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Sunshine More Effective than Vitamin D Pills

At the American Academy of Dermatology meeting in Miami (March, 2013), researchers from Sweden reported that six weeks of ultraviolet light on the full body three times a week (dose of 9 J/cm2) raises blood levels of vitamin D higher than taking pills containing 1,600 IU of vitamin D plus 1,000 mg of calcium for the same length of time. All of the patients were severely vitamin D deficient, with blood levels averaging 20 nmol/L (normal is greater than 75 nmol/L). Ultraviolet light raised blood levels of hydroxy Vitamin D to 75 nmol/L, compared to only 60.6 nmol/L with the pills.

TANNING BEDS DO NOT PROVIDE VITAMIN D: Sun lamp rays are composed of UVB and UVA. UVB are the rays that cause skin to make vitamin D. Although both rays can damage the skin and cause skin cancer, UVB rays are far more potent causes of skin cancer. Therefore manufacturers of sun lamp bulbs usually limit the amount of UVB from their bulbs to less than five percent of the rays they emit. More than 95 percent of rays from sunlamps are usually UVA. So sun lamp bulbs usually cause far more skin damage from the UVA and do not cause the skin to make much vitamin D.

RECOMMENDATIONS: To reduce skin cancer risk, try to avoid exposing areas of skin that have received the most sunlight exposure over your lifetime. Skin cancer is caused by the cumulative exposure to ultraviolet rays, so you should cover the most often-exposed areas of skin: your face, scalp, ears, neck, arms, and back of your hands. For most people, the areas that have received the least exposure are the legs and trunk; however, skin anywhere on your body can develop skin cancer from ultraviolet exposure.

You can get all the vitamin D that you need by exposing a small area of your skin to the sun for 15 minutes a day. If you are outdoors longer than that, you need to cover most of your skin most of the time. We spend about four hours a day riding a bicycle in sunny Florida throughout the year. We wear hats that cover the tops of our ears and necks, put sun screen on our faces, wear sun glasses and bicycle gloves, wear long sleeved shirts or arm coolers to cover our arms, and knickers instead of shorts to cover the top part of our legs to below our knees. Our primary skin exposure to sunlight is on our legs below the knees.

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Diabetics Should Not Restrict Fruit

Restricting fruit does not improve diabetics' control of blood sugar, waist circumference, or weight. Diabetics should not take drinks or foods with added sugar, but they should eat whole fruits, even though most fruits are full of sugar. Foods that cause a high rise in blood sugar soon after you eat them can cause sugar to stick to the outer surface of membranes of cells and damage them. However, a recent study shows that restricting fruit in newly diagnosed diabetics does not lower blood sugar, body weight, or abdominal circumference (Nutrition Journal, March 5, 2013).

WHY DIABETICS (AND EVERYONE ELSE) SHOULD EAT FRUIT:
• Fruits offer many healthful nutrients, such as fiber, antioxidants, and other chemicals that reduce inflammation and improve artery function (Br J Nutr 2010, 104(Suppl 3):S15-27).
• A high-fruit diet helps to prevent heart attacks (J Nutr 2009, 102:947-948).
• A high fruit diet helps to prevent certain cancers (Gastroenterology, 2011, 141:106-118).

FRUIT DOES NOT RAISE HBA1C: When blood-sugar levels rise too high, sugar sticks to the outer surface of cell membranes to destroy the involved cells to cause all the side effects of diabetes, such as heart attacks, strokes, blindness, deafness, loss of feeling, dementia and so forth. Doctors can measure how much sugar is stuck on cells with a test called HBA1C. A balanced diet that is not overloaded with fruit does not raise HBA1C.

RECOMMENDATION FOR DIABETICS: Fruit is less likely to raise blood sugar when it is eaten as part of a meal or along with other foods, which help to keep the fruit in the stomach for a longer period of time. Diabetics should not drink fruit juices because liquids pass immediately from the stomach into the intestines to raise blood sugar.

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Antioxidant Pills Do Not Prevent Heart Disease

A review of 293 scientific published studies, that included 15 trials reporting data on 188,209 participants shows that the antioxidant vitamin pills, VITAMIN E, BETA-CAROTENE, AND VITAMIN C, do not prevent heart attacks, strokes, death, heart attack deaths, the frequency of surgery to open closed arteries leading to the heart, heart pain, or congestive heart failure (PLoS One, February 20, 2013;8(2)).

Antioxidant vitamin pills (vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C) are widely advertised and sold for the prevention of heart attacks and strokes, even though the evidence is that they do not do this.

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High Vitamin B12 Levels

Very high blood levels of vitamin B12 are associated with tissue and blood cancers, and liver and kidney diseases (Quarterly Journal of Medicine 03/04/2013). We know of no logical explanation.

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This week's medical history:
Mickey Mantle: Tough Childhood Can Cause Disease

For a complete list of my medical history biographies go to Histories and Mysteries

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Recipe of the Week:

Fastest Beans and Rice

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE
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March 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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