Low Vitamin D May Harm Knees

More kudos for vitamin D! A new study in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism claims insufficient vitamin D may cause cartilage loss in knee joints. For the study, involving 880 men and women, ages 51 to 79, scientists measured blood levels of vitamin D and knee cartilage volume. And 3 years later, retesting of 353 people revealed 58% had changes in knee cartilage and worsening osteoarthritis, both men and women with low vitamin D had less knee cartilage; Reuters reports.

Vitamin D is strong medicine and we get vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Vitamin D functions as a hormone, telling our intestines to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which builds strong bones and prevents things like rickets, depression and even difficulty thinking!

In his DVD Osteoporosis Protection for Life, Dr. Fuhrman explains why vitamin D is so critical, the importance of proper diet and he demonstrates a number of bone strengthening exercises.

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Skipping Sleep May Lead to Weight-Gain

Stop yawning! It’s a bad sign. Discussed at the American Thoracic Society's International Conference, a new study suggests body mass index and sleep share a strong relationship. Scientists analyzed sleep, activity levels and energy expenditure of 14 nurses enrolled in a heart-health program, which included stress management and sleep improvement. Data revealed numerous conclusions, but most notably that insufficient sleep causes or worsens stress, leading to stress eating and weight-gain; via EurekAlert!

Sleep is very important. According to Dr. Fuhrman, sleep allows your body to clean up brain waste, which helps keep your nervous and endocrine systems functioning normally. Your immune system too! Not getting enough sleep makes you more likely to get the sniffles.

And just last week, a report conveyed the grim news that lack of sleep in areas with extended seasons of daylight, like Greenland, increases the number of suicides. Eek!

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Constant Daylight Leads to Insomnia, Suicide

New research in the journal BMC Psychiatry claims constant sunlight may cause sleep disturbances, leading to insomnia and ultimately raising suicide risk. For the study, scientists analyzed suicides in Greenland between 1968 and 2002, finding a cluster of suicides during summer months when the days are longer. Experts speculate days of constant sunlight may cause an imbalance of brain chemicals linked to mood and when paired with lack of sleep, could be deadly; Reuters investigates.

I’d have to put tinfoil on the windows! Dr. Fuhrman told me it’s about balance. Sunlight is necessary, our bodies convert the sun’s ultraviolet rays into vitamin D, which improves bone health, but sleep is important too. When we sleep our body removes brain waste and this allows for normal function of the nervous and endocrine systems.

In related news, expectant mothers getting enough sun are more likely to have children with stronger bones and sunlight helps older people avoid depression.


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Vitamin D Too Low in Moms and Newborns -- UPDATE --

Expectant mothers need more sun. Presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, scientists recommend women of childbearing age spend more time in the sun in order to get sufficient vitamin D. Researchers found over one-third of mothers and 58% of their infants have vitamin D deficiency at birth. Blood samples from 433 women and 376 newborns, within 72 hours of birth, revealed low vitamin D was present in 36% of mothers, with deficiency was considered severe in roughly two-thirds of cases; Reuters reports.

The sun is important to our health. We convert ultraviolet rays into vitamin D, which tells our bodies to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Other studies show mom’s getting enough sun exposure strengths their children’s bones. Now, Dr. Fuhrman sells a vitamin D supplement, in vegan and non-vegan formulations.

In related news, insufficient vitamin D has been linked sudden cardiac death, such as heart failure and cardiac muscle performance, and rickets in young children.

UPDATE: Dr. Fuhrman had some thoughts on this report:

Mothers should be taking Vitamin D supplements and document the adequacy of their Vitamin D with a blood test and also babies and mom’s in northern climates, not getting sufficient sunshine, should use a baby Vitamin D supplement or they can twist open half a capsule of my OsteoSun and sprinkle some of the tasteless white powder into the babies food, water or breast milk.

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Mom's Time in the Sun Affects Kids' Bones

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, experts believe the more time pregnant mothers spend in the sunlight the more it improves bone growth in their offspring. Researchers studied 7,000 ten-year olds and found kids whose mothers spent time outside during sunny months tended to have stronger bones, attributing this to increased uptake of vitamin D derived from the sun’s ultraviolet rays; via Reuters.

Vitamin D is important, yet often overlooked. Lately, insufficient vitamin D has been linked to higher risk of multiple sclerosis, more c-sections and stunted growth. But good levels of vitamin D can make girls bigger and stronger and for men, lower the risk of prostate cancer.

In related news, scientists now recommend people quadruple their vitamin D levels in the winter. Now, Dr. Fuhrman’s Osteo–Sun supplement will help keep your vitamin D in check.

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Sensible Sun Exposure

As the weather gets warmer, the days longer, and spring breaks and plans for summer vacations are upon us - we need to be reminded of the potentially harmful effects of over exposure to the sun. Certainly, given our thinning ozone, we want to avoid excessive sun exposure to protect ourselves from the free radical damage and wrinkling that can ensue and to minimize the risk of skin cancer.

Certainly sunshine can be a valuable source of vitamin D, but it can't be denied that sunshine exposure ages and wrinkles the skin and increases risk of skin cancer. So, you need to be sensible about sun exposure. Sensible means avoiding the midday sun and especially protecting those parts of the face that most easily can get overexposed such as the nose, cheeks and around the eyes, where most wrinkling occurs.

Since the generous amount of sunshine that can assure sufficient vitamin D exposure is potentially damaging and can cause skin cancers, and because most of us work indoors anyway, it is advisable for most people to assure their vitamin D adequacy with supplements, not sunshine.

When we are outside for longer periods of time, it is important to use the right kind of protection. Since what you put on your skin can be absorbed into your bloodstream, it is important to know what is really in your sun care products. Beware, sunscreens with a high SPF may not be protective & may be hazardous to your health!

Sunscreens versus sunblocks: There are two types of sun protection: sunscreens and sunblocks. Sunscreens absorb and deflect the sun's rays through a chemical reaction. They vary in their ability to protect against UV-B and UV-A rays depending on the ingredients used in the formulation. Sunblocks create a physical barrier against the sun's rays. They physically block or scatter both UV-A and UV-B rays.1

While UV-B rays cause sunburn, UV-A rays penetrate deeper into the skin, lowering our resistance to skin cancers and causing skin to age. The SPF number or Sun Protection Factor on sunscreens refers only to UV-B protection. A product with an SPF of 20 for example, would let a user remain in the sun 20 times longer without burning.

The FDA has no standards for measuring how well a sunscreen blocks UV-A rays. Many sunscreens do not even protect against UV-A rays. Ironically, a product with a high SPF factor, and no UV-A protection, could make you falsely believe that you can safely stay in the sun longer, overexposing yourself unprotected to UV-A rays. Chemical sunscreens can dilute with sweat and burn your eyes. In addition, a number of studies have linked allergic reactions to chemical sunscreens, particularly oxybenzone.2,3 Little is known about the potential harm of chronic sunscreen use and the systemically absorbed chemicals deposited after topical application.4,5 The fact that red flags keep showing up regarding oxybenzone is of particular concern since it is a benzophenone commonly used to make sunscreens with especially high SPF factors.

Mineral sunblocks that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are preferable to chemical sunscreens because rather than being absorbed into the skin, the minerals lie on top of the skin, reflecting UV rays before they cause damage. To effectively block UV-A rays you need a physical sunblock such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. As a result, more sun care products are available that use titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, but there is more to the story. Serious concerns have been raised about the safety of these ingredients used in most commercially available sunscreen products.6

Often these sun care products use a form of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide which is micronized by nanotechnology. This technology is used to make the sunscreen more transparent - so it is better absorbed by the skin. These tiny nanoparticles, however, can penetrate biological membranes and easily reach cells. Nanoparticles are smaller than anything humans have put into commercial products before.

These ultra small particles may even enter the bloodstream. Lab studies indicate that both of these nano-ingredients create free radicals that damage the DNA of cells and possibly cause other harm as well.7 Preliminary investigation into the ability of these nanoparticles to penetrate healthy skin has revealed conflicting results.

Public interest groups are currently asking the FDA to declare all currently available sunscreen products with nanoparticles a potential hazard to public health. Until complete safety-assessments are made, I recommend steering clear of products with these nanoparticles.

Most products, do not reveal the use of nanoparticles on their label. To make matters worse, there also are other ingredients found in sunscreen products that should be avoided such as: PABA, Benzophenone (homosalate and octy-methoxycinnamate), Parabens (butyl-,ethyl-,methyl-, propyl-), Padimate-O and Parsol 1789 (2-ethylhexyl-4-dimethylaminobenzoic acid and avobenzone). So what is safe?

Sunblocks are the safest: Overall, the physical sunblocks, with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are the safest choices for sun protection. They are the least irritating, and they safely provide protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays. Keep in mind, however, that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide products that contain nanoparticles should be avoided until more is known about the effects of this technology.

We've done our research and found a product-line which uses a form of nonmicronized titanium dioxide that is safe and effective at blocking both UV-A and UV-B rays without those harmful chemicals. Our Lavera sun care line protects against both UV-A and UV-B without the use of harmful chemicals and stays on the skin for an incredibly long time.

Remember, sun protection products must be applied liberally to insure you receive the SPF protection claimed on the label. Most people apply 25-75% less sunscreen than the amount used when the manufacturers test their products.8 Make the sun a healthy and enjoyable experience for you and your loved ones!

To learn more about sun exposure, protection, and nanotechnology read Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times Newsletter, May 2007.

1. Levy S. "Sunscreens and Photoprotection." www.emedicine.com (accessed June 20, 2007).

2. Szczurko C, Dompmartin, Michel M, et al. "Photocontact Allergy to Oxybenzone: 10 years of Experience." Photodermatol PhotoimmunolPhotomed 1994;10(4):144-7.

3. Schauder S, Ippen H. "Contact and Photocontact Sensitivity to Sunscreens: Review of a 15-year Experience and of the Literature." Contact Dermatitis 1997;37(5):221-32.

4. Hayben H, Cameron, M. Roberts H, et al. "Systemic Absorption of Sunscreen after Topical Application." The Lancet 1997;350:9081.

5. Gustavsson G, Farbrot A, Larko O. "Percutaneous Absorption of Benzophenone-3, a Common Component of Topical Sunscreens." ClinExp Dermatol 2002;27(8):691-4.

6. Schlumpf,M., Cotton, B., Conscience, M., Haller, V., Steinmann, B., Lechtensteiger, W., March 2001. In Vitro and in Vivo Estrogenicity of UV Screens, Environmental Health Perspectives 109(3):239-244.
7. Consumer Reports - July 2007 " Nanotechnolody Untold promise, unknown risk."

8. "Sunscreens: Some are short on protection." Consumer Reports July 2007.

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More Vitamin D Needed in Winter...

New research in the Journal of Nutrition suggests quadrupling Vitamin D levels in the winter. For the study, scientists recruited 112 women, average age of 22.2, giving some a placebo between March 2005 and September 2005 and then given a placebo or a vitamin D supplement until February 2006. At the end of the experiment, women on the vitamin D supplement had higher serum levels 25-hydroxyvitamin D, 35.3 nanomoles per liter compared to only 10.9 nanomoles per liter. The body manufactures Vitamin D from ultra-violet light derived from the sun; NutraIngredients reports.

Dr. Fuhrman is a huge proponent of vitamin D, especially for bone health, more so than calcium. Vitamin D also helps reduce risk of hip fractures, multiple sclerosis and boosts physical strength in young girls. And it was not too long ago the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested doubling kids’ intake of vitamin D, citing evidence vitamin D helps prevent serious illness, like cancer and diabetes.

Vitamin D deficiency has drawn increased attention over the past few months. Previous studies have associated insufficient Vitamin D with stunted growth, hypertension and rickets. In the winter, when the days are shorter and sunlight is in short supply, therapeutic lights can keep the sunshine coming.

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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to C-Sections

According to a new study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism low vitamin D may increase the likelihood of having a Caesarean section. Researchers examined 253 births at a Boston hospital from 2005 to 2007 and determined women with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D were nearly 4 times more likely to have an emergency C-section than mothers with normal levels; The New York Times investigates.

Vitamin D is an important, but overlooked, nutrient. We get it from the sun. Our bodies convert ultraviolet rays into a chemical, which acts like a hormone, and tells our intestines to absorb more calcium and phosphorus. And other reports have associated vitamin D deficiency with hypertension, heart attacks, rickets and cancer. Dr. Fuhrman sells his own vitamin D supplement called Osteo–Sun.

I was born via C-section. But that’s because my horns and tail got stuck.