06 February 2009

Calling All Canucks: Vitamin D Drive

Check it out! February is Vitamin D month, and GrassrootsHealth in the US setting up a campaign to solve vitamin D deficiency. Daction is a program to generate awareness of the problem and testing. The program will involve testing twice a year over five years to study the effects of Vitamin D levels on the body.

Okay, so I've been accused of being a bit of an earth muffin. But I'm a big believer in the effect of what you ingest affects your overall health. I include vitamin D supplements in my personal battle with seasonal affective disorder.

Vitamin D is the fat-soluble one called the "sunshine vitamin" because it's produced by your body when UV rays contact the skin, and it's not commonly found in foods naturally.

I'm fair-skinned, so my daily use of an SPF 8 reduces vitamin D absorption by 95%, and since I live in Edmonton, there's not enough UVB here for me from October to mid-March. Interestingly, that's when my SAD hits and recedes every year.

There are several diseases which have strong links to vitamin D deficiency. Rickets is the original deficiency disease, but a lack of vitamin D increases risk for high blood pressure, chronic muscle pain, osteoporosis, periodontal disease, type 1 diabetes, cancer, tuberculosis and some autoimmune diseases.

Oxford University released a study this week showing that a form of vitamin D triggers an immune system gene linked to multiple sclerosis. This is especially important to me because a dear friend was recently diagnosed with MS.

Think this doesn't affect you? 97 percent of Canadians are vitamin D deficient at some point in the year, according to University of Calgary research.

The cost to join the Daction project is USD30.00, which includes a health survey and at-home vitamin D blood spot test. The test results will be shipped directly to you, and you are able to make our own changes. This is a really reasonable cost for a five-year program that could make such a big difference to your life. It's a great chance to see what changing your vitamin intake can do to improve your health.

What can you do? "Participate in the study, get tested, get your serum levels to the 40-60 ng/ml range and learn all you can about Vitamin D," said Dr. Vieth of the GrassrootsHealth sponsored testing.

Remember to take your vitamin D supplement with a calcium or magnesium supplement for maximum absorption. Don't worry about overdosing on it; toxicity requires taking more than 100 times the RDA amount for months.

Please join the campaign and tell at least two friends about it.

Props to BodyBeautiful.ca for sending out a call to action for Canadians to join the campaign!

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