Vitamin D Deficiency Continues To Affect Millions of Canadians

KELOWNA, BC, Nov. 4, 2008 /CNW/ - With the advent of November as 'Vitamin D Awareness Month,' The Vitamin D Society of Canada is reminding all Canadians to get their levels checked by their doctors.

"Vitamin D has become a topic of interest but it is more than a trend, there is still a need to bolster awareness for Canadians to get their levels checked," said Joseph Levy, executive director, The Vitamin D Society. "Just like people get a flu shot for the winter, you should also ask for your vitamin D levels to be checked."

Long known only as the body's catalyst for proper calcium absorption, vitamin D is now known to play a key part in cell growth regulation in the body - a recent discovery which explains how researchers in the past five
years have quantified the vitamin's role in the prevention of over 30 forms of cancer as well as heart disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and several
other disorders.

"What's clear - but still misunderstood - is that vitamin D intake is not what's important. Rather, a person's vitamin D blood level is what is the key," Levy said. "The Vitamin D Council and most of the vitamin D community now recommends a target of 125 nmol/L (50 ng/ml) and we support that. The only way to measure that is to have your vitamin D blood levels checked."

Vitamin D is called "The Sunshine Vitamin" because sun exposure to the skin is by far the most abundant source. The Canadian Cancer Society, recognizing the cancer-fighting potential of Vitamin D, now recommends 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

"That number still doesn't mean anything unless your vitamin D blood levels are elevated to target levels," Levy said. "Just as people need to know their cholesterol levels, they need to know their vitamin D blood levels."

Hundreds of reports in the past two years have linked vitamin D deficiency with significant increase in dozens of cancers and other disorders.

Among the most recent reports:

- The American Academy of Pediatrics has doubled its recommendations for vitamin D for infants, small children and adolescents from 200 International Units to 400 IUs.

- Emory University's study, released in the "Journal Archives of Neurology," found 55 per cent of Parkinson's patients had insufficient levels of vitamin D, compared to 36 per cent of healthy elderly people.

- In the first study of 504 people with inflammatory bowel disease, researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin found almost half were vitamin D-deficient at some point, with 11 percent being severely deficient. In patients with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, low levels of vitamin D were linked to increased disease activity.

The Vitamin D Society recognizes November in Canada as "Vitamin D Awareness Month." The Vitamin D Society recommends asking your doctor for an annual blood test to check your vitamin D levels. More important than your daily intake of vitamin D is your actual vitamin D blood level, which can be measured with a calcidiol test (also known as a 25-hyrdoxyvitamin D test).

Optimal vitamin D blood levels are 50 ng/mL (125 nmol/L), according to The Vitamin D Council.

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