Mark Gipson, M.D.
Mark Gipson, MD, was born in Texas and did his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas. He attended medical school at the University of Texas Medical Center at San Antonio. He then relocated to Cleveland where he completed his internship and residency at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.
Dr. Gipson completed his board certification in 1985. He has been in private practice in Cleveland for more than twenty years. His interests include vitamin D deficiencies, immune disorders and photography.
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Vitamin D Deficiency: The Hidden Epidemic
It is now known that we have a nationwide epidemic among all age groups and that is Vitamin D deficiency. Studies over the last 10 years have conclusively shown that large populations of individuals in the United States do not receive enough Vitamin D.
The statistics are sobering: Vitamin D deficiency has associations with Juvenile Onset Diabetes, immune dysfunction such as your ability to fight the flu or your response to infections, rickets (a bone softening disease in children), stress fractures in adolescents, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis and a serious link to cancers in adults as well.
Take for a moment the following: Vitamin D deficiency and the heart attack risk. In June 2008, studies showed that men with Vitamin D deficiency had an increased heart attack risk of 2.42 times more heart attacks. If their Vitamin D levels were normalized, this would reduce the number of deaths from heart attacks from 157,000 to 92,500. A very significant drop.
The cancer statistics are equally sobering: Vitamin D-deficient women have an increased risk of 253% of colon cancer.
Breast cancer statistics are equally shocking, a 2008 study of breast cancer showed that Vitamin D-deficient women have a 222% increased risk for developing breast cancer.
Other studies link Vitamin D deficiency to as many as 18 different cancers. Why are we deficient? There are only 2 sources of Vitamin D, one is our diet and the other is sun exposure. Statistics show that in absence of taking Vitamin D in our foods, (mackerel, salmon, cod-liver oil, eggs, sardines or vitamin D milk, many children and adults are either lactose intolerant or milk protein allergic) your serum levels of Vitamin D will be inadequate especially in climates like Cleveland, Milwaukee, Seattle and Boston.
A cup of Vitamin D milk with your cereal provides less that 150 units of Vitamin D, short of the current recommendation of 400 IU per day. As far as that 400 IU per day, well, most researchers think that an adult's daily Vitamin D intake should range in the 1000-3000 IU range.
Sunscreens further diminish your body's ability to produce Vitamin D. SPF 8 sunscreen is enough to shut down production of Vitamin D in your body. What about tanning beds? Everyone knows the significant risk of UV exposure and melanomas.
The American Academy of Dermatology has issued a statement, which reads as follows:
"American Academy of Dermatology recommends that an adequate amount of vitamin D should be obtained from a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, foods/beverages fortified with vitamin D, and/or vitamin D supplements; it should not be obtained from unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Unprotected UV exposure to the sun or indoor tanning devices is a known risk factor for cancer."
Breast feeding mothers are now advised to give their infants Vitamin D drops because they are at risk for deficiency and because their mothers are likely to be Vitamin D deficient and their mothers milk will be their sole source of Vitamin D.
Researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston found that 40% of 380 otherwise healthy babies and toddlers had "suboptimal" exposure to vitamin D. Even more worrisome was that breast-fed newborns were 10 times more likely to be deficient than those who were fed with baby formula, which is fortified with a large dose of vitamin D, according to the study. Bottle-fed babies receive adequate Vitamin D in their formula and do not need supplements.
So, How much Vitamin D do we need? Experts say that breast fed infants should receive Vitamin D drops everyday while breast-feeding. A typical formulation would be ADC vitamin drops for infants found at any drugstore. Ask your local pharmacist. Children should receive 400-1000 IU of Vitamin D per day as part of their daily regimen. Amounts will vary in children dependent on the severity of their deficiency and milk intake. Adults should receive 3000-5000 IU per day during the winter months especially in locations like Cleveland or Boston.
Ideally your dosage should be based on a Vitamin D blood test. Ask your doctor for a 25(OH) Vitamin D assay. 25(OH) D is the better marker of overall D status. It is this marker that is most strongly associated with overall health. We have done over 60 assays on children of all ages including immuno-deficient toddlers, fracture prone adolescents and children with other presenting complaints. The results of the collective assays found 50 of the 60 children to be Vitamin D deficient or insufficient. One child had a level of 9, normal 30-100.
I would recommend a level be checked on all children over two years to insure their levels of Vitamin D intake is adequate. As always, you should talk with your doctor and decide with your physician how to proceed.
If you have any questions, you may send an email to Dr. Gipson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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