Worldwide health authorities urged to rethink vitamin D guidelines following revolutionary study

Vitamin D

Worldwide health authorities are being urged to rethink official guidance around vitamin D following the publication of a ground breaking study from the University of Surrey, which dispels the myth that vitamin D2 and D3 have the same nutritional value.

In the first ever study of its kind, using low doses of vitamin D in fortified food, researchers from the University of Surrey investigated which of the two types of vitamin D, D2 or D3, was more effective in raising levels of this vital nutrient in the body. Vitamin D3 is derived from animal products, while D2 is plant-based.

Researchers examined the vitamin D levels of 335 South Asian and white European women over two consecutive winter periods, a time when the nutrient is known to be lacking in the body. The women were split into five groups, with each group receiving either a placebo, a juice containing vitamin D2 or D3 and a biscuit with D2 or D3.

They found that vitamin D3 was twice as effective in raising levels of the vitamin in the body than its counterpart D2. Vitamin D levels in women who received vitamin D3 via juice or a biscuit increased by 75 per cent and 74 per cent respectively compared to those who were given D2 through the same methods. Those given D2 saw an increase of 33 per cent and 34 per cent over the course of the 12-week intervention.

The research also found that nutrient levels of both vitamin D2 and D3 rose as a result of both food and acidic beverages such as juice, which were found to be equally as effective.

Those who received the placebo experienced a 25 per cent reduction in the vitamin over the same period.

Current guidance given by a number of Government bodies around the world including the US National Institute of Health, state that the two forms of vitamin D are equivalent and can be used to equal effect.

Latest figures from Public Health England has found that more than 1 in 5 people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D and has increased the recommended intake of the vitamin to 10 micrograms per day, throughout the year, for everyone in the general population aged four years and older. Daily consumption of products containing vitamin D3 but not vitamin D2 will enable the population to meet this target helping to avoid the health implications such as osteoporosis, rickets and increased risk of cardio vascular disease which are associated with insufficient levels of vitamin D in the body.

This finding not only has implications for the health sector but also for the retail market. In recent years many retailers have added vitamin D2 to their products in the belief that it will help a person fulfil their daily intake. This study has proven that D3 is the most effective form of increasing vitamin D levels in the body.

Lead author Dr Laura Tripkovic from the University of Surrey, said: “The importance of vitamin D in our bodies is not to be underestimated, but living in the UK it is very difficult to get sufficient levels of it from its natural source, the sun, so we know it has to be supplemented through our diet.

“However, our findings show that vitamin D3 is twice as effective as D2 in raising vitamin D levels in the body, which turns current thinking about the two types of vitamin D on its head. Those who consume D3 through fish, eggs or vitamin D3 containing supplements are twice as more likely to raise their vitamin D status than when consuming vitamin D2 rich foods such as mushrooms, vitamin D2 fortified bread or vitamin D2 containing supplements, helping to improve their long term health.”

Professor Susan Lanham-New, Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Surrey, and who was Principal Investigator of the BBSRC Diet and Health Research Club funded trial said: “This is a very exciting discovery which will revolutionise how the health and retail sector views vitamin D.

“Vitamin D deficiency is a serious matter, but this will help people make a more informed choice about what they can eat or drink to raise their levels through their diet.”

Source

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International Therapist Summer 2017, Issue 121

The Summer issue of International Therapist is on its way to members…

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This issue includes articles by:

  • Professor Robert Thomas – protecting nails during chemotherapy;
  • Dr Anjali Mahto – an introduction to acne;
  • Maria Mason – how holistic beauty therapists can help clients with acne;
  • WebHealer – how therapists can attract more clients online;
  • Jane Johnson – tips and tricks for the lumbar spine;
  • Gayle Berry – infant massage for orphans in Malawi;
  • Mary Atkinson – supporting refugees with massage;
  • Nicolle Mitchell – case study on aromatherapy for a client with dementia.

Plus an an introduction to social prescribing; interview with Jayn Sterland; information on the 2017 FHT Members’ Dinner; updates from our FHT local support groups; a day in the life of Carolyn Wellington, sports therapist and life coach; members’ news, looking at Theresa Sundt’s role in making colour therapy more accessible; essential oil profile; education matters; research; medical A-Z; news updates; your views; tell me about and lots more…

Don’t miss the opportunity to win a KIH Bed pregnancy cushion, in the members’ competition and a £20 Amazon gift card and a pack of 50 loyalty cards in the FHT spiral no. 23.

Landing from Thursday 20 July. You can also login to read this issue (from Thursday 20 July) and past issues online at fht.org.uk/membersarea

Met Office research suggests parents are worryingly relaxed about sun safety

More than a third of parents incorrectly believe that suntans are a sign of good health, according to a recent study by the Met Office, despite sun damage in childhood being strongly linked to skin cancer in later years.

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The study, which involved 1,000 parents with children aged 11 and under, looked at perceptions of good sun care and produced some alarming results, with 7% of respondents stating that they have never put sunscreen on their children.

A quarter of those surveyed actively encouraged their children to ‘get a tan’, with 10% encouraging them to sunbathe and 7% allowing their children to use a UV sunbed.

The Met Office believes that these figures could be explained by a ‘lack of knowledge amongst parents of the damage the sun can inflict.’ Findings also backed up this claim, with 7% unaware of links between UV rays and cancer, 15% unaware of any risk from UV rays on cool or cloudy days and 21% unaware of the increased risk from UV rays between May and September.

Furthermore, just 19% checked the UV forecast each day and 40% had never done so.

The NHS calls for parents to take extra care with protecting the skin of children and babies, who have far more sensitive skin than adults.

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New infographic looks at the bigger picture of health

The Health Foundation has released the first in a series of infographics looking at the social determinants of health.

Infographic_What_Makes_Us_Healthy

The foundation says these determinants include political, social, economic, environmental and cultural factors which shape the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age.

The first infographic, entitled ‘What makes us healthy’ looks at how health is often shaped by factors outside the direct influence of healthcare, claiming that as little as 10% of a population’s health and wellbeing is linked to access to healthcare.

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Guest blog: rethinking chronic pain

Guest blogger Georgie Oldfield, founder of SIRPA™, looks at the role of non-physical factors in our perception of chronic pain

Top ten reasons for learning more about shoulder pain by Simeon Niel-Asher

Have you ever wondered why (or noticed that) many of your clients have persistent or recurring pain, which began while doing something they normally did without any problem, or maybe soon after? Or maybe they woke with pain, yet it persisted for months or even years? This is so common, yet are we really that fragile that we can cause ourselves damage while doing something as innocuous as bending, getting out of a car or turning over in bed?

Despite a lack of supporting evidence, musculoskeletal pain is usually blamed on physical causes, such as poor posture (for example, reduced lumbar curve or one shoulder higher than the other, and so on), muscle imbalance (for example, poor core stability or hypermobility) or structure (for example, spinal degeneration such as a prolapsed disc or facet joint disease).  In fact no correlation has been found between pain and posture, structure or biomechanics (Lederman, 2011).

There are in fact numerous studies to demonstrate that degeneration – for example in the spine (Kim et al, 2013), shoulders (Connor, 2003), hips (Silvis, 2011) and knees (Kaplan et al, 2005) – are just a normal part of ageing.  Although the development of diagnostic procedures such as MRI and ultrasound scans have been invaluable, often when ‘abnormalities’ are found, it is assumed these must be the cause of any symptoms present, even though often the symptoms don’t match the findings on the scans. In fact, the studies highlighted above, found that about 80% of people without pain also have these ‘abnormalities’.

It is now widely accepted that stress ‘affects’ pain, so addressing this will clearly help in the management of pain. In fact, when you ask clients to consider what was going on in their lives in the lead up to the onset of pain, many will relate this to a challenge they were facing in their life, rather than a physical event.  Interestingly, a couple of studies (Christensen et al, 2012; Feyer et al, 2000) looked at the physical, biomechanical and psychosocial aspects of individuals’ lives and the only factor involved in the triggering of new episodes of back pain were psychosocial factors.

Another study (Castro et al, 2001) used personality profiling to see if they could determine who might develop whiplash symptoms after a placebo car crash, despite the fact that the force induced could not possibly cause any biomechanical injury. They found that they could predict with 92% accuracy who would have symptoms a month after the ‘accident’ – based on their personality profile.

Not only have personality factors been found to be a determinant of whether symptoms might persist or become more severe, so have greater exposure to past traumatic events; early beliefs that pain may be permanent; and depressed mood (Young Casey et al, 2008).  Add to this the strong link between adverse childhood experiences and ill-health in later life (Felitti, 1998) – including chronic pain (Goldberg, 1999) – and you can see why our focus needs to shift from the belief that there is always a physical reason for an individual’s pain.

In fact when you consider Kim’s study (2013), the poor results from non-surgical treatment for non-specific back pain (Keller et al, 2007), plus the lack of evidence to support the use of spinal surgery (Nguyen, 2011), injections for back pain (Chou, 2015) and morphine for chronic pain (Berthelot, 2015), it is clear we need to change our approach to the treatment of chronic pain.

Chronic pain has actually been found to be caused by the activation of nerve pathways in the brain. This results in persistent activation of the fight or flight response (our reaction to danger), which can cause real physical symptoms in the body. Most people have experienced a version of this when their face turns red with embarrassment or they feel a ‘knot’ in their abdomen in a tense situation.  When this normal human response becomes very strong it can cause very real, severe pain or other symptoms that can be disabling. Treatment consists of education about how the fight or flight response works; changing behaviour that might unintentionally keep it ‘turned on’; and working through current, and sometimes past, challenges that trigger our danger signals. Once the signals are turned off, the pain usually improves and often resolves completely, resulting in life-changing results for individuals.

As a physiotherapist who came across this concept 10 years ago, the results I have observed with my clients has completely changed the way I treat chronic pain and other persistent symptoms. I love the fact that the approach is non-invasive and we can help individuals recover through education and by becoming self-empowered and taking responsibility for their own health.

For references: visit www.sirpaconference.com/infographic

About Georgie Oldfield

SIPRA Georgie Oldfield

Georgie Oldfield MCSP is a leading physiotherapist and chronic pain specialist, promoting a pioneering approach to resolving chronic pain through her SIRPA Recovery Programme.

Hear her speak at the 2017 SIRPA conference, Chronic Pain: The Role of Emotions, being held on 15 October 2017, at the Royal Society of Medicine, London.  To read about leading experts who will be presenting at the conference and to book, visit  www.sirpaconference.com/conference-programme/

NB: This article refers to persistent, chronic pain, as opposed to tissue-damaging conditions, such as cancer, fracture, infections and autoimmune diseases.