Global Vitamin D deficiency amidst a shining sun, fortified food….and Roundup?

Isn’t it strange that there is a global deficiency of Vitamin D? Even if your doctors tested it and found the levels too low, they simply suggest a supplement. Have we ever bothered to find out why? Is there something deeper, a macro factor, lurking in our food supply?

Prevalence of low vitamin D status in adults worldwide:

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Institute of Medicine considers Calcidiol or 25 (OH)D level <50 nmol/l to be deficient while others consider deficiency level below 75 nmol/l (Source: NCBI “Is vitamin D deficiency a major global public health problem?” by Cristina Palacious and Lilliana Gonzalez 

Vitamin D is fat soluble and in its inactive form, comes from dietary vitamin D2 (of plant origin-yeast, fungi) and D3 (of animal origin-fish, egg yolk). However, the primary source is exposure to the sun’s UVB rays which convert one form of body cholesterol into D3.

Subsequently, both D2 and D3 are first activated through P450 class of enzymes in the liver and converted into Calcidiol or 25(OH)D which is the storage form of vitamin D with a half life of two to six months. Our blood reports track the level of Calcidiol in the body. Calcidiol is further converted by the kidneys by P450 enzymes into Calcitriol or 1,25(OH)D which has a half life of four to six hours. The conversion into Calcitriol is controlled by complex hormonal regulation in the body which among other things  is triggered by inflammation present in the body.  Inflammation accompanies every single disease and existence of chronic diseases would imply that body’s Calcitriol stores get rapidly depleted.

Deficient vitamin D levels are associated, among other problems, with calcium and potassium deficiency, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation, osteoporosis, increase in parathyroid hormone, type 2 diabetes, depression and cancer. There are number of factors that can influence vitamin D levels, such as exposure to sunlight which in turn depends on the latitude, clothing type, excess use of sunscreen, fat malabsorption, toxic liver, parathyroid disease, low calcium intake and a poor gut health.

My focus here is on the gut microbiome which supposedly results in suppression of the  P450 enzymes which are critical for Vitamin D availability to the body.  Unfortunately, glycophosphate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, has been found to be associated with this suppression of these P450 enzymes. In fact a host of non-communicable diseases, including obesity, celiac disease, leaky gut, anemia, thyroid disorders, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cancer (non-Hodgkin lymphoma, breast and counting) have all been associated with the global presence of this herbicide in the food chains. And yes, the honey bees are also dying due to this very reason!

While Monsanto denies any disease causation and experts still debate the implied causation/validity of some studies, global use of Roundup has been steadily going up. Global use is up about fifteen times since 1996. In fact, EPA has increased the allowed glycophosphate tolerance levels (in ppm) to go up. For example, during the period 1993 to 2015, for soy grain it went from 20 to 40, in corn grain from 0.1 to 5, for oat grain from 0.1 to 30, and for wheat also from 0.1 to 30. As a consumer your total intake would obviously be the sum total of all glycophosphate contained in food that you eat.

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Source: Springeropen.com, National Agriculture Statistical Service  

Incidentally, this increased use of glycophosphate has been predominantly applied to genetically engineered herbicide tolerant crops. Yet even organic and non-GMO crops are subjected to glycophosphate because of water run-off as well as overground and underground seepage, which finally goes into our oceans. In addition to being used as a weed killer, glycophosphate is also being directly sprayed on crops as a pre-harvest desiccant to help dry the grain. The extent of this practice has not yet been fully quantified.

Where does this leave us? Unfortunately there are no simple solutions to be found by just looking at one piece of the puzzle. This is NOT a scientific paper or an in-depth analysis. We are simply trying to connect the dots and it doesn’t paint a nice picture. We started with vitamin D and ended up with glycophosphate. Any disease is a systems problem. There are multiple factors in both the internal and the external environment that are responsible. As consumers of sugar, corn, soy and wheat, let us at least stay tuned because this involves our entire food ecosystem.

Sources and references:

1)NCBI”Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin” by Rathish Nair and Arun Maseeh Low

2)NCBI “Vitamin D Status: Definition, Prevalence, Consequences and Correction” by Neil Binkley and others, 

3) NCBI “Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally” by Charles M. Benbrook 

4)NCBI “Is it time to reassess current safety standards for glyphosate-based herbicides?” by Laura N Vandenberg and twelve others

5)Mdpi.com “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases” by Anthony Samsel  and Stephanie Seneff

6)NCBI “Inflammation and vitamin D: the infection connection” by Meg Mangin and others

7) Monsanto Roundup Cancer Lawsuit – Law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei Goldman

8) NCBI “Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis” by Laura Tripovic and ten others.

9) Plos.org  “Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations ≥40 ng/ml Are Associated with >65% Lower Cancer Risk: Pooled Analysis of Randomized Trial and Prospective Cohort Study” by  Sharon L. McDonnell and others.

10)NCBI “Facts and Fallacies in the Debate on Glyphosate Toxicity” by Robin Mesnage and Michael N. Antonio

11)NCBI: “Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance” by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff 

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Abnormal levels of micronutrients are associated with cancer gene expression.

Cancer is associated with multiple iterations of detrimental mutation variations, of both activating and suppressor kinds, in the genome over time. We all react differently to nutrition and the end result is a function of gene diet interaction along with our genetic susceptibility to cancer.  During normal cell division the code of the DNA genes is transcribed ( or expressed!) into RNA, a copy of which is translated into proteins that do the work of signaling, communication and controlling metabolism.  Over the course of a few billion iterations a handful of errant mutations do happen, but they usually are taken care of by the body’s regulatory mechanisms like suppressor genes.  It is epigenetic ( i.e in addition to the changes in genetic sequence) regulation that ensures which genes are transcribed to RNA in each cell. One such more researched epigenetic process involves methylation  which stems from either addition or removal of methyl group (CH3) to the the DNA’s genetic base.

Epigenetic regulation is impacted by multiple factors which include nutrition, behavior and environment. This for instance, can lead to either hyper-methylation or hypo-methylation, both of which are associated with adverse epigenetic regulation which in turn is associated with  cancer and a host of other non-communicable diseases. Besides, these epigenetic changes could endure at least four subsequent generations.

Here are some observations from recent and ongoing vitamin related nutrition research on the topic:

  • B Vitamins ( folate, folic acid, B2, B6 B12 and especially folate), according to a growing body of evidence, modulate epigenetic mechanisms, disturbance in which is associated with cancer and other diseases.
  • Vitamin C or ascorbate can be epigenetically involved in cancer and other diseases.
  • Vitamin D is central to many body processes. It plays a central role in hormone physiology and the maintenance of a normal epigenetic landscape.

While the above discussion is only illustrative and certainly not exhaustive , as a takeaway please request your doctor to track Vitamin D and and other micronutrient levels on an annual basis. Your insurance may not cover these tests because they are deemed investigational, but you owe it to yourself and future generations don’t you?

Remember that gulping the alphabet vitamin soup is not a magical way to be healthy. Excess and deficiency of nutrients could be both harmful and it is important to maintain a diverse nutritional intake which ensures a normal level of micronutrients in the body. Alas, the body is a complex system which needs to be in harmony both internally and with external stimuli for proper functioning. There are just no shortcuts!

References:  “Epigenetics and Lifestyle” by Jorge Alexjandro-Torres and others ( NCBI),     ” The Epigenetic Role of Vitamin C in Health and Disease” by Vladimir Camarena and others (NCBI); “Vitamin D and the epigenome” by Irfete S. Fetahu and others (NCBI)

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

The challenge of proving causation

Although experimental “interventionist” studies ( as in placebo vs. experimental treatment) are generally considered the most powerful  research design, “observational” study data (as in Ecological populations, Cross section studies, Case control studies and Cohort studies)  is much easier to come by,  often due to cost alone.

In the circumstances it becomes very important to distinguish between association and causation. Some observations on these topics:

1)”Because observational studies are not randomized, they cannot control for all of the other inevitable, often unmeasurable, exposures or factors that may actually be causing the results. Thus, any “link” between cause and effect in observational studies is speculative at best.”

2)”Readers of medical literature need to consider two types of validity, internal and external. Internal validity means that the study measured what it set out to; external validity is the ability to generalize from the study to the reader’s patients. With respect to internal validity, selection bias, information bias, and confounding are present to some degree in all observational research.

  • Selection bias stems from an absence of comparability between groups being studied. Information bias results from incorrect determination of exposure, outcome, or both.
  • The effect of information bias depends on its type. If information is gathered differently for one group than for another, bias results.
  • By contrast, non-differential misclassification tends to obscure real differences.
  • Confounding is a mixing or blurring of effects: a researcher attempts to relate an exposure to an outcome but actually measures the effect of a third factor (the confounding variable). Confounding can be controlled in several ways: restriction, matching, stratification, and more sophisticated multivariate techniques.

If a reader cannot explain away study results on the basis of selection, information, or confounding bias, then chance might be another explanation. Chance should be examined last, however, since these biases can account for highly significant, though bogus results. Differentiation between spurious, indirect, and causal associations can be difficult. Criteria such as temporal sequence, strength and consistency of an association, and evidence of a dose-response effect lend support to a causal link.

Source 1: Healthnewsreview.org

Article: “Observational studies: Does the language fit the evidence? Association vs. causation”

Source2: NCBI.org

Article: “Bias and causal associations in observational research.”

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.

Sensitivity vs. Specificity of Tests

This is for those who face critical choices about the course of treatment when deluged with  data by medical practitioners, find out what the statistics relate to sensitivity or specificity?

“Sensitivity measures how often a test correctly generates a positive result for people who have the condition that’s being tested for (also known as the “true positive” rate). A test that’s highly sensitive will flag almost everyone who has the disease and not generate many false-negative results. (Example: a test with 90% sensitivity will correctly return a positive result for 90% of people who have the disease, but will return a negative result — a false-negative — for 10% of the people who have the disease and should have tested positive.)

Specificity measures a test’s ability to correctly generate a negative result for people who don’t have the condition that’s being tested for (also known as the “true negative” rate). A high-specificity test will correctly rule out almost everyone who doesn’t have the disease and won’t generate many false-positive results. (Example: a test with 90% specificity will correctly return a negative result for 90% of people who don’t have the disease, but will return a positive result — a false-positive — for 10% of the people who don’t have the disease and should have tested negative.)”

Source: Healthnewsreview.org

Article: “Understanding medical tests: sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value”

DISCLAIMER

All content is for educational purposes only. Please consult your medical practitioner before attempting any therapeutic, nutritional, exercise or meditation related activity.