Vitamin D has become the new wonder drug. Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in Multiple Sclerosis. Flu season is the season when our sunlight deficiency causes a drop in our Vitamin D levels and a corresponding drop in the health of our immune systems. Moderate to high doses may reduce heart disease, and can slow the progress of congestive heart failure. Of course we have known for years that Vitamin D deficiency causes as loss of bone density progressing to rickets. Vitamin D is a commonly recommended preventative for osteoporosis. Vitamin D is now being studied for diabetes because it decreases insulin resistance - a benefit for diabetics.
What's wrong with this picture? It hi-lights some serious deficiencies in our medical paradigm. We need a health paradigm.
1. Vitamin D is a nutrient. Not a drug. It is studied as it if was a drug.
Mercola's post on this item - the comments are interesting as well.
3. We have clearly documented measurements of 'the amount of Vitamin D required to prevent illness'. Of course these numbers are being revised in light of new findings. But we have no recommendations, and no studies, of the amount of Vitamin D consumption (or creation via exposure to sunlight) that will optimize health. We only research for the 'minimum to prevent disease' and then we measure drug like effects when Vitamin D is used to treat disease.
4. You can be deficient in Vitamin D. Deficiency in Vitamin D means that you are consuming, or producing through exposure to sunlight, less than the RDA of Vitamin D. You can be preficient in Vitamin D. Preficiency exists when your Vitamin D levels are below the 'optimal' level of Vitamin D. But we do not know the optimal levels of Vitamin D. There are no studies to measure the optimal intake, or even optimal range, of any nutrient. So, we don't know what amount of Vitamin D is most healthy. And we don't know what amount of sunshine is most healthy.
5. Vitamin D affects your health. But we don't study health, we only study illness. How Vitamin D affects your health is poorly studied - and recent studies of Vitamin D are all focused on illness, not on health.
This might explain why the information about Vitamin D has remained hidden from view for so long. We are now starting to study Vitamin D deficiency more often, but we do not yet study Vitamin D preficiency, nor Vitamin D health. It also makes me wonder what other nutrient imbalances hold keys to illness - that we don't understand because we don't study health.
6. Vitamin D is studied in isolation. All nutrients tend to be studied, as if they are drugs, in isolation. When we learn to measure health, and to determine the correct amounts of nutrients for optimal health - we will learn about combinations of nutrients and how they affect health. Studies to date on multi-vitamin supplements, for example, treat each multi-vitamin recipe as a drug, and measure results as if they were drugs. Effects on health are not measured, because we don't measure health effectively. Only effects on illness are measured.
In theory, we should be able to:
a) Measure the health level of a person and the changes over a span of time, along many of the dimensions in the hierarchy of health. At present there are no established techniques to effectively measure and compare the health of so called 'healthy' individuals.
b) Measure the nutrient intake and changes in nutrient intake of the same person over the same span of time. It is very easy for our intake of nutrients to drift over time, without us being aware. We seldom evaluate diets - and are less likely to evaluate diets for overall nutrient content. Instead, diets are evaluated for factors that do not contribute directly to health - but might contribute to illness - calories, unhealthy fats, etc.
c) Analyze the relationships between nutrient intake, changes in nutrient intake, and health.
Instead, we measure when illness is found. We deliberately wait until something breaks, and then try to fix it, or try to figure out how to prevent it from breaking, without understanding
Your body is always growing, healing, repairing, working to improve your health. Working to restore health imbalances. Every person has a different level of health, different health strengths and weaknesses. But none of us have a clear idea what our individual strengths and weaknesses are. Which of the over 100 essential nutrients are in your diet in healthy amounts? What types of exercise are most healthy for your personal body?
Frankly, we don't know much about health. Hopefully we can start learning. You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness.
Yours in health, tracy
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: