If I could give only one health tip it would be…

13 03 2012

Go to your doctor and get tested for vitamin D deficiency and anemia (especially if you’re a woman).  If you’re even more bold, you can do what my brother did.  Walk in and say, “test me for everything,” and then get 7 vials of blood drawn.

Why?  Because in modern society these are easy to develop, difficult to notice, have long term repercussions, and are easily treatable.

Vitamin D Deficiency

First, why should you care?

I can’t find the original article I’m basing this off of, but basically vitamin D has been linked to cancer prevention.  The daily recommended intake of vitamin D is a pitiable 400-600 IU.  Many of the scientists on the committee that set that limit LEFT BECAUSE THEY DID NOT AGREE.  If I remember correctly,t he human body will produce no more than 10,000 IU per day (your body will stop producing more even if you’re sitting in the sun all day), and you need at least 30,000 IU before you overdose.  In other words, it’s safe to take 4000 to 6000 of vitamin D per day.

Second, why would vitamin D deficiency be common?

Humans evolved under the Sun.  There would be no reason to evolve a mechanism to store serious reserves of vitamin D.  Let’s imagine the life of a hunter gatherer:

  • Wake up, spend the whole day hunting and gathering outside in the sun.  Eat all natural, fresh food which would be a good source of vitamin D, even if there is no sun.

Compare this with working in an office where you probably aren’t getting much vitamin D from the sun.  If you eat like a typical american, you’re probably not getting much vitamin D from your diet.  Let’s look at a typical office worker Bob:

 

  • Bob wakes up, gets ready, then enters his car in his garage and drives to work completely protected from the sun, where he  parks outside and walks into the office spending maybe 15 seconds in the sun, while fully clothed in business casual clothes.
  • At work, Bob sits in a cube and never leaves the office.  He decides to eat lunch outside and gets 15 to 30 minutes of sun.
  • Bob drives home, again protected from the sun by his car windows.
  • Bob gets home and stays indoors watching tv, on his computer, cooking, etc.  Bob has kids and wants to play outside with them, but it’s already dark so he doesn’t.
Get the idea?  Bob is essentially a cave man, experiencing almost no actual sunlight 5 days a week.  Here’s an article  which lists 7 ways to block out the sun, and 1 paragraph on the possible importance of vitamin D.
You can see there is a huge disconnect between the environment humans were evolved in and the environment they currently occupy (at least office workers).

Some info from WebMD.  You can see they recommend a really small daily dosage of 600 IU.  It’s up to you to decide if you take as much as I recommend (2 to 3 2000 IU tablets a day), and since I can’t find the original article that convinced me I have nothing to really support those numbers.  This article points out that studies of vitamin D toxicity had subjects consuming over 40,000 IU per day.  This article points out that the human body will not produce more than 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day.  In other words, taking 6,000 IU per day should pose no risk.

Anemia

Two of my female friends suffered from basic iron deficiency anemia, and based on my reading, it’s something I think everyone should get tested for.  Anytime you lose blood, you lose a bit of iron that needs to be replaced.  Mild forms of anemia are more common in women because they bleed during their period.  There is a lot more written about anemia than vitamin D deficiency so I’m not going to say much else on the subject.  If you want to learn more, this is the book I read that got me interested:


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