You, You’re Driving Me Crazy: Dedicated to Vitamin D.

I hereby declare today Vitamin D Day. Why? Well, you see, I had this question from a reader about the conflicting reports on the value of taking supplemental vitamin D.  I had hoped my research would have some kind of defining conclusion.  Hah!  Be prepared to have your head spin.sad face

Last October I read a New York Times blog by Nicholas Bakalar regarding a study questioning vitamin D supplementation. According to University of Aberdeen’s senior lecturer and leader of the study, Helen M. McDonald, “The study actually shows that vitamin D does not protect you against heart disease….”

That sounds straight forward enough.  However, the study also discovered no effects on C-reactive protein [a protein in the blood which may indicate artery inflammation], LDL [low density lipoprotein – the kind that forms blockages in your arteries], HDL [high density lipoprotein which cleans out the blockages just mentioned], total cholesterol [all the fat in your blood], triglycerides [the major form of fat the body stores], insulin production, or blood pressure. Whoa, ladies and gentlemen.  That is quite an array of areas there.  You can find this blog at: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/study-questions-benefit-of-extra-vitamin-d/?smid.

Wait a minute.  In November of last year, Washington University School of Medicine published a study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that indicates vitamin D could prevent atherosclerosis [clogged arteries], an important aspect of heart health, in diabetics. The authors of the study, Dr. Amy E. Riek and Dr. Carlos Bernal-Mizrachi, made a point of saying they did  not know if vitamin D is capable of reversing atherosclerosis in diabetics.  But doesn’t that contradict the previous article’s finding that vitamin D’s effect on diabetes is questionable?  Decide for yourself: plaquehttp://www.eurekalert.org./pub_releases/2012-11/wus0-vdm111312.php. .

In a more germane article printed that same month, Loyola University Health System announced that under the Institute of Medicine’s new guidelines, only 35.4 % of Chronic Kidney Disease sufferers would be deemed as having insufficient levels of vitamin D rather than the 76.5% under the older guidelines. These numbers are based on a survey of patients. Keep in mind that CKD has been linked to low vitamin D levels.

The percentage of healthy people who would no longer be considered as having insufficient levels of vitamin D would also drop by more than half. Here’s the kicker: while it is accepted that vitamin D is needed for your bones, there is a question about its role in “…cancer, heart disease [ that’s what the blog above discussed], autoimmune diseases and diabetes [what the study above deals with]….” What concerns me is that too much vitamin D can adversely affect the heart AND the kidneys.  This  article was a bit more medical in terminology than I’m comfortable with so I’d suggest you take a look at it yourself: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-10/luhs-n8m101812.php.

In March of this year, the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology published a study stating, “Vitamin D supplements may help maintain kidney function in transplant recipients.”  Okay, so with the new guidelines you may be one of the close to 50% of Chronic Kidney Disease sufferers who no longer need vitamin D supplementation… until you receive a transplant?? Take a gander: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-03/ason-Ivd032213.php.vitamin d pills

While you read this particular paragraph, keep the first study in mind – the one that decided vitamin D supplemental had no effect on blood pressure. In April, I read a NPR [National Public Radio] blog about The Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s small study with Blacks as their subjects.  This one found that vitamin D may lessen the risks of high blood pressure in Blacks.  Notice none of the other studies mentioned Blacks.  I really like this one because Blacks have a higher incidence of Chronic Kidney Disease and, as we know, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of CKD. It’s written in laymen’s terms so you might enjoy reading it: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/04/05/175258469/study-hints-vitamin-d-might-help-curb-high-blood-pressure.Black

Concerning, diabetes, another New York Times blog by the same author as the first one states, ” A new study has found a strong correlations between low vitamin D blood levels and Type 1 diabetes.” Later in the blog, one of the authors of the study made a connection between Type 1 diabetes and other diseases that are prevented by vitamin supplements.  This was published the same month that the first Eurekalert article which stated the opposite was. You can find this one at : http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/low-vitamin-d-level-tied-to-type-1-diabetes/?smi

While we’re on the topic of diabetes, on February 5th of this year, Nick Tate wrote on the News Max Health site, “New Harvard University research has found that adequate levels of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ cut the odds of developing adult-onset type 1 diabetes by half.” I wonder if he’s using the Institute of Medicine’s new guidelines? And what about the same Institute of Medicine’s claim that vitamin D’s role in diabetes is questionable?  You can read about the study – funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke – at: http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Diabetes/Vitamin-Prevent-Diabetes/2013/02/05/id/489047

So now we leave heart disease, Chronic Kidney Disease, diabetes, and transplantation to move down to the knees.  I have never heard that vitamin D can help with arthritic knees, but apparently others have. In July of this year, Medpage Today  referred to an article published on January 8th. It discusses a Brigham and Women’s Hospital “2-year trial [that] contradicts observational studies that had suggested higher levels of vitamin D might slow the progression the disease [knee osteoarthritis].”  Since I am one of the lucky ones (notice the dripping sarcasm) to enjoy this disease, I was surprised to come across this trial.  I do acknowledge the connection between vitamin D and bone health, but never thought of it as something to reverse bone damage.  Want to read the article for yourself?  Go to: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Rheumatology/Arthritis/36757?utm_content=&utm_medium.

This blog is getting too long, so we’ll continue with the vitamin D controversy next week.July 4th

On the home front, nothing much is happening since we’re dealing with Bear’s back issues.  That made for a quiet 4th of July weekend.  None of the kids was available so we made a teeny little bar-b-q just for us… and I was not quite well for three days after.  When you’re on the renal diet, you might be able to indulge a little here or there, but not a whole lot at one time.  Here’s hoping your Independence weekend was a glory of red, white and blue celebration.

Many thanks to Alex Gilman who tried desperately to cook us a dinner that was within my renal diet guidelines without even knowing what they were.  I was very taken with his efforts.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

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