If You Only Took One Pill, What Would It Be?

This entry was posted by Monday, 1 February, 2010
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Take THAT!

Nutrition: The Everything Pill!


For the elderly, it helps sharpen memory and reduces falls.

It’s effective against  chron’s disease and cancer and PMS and gum disease.

It  helps with insomnia and prevents  skeletal defects.

And, by the way, it also works against stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, depression, pain, ,  cardiac disease and can defend against multiple sclerosis.

Let’s see. What else?

Oh.  You know about telomeres, the little twisty ties at the end of chromosomes which keep them from falling apart? This thing I’m describing protects the twisty ties and  slows down the aging process. Pretty good, huh?

I’ll skip the rest of the benefits (there  are more). You get my point.

Just got a telegram from a reader who  says: “You’re full of CRAP! And, even if such a thing DID exist, I couldn’t afford it and the side effects would  melt me”.

Dear Reader

Just hold yer water there, Dear Reader.

Let’s start with price.

You can buy it over-the-counter for less than 2 cents a pill and it’s FDA approved.

As far as side effects are concerned, none I can find unless you stuff so many down your gullet that you choke. Or overdose. And I’m not even sure you CAN overdose. There’s some controversy as to whether there  is a toxic level. If there is, it takes a systematic effort over a long time to build it up in your body fat.  In other words, you really gotta try.

Enough with the long run up. I guess you’ll be surprised to learn that “it”  is vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin.”

The Clues

MISTER ScienceAintSoBad tries to stay on top of relevant news.

Keeps him busy.

While skimming through the blizzard of buzz about science and technology, I  began to  notice studies about vitamin D which were related to all KINDS of things like stroke, chron’s, multiple sclerosis, and on and on, and on..

This is a LITTLE blog.  A one- guy-when-he-has-a-chance-to-write blog.  I can’t comment on everything so I look for things that’re the most useful or relevant or interesting or amusing.

Nobody wants to hear about vitamins and minerals. I’m not yer mother.

But the articles and studies kept coming  until, FINALLY, I started to get the picture. This isn’t just a pill. This is a PILL!


The “crept up on us” factor

“D” was “discovered” in 1905 ( William Fletcher). Before that, remedies for rickets and scurvy (deficiency diseases) were recognized, consisting of  certain foods that we now know were D – rich.

By the modern era, sailors were smart enough to avoid scurvy by keeping a few oranges around (after there was a way to keep them cool). Course the issue became kinda moot when steam engines made  ocean crossings shorter.

We were conquering D deficiency.

Then we got REALLY smart.

We discovered that the sun can cause skin cancer and we started wearing big hats. And sun block. And watching flat screen TV’s.


And now, one in seven teens is deficient in vitamin D (even by traditional measures).  And it’s starting to sound like much of the population needs a D tune up (in part because of the recognition that the prior minimum daily dose was insufficient for all its possible uses).

How much?

Many of the benefits of D that are discussed here are pretty new and the entire question of how much is enough is under review. Walter Willett’s a smart guy as well as the chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Department Of Nutrition. He says 1000 IU might be about right.

An extra orange or a tangerine in the morning couldn’t do you any harm either.

– – – – – – — –  A PostScript – – – – – – – –

An article by Tara Parker-Pope in the New York Times this morning, observing the claimed wide ranging benefits for vitamin D, throws (possible) scientific cold water at it. Where are the randomized clinical trials? These are mere correlations. Correlations aren’t NECESSARILY cause and effect. Maybe staying healthy RAISES levels of vitamin D.

Science can be SUCH  a BUMMER!

Take your D.

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