sun exposure

  1. Low vitamin D levels getting lower

    Sunshine vitamin deficiencies on the rise

    It's one of the biggest nutritional deficiencies in the Western world today -- and low vitamin D levels are not getting any better.

    In fact, it's getting worse.

    Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, essential for everything from strong bone to a healthy heart -- and new numbers out of Canada show that only 10 percent of the people there have optimal levels of this essential hormone. The rest of the people have low vitamin D levels or a deficiency.

    That's actually a decline of 6.2 percent over just the past two years.

    You might think Americans would be better off. We're further south, so we get more sun.

    But it hasn't always led to higher D levels.

    While new numbers for Americans aren't available just yet, they tend to closely mirror the data out of Canada, with similar numbers of people consistently battling  insufficiencies and low vitamin D levels.

    And if that remains the case, then our kids in particular are in especially bad shape -- because the Canadian study finds that D levels have fallen by more than 10 percent in the 6-through-11 crowd.

    But it's not just children. Clearly, everyone is suffering -- and I mean really suffering, because low vitamin D  levels  have been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and more.

    That's why it's essential that everyone -- and I mean everyone -- take a vitamin D supplement.

    But don't grab the first one off the shelf and consider yourself covered, because there's also a warning hidden in the new study: Fifteen percent of those who take a daily D pill have insufficient levels anyway.

    That could be a sign of a genetic condition that makes it difficult to get proper D levels, but it could also mean they're taking low doses or using a low-quality supplement.

    Make sure you take a supplement from a maker you trust. And make sure you get enough. Most people need a minimum of 2,000 IUs a day, and many need up to 5,000 IUs a day.

    A holistic doctor can test your levels and help you determine how much you need as well as the best way to get it -- and monitor your progress to make sure the supplement you take actually does the job.

  2. Wrinkles linked to bone loss

    What's on your skin might offer real clues about what lies beneath: Researchers say women with more wrinkles have less bone.

    And that means a few extra laugh lines could point to serious osteoporosis risk.

    Researchers from Yale University examined 114 post-menopausal women in their late 40s and early 50s who weren't taking hormone drugs and had not undergone any cosmetic surgery procedures to smooth or remove wrinkles.

    Then, they performed an exercise almost guaranteed to lead to self-consciousness: They gave each woman a "wrinkle score" based on the number and depth of their lines and creases.

    They also used a device to test skin firmness on the forehead and cheeks and took X-rays to measure bone density in the hip, lumbar spine and heel.

    What they found was more than just skin deep: Women with more wrinkles had less bone density -- and women with firm skin had greater bone density -- even after adjusting for risk factors.

    The researchers said at a recent Endocrine Society meeting that skin and bones are both made of collagens -- so sagging skin could be an outward sign that your levels of these proteins are waning on the inside.

    But whatever you do, don't start taking osteoporosis meds. As I've warned you before, these drugs can actually break the very bones they claim to protect. (Read more here.)

    Instead, take the natural steps now that can protect your bones later on no matter how wrinkly -- or how smooth -- your skin is.

    You might think the answer here is calcium, but it's not -- not by itself anyway, because calcium needs vitamin D and magnesium to help keep your bones strong.

    Many women already get all the calcium they need -- but they're way low and even downright deficient in D and magnesium.

    If you can't get these critical nutrients from diet and sun exposure, add some supplements to your regimen.

    They may not smooth your wrinkles... but they will keep your bones strong, and that's a heckuva lot more important.

  3. 'D' deficiency turns into crisis

    A leading health expert is calling vitamin D deficiency the world's most common medical condition... with 50 percent of the planet lacking the right amount of this essential nutrient.

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