Vitamin D, obesity, clothes, and the sun

The current spate of stories on Vitamin D deficiency over the past several years has helped many people become aware of the value of sufficient D. Nevertheless, deficiency is still very much the rule.

To me, one of the major problems is solar-phobia spread by dermatologists. Certainly some people, namely, light skinned people of northern European origin do need to be cautious of sun exposure but for many of us, lack of sun is more of a problem than too much sun.

Here are some excerpts from an article in Science News by Janet Rakoff as well as additional links on the subject.

Although vitamin D insufficiency has reached what might be considered epidemic proportions, it’s failed to move onto the radar screens of most physicians, much less consumers. A host of new studies now link excess weight with a deficiency in this, the sunshine vitamin. But that wouldn’t explain why female soldiers become increasing D-ficient during basic combat training. For them, an Army study suggests, the problem may trace to what they wear…

…Vitamin D isn’t really a “vitamin” in the classic sense — a nutrient that the body uses to build tissue and perform activities. This so-called vitamin is instead the starting ingredient for a hormone: 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D. That hormone plays a role in everything from building bone and muscle to fighting infection and risk of diabetes — even autoimmune diseases.
Over the millennia, people have evolved the ability to make ample vitamin D in their skin, at least during most of the year. However, covering up with clothes or sunscreen can block the ultraviolet light needed for skin to stimulate its production. Foods can supply some D, but tend to be a rather anemic source. Not surprisingly, many nutritionists now advocate dietary supplements…

…They point out that risk of stress fractures — one of the most debilitating injuries in recruits — has been linked to low vitamin D. “And attrition rate from basic combat training in female soldiers with a diagnosis of stress fracture is 60 percent,” they add….

read the entire article at Science News

additional links:


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