only at very high doses.  (Consult with a doctor if you want to supplement with more than 2000 IU per day.) Oddly enough though, excessive sunlight does not cause vitamin D toxicity.

Toxic symptoms include nausea, excessive levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood, and possibly, heart rhythm abnormalities and kidney stones. The key is to take the right amount for you.

So here’s what I recommend. If you live in a year-round warm climate that permits sunbathing, the easiest thing to do is expose your body to the sun daily, for about 20 to 30 minutes on each side, front and back, between 10 AM and 2 PM. You must NOT use a sun block or tanning lotion, which will block the vitamin D generating effects.

It has to be direct sunlight, too — UVB does not penetrate glass walls or windows. And if you have a darker complexion, this method is less effective, as melanocytes (pigment cells) in the skin block much of the necessary UVB radiation. 4

An alternative is a tanning parlor for the same daily exposure.  Do not exceed these exposures without protection or else you may invite the proven skin cancer-causing effects of solar radiation. Above all, avoid burning.  If you prefer to use supplements, try 400-1000 IU vitamin D per day. 1-3

You can also ask your doctor to test your levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25 (OH) D) to ensure you are not deficient.

If you do decide to have your vitamin D level checked, be advised that no one knows exactly what the “correct” level of this indicator is. 2 Results of less than 20 ng/mL indicate significant deficiency and must be treated. The range of 20-30 ng/mL reflects inadequate levels and should be treated.  Over 30, and up to the 60 ng/mL range is optimal (and in sun worshipers, even 100 is considered normal by Quest Diagnostics and Lab-Corp laboratories). 2 Levels consistently above 150-200 ng/mL are considered toxic. 2

Remember to take sufficient calcium with your vitamin D. These two nutrients work together to strengthen your bones. For middle-aged and older folks, a minimum intake of about 1200 mg/day of calcium is recommended.

I’d recommend testing your vitamin D levels every few months, especially during the winter if you live in a colder northern climate. I’d also recommend a calcium test every few months.  By following your serum 25 (OH) D levels and knowing what you’re ingesting, you and your doctor can determine what the “correct” dosage is for you.


  1. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet — Vitamin D: National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements, last updated 12/11/2008.
  2. Does Vitamin D Treat Cancer?  in The Vitamin D Newsletter. Jan. 2008.
  3. Can Vitamin D Prevent Cancer? American Cancer Society News Center. 12/29/2005.
  4. Kochupillai, N. Indian J. Med Res. 127, March 2008, pp 256-262.

[ Ed. Note: Dr. Bill is the online handle for William T. Stillwell, MD, FACS, FICS, FAAOS, FAANAOS, FAAPGS, a highly credentialed, board-certified orthopaedic surgical specialist, now President & CEO of Dr. Bill's Clinic, Inc. and author of How to Avoid  Knee Surgery. To learn more, click here.]

Vitamin D Is FREE from the Sun - And What It Does Is Nothing Short of Amazing…

Your body is intricately designed to interact with the sun. You simply can’t function properly without it. Yet, we are constantly bombarded with so-called ’scientific’ information to the contrary.

The message from dermatologists, the medical profession and health authorities is nearly unanimous: Stay out of the sun! You have been told to keep indoors during peak sun hours and cover yourself with sunscreen when you do go outside.

All in the name of health.

But it may surprise you to learn that any evidence that exposing yourself to the sun is harmful evaporates under scrutiny.

And if you follow this “no safe level of sun exposure” dogma, you could be putting yourself at greater risk of numerous deadly cancers, depression, bone loss, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune illness and a host of other ailments.

In fact, even your risk of the deadly skin cancer melanoma could go up if you avoid spending time in the sun.

You don’t hear this side of the story because there is no money in promoting sunlight. They can’t sell it to you in pills. If it was possible, you can bet it would be one of the best selling drugs in history.

The bottom line is this: just about everything the government and mainstream medicine have told you about the sun is wrong. And their prescription - to stay out of the sun as much as possible and wear sunscreen when you do venture outside - is not only wrong, it’s deadly.

But at last, the truth about sun exposure, vitamin D and your health is revealed…

Click here to learn more.

excellence Healthy Living:

Perfectly Excellent

By Jackie Silver

Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? I must admit, I have a bit of a perfectionist streak in me.It’s something I’m learning to resist. In fact, Dr. Mollie Marti, founder of, recently suggested that I “strive for excellence, not perfection.” 1 I let that sink in and realized we don’t have to be perfect. Perfection is totally unattainable anyway, so why not be the most “excellent” we can be in all areas, including the way we look and feel?

People ask me all the time, “What is Aging Backwards? It sounds like a great idea, but too much work.” The reality is, you can look and feel younger with minimal effort if you break it down into small, manageable daily habits, striving for excellence rather than perfection. Here are just a few practical and realistic tips for looking and feeling younger and healthier, excellently:

1) Free hormone balancing. They don’t call it “beauty rest” for nothing! Our bodies seem to tune up while we’re sleeping. Sleep deprivation has actually been shown to alter the production and action of hormones. Sleep is essential for repair and rejuvenation and experts say 7-8 hours is optimal. How can you get the best rest? Keep your room dark — light disrupts the production of the important hormone melatonin, which helps regulate your natural sleep cycle. 3 For better sleep, stay off your cell phone, especially at night. A Swedish and U.S. study suggests that using your cell phone too close to bedtime actually interrupts your sleep. 6 And yes, regular exercise helps you sleep better.

2) Lose the stress. According to, 75 to 90 percent of all doctors’ visits are due to stress-related ailments and complaints. 2 That’s huge! Chronic stress is not only detrimental to your health, but it also ages you. Stress can bring on a variety of skin issues, from acne to excess dryness to dull-looking skin and frown lines. Some doctors even think stress may be the primary cause of unexplained hair loss. So, what can you do for instant stress relief? Without even realizing it, many people clench their jaws when feeling stressed. Try these quick and easy jaw exercises: 1) Open your mouth as wide as you can, hold for three seconds, repeat for a total of three times. 2) Try to open your mouth, but resist with your hands three times. 3) Massage the joint in the middle of your face where your jaw hinges. 4) Massage the muscles under your ears behind your jaw.

3) Get involved. Studies show that socializing is good for your brain. To quote an article in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, “The more participants interacted socially by talking to and visiting friends and relatives, the better their performance on the measure of cognitive functioning.” 4 In another study in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, a University of California, Los Angeles team found that for middle-aged and older people, using the internet helps boost brain power. 5 So, here’s my take: combine socializing and the internet (social media) on sites such as Twitter (follow me — @AgingBackwards), have Tweetups IRL (in real life), and you’ve got the makings of a mega-brain!

You can see that getting some sleep, reducing stress and socializing are three easy habits that can deliver excellent benefits. Perfectionism = stress. Striving for excellence = healthy challenge.


  3. U.S. News & World Report

[ Ed. note: Jackie Silver is aging backwards. She shares her secrets, tips, and shortcuts on her web site,, in her new book, Aging Backwards: Secrets to Staying Young, on the syndicated TV show, Daytime, on Clear Channel radio's Mix 100.7, in The Tampa Tribune and as a sought-after speaker. For more information, click here. ]

There is ONE key factor in 80% of disease…

Can you believe 80% of diseases share this one key factor in common? That’s huge!
What is it? And how can you stop it?
Click here and learn:

  • How it can rob you of decades of happy, healthy living
  • Two supplements to fight off this hidden threat
  • And four simple (and free) tips to keep you disease free

Click here to learn more.

pork chops Healthy Recipes:

Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops with Raspberry-Mango Salsa

By Kelley Herring

This summertime delight provides more than 50% of the daily requirement for thiamin — animportant B vitamin that’s lacking in most of our diets, especially in those with diabetes.  In addition to thiamin’s role of converting carbohydrates to energy, recent research shows that it may also help to guard against diabetic-related kidney damage. 1

Time To Table: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Excellent Source of: Protein, Selenium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin
Good Source of: Fiber, Potassium, Zinc, Niacin
Preferences: Low Sodium, Gluten Free

1/2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1 Tbsp organic raspberry vinegar
1/4 tsp organic cinnamon
4 organic pastured pork chops
1 cup mango, diced
1 cup fresh organic raspberries
2 Tbsp organic spice rub (try Simply Organic Chophouse)

First, rub chops with spice rub. Set aside. In a ramekin, mix vinegar and cinnamon. In a medium non-reactive bowl, add mango, raspberries and mint.  Pour vinegar mixture over the fruit and mix well to coat. Set aside. Heat a grill or use your FlavorWave oven. Grill chops 5-7 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Serve fruit mixture over pork.

Nutrition Information
204 calories, 7 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 3 g monounsaturated fats, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 64 mg cholesterol, 82 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 23 g protein


  1. Thornalley PJ, et al. Diabetologia. 2007 Oct;50(10):2164-70. Epub 2007 Aug 4.

[ Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is the founder of Healing Gourmet – the world's leading website on the power of foods to promote health and protect against disease. Her latest work is a revolutionary health transformation program called, Your Plate, Your Fate. In this 7-part program you'll learn how to protect your health and optimize your weight by maximizing the nutrients in your food. Learn more here. ]

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