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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 18, 2008

Don’t Let “D” Stand for Deficiency

By Worker Bee
27 Comments

Remember how we’re always going off about the importance of getting enough vitamin D in your life? How outdoor activity – and vitamin D producing sunlight – is important for any Primal Blueprinter? It seems some recent scientific research is again making this point for us.

Vitamin D and Parkinson’s

Cat Napping in Sun

Come to think of it, I’ve never heard of a cat with Parkinson’s…

Scientists already know that vitamin D is a basically benign, beneficial addition to anyone’s health regimen (you’ll see just how helpful some scientists think it can be in the next section). They also know that Parkinson’s disease most affects the substantia nigra, a part of the brain with incredibly high levels of vitamin D receptors. Following basic common (neurological) sense, that would suggest that vitamin D plays a major role in the function of the substantia nigra. Another, potentially logical step is to assume that vitamin D and Parkinson’s disease are therefore related. With that in mind, Emory University scientists took a look at vitamin D levels in both healthy elderly people and people afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. They discovered that a link between vitamin D deficiency and Parkinson’s disease definitely exists – it’s just that they’re not yet sure if low levels of vitamin D cause Parkinson’s, or if Parkinson’s causes low levels of vitamin D.

Correlation has been established – 55% of elderly Parkinson’s patients suffer from low levels of the crucial vitamin, as opposed to just 36% of healthy elderly people. And causation seems apparent, but it’s the classic “chicken or the egg” scenario. Scientists just aren’t sure which is the chicken, and which is the egg.

Obviously, further investigation is needed. The research team hopes to discover at which stage in the development of Parkinson’s does vitamin D deficiency occur, for one. And they also plan on looking into dietary supplementation as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. If these avenues are pursued, we should have a pretty clear outlook on the link between Parkinson’s and vitamin D.

Supplementation

Child on Floor

This kid doesn’t have rickets. Coincidence? We think not.

It’s a damn good idea to take vitamin D. Don’t take our word for it, though; the American Academy of Pediatrics has just doubled their daily recommended dose of vitamin D to 400 IU. That may be the new recommended dosage for children (see: Pediatrics) rather than adults, but adults are people too, so it’s a good idea for everyone to get plenty of vitamin D. But what can vitamin D do for you, exactly (besides potentially help Parkinson’s patients)? Well – considering that vitamin D deficiencies have been shown to cause rickets, lethargy, growth failure, irritability, infant respiratory infections, and late life osteoporosis – quite a bit.

That’s not all, though. New research suggests that vitamin D may shore up our bodies’ first lines of defense and play a huge role in the prevention of autoimmune diseases. One scientist even calls vitamin D a “hormone” that “acts directly on cells to promote gene transcription.” According to him, no other vitamin wields such power and influence in our bodies.

Though we are skeptical of any recommendations that come from the American Academy of Pediatrics after their recent recommendation to give statins to children (seriously, read it and weep), we’re going to have to side with them on this one.

It’s Saturday, people! If the sun is shining, get out and bask in those healthy rays!

~Jetta Girl~, monagrrl Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

The Beginning of the End? – Statins for Children

Let the Sun Shine In

Sunscreen May Not Be Your Friend

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27 Comments on "Don’t Let “D” Stand for Deficiency"

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Donna
Donna
7 years 11 months ago

I know i always feel wonderful to be out when the sun is shining. It just makes you feel so much better! I love it when i take walks in the park and i see people taking their very small children for walks, and even some babies in strollers. It’s great to teach them that early in life that the sun is so good for you. My ShihTzu dog even enjoys playing outside in the sunshine, great for the dog,too!

Son of Grok
Son of Grok
7 years 11 months ago

My daily walk during lunch at work is only one extra hour in the sun but it work wonders for my mood! I also enjoy the extra sun I get when on my motorcycle rather than cramped in my car.

Crystal
Crystal
7 years 11 months ago

O.K., I’m odd but I do not like the sun or heat. I feel my best in the winter.

Anyone with hypothyroidism is probably deficient in vitamin D as well. It’s difficult to convert sunlight to vitamin D in these folks. Testing vitamin D 25(OH)is a good idea to know where you’re at.

Dr Dan
7 years 11 months ago

Interesting, well i definitely got my vitamin D quota today.

Pat
Pat
7 years 11 months ago
I was skeptical when my physician husband insisted I test my Vitamin D level, after all, I take calcium with D supplements and am outside on a regular basis, walking rounds of golf, biking or skating, just about every day. My level, while not extremely low, warranted a therapeutic dose and then a more conscientious regimen of supplementation. I treat my slightly low thyroid level and B12 with sub lingual tablets. Vitamin D is being linked to so many things lately, it is beginning to sound like a “miracle.” Trust it or not, it certainly wouldn’t hurt at all to… Read more »
Joann
Joann
7 years 11 months ago

Getting more sun is great, but let’s not overdue it. Don’t want a long line at the Dermatologists in years to come with cases of skin cancer. My in-laws were in that group – get lots of sun they always said, but they are paying for it now. I was never a sun worshiper – get a few minutes each day, but that’s about it. Doctors have always told me to watch out – blonde hair and blue eyes makes me a prime candidate for skin cancer.

Anna
7 years 11 months ago
I’ve had a basal cell skin cancer removed in my 30s (I think from too many polyunsaturated oils in my diet), but increasingly didn’t feel well in the years afterward when I scrupulously avoided the sun (also due to undiagnosed milk hypothyroidism). Now I try to get some sun, but in small, frequent doses, taking care not to burn or even tan much (I’ve never tanned well with Irish-German heritage). Most of the research on which geographical locations seems to focus on obviously sun-deficient winter regions, like Boston and the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and other locations relatively far from the… Read more »
Total Lifetime Fitness
7 years 11 months ago
Thanks for referencing current research on Vitamin D at Emory. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to give statins to children is another giant mis-step in the history of medical practice. These are the same people who brought us Ritalin. LDLs are not the problem. People have high circulating LDL levels because they have too much fat in their diets. LDLs rise because of the need to cart around all those excess fatty acids. Saying LDLs are “bad cholesterol” [as all these docs do] is like shooting the messenger. Lowering dietary fat is the issue, not medication to modify the… Read more »
Jerry the Frog (of the Bull Variety)

TLF – You are in the wrong place if you think you’re going to find people backing your “Lowering dietary fat is the issue” claim. Read these:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-to-the-primal-eating-plan/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/cholesterol/

Total Lifetime Fitness
7 years 11 months ago

Jerry – No worries! As my buddy at Trader Joe’s says, “No fat, no fun!” Fat IS a critical part of normal daily nutrition. Of course all our cell membranes need fat for the cell’s lipid bilayer; axons need fat for their myelin sheaths, and brain cells need sphingomyelin. We wouldn’t get too far without fat. The problem is too much daily fat – that’s where the LDL issue arises. The question of how much – well, that’s individual. If your waistline is expanding, if your serum cholesterol is rising, you’ve got too much fat going on.

Anna
7 years 11 months ago
TLF said “The problem is too much daily fat – that’s where the LDL issue arises. The question of how much – well, that’s individual. If your waistline is expanding, if your serum cholesterol is rising, you’ve got too much fat going on.” That explanation doesn’t jive with my understanding of the biochemistry. Insulin must be high to store fat, so if the waistline is expanding, then too many carbs are being consumed an insulin is high (might be very high if there is insulin resistance). Dietary fat can be burned, used as structural material, or stored as fat (but… Read more »
Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips
7 years 11 months ago

Now it’s winter I really need to make more of an effort to get outside on my lunch breaks. I walk to and from work but as it’s getting darker for longer I don’t think this is getting me sufficient exposure to the sun.

trackback
7 years 11 months ago

[…] parses MSN (I think my eyes rolled out of my head), I was told there would be pie, Mark does “D“, glycogen redux, a lab in every kitchen, what’s really in your food, be careful nuking […]

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[…] thing which is important is Vitamin D this topic has been cropping up everywhere recently and it seems people are starting […]

Terrilee
Terrilee
7 years 9 months ago

Hi Joann, just wondering what kind of food did your inlaws eat? Perhaps their diet caused the skin “cancer”?! Thanks

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[…] Don’t Let “D” Stand for Deficiency […]

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[…] soon as the slump hits, stand up. Get moving. Go outside, soak up some sun, maybe even do a couple pushups or something. Just remove yourself from the stifling environment of […]

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[…] soon as the slump hits, stand up. Get moving. Go outside, soak up some sun, maybe even do a couple pushups or something. Just remove yourself from the stifling environment of […]

Justin
Justin
7 years 5 months ago
Dear Mark, In light of my recent education on Vitamin D I have been making conscious efforts to increase my sunlight exposure, ideally around noon. I try to expose as much of my body as possible when in the sun in order to activate as much vitamin D peoducers as possible, but when I go out onto my front lawn in my American flag speedo, I get strange looks. Though my primal body is nothing to scoff at (I thought they might even enjoy the spectacle), the neighbors have made some slight complaints, saying that “other old people” live here… Read more »
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[…] D is absolutely essential for bone density and may be more important than calcium. As I’ve mentioned time and again, we tend to be sorely lacking in that department. Among the other nutrients crucial […]

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[…] Don’t Let “D” Stand for Deficiency […]

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6 years 11 months ago

[…] Don’t let “D” stand for deficiency: this blog post from Mark Sisson makes some readable and valid points on Vitamin D deficiency.  Unfortunately I haven’t managed to find the very useful post he did where everyone’s comments point you in the right direction for where to get Vitamin D tested, especially for people not in the US.  If you know the answer, please let me know. […]

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[…] it promotes procreation.  The sun feels good to convince us to stay outside long enough to make vitamin D, an essential prohormone for life.  Conversely, direct flame applied to our skin hurts like hell […]

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[…] Vitamin D – Parkinson's Disease Correlation and Child Dosage … Oct 18, 2008 … They also know that Parkinson's disease most affects the … 55% of elderly Parkinson's patients suffer from low levels of the crucial … ~Jetta Girl~, monagrrl Flickr Photos (CC) … […]

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5 years 12 days ago

[…] the relationships he notes. You can get those references on his blog.Mark Sisson also has a post up about the sunshine vitamin. […]

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[…] D is absolutely essential for bone density and may be more important than calcium. As I’ve mentioned time and again, we tend to be sorely lacking in that department. Among the other nutrients crucial […]

Kelli
Kelli
1 year 4 months ago

My dad was in the sun everyday of his entire life. His nick name was “Blacky” because he was so dark even though he was English. He had Parkinson’s and died at the age of 70. My guess is Parkinson’s was the cause the vitamin D deficiency and not the other way around.

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