January 22, 2010

Rickets Returns

People need sunlight and/or Vitamin D -- everybody knows plants need sun... people, especially kids, need sun, too.

Vitamin D is produced naturally when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and is also found in a small number of foods, including oily fish, liver and egg yolks.  Children with rickets do not grow properly and can develop bow legs.  Fifty years ago many children would have been given regular doses of cod liver oil, but this practice has all but died out.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and the weakening of bones in adults. A study of 520,000 people from ten European countries, including Britain, has suggested that vitamin D supplements could also cut the risk of developing colon cancer by 40 per cent.

You probably need from 5 to 30 minutes of exposure to the skin on your face, arms, back or legs (without sunscreen) twice every week.  Your body makes Vitamin D when you are exposed to UVB rays, so you need to be in the Sun, windows and clouds stop most of UVB rays. 

Note: The dangers of Vitamin D toxicity seem to be very overblown.  Toxicity doesn't kick in unless you take around 40,000 IU a day (about 100 Vitamin D pills a day chronically).  Current research seems to point to kids taking 1000 IU's a day and grown ups 2000 IU's a day.  5000 IU's a day are certainly safe... our skin can make far more when exposed to the sun.

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