Obesity can lower vitamin D levels in the body, a study suggests.

ObesityThe report, in the journal PLOS Medicine, analysed genetic data from 21 studies – a total of 42,000 people.

It found every 10% rise in body mass index (BMI) – used as an indicator of body fat – led to a 4% drop of available vitamin D in the body.

As vitamin D is stored in fatty tissue, the authors suggest the larger storage capacity in obese people may prevent it from circulating in the bloodstream.

BMI it is calculated by taking weight (in kilograms) and dividing it by height (in metres) squared. Those with a BMI of 30 or above are considered obese.

Lead author Dr Elina Hypponen, from the University College London Institute of Child Health, said the study “highlights the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency in people who are overweight or obese”. Continue reading Obesity can lower vitamin D levels in the body, a study suggests.

Cheap vitamin D ‘would boost health’

Vitamin-DGreater access to cheap vitamin D supplements would improve the health of at-risk groups, experts say.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says up to 25% of UK children are vitamin D deficient, leading to a rise in rickets cases.

In the BBC’s Scrubbing Up column, the college’s Prof Mitch Blair called for concerted action to tackle the problem.

The government said those with the greatest need already received free supplements.

The RCPCH said other options to increase vitamin D levels, such as fortifying a wider range of foods, should be considered.

Half of the UK’s white population, and up to 90% of the black and Asian people in the country are thought to be affected by vitamin D deficiency.

The first signs of deficiency include muscle and bone pain as well as swelling around the wrists and ribs.

A lack of the nutrient is linked to a higher incidence of diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis as well as rickets – a disease that causes bones to become soft and deformed.

The number of cases of rickets has been rising, from 183 in 1996 to 762 in 2011. Continue reading Cheap vitamin D ‘would boost health’

Exercise – Probably the best Medicine of all

From dementia and diabetes to high blood pressure – no pill protects us against ill health like exercise does.

A plethora of recent studies shows that exercise protects us from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. It even boosts memory. And it has the potential to prevent more premature deaths than any other single treatment, with none of the side effects of actual medication. “It’s a wonder drug,” says Erik Richter, a diabetes researcher at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. “There’s probably not a single organ in the body that’s unaffected by it.”

Throughout evolution, humans have been active. Our ancestors chased prey as hunter-gatherers and fled from predators. More recently, they laboured on farms and in factories. But the decline of agricultural and industrial labour, plus the invention of the car, a multitude of labour-saving devices and – most perniciously – TV, computers and video games, mean we’ve all ground to a sudden and catastrophic standstill.

“We were built to be active, but the way our environment has changed and the way we live our lives has led us to become inactive,” says Christopher Hughes, senior lecturer in sport and exercise medicine at Queen Mary, University of London. Continue reading Exercise – Probably the best Medicine of all

Safety of Calcium Supplements questioned

People who take calcium supplements could be increasing their risk of having a heart attack, according to researchers in Germany.

Calcium is often taken by older people to strengthen bones and prevent fractures.

But the study, published in the journal Heart, said the supplements “should be taken with caution”.

Experts say promoting a balanced diet including calcium would be a better strategy.

The researchers at the German Cancer Research Centre, in Heidelberg, followed 23,980 people for more than a decade.

They compared the number of heart attacks in people who were taking calcium supplements with those who did not.

There were 851 heart attacks among the 15,959 people who did not take any supplements at all. However, people taking calcium supplements were 86% more likely to have had a heart attack during the study. Continue reading Safety of Calcium Supplements questioned


What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become thin and weak, and break easily. It frequently goes undiagnosed until a fracture occurs, as there are no warning signs. The spine, wrist and hips are particularly vulnerable to fracture.

Osteoporosis symptoms

Occasionally a person develops a dowager hump or kyphosis at the top of their spine due to collapse of the vertebrae, and notices they have lost height. But mostly the thinning bones remain hidden away inside the body, with no symptoms or signs to alert someone to the fact that they have osteoporosis, until a minor bump or fall causes a bone fracture such as a broken hip or a crushed vertebrae. Continue reading Osteoprosis

Vitamin D and related vitamin D compounds for preventing fractures resulting from Osteoporosis in older People.

Vitamin D is necessary for building bone. Older people often have low vitamin D levels through lack of exposure to sunlight and low dietary intake. Therefore, it has been suggested that taking additional vitamin D supplements may help to reduce the risk of hip and other fractures, which are very common in older people.

This Cochrane Review included 45 trials with 84,585 participants. The review found that taking vitamin D alone is unlikely to prevent fracture. Vitamin D taken with additional calcium supplements does appear to reduce risk of hip fractures in people living in institutional care. Although the risk of harmful effects from vitamin D and calcium is small, some people, particularly with kidney stones, kidney disease or high blood calcium, should seek medical advice before taking these supplements.

Vitamin D crisis in the UK

The UK is having a vitamin D crisis.

Rickets, a disease that we thought had vanished along with small boys being sent up chimneys, is re-emerging.  A 2006 study of Paediatricians in the West Midlands found an overall incidence of rickets in approximately 8 children per 100,000, with a much higher prevalence in populations from South Asian, Africa and the Caribbean.

At the other end of the scale, with an ageing population, Osteoporosis is on the rise.  The National Osteoporosis Society estimates that 50% of women and 20% of men over the age of 50 will suffer some kind of bone fracture due to Osteoporosis.

Many people are aware that vitamin D is implicated in bone health.  Some people know that “You can get it from Sunshine”.  A few people know what foods it is found in.    Continue reading Vitamin D crisis in the UK