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Tanning beds, vitamin D and Quebec

English: Woman uses a tanning bed.

English: Woman uses a tanning bed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About a year ago, I was driving in Montreal and I heard an ad on the radio. It was someone from a tanning salon, enumerating the virtues of using a tanning bed. They said something to the effect of, “Look great! Feel great! Help up your vitamin D during the winter months!” I couldn’t believe it! They were actually touting the ‘health’ benefits of using tanning beds.

The reason that I bring this up today is because I heard on the radio this morning that Quebec has legislated an age limit on the use of tanning beds within the province. I think that is fantastic. If I were less informed about the risks of using tanning beds in regards to cancer risks, I would have thought it was a great idea to get some extra vitamin D. While there is evidence that specific types of tanning beds can help us Canadians up our vitamin D levels, it is my opinion that the risks far outweigh the benefits. If you do decide to use tanning beds to get some vitamin D, make sure you do your research.

Make sure the tanning salon bed puts out UVB. That’s done with medium-pressure lamps. High-pressure lamps only put out UVA, which will not make any vitamin D. With UVB rays, you won’t get a burn, you won’t even get much of a tan, but you’ll get lots of vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (cbc.ca)

Considering that the tanning salon that was advertising on the radio was also talking about the wonderous glow you would have after the sessions, I doubt they were using UVB rays in their beds. It’s a tough time to be a consumer out there, reading between the lines when the lines are so skewed.

Quebec is putting a ban on use of the beds for anyone under the age of eighteen. This follows suit with many other provinces and countries who have already initiated similar age bans. Ontario (yay us!) and British Columbia are planning to do so as well. Studies have shown that the risk of getting skin cancer is significantly increased when people below the age of 25 use tanning beds, so we may be able to decrease the risks in many teens.

“…people who used tanning beds were 67% more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than people who never used them. This risk was highest among people who started to tan before their 25th birthday.” (Webmd.com)

The good ole Nova Scotians are doing even better, their age ban starts at 19 years of age. Unfortunately, there is still the fact that most people have no idea that tanning beds can be bad for them, so many people will flock to the salons as soon as they are of age.

It is unfortunate for us Canadians, and many residents in the United States, that we suffer from a big loss of vitamin D in the winter time. Some people might think that going outside in the winter time with their faces exposed will help them produce some vitamin D. The amount of D your face produces is minute and a recent study shows that even if you were completely uncovered, it wouldn’t matter.

Above Atlanta Georgia [in latitude], you can’t make vitamin D in your skin in the winter time. We did a study involving Edmonton residents. For six months of the year, they were unable to make vitamin D in their skin. Stand naked outside from the time the sun rises until it sets, freeze every appendage on your body and you will not make vitamin D.” – Dr. Holick, (Cbc.ca)

Thank goodness we’ve disproved another health reason for winter nudists! Hee hee. My vitamin d source of choice is just to use a good supplement. For more information about how much you should be taking in oral form, see my Vitamin D blog entry.

Do you use tanning beds? Have you ever asked about UVA versus UVB bulbs on one of your visits?

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Add a little sunshine to your day!

20/2.2011 vitamin D

20/2.2011 vitamin D (Photo credit: julochka)

As I look outside at the pouring, snow and rain…(yes, for some odd reason we have snow right now!) I long for the sun. Mostly because when it is sunny, it is easy to be in a good mood but also because of the fantastic effects you can gain with vitamin d absorption. That is part of the reason that I included a 30 minute outside break every day, weather permitting, in my supplement month. Unfortunately, the truth is that even if I get outside for that brief amount of time per day, I won’t be absorbing the amounts of vitamin D that my body craves.

Canadians spend many, many months every year avoiding the cold winter season. Even when we do go outside, we are so bundled up that we are not able to absorb the sun’s rays. That’s why the majority of Canadians when tested are shown to be vitamin D deficient. More and more doctors are starting recommend a Vitamin D supplement for their patients and with good reason.

Nearly every body tissue has receptors for vitamin D, among them the intestines, brain, heart, skin, sex organs, breasts and lymphocytes, as well as the placenta. The vitamin, which acts as a hormone, is known to influence the expression of more than 200 genes.”  – Jane Brody, NY Times blog

So, your skin can absorb the vitamin D from the sun, but the power to absorb doesn’t stop there. If you are ingesting the it as a supplement, your body will be more than happy to absorb it any way it can! Health Canada has a chart which tells you what your recommended daily intake should be.

Age                          Recommended (RDA)/day             Tolerable Upper Level (UL) per day

Infants 0-6 months             400 IU  (10 mcg) *                         1000 IU (25 mcg)

Infants 7-12 months             400 IU  (10 mcg) *                         1500 IU (38 mcg)

Children 1-3 years             600 IU (15 mcg)                                 2500 IU (63 mcg)

Children 4-8 years             600 IU (15 mcg)                                 3000 IU (75 mcg)

Child/Adults 9-70 yrs             600 IU (15 mcg)                           4000 IU (100 mcg)

Adults > 70 years             800 IU (20 mcg)                                  4000 IU (100 mcg)

Pregnant/Lactation             600 IU (15 mcg)                               4000 IU (100 mcg)

 

As per this information, I’ve set my daily intake between 600-4000 IU, normally about 800 – 1,000 IU. It is important to note that many multivitamins have only 400IU included. That means that at minimum I would be missing 200IU every day. According to many trials done with the supplement, a 400 IU a day didn’t have any effect. It was only once the dose was upped to 800-1,000 IU in different trials that researchers started to see more positive results. (Nutrition Action, 11.2007)

Positive results and the lowering of risks were seen in many diseases, including:

  • Cancer

Lower risks of breast, prostate and especially colon cancer.

  • Diabetes

Helps with optimum insulin secretion

Lessens tooth loss, gingivitis and gum inflammation.

  • Mental function

Some studies claim low levels contribute to poor mental function in the elderly.

 

Why does vitamin D affect us on so many levels? Well,  D is a raw material for the body to use when it is communicating between cells. Hormones like estrogen use cholesterol, which in our diets are plentiful, but vitamin D can often be in short supply.

Some people are worried about vitamin D toxicity. There have been studies conducted in which the patients were given up to 40,000 IU a day without negative result. The major danger is if the D raises the levels of the calcium in the blood too high. However, for that to happen, all the carriers in your system would have to be completely saturated. Taking 1000 IU a day, in all presented evidence, should not only be safe, but very beneficial.

Obviously, there is much more to look at in regards to this fantastic vitamin, but I’ll give you a few days to go out and buy some D3 supplements. Then I can wow you with more information that I’ve discovered.

Do you take a D supplement? Did you notice any difference in your general health once you took it for awhile?

Month 4: Supply myself with supplements

Vitamins!

Vitamins! (Photo credit: bradley j)

Now that I have fortified my body with enzymes and will continue to  do so, I’m ready to add some supplements to my diet. Hopefully all the steps I’ve completed have prepared my system to make the best use of the vitamins and nutrients that I’ll be giving to my body.

I sat down last week with my dietitian to make sure I was on the right track. If you are planning to add supplements to your diet, I would suggest meeting with your doctor or dietitian beforehand. It really helps to have someone look objectively at your diet and see where you may be lacking. Based on my diet, this is what we came up with.

The rules for this month are:

1. Take at least one serving of chlorophyll every day.

2. Take the RDA for the following supplements:
Vitamin D (Min. 600 IU – 4000 IU max.)
Calcium/Magnesium (1000 mg / 310 mg)
Folic Acid (0.4 mg/ day for pre-menopausal women ONLY)
Omega 3 supplement

3. Take a probiotic course for the month.

4. Spend at least 30 minutes in the sun every day, unless it is raining.

RDA stands for recommended daily allowance, the amounts that I have put up are posted on the Health Canada site, but they vary from age and gender. For example, if you are a man, don’t touch a folate supplement. You don’t need it and neither do women who are post menopause. The amount that you need is absorbed in small bits in your diet. Women who are of child bearing age need it (I raise my hand) because folic acid has proven very important in preventing neural tube problems in babies…but more on that later this month.

Although I’m only posting today, I did start all this yesterday. So far, so good.

Do you take any supplements? If so, which ones and why?