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Statin Drugs and Vitamin D Deficiency

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The September 2009 newsletter of the Vitamin D Council weighs the scientific evidence pointing to a connection between the use of statin drugs (prescribed to lower cholesterol) and vitamin D deficiency.
John Jacob Cannell, MD, of the Vitamin D Council and a number of other medical experts, including Michael Holick, MD, and Robert Heaney, MD, cite approximately 2,900 studies that illuminate the relationship between prohormone vitamin D levels and many aspects of human health. According to Dr. Holick, vitamin D is critical for metabolizing minerals and is linked to the expression of 200 different genes. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, 17 different cancers, heart disease, cognitive dysfunction, autoimmune disorders, and muscle and bone ailments. In fact, low levels of vitamin D are linked to higher rates of mortality.
When exposed to 20 minutes of sunlight at the right latitude (e.g., not at the North Pole), our skin cells can produce up to 25,000 IU of vitamin D. Cholesterol in our skin is the catalyst for this important process. Halt or radically reduce cholesterol production (as do all statin or cholesterol-lowering drugs), and body functions dependent on cholesterol may suffer. Patients on statin drugs are known to be at increased risk for cataracts, global amnesia (memory loss) and neurodegenerative disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Females may experience hormonal disorders related to inhibition of the body’s production of cholesterol. Yes, Crestor, one of the statin drugs, appears to raise vitamin D levels by some unknown mechanism, but as John J. Cannell, MD, of the Vitamin D Council wrote in its September 2009 newsletter, “that is one expensive way to raise Vitamin D levels”.
According to “Natural News” staff writer E. Huff, “[R]esearchers found a clear connection between vitamin D deficiency and muscle pain. Over 64 percent of patients with muscle pain who were taking statin drugs were also deficient in vitamin D. Those with muscle pain in general were found to be deficient in vitamin D”.
Given the evidence that as many as 77 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient, this is clearly a public-health issue. In January 2009, William Faloon of the Life Extension Foundation wrote an excellent article on the public-health consequences of ignoring vitamin D deficiency (in 2010 the article was printed in the book FDA Failure, Deception, and Abuse, published by Praktikos Books). Faloon calls for all hospitalized patients to be tested for vitamin D status.
In the January 6, 2010, issue of Globe and Mail, published in Canada, environmental reporter Martin Mittelstaedt reported that the Ontario government is considering an end to payments for vitamin D testing, even though the Ontario Ministry of Health had asked its medical advisory committee to determine the vitamin D status of all Canadians. Dr. Reinhold Vieth, a professor of nutritional science at the University of Toronto, believes health authorities may eventually recommend 4000 IU for Canadians. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1000 IU daily; Health Canada advises those over age 50 to take 400 IU daily.
If a fraction of the findings are accurate, and vitamin D can help prevent 17 different cancers and lower the incidence of heart disease, stroke, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease and immune-system dysfunction, why are public-health officials dragging their feet? This is yet one more reason to make sure the CDC, FDA, NIH, and HHS to step up to the plate and help educate the public about the critical role of Vitamin D. Sign our petition now!
Make sure you have been screened for vitamin D deficiency, and protect your health with appropriate vitamin D supplementation.

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