The sun is a natural and effective source of Vitamin D that we need to protect our bones, protect us from auto-immune diseases, help prevent Alzheimers disease,and protect us from certain kinds of cancers. Deficiencies in vitamin D are highly-linked to these diseases. Now, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have found that Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to Parkinson's Disease.
Fifty-five percent of the Parkinson's patients studied were found to have a vitamin D insufficiently, a higher percentage even than the other group studied, patients with Alzheimer's,41 percent. Vitamin D insufficiently was found in 36 percent of healthy elderly members of the study.
Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease are tremors, stiffness, and slow muscle movement. Parkinson's affects nerve cells in the brain that use the chemical messenger dopamine to control movement. These messenger cells normally contain higher amounts of vitamin D than other cells in the brain, suggesting that the vitamin is essential to the to the ability to control movement.
Beyond knowing that, it is unclear whether Parkinson's is a result of a D insufficiency or an effect of the disease, though Emory University is continuing its research in the area.
More and more, vitamin D is found to be deficient in disease and cancer studies. Not only, for example, have the statistics shown that the incidence of breast, ovarian, colon, and prostrate cancers is higher in northern climates, but recent studies have also shown that sunlight is actually a preventative, and in some cases a factor in decreasing the spread of cancer.
In fact, in a recent paper entitled Vitamin D and Its Role in Cancer and Immunity: A Prescription for Sunlight, published in Nutrition In Clinical Practice, the authors conclude:
.... Identification and treatment of patients with vitamin D deficiency are important for optimal bone development and muscle strength. The major source of vitamin D for both children and adults comes from reasonable sun exposure. In the absence of sun exposure, most experts now agree that 1000 IU of vitamin D is needed daily in the absence of sun exposure to maintain a healthy blood level... As reviewed in this manuscript, in addition to bone health, there is mounting scientific evidence that implicates vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of autoimmune disease and many common deadly cancers. Children over the age of one year and all adults should receive 1000 IU of vitamin D per day, or have judicious sun exposure to satisfy their vitamin D requirement...
So, maybe a daily walk in the sunlight would be a good thing for all of us to take... without your sunscreen, because sunscreen blocks vitamin D as well as other potentially healthful vitamins. And getting an extra supplement of vitamin D would be a good idea too.
source: Prevalence of Vitamin D Insufficiency in Patients With Parkinson Disease and Alzheimer Disease. Archives of Neurology, 2008, via Science Daily
source: Sunlight and mortality from breast, ovarian, colon...
source: Sunlight emerging as proven treatment for breast cancer, prostate cancer and other cancers
source: Vitamin D and Its Role in Cancer and Immunity: A Prescription for Sunlight
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