Prescribing Sunshine: Why vitamin D should be flying off shelves

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Other studies, including of the link between vitamin D and liver cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer , suggest there is good reason to think that low vitamin D plays a part in the spread of cancer cells. But taking supplements would then, surely, help stave off cancer — and a recent meta-analysis failed to find that supplementation reduced cancer risk. Another oft-discussed condition is seasonal affective disorder SAD , a mood disorder caused by the seasonal drop in exposure to sunlight.

The link between light exposure and SAD is long-established.


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But again, a direct link to vitamin D has been difficult to prove. Evidence suggests there may be a relationship since vitamin D is associated with levels of both serotonin, important for mood regulation, and melatonin, which regulates our sleep. Low levels of either hormone could contribute to SAD symptoms. Researchers have yet to carry out a definitive randomised control trial, however, and the exact mechanism by which vitamin D bolsters the hormones is unknown. Research has found that vitamin D plays a wider role in our mental health, from depression to schizophrenia, as well as in brain development, but how it plays a role also remains unclear.

More conclusive research around this is currently underway. Even so, most experts generally agree that even vitamin D supplements can benefit those who have very low levels. Martineau says his research found that those with low levels of vitamin D tend to see the most benefits of supplementation preventing respiratory infections, whereas the effects are a lot more modest when levels are moderately low. Reid says his studies have also shown benefits in those with low levels.

The trouble is that it can be difficult to predict who is at a highest risk of suffering from low vitamin D. Then there is the question of exactly what level of supplementation people need. But with supplements offering doses as high as Suma Uday, co-author of the paper and PhD doctoral researcher at the university, says these deficiencies occur because infant vitamin D supplementation programs are poorly implemented in the UK and not monitored. Disclaimer All content within this column is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.

The BBC is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this site. The BBC is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. Always consult your own GP if you're in any way concerned about your health. The basics Despite its name, vitamin D is not a vitamin. D for disease There is also conflicting research on the relationship between vitamin D and other diseases, even ageing.

Prescribing Sunshine: Why vitamin D should be flying off shelves

Correlation or causation? This is an issue with nearly all of the studies that link low D to diseases. If you take any group of patients with almost any disease, their vitamin D levels will be lower than in a healthy individual — Ian Reid. D for depression Another oft-discussed condition is seasonal affective disorder SAD , a mood disorder caused by the seasonal drop in exposure to sunlight. Products of this store will be shipped directly from China to your country.

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Off-the-shelf health supplements can plug nutritional holes for some, but experts advise caution

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US UK. Thank you for subscribing! Please check your email to confirm your subscription. Sometimes a familial genetic tendency or plain bad luck will screw you, and healthful living may help, but it won't get you all the way out of the weeds. It would be lovely if every health article didn't bring out the finger-wagging righteous brigade. I would suggest that people discuss their D levels and potential supplementation needs with their health care providers rather than assume they fall into either the "most people" the IOM suggests don't need to supplement, or the "most people" who recent current medical trends suggest cf Holick, NEJM, et al do need to supplement.

It took me a year of supplementing Vitamin D units per day to bring me up to a reasonable level.

I don't think units would do the trick. Actually they didn't - I have been taking units of Vitamin D for years and was deficient. I know it's anecdotal, but I really believe I am sick not as often and the last cold I had only lasted a couple of days when they used to last at least a week.

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This is the second year I will not be getting a flu shot - I believe high levels of Vitamin D are better protection. Thanks for pointing this out Stephen. I noticed the same thing yesterday two articles reporting the same study in different ways , I'm glad someone else picked up on it. Emmy, vitamin D is actually a hormone that is produced by the body when we expose our skin to sunlight. The sun doesn't help our body process vitamin D, we actually do produce the vitamin.

Maybe you're confused with the fact that one of the functions of vitamin D is to help the body process calcium.

Ever since the early 90s there has been one vitamin craze after another. From beta carotene, vitamin a, and vitamin c they all have been proved wrong. Can't people just eat their vegetables and get over the idea that some pill is going to save them? Yes, well, it could be as simple as this: individuals who self-medicate according to information obtained from the Internet, the grocery-store yellow sheet, or even the major, editorially moderated news outlets deserve the results obtained, whether those results be better health or early demise.

This is our problem in a nut shell. The media and the manufacturers give you just enough information, combined with hype, to make you believe something. Your belief has no grounding in any scientific evidence or research or expertise. But keep on believing; I hear faith can work miracles. But would a ban on e-cigarettes do Do economic sanctions work? Are big democracies any good at spreading democracy? What is the root cause of terrorism? It turns out that data analysis can For nearly a decade, governments have been using behavioral nudges to solve problems — and the strategy is catching on in healthcare, firefighting, and Continuing our conversation with Girl Scouts C.

Sylvia Acevedo.