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  Vitamin-D deficiency
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    How Vitamin D helps breast cancer link

  Vitamin D Deficiency Could Kill You

 2011 — New research linking low vitamin D levels with deaths from heart disease and other causes bolsters mounting evidence about the "sunshine" vitamin's role in good health.

Patients with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D were about two times more likely to die from any cause during the next eight years than those with the highest levels, the study found. The link with heart-related deaths was particularly strong in those with low vitamin D levels were related to poor physical activity.

Experts say the results shouldn't be seen as a reason to start popping vitamin D pills or to spend hours in the sun, which is the main source for vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of diseases.

Low vitamin D levels could reflect age, lack of physical activity and other lifestyle factors that also affect health, said American Heart Association spokeswoman Alice Lichtenstein, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University.

Still, she said the study is an important addition to an emerging area of research.

"This is something that should not be ignored," Lichtenstein said.

The study led by Austrian researchers involved 3,258 men and women in southwest Germany. Participants were aged 62 on average, most with heart disease, whose vitamin D levels were checked in weekly blood tests. During roughly eight years of follow-up, 737 died, including 463 from heart-related problems.

According to one of the vitamin tests they used, there were 307 deaths in patients with the lowest levels, versus 103 deaths in those with the highest levels. Counting age, physical activity and other factors, the researchers calculated that deaths from all causes were about twice as common in patients in the lowest-level group.

The study's lead author, Dr. Harald Dobnig of the Medical University of Graz in Austria, said the results don't prove that low levels of vitamin D are harmful "but the evidence is just becoming overwhelming at this point."

Scientists used to think that the only role of vitamin D was to prevent rickets and strengthen bones, Dobnig said.

"Now we are beginning to realize that there is much more into it," he said

Exactly how low vitamin D levels might contribute to heart problems and deaths from other illnesses is uncertain, although it is has been shown to help regulate the body's disease-fighting immune system, he said.

Earlier this month, the same journal included research led by Harvard scientists linking low vitamin D levels with heart attacks. And previous research has linked low vitamin D with high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, which all can contribute to heart disease.

The new research "provides the strongest evidence to date for a link between vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular mortality," said Dr. Edward Giovannucci of the Harvard study of 18,225 men.

Low vitamin D levels also have been linked with several kinds of cancer and some researchers believe the vitamin could even be used to help prevent malignancies.

It has been estimated that at least 50 percent of older adults worldwide have low vitamin D levels, and the problem is also thought to affect substantial numbers of younger people. Possible reasons include decreased outdoor activities, air pollution and, as people age, a decline in the skin's ability to produce vitamin D from ultraviolet rays, the study authors said.

Some doctors believe overuse of sunscreen lotions has contributed, and say just 10 to 15 minutes daily in the sun without sunscreen is safe and enough to ensure adequate vitamin D, although there's no consensus on that.

Diet sources include fortified milk, which generally contains 100 international units of vitamin D per cup, and fatty fish _ 3 ounces of canned tuna has 200 units.

The Institute of Medicine's current vitamin D recommendations are 200 units daily for children and adults up to age 50, and 400 to 600 units for older adults. But some doctors believe these amounts are far too low.

 

The synthesis of Vitamin D, know also as calcitrol.

Researchers in this field are sufficiently concerned from the results of their studies to pronounce that we are in the midst of an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency of immense proportion. Study after study of nursing home populations, of nursing mothers, of healthy male and female volunteers and of various children’s groups have consistently documented how relatively rare it is to have optimal levels of Vitamin D.

Some authorities support more liberal dietary supplementation of Vitamin D in our foodstuff. Others are urging that practical new approaches for vitamin D repletion in our country are urgently needed. This high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, even in those taking multivitamins, indicates that a critical review of vitamin D needs is a major priority.

A vitamin D precursor is synthesized in the skin from cholesterol in response to absorbing UVB rays. It then gets converted in the liver to an intermediate form. In the kidneys it joins with an important enzyme for conversion into its active hormonal form.

Many factors potentially interfere with the UVB conversion. People having darker skins are much more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. The aged skin of the elderly impairs cholesterol conversion as does the presence of obesity. Our present day emphasis on protecting our skin from the sun, using sun-screens and blockers, also cuts down on the ability of UVB to convert cholesterol to vitamin D. Last but not least, one needs UVB exposure.

Without any sun exposure you need about 4,000 units of vitamin D a day. In the absence of other supplements you would need 40 glasses of milk or ten multi-vitamins capsules daily to supply your vitamin D needs. Most of us make about 20,000 units of vitamin D after 20 minutes of summer sun due to UVB conversion of cholesterol. Numerous studies document that the majority of our society falls short of meeting either their dietary of UVB conversion needs for vitamin D.

Now consider the impact of statin drugs on a society already overburdened with an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Cholesterol must be available in our bodies in amounts sufficient to allow UVB conversion to vitamin D. We are all genetically blessed with a “natural level” of cholesterol. What is natural for one person may be completely inadequate for another. Into this heterogenous pool we dump statins indiscriminately in a misguided attempt to bring everyone’s natural level of cholesterol down to some artificially low level. Need I add that eight of the nine people making the 2004 cholesterol guidelines were subsidized one way or another by the statin drug manufacturer?

I cannot think of anything more likely to aggravate our already immense, vitamin D deficient state. There is little doubt that the availability of statins drugs these past two decades has made a major contribution to this problem.

Duane Graveline 


 

 

 

 


 
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