Vitamin D

It is known as the "sunshine vitamin" because it is the main person responsible for its composition. And yet, in the sunny Greece we lack the necessary bone health Vitamin D! What you need to know and especially what we can do?

Vitamin D is valuable, since its role is catalytic in the storage of calcium by the body. Nevertheless, in a sunny country like Greece, scientific studies show that, instead of a surplus, we have rather a deficit of this vitamin! Vitamin D deficiency concerns all ages in Greece, but rates are rising far the largest: According to recent surveys, around 60% of people over 65 have Vitamin D. insufficiency guess it is time to rethink our relationship with our sun and make friend, even for 15 minutes a day, as we advise experts.

The importance of vitamin D
It all starts with calcium, an element important for the good condition of our skeleton, and the proper functioning of muscles, heart and immune system. But as our body can not synthesize itself calcium is necessary to receive from the foods that the body creates "warehouses" for the frame. But how calcium is absorbed from the intestine and ultimately leads to bones, to bring these important warehouses? Using vitamin D! The basic operation consists in the absorption of calcium by the body. That is why the lack of it is associated with osteoporosis. Studies even show that nearly all of people who have suffered a fracture due to osteoporosis have inadequate vitamin D. Moreover, we have recent evidence that vitamin D also helps in proper functioning of the cardiovascular and muscular system. It is also likely to protect against some types of cancers, mainly that of the colon.

How do we cover our daily needs
Every day we need 400 units of vitamin D. It has been shown that approximately 90% of the vitamin D we need we get from the sun. How; Ultraviolet light degrades cholesterol found in the skin and thus the synthesized vitamin D. It has even been estimated that 20 minutes of daily exposure to the sun (the upper limbs and face) is enough to get the amount needed. The remaining 10% of the vitamin D we need to get from food (milk, eggs and fatty fish). Therefore, it is obvious that the most important source of vitamin D is the sun and diet ancillary works. Why diet is not enough? Since the quantities of which are found in various foods is rather limited. So if the sun did not see us at all, to get the dose of vitamin D that we need every day, you should eat 20 eggs or 7,5 liters of milk or two sardines dishes. And as is obvious, this is unlikely.

The Mediterranean paradox
Since, then, vitamin D is synthesized with the help of the sun, then we Greeks who live in a sunny country we should have as much Vitamin D we need, one would think. Nevertheless, things are not so, according to surveys, the Mediterranean peoples seem to have strangely deficient or at least not a sufficient amount of vitamin D in the body.

The surveys prove it:
• A Dutch survey, done in 1995 and published in «Lancet», showed that Greeks, Spaniards and Italians measured were much less Vitamin D than the Norwegians, Danes, Swiss and French who took part in the same survey. The Norwegians and Danes had about 45 nmol / L, the French and the Swiss were about 30 and Mediterranean people below 20.
• 2001 was another Dutch research -in 7500 women 50 to 75 years (after menopause and osteoporosis), which showed that in Southern Europe 8% of men in this age have a severe deficiency of vitamin D (below 25 nmol / L), while in Southeast Asia-a region with similar iliofaneia- the figure was about 2%.
• The 2005 was an American study in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who received even and vitamin D supplements, and nevertheless the 81% of them in the Middle East -where there is a high iliofaneia- were vitamin D deficient, and at Central Europe and in America the percentage of women with a similar failure was 50%.

Why is this happening ;
Let's look at some of the possible causes:
• In the Mediterranean there are people with darker skin than in northern Europe, so the synthesis of vitamin D from the sun on the skin is made difficult because of the melanin.
• In general, although we have several months of sunshine a year, most of the time we have covered our hands -the part of the body where Vitamin D- clothes synthesized. - In recent years completely avoid the sun, because we fear skin cancer. Indeed, a recent study in Greek postmenopausal women, 28.6% of these women are exposed to the sun less than 20 minutes a day, and these women have a statistically higher risk for an osteoporotic fracture.
• We use sunscreens with very high sun protection factor, preventing the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin.
• Air pollution in large cities where we move every day to prevent solar radiation to finally reach our skin.
• The people after 70 years of age show a decrease of vitamin D capacity in the skin by 30%.
• In Mediterranean countries consume both fatty foods containing vitamin D, since the main fat of our food is of the oil gives us vitamin D. - Perhaps there is a genetic predisposition to certain people that prevents the composition a sufficient amount of vitamin D .

What can we do
Surely the sun can be dangerous, especially if we accept its rays for a long time and without sunscreen. So we have to wear a hat, use sunscreen and avoid excessive sun exposure at dangerous hours (11.00-16.00). On the other hand, we should not forget that sunlight is very important not only for the synthesis of vitamin D, but also for the better functioning of the whole organism (when we sit in the sun, improves our mood, various skin diseases etc.). Thus, we can follow the ancient Greek saying "Pan Metron Ariston" and we make sure that we are every day for 15-20 minutes in the sun having face and hands exposed us. Let us not forget that the more dark skin have, the more we need a long time to us "see" the sun to produce the essential vitamin D, bypassing melanin skin prevents. This need not be done on the beach; we can "get" the sun that we need on the terrace or in our home garden, on the road as we walk, etc. As for sunscreen, we can for those 20 minutes to avoid or use a low SPF (to 8) and then put Depending on the needs us- sunscreen we want.

When necessary supplements
Special vitamin D supplements are needed, particularly for those who suffer from osteoporosis or are older than 65 years. In the market there are preparations containing calcium and vitamin D, but there is a special drug for osteoporosis containing extra vitamin D. As for the side effects, we should know the following:
• The simple vitamin D, to create side effects should be taken in huge doses, such that it is impossible to be administered by the doctor!
• A special form of vitamin D (alfacalcidol) if taken without consulting a doctor and in large doses, in very rare cases may cause increased calcium in urine and blood, and if this timing, create kidney stones. So experts recommend special examinations one month after the start of ingestion of the preparation.


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