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Vitamin D necessary, but at what cost? Liver, sardines?

February 8, 2009
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Not every offer of help makes sense.

Nutritionists wanting to help people get Vitamin D into their systems say it's available by eating tuna canned in oil, sardines canned in oil, beef liver, mushrooms, even egg yolks.

The thought may be good, but, oh, the taste. Anything canned in oil can't be good for you, not even counting the taste, so using that to promote Vitamin D doesn't make much sense to me.

Granted, cheese, cooked salmon and ready-to-eat cereal also contain Vitamin D, and those don't taste badly, but sardines and liver - come on.

It's right around this time most years that doctors start seeing SAD patients - that's seasonal affective disorder, not unhappy sad. The disorder is believed to be related to light, or lack thereof, when the sun doesn't shine so often. Which is now. In February.

More sun can help. Full-spectrum sunlight lights can help, too. My sister has those lights in her quilt shop, so if ever I need a quick fix for sunlight, I go there. She had the full-spectrum lights installed so people looking at fabric see the actual color, not some color blended by the fabric dye and the lights.

I like the brightness. Like when you're in there, you know every secret in the universe.

But, getting back to the Vitamin D conundrum - it is necessary for calcium absorption, it's needed for bone growth - bones can become thin, brittle or misshapen without it - and together with calcium, it helps protect older adults against osteoporosis, and that's a good thing.

There's a UV Foundation is McLean, Va., that's calling February "Vitamin D Deficiency Month" and says new research is discovering a growing number of negative health effects resulting from Vitamin D deficiency. That's an ultraviolet light research and education foundation, by the way.

The Foundation says "in states above the 37th parallel, Vitamin D deficiency is becoming a serious problem. Citizens of Iowa are particularly susceptible to this affliction because it is impossible to manufacture Vitamin D in the winter months, even if they do get a daily dose of sunlight."

I still believe in my sister's lights.

But they continue: "In addition to increasing the risk of heart disease, Parkinson's disease, rickets and many types of cancer, Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to many common wintertime complaints such as fatigue, depression and aches and pains.

"A Harvard Medical School study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has reported that 60 percent of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. And a majority of Parkinson's disease patients had insufficient levels of Vitamin D, determined a new study from Emory University School of Medicine.

"Moderate exposure to sunlight or UV light is the absolute best way to help the body manufacture the Vitamin D it needs. Unfortunately, during the bleak winter months it becomes harder to get the necessary amount of Vitamin D. In fact, it is impossible to get the requisite amount in cities north of 37 degrees latitude for as many as six months out of the year. That includes cities like Richmond, Va.; St. Louis, Mo.; Sacramento, Calif.; and all cities farther north."

Which is, of course, us.

So, take a Vitamin D supplement, people. Take a pill. It's good for you.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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