November 4, 2015

Director's Letter 
Carole Baggerly 
Director, GrassrootsHealth 

As we enter the winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is important to be aware that over the next several months, the sun will not be a good source for vitamin D. In most of the US and all of Canada, the sun does not get high enough in the sky for us to produce vitamin D between November and February - no matter what time of day. This is our Vitamin D Winter. To learn more about this, I encourage you to listen to our featured video of the week and look over the sunshine calendar below.

The Linus Pauling Institute is a treasure trove of information and research on nutrients and healthy living. We are proud to have Dr. Adrian Gombart, who specializes in vitamin D and the immune system, as a member of our International Scientist Panel. This past August, Dr. Gombart gave a presentation, Vitamin D: Bone Up for Winter, in case you didn't catch it then, or if you are looking for a refresher, now is the perfect time to give it a look/listen.

Any time you want to hear what leading experts in the field of vitamin D have to say, please take a look at the videos section of our web site. You can hear webinar presentations, presentations/talks from various seminars, or interviews with leading scientists from many different research areas (cancer, diabetes, nutrition, etc.). If you have a peer group that is interested in a particular topic, contact us and we can help find you a video for a D*party. Have people over to watch and discuss together. Sometimes having a meeting is the impetus people need to listen, to change. Give it a try!

Carole Baggerly
Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization
Moving Research into Practice 
Vitamin D: Bone up for Winter

Adrian F. Gombart, PhD
Principal Investigator, Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Linus Pauling Institute

Vitamin D: Bone up for Winter
A 1-hour talk about vitamin D

About Adrian Gombart

Adrian F. Gombart received his PhD in Microbiology from the University of Washington.  He was an assistant and associate professor at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Division of Hematology and Oncology.  He is currently a principal investigator in the Linus Pauling Institute and associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Oregon State University.  Dr. Gombart's research interests focus on the role of vitamin D in the innate immune response against infection.  His lab studies the regulation of antimicrobial peptide gene expression by vitamin D and other nutritional compounds and his research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Here is a summary of his talk, Vitamin D: Bone up for Winter

What is vitamin D and where do we get it?
  • It is considered a vitamin, but more accurately, it is a hormone
  • Rickets was identified as a disease common to children in the mid-1600s; by early 1800s, rickets was associated with lack of sunshine; early 1900s, vitamin D was identified as a cure for rickets
  • An important source of vitamin D comes from UVB irradiation (sun exposure) of the skin; some from diet but supplements are more reliable.
  • There are different forms of vitamin D (cholecalciferol, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, 1,25 di-hydroxyvitamin D) and they each behave differently in the body.
  • In winter there is no vitamin D synthesis in the skin above 35 degrees latitude. Skin color and age affect production.
  • Food is fortified with vitamin D - milk, yeast, bread, cereals, and even beer (for a time)
  • D3 is preferred over D2

How does it work and why do we need it?
  • There are vitamin D receptors (VDR) in our cells
  • Vitamin D is good for bone health as well as anti-cancer properties and immune system function
  • Vitamin D is necessary for all stages in life, illustrated by this image from the Vitamin D Council.
Click to Expand
How much do we need?
  • There was an increase of the vitamin D RDA in 2010 to 600 IU/day, but this is still too low. The Endocrine Society has higher numbers; Linus Pauling Institute recommendations are in line with the Endocrine Society - these recommendations address bone health.
  • It is important to measure blood levels;  the IOM says 20 ng/ml is sufficient, the Endocrine Society says 30 ng/ml is sufficient. GrassrootsHealth recommends 40-60 ng/ml.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is common, no matter which cut off point is used.
  • Toxicity of vitamin D results in a buildup of calcium in the blood and can include symptoms of nausea, excessive thirst, abdominal pain, or muscle weakness or pain among others. 25(OH)D levels > 150 - 200 ng/ml are considered potentially toxic.
  • A 10-year population study of over 20,000 individuals showed that even with increases in intake of vitamin D, and increases in serum levels, there was no increase in new cases of toxicity.
  • There is no association of increased risk of kidney stones with higher levels of vitamin D as reported in publications by GrassrootsHealth and others.
How can vitamin D help fight infections?
  • Vitamin D interacts with the immune system.
  • Vitamin D is important for a balanced immune system response.
  • In the past doctors used sunlight and vitamin D to cure tuberculosis.
  • Cells process vitamin D to increase cell productivity and "eat" up the bacteria in the cells, thus fighting disease.
  • Several scientific studies show that supplementation with vitamin D can reduce rates of infections or improve outcomes of recovery
The Sunshine Calendar
Courtesy Vitamin D Council

Click to Expand

Vitamin D comes from the synthesis of UVB radiation, which is less than 5% of the solar light spectrum. Depending on the time of day and time of year - there may not be enough UVB to produce vitamin D. The UVB strength is dependent on your latitude, and thus all cities in the same latitude have similar UVB exposure (barring pollution or fog).

To read this map find your location; which latitude lines are you within? Then, read across - from January to December to see what months you are able to produce vitamin D.  Red dots mean good UVB availability, Orange is moderate availability, Yellow is low, and Clear is non-existent. Which months can you get vitamin D from the sun where you live?

Also remember that you need to be out in prime hours, 10am - 2pm, or when your shadow is shorter than you.
Editor's Letter 
Susan Siljander 
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth

I watch all these videos as I prepare the newsletter and it is always good to re-familiarize myself with the basics. Some of the main take-aways for me this week are:
  • Vitamin D is good for preventive health
  • We need D3 and we need it daily to best boost the immune system
  • We need to measure the vitamin D in our blood because there is no guarantee of our level any other way
  • It is very difficult to have toxic amounts - so don't be afraid to take a higher dose if you need it!
Of course these are my words, not Dr. Gombart's. I wonder what your take-aways were from this talk or others. Feel free to share them with us, through email or our Facebook page.

Have a healthy week!

Susan Siljander
Marketing Director, GrassrootsHealth
A Public Health Promotion & Research Organization  
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Click here to ask questions about vitamin D and the immune system.

Questions will be answered by Dr. Adrian Gombart and published in the news next week.

Vitamin D: Bone up for Winder

Adrian F. Gombart, PhD 
Principal Investigator, Associate Professor 
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics  
Linus Pauling Institute

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Results from our Breast Cancer study show vitamin D levels > 50 ng/ml may provide additional reduction in breast cancer risk.

Linus Pauling Institute 
Their mission is to Promote optimal health through cutting-edge nutrition research and trusted public outreach
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Changing Incidence of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Values Above 50 ng/mL: A 10-Year Population-Based Study.
Dudenkov et al
Mayo Clinic
May 2015
Read Paper

25-Hydroxyvitamin D in the Range of 20 to 100 ng/mL
and Incidence of Kidney Stones
Nguyen et al.
October 2013
Read Paper

Vitamin D Day  
Vitamin D Council
A myriad of information and resources about vitamin D deficiency
Visit web site 

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