Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vitamin D

The past year I’ve been nagging friends and family to take lots of Vitamin D. Whatever is good for me is good for all of you. I was feeling affirmed because the medical establishment has finally discovered, oh, hey, beriberi and scurvy aren’t the only inconveniences linked to vitamin deficiencies and body-breakdown. It made me happy to not hide (well, lie) to my doctor about the daily snarfing of 10,000 supplements to fend off terminal napping and limping like Captain Ahab.

I have some chronic health issues (very boring) that my doctor monitors. She’s knowledgeable and kind. Bonus. Last year she tested Vitamin D levels and found them low enough to prescribe 40,000 IUs a week until I could level off to 2,000-3,000 a day. It can be subjective, for sure, but it seems to help me feel better. And, of course, since no drug company owns Vitamin D it’s a cheap fix.

On Monday of this week I could name four or five people in just the last few days, people, whose lives, I told them, would be smarter better richer for taking Vitamin D. From bone health to depression Vitamin D helps bodies maintain better working order. Find out for yourself. Just google a reliable source and read the literature.

However. Warning. Not that you believe all sources. We need to be very, very careful. Because on this very past Monday (see above) Denis sent me an article from the NYT. Now, I have an emotionally volatile relationship with the NYT just like everything else in my life. If it agrees with me and makes me happy, well and good, I love it. But if not. Then I am flying to New York to find the idiot editor who signed off on this or that ridiculous opinion or who possibly wrote the piece himself/herself and force feed him/her lutefisk until he/she pukes. At the least.

In the case of “Report Questions Need for 2 Diet Supplements” I was upset. I felt chagrined and confused after so much indiscriminate honking about the benefits because it attacked my cherished vitamin D. Really? And calcium. You mean I don’t need to be taking all those calcium horse pills? Who are these “experts?”

I contacted my own favorite expert, who used to be the chairman of a department of internal medicine at Rochester Mayo Clinic and is now at Mayo in Scottsdale where he practices what’s called Consultative Medicine, to ask if I was crazy or what. He’s also a killer (wordchoice) diagnostician – according to others more worthy than myself. I sent him this email:

Hi Larry,
I’ve been telling people they need to take a lot more vitamin D.
Why do I do this? (Rhetorical. Please don’t answer.)
Who to trust? I tend to be cynical about some of the experts wondering if it’s partly because Vit D is easily available and not expensive.
You can comment if you have chance or time. If not, I’ll make up a quote from you. jk.
Luckily, he replied:

Hi Margie,
My cynicism is for expert panels that find supplements not helpful but prescription medications are. My favorite is a study several years ago published in Journal of the American Medical Association saying St Johns Wort is not helpful for depression. It was a big deal at the time and made headlines in newspapers. However if one read more than the title of the article they would find out it did not work for people with major depression but the part of the study which got no press was that the control group received sertraline (Zoloft) and it did not work either for major depression. Also, no good herbalist would ever consider using St Johns Wort for major depression anyway.

The pharmaceutical industry would like nothing better than to have all supplements banned since they are direct competition for them and articles like these only help them. The pharmaceutical industry heavily sponsors studies and advertises in the major medical journals.  Both journals and researchers need research funding so what do you think they would rather publish?

Take your vitamin D, 1000 units daily because you live in Minnesota and when was the last time you went out to lay in the sun? In fact, when was the last time you even saw the sun? (I know what it is like in Rochester!) If your have a big dairy intake with 4 glasses of milk or equivalent you don’t need calcium supplements but how many use this much dairy? Despite the increase in calcium supplementation these past few years, there has not been an increase in kidney stones.

A recent study said high calcium supplementation may cause a tiny increased risk of heart attacks but did not make a comparison to how many people will fall down and break a hip and die from osteoporosis if calcium supplementation stops.

Exercise, Nutrition, Stress reduction, the key to health. Supplements are supplements to diet so if one has a good diet, few supplements are ever needed.

How is life otherwise? I hope articles about Vit D and Calcium are the biggest stressor in your life during this joyous season!

Thanks much. (I know he gets about a billion emails a day.) Okay. Am feeling mollified. Perhaps even a little joyful, after all it’s Advent Season and I live in Minnesota where it’s NOT 120 degrees 300 days of the year, Larry.


Katie said...

ok I had to laugh at this (in a good way) because just in this last week I have talked to my Dad twice and both times he has told me to start taking Vit D!! :) He is always telling me I need this vitamin or the other, so your article made me giggle just a bit... and make a list for the health store! :)

melissa said...

Oh my gosh, THANK YOU! I was on the verge of being diagnosed with postpartum depression last winter (something I've never had before) when I decided to have my Vit. D checked. Like you, it was insanely low and I started a mega supplement regimen. It was incredible how quickly the fog lifted, my mind cleared, I could think, I could DO stuff again... all without prescription drugs! I have been telling everyone I meet too, to take Vit D. Glad to see your doctor friend verify.

wheresurtreasure said...

"create in me a clear mind...and take not my EPA/DHA from me..."

From one whose liver is lumpy and scarred---moderation...

I saw a licensed ND. Well chosen and targeted less was truly more...then i lost alot more symptoms, and 20 lbs--cause my body was so overdosed that i was creating fat to store what my scarred and cystic liver could no longer tolerate

Even so, i plan on finishing my days still using alternatives wherever possible! Thanks for putting in the good word for good old D!

Nancy said...

Margie, I'm with you in taking vitamin D and forcing every one I love to take it also. I also read the IOM report--well the press release--and it didn't convince me to ignore all the data that does exist linking vitamin D deficiency with bone loss, MS, cardiovascular disease, etc. Maybe if I lived in Florida I'd throw my bottle of D3 in the trash, but not here in Minnesota. Thanks for passing on the response from your dr.

Margie Haack said...

Katie. As an expert in excavation, I know we should listen to your dad, but apparently he's added vitamins to his rep? He was always the smart one. Though we didn't like to admit it.

Margie Haack said...

Missy, I love that this happened for you. Such a great endorsement.

kate o. said...

so inquiring minds want to know if you force fed the editor??

i am thinking that i should now direct all my medical questions/confusion in your direction since you seem to have a hotline to good medical advice.

rivertowngardener said...

I was pretty bummed when I read that NYT article too, because my calcium/vitamin D actually tastes GOOD (it's chocolate). Didn't want to give up that one. Thanks, ML, and thanks, Larry! Could somebody please write an article that fish oil is bad for us?

Jack said...

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