Spring Sunshine Welcomed as Canadians' Vitamin D Levels Plummet

Risk increased for a number of serious diseases

WOODSTOCK, ON, March 19, 2015 /CNW/ - A new Statistics Canada report has confirmed that 12 million Canadians have vitamin D blood levels that are below what Health Canada recommends and vitamin D levels continue to drop from previous years.

Results from the 2012 to 2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS), released December 2014, report that 35% or 12 million Canadians have vitamin D blood levels below the Health Canada guideline of 50 nmol/L. This has increased by 3% from the previous Statistics Canada report (2009-2011) of 32%. The mean average vitamin D level for Canadians age 6-79 years has also dropped by 9.9% over the last 4 years from 68 nmol/L to 61 nmol/L. "This downward trend in vitamin D blood levels is putting more Canadians at a higher risk for many cancers including colon, breast and prostate, as well as for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and other serious diseases" stated Perry Holman, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Society.

The root cause of vitamin D deficiency is sunlight deficiency. Today more people work indoors and spend less free time outdoors that at any previous time in history. When people are outside, many use sunscreens which if applied as directed, can significantly prevent the production of vitamin D in the skin. "Public health sun safety advice should provide a balanced outlook that considers both the risks, such as skin cancer, and the benefits, such as vitamin D production, of sun exposure," said Dr. Karen Lee, PhD. Vice President, Research, MS Society of Canada. "Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world and research funded by the MS Society of Canada is adding to the growing evidence on the link between vitamin D deficiency and reduced sun exposure, with the risk of MS, as well as the possibility that vitamin D deficiency may affect the progression of MS."

The UK have re-evaluated the role of sun exposure for creating vitamin D and their major disease associations, representing cancer, heart, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and dermatology, have endorsed a new vitamin D position statement which states "Enjoying the sun safely, while taking care not to burn, can help to provide the benefits of vitamin D without unduly raising the risk of skin cancer." Statistics Canada reported that "CHMS data show that those who reported recent sun exposure (in the past two months) were more likely to have sufficient vitamin D levels (79%) compared to those who did not report recent sun exposure (62%)." The Statistics Canada report went on to say "Exposure to sunlight and to artificial ultraviolet B radiation (tanning beds) is another source of vitamin D."

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) vitamin D blood level recommendation of 50 nmol/L, which Health Canada follows, was determined based on studies of bone health. To reach the natural vitamin D levels of natives living in East Africa of 115 nmol/L, would require over 10X more vitamin D intake than the current 600 IU/day for adults recommended by the IOM. A large group of over 42 vitamin D scientists, researchers and doctors recommend that Canadians of all ages maintain an optimal vitamin D level of between 100-150 nmol/L for the best protection against serious diseases.

About the Vitamin D Society:

The Vitamin D Society is a Canadian non-profit group organized to increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency; encourage people to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D levels tested annually; and help fund valuable vitamin D research. The Vitamin D Society recommends people achieve and maintain optimal 25(OH)D blood levels between 100 – 150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA).


For further information: Perry Holman, Vitamin D Society, Phone: 877-520-4867, Email: pholman@vitamindsociety.org, Twitter: @VitDSoc, Web: www.vitamindsociety.org

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