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The Sunshine Vitamin

This is from The Washington Post and you can read the entire article by clicking on the blue type.

Vitamin D deficiency is, ironically, a serious issue for Middle Eastern women who stay out of the sun and who cover – wear abaya, hijab and niqab. The body makes Vitamin D from sunshine – which we have here in the Gulf in great abundance. Even exposing your skin for ten minutes a day in a secluded sunny spot will help your body create the Vitamin D it needs to build your bones and your system.

Some Seek Guidelines to Reflect Vitamin D’s Benefits

By Rob Stein

Washington Post Staff Writer 
Friday, July 4, 2008; Page A01

A flurry of recent research indicating that Vitamin D may have a dizzying array of health benefits has reignited an intense debate over whether federal guidelines for the “sunshine vitamin” are outdated, leaving millions unnecessarily vulnerable to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other ailments.

The studies have produced evidence that low levels of Vitamin D make men more likely to have heart attacks, breast and colon cancer victims less likely to survive, kidney disease victims more likely to die, and children more likely to develop diabetes. Two other studies suggested that higher Vitamin D levels reduce the risk of dying prematurely from any cause.

In response to these and earlier findings, several medical societies are considering new recommendations for a minimum daily Vitamin D intake, the American Medical Association recently called for the government to update its guidelines, and federal officials are planning to launch that effort.

But many leading experts caution that it remains premature for people to start taking large doses of Vitamin D. While the new research is provocative, experts argue that the benefits remain far from proven. Vitamin D can be toxic at high doses, and some studies suggest it could increase the risk for some health problems, experts say. No one knows what consequences might emerge from exposing millions of people to megadoses of the vitamin for long periods.

“The data are intriguing and serve as, no pun intended, food for further fruitful research,” said Mary Frances Picciano, at the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health. “But beyond that, the data are just not solid enough to make any new recommendations. We have to be cautious.”

The current clash is the latest in a long, often unusually bitter debate. Some skeptics question whether funding by the tanning, milk and vitamin industries is biasing some advocates. Frustrated proponents accuse skeptics of clinging to outdated medical dogma.

“It feels kind of ridiculous working in this field sometimes,” said Reinhold Vieth, a professor of nutritional sciences and pathobiology at the University of Toronto. “Every week, I get interviewed about the next important publication about Vitamin D. But this field remains mired in the muck.”

Vieth is one of a small but vocal cadre of researchers pushing doctors and patients to stop waiting for new official guidelines. Physicians should routinely test their patients for Vitamin D deficiencies, and more people — especially African Americans — should take supplements and increase their exposure to the sun, they say.

“The bottom line is we now recognize that Vitamin D is important for health for both children and adults and may help prevent many serious chronic diseases,” said Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University.

Scientists have long known that Vitamin D is a vital nutrient the skin produces when hit by ultraviolet light from sunlight and other sources. The amount of Vitamin D produced varies, depending on where the person lives, skin pigment, age and other factors. African Americans and other dark-skinned people, and anyone living in northern latitudes, make far less than other groups.

With people spending more time indoors surfing the Web, watching television, working at desk jobs, and covering up and using sunblock when they do venture outdoors, the amount of Vitamin D that people create in their bodies has been falling. Milk and a few other foods are fortified with Vitamin D, and it occurs naturally in others, such as fatty fish, but most people get very little through their diets.

“Humans evolved in equatorial Africa wearing no clothes,” said Robert P. Heaney, a leading Vitamin D researcher at Creighton University in Omaha. “Now we get much less direct sunlight, and so we don’t make nearly as much Vitamin D.”

July 6, 2008 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions | | 6 Comments

How Hot is It?

Here is a photo of what it looks like this morning, not quite 7 in the ay-em:

It’s hot. It is so hot that I will need to run to the grocery store any minute now, before it gets too hot. It is so hot, I don’t even sweat, the sweat evaporates right off my body. It is so hot that a crayon left lying on the ground will spontaneously dissolve:

At 0730, it is 97°F / 36°C.

July 6, 2008 Posted by | ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, sunrise series, Weather | 17 Comments