March 25, 2009 10:00 ET

D-action Campaign Urges Canadians to Test Vitamin D Levels

Cancer patients hear knowledge key to battling vitamin D deficiency epidemic

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 25, 2009) - Canadians need to take action now to have their vitamin D levels tested so they can address the vitamin D deficiency epidemic in this country. Because 90 per cent of your vitamin D comes from sunlight, 97 per cent of Canadians will become vitamin D deficient sometime during the year, most likely between October and March when sun exposure is minimal.

That was the message delivered by Carole Baggerly, who is heading up D-action, an international campaign to raise awareness about the serious need for everyone to know their personal vitamin D levels and become aware of the benefits of vitamin D to help prevent and fight serious diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.

She and leading vitamin D researcher Dr. Reinhold Vieth, were invited to address cancer survivors attending three recent information sessions in the Greater Toronto Area hosted by Wellspring, a network of centres providing high-quality cancer support, education and coping skills to individuals, family members and professional caregivers in Canada.

"I am always struck by the comments and questions from the people I meet in these groups. One breast cancer patient told me she was taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D, but her doctor said that wasn't safe and she should only take 1,000 IU. She's now going to get her level tested and take whatever is required to get her level to the 40-60 ng/ml mark. Now that she's seen what needs to be done," said Ms Baggerly, a breast cancer survivor and director of Grassroots Health, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the benefits of vitamin D.

Their topic: 'Vitamin D Prevents Cancer... is it True?' provided a forum to share research information from the 'D-action' campaign that shows how individuals can safely take action now with vitamin D.

"What is truly heartwarming is that cancer patients are finding hope once they know the benefits of vitamin D and having their serum levels tested. Scientists are calling for a standard vitamin D intake of 2000 IU/day and the achievement of a blood serum level of 40-60 ng/ml with the necessary dosage," Ms Baggerly added. "We have to work hard to address the myths about vitamin D. Nearly everyone thinks they can get adequate amounts from their food and it's just not true, while others are unaware of how to manage their exposure to sunlight."

Another myth is that you can prescribe a 'one size fits all' recommended dosage. While it would be simpler to do that, the data show that the responses to the intakes vary considerably so measurement and tracking are required along with dosages necessary for each individual.

Dr. Vieth, an Associate Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto used current and historical data that showed a clear link between sunlight and healthy vitamin D levels. "One thing is clear, if you can't get a suntan, you can't get vitamin D."

Ms Baggerly said she is amazed by the prevailing misconceptions about vitamin D, especially from doctors. "I constantly hear stories from people who are told by their doctors they don't need to have their levels tested. Canadians should never accept 'no' from their doctor when they ask to have their vitamin D levels tested. This is why many cancer patients are unaware of the health benefits of vitamin D," she added.

"What is important for everyone today is to take action to become much more aware of the benefits from knowing your vitamin D levels," Ms Baggerly said. "Millions of lives can be saved if we act now."

About D-action

GrassrootsHealth has launched D-action, a worldwide public health campaign to solve the vitamin D deficiency epidemic through a focus on testing and education with all individuals spreading the word. D-action is a consortium of 30 vitamin D scientists, institutions and individuals committed to solving the worldwide vitamin D deficiency epidemic.

D-action is inviting Canadians to participate in a five-year program to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient by having your vitamin D levels tested twice a year. Participants will receive a vitamin D blood spot test kit to be used at home and have the results sent directly to them to take action to adjust their own levels to get to the desired ranges with whatever help is needed from their healthcare practitioners. There is a $30 US fee each six months for your participation in the project which includes a complete new test kit, shipping and reporting of results to you. Visit: www.grassrootshealth.org to sign up today.

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