Canadian Initiative Spreads Worldwide to Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
Posted by, Vitamin D Day on 29 Oct, 2012
TORONTO, CANADA —Organizations across the world are establishing World Vitamin D Day on November 2nd, asking health organizations to join the Canadian founders of this event in promoting new vitamin D awareness and action
November is the beginning of “Vitamin D Winter” in the Northern Hemisphere — a four-to-five-month period where people’s vitamin D levels begin to plummet because there is little UVB in winter sunlight to initiate natural vitamin D production in the skin. Humans make and store abundant vitamin D with sun exposure to the skin in the summer, but overzealous sun protection blocks vitamin D production and puts people in a vitamin D deficit at the beginning of winter that only gets worse by the time spring sunshine returns.
Vitamin D Winter affects all of Canada, which is why individuals should get their vitamin D blood levels checked in November with a calcidiol test. Worldwide vitamin D experts recommend vitamin D blood levels be maintained between 100-150 nanomoles/litre.
“Vitamin D is the raw material that cells in the body require to communicate properly with each other. If you expect sunshine to provide you with vitamin D, then you’d better make sure that the sun is high enough in the sky, because when the sun is low on the horizon it cannot help skin make vitamin D. Basically, if your shadow is longer than your height, sunshine does not provide enough ultraviolet light to make vitamin D. The long shadows we see in November are proof the sun is not doing it for us any more, and its time to take care of ourselves,” says Dr. Reinhold Vieth, a professor in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto and member of the GrassrootsHealth worldwide vitamin D panel that has established vitamin D recommendations (www.GrassRootsHealth.net).
A 2012 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition1 established that natural levels of vitamin D appear to be 115 nmol/L. Researchers discovered this by measuring vitamin D levels in East African tribes. These tribes get their vitamin D from year-round daily sun exposure. Vieth points out this study is important because it establishes what the natural biological vitamin D levels would have been when humans evolved in the “horn of Africa.” Canadians with dark skin are even more likely to be vitamin D deficient and need to know their vitamin D levels.
In Canada, more than 90 per cent of Canadians are below this 115 nmol/L level2.
In the winter, when no UVB is available from outdoor sunshine, the alternatives are using a sunbed that mimics summer sun or taking a vitamin D3 supplement. Vitamin D expert Dr. Robert Heaney, Professor of Medicine at Creighton University and Research Director of GrassrootsHealth recommends oral intake of “75 IU of Vitamin D3 supplement per kg of weight, per day.”
The Vitamin D Society created November as Vitamin D Awareness month in 2007, to help draw attention to vitamin D deficiency in Canada. “We are excited to grow this focus worldwide with other partner organizations by recognizing Vitamin D Day on November 2nd ” exclaimed executive director, Perry Holman.
InspireHealth established Vitamin D Day November 2nd in Canada in 2009. From its humble beginnings in Vancouver it has grown, supported by proclamations in communities across Canada, to an international event. This grassroots public health movement inspired Dr. James Lunney, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni to introduce Bill C-388, An Act to establish National Vitamin D Day. Dr. Lunney says “there are many challenges to making Canada’s health-care system sustainable but the evidence is clear that simply increasing people’s daily dosage of Vitamin D can keep people healthier, requiring fewer visits to the doctor or the hospital.”
Joining InspireHealth and Dr. James Lunney in the promotion of Vitamin D Day – November 2nd are GrassrootsHealth, a public health research and advocacy group from San Diego CA, the Vitamin D Council, USA, Oliver Gillie, Health Research Forum, UK and the Vitamin D Society, Canada.
The Vitamin D Society is a Canadian non-profit group organized to: increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency; encourage Canadians to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D blood levels tested annually and fund valuable vitamin D research.
Luxwolda MF, Kuipers RS, Kema IP, Kema IP, Janneke Dijck- Brouwer DA, Muskiet FA (2012) Traditionally living populations inEast Africahave a mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration of 115 nmol/l. Br J Nutr 23:1–5
Langlois K, Greene-Finestone L, Little J, Hidiroglou N, Whiting S (2010) Vitamin D status of Canadians as measured in the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. StatisticsCanada, Catalogue no. 82-003-XPE Health Reports, Vol 21, no. 1,March 2010