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The Vitamin “D”ebate

April 6, 2010

Fondly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D has been receiving a growing amount of attention lately – and with good reason!  Not only is this fat-soluble vitamin absolutely crucial in the prevention of rickets and osteomalacia (conditions of decreased bone mineral content in children and adults respectively), studies have shown it may play a role in alleviating psoriasis, osteoporosis, hypertension, autoimmune conditions, reducing heart attack risk as well as cancer prevention.

The Facts

The term “vitamin” represents any of the “vital amine” compounds which have been found as an absolute requirement for good health.  For vitamin D, its absolute requirement is to prevent rickets and osteomalacia, as described above.  The forms utilized by humans are ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2) which is produced by plants, and cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) which is created from skin exposure to the UVB rays of sunlight, a process which converts precursors to the active form of vitamin D.  It can also be found in fortified foods including fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil.  Upon entering the body vitamin D plays crucial roles in calcium absorption into the muscles and bones as well as balancing calcium and phosphate levels in the blood.

How Much Vitamin D is Recommended?

This is where the debate arises.  The dietary reference intakes (DRI’s) recommended by Health Canada range from 200-600IU’s per day, with increased levels recommended for the elderly due to the increased risk of osteoporosis.  The established tolerable upper intake level is 2000IU across the board, due to the potential for vitamin D toxicity.

Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D (IOM, 1997)

Age groups
Adequate Intake (AI)
(for men and women)
Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
(for men and women; chronic exposure)
19-50 years 5 μg (200 IU) per day 50 μg (2000 IU) per day
51-70 years 10 μg (400 IU) per day
>70 years 15 μg (600 IU) per day

Questions have arisen, however, as to whether these levels alone are sufficient to meet the body’s physiological needs, especially in individuals who tend to receive less exposure to sunlight.  A survey recently conducted by Stats Canada found that two out of three Canadians has less than the recommended level of vitamin D shown to prevent chronic diseases, while one in ten has less than the recommended amount to maintain adequate bone health.  As albeit proud members of a somewhat sun-starved country, if we wish to be able to boast about our Canadian heritage into our 90’s we may need to increase our vitamin D intake beyond the DRI levels to increase our chances of doing so!

Precautions about Vitamin D

Although the health benefits of higher levels of vitamin D are numerous, this doesn’t necessarily imply “the more the merrier.”  Vitamin D is fat-soluble (along with vitamins A, E & K) implying that unlike many other vitamins, you can store extra vitamin D in your body’s fat cells.  As with most vitamins, there is a risk of developing toxic effects with too high of an intake which is why any vitamin D hype should be carefully heeded and followed up with appropriate measures.

One repletion study by Pepper (2009) gave 50,000IU of vitamin D2 per week for four weeks, followed by 50,000IU monthly for another five months.  This initial dose is over 3.5 times the established tolerable upper intake level.  As a secondary point, by the end of the study two thirds of the subjects still did not reach the 75nmol/L blood serum level that has been reported to achieve many of vitamin D’s cancer and heart disease prevention benefits.  In comparison, a study by Aloia (2008) gave subjects only 2000IU of vitamin D3 per day for 8 weeks and found that with this lower dose using the cholecalciferol form subjects were able to reach the recommended 75nmol/L serum vitamin D levels established as being preventative!

Toxic levels of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, a condition of increased calcium levels in the blood which may lead to bone loss, impaired kidney function and calcification of other organs in the body.  Early signs of hypercalcemia include nausea, vomiting and anorexia (loss of appetite).

What does all this information mean?

A number of things…

1. Too little vitamin D is a bad thing. Being Canadians our yearly sun exposure is too low to provide adequate vitamin D alone, and even by taking fortified foods this is a tough goal to reach.  Low levels (serum concentrations below 25nmol/L) can place a person at risk of various bone diseases and does not allow them to reap the preventative benefits of vitamin D on cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune conditions.  At a bare minimum, we need to take in 200-600IU’s of vitamin D on a daily basis.

2. Too much vitamin D is a bad thing. Despite recent trends to high-dose vitamin D supplementation for preventative means, this does not come without hazards.  High levels place a person at risk of developing hypercalcemia, kidney impairment and organ calcification.  Thus if a person chooses to do high-dose supplementation this absolutely must be accompanied by corresponding blood serum measures to assess appropriate vitamin D levels.

3. 2000 IU of vitamin D is a safe daily intake level. Although tolerable upper limits for this vitamin may change in the near future, regular daily intake of this level has not shown any side effects and is safe for the general population.

In the mean time don’t forget that there are many other health benefits from sun exposure and healthy eating habits.  Summer is just around the corner so I recommend we all get outside, enjoy the fresh air and instead of a burger perhaps throw a piece of vitamin D-enriched salmon on the grill!


3 Reasons to Visit a Registered Massage Therapist in Toronto

February 25, 2010

Registered Massage Therapy is the assessment and treatment of the muscular soft tissues of the body. Basically a registered massage therapist :

  • treats the system that moves you,
  • maintains your posture and
  • allows you to be active.

There are many ways to damage this system. I’ll explain a few common Reasons where this can happen and how a Massage Therapist in Toronto can help.

  1. Falls or Car Accidents – This is usually a sudden accident with very little warning. Common injuries would be a sprain or strain of soft tissue. The more violent the fall or collision, the more damage to your nervous and muscular system.
  2. Overexertion – This is where the muscle fatigues or is overloaded. Chronic running injuries can occur if you push yourself too much or if you are very active at the gym, “pulling” or straining a muscle can occur when you lift too much weight or perform the exercise incorrectly.
  3. Overuse – This is the most common issue I see in my practice. People are working at computers in the same position everyday, doing the same movements everyday. The muscles can and will break down over time. Common complaints of overuse are carpel tunnel syndrome, tension headaches and sciatic type pain.

A Massage Therapist can be effective in treating any of the above issues because he works directly on the structures involved with your symptoms. he also takes the time to educate people as to why this is happening to them and give them tools to improve their health. A massage therapist in Toronto has the ability to decrease your pain, increase your range of motion and lengthen tight and sore muscles through a variety of techniques.

Why Our Naturopathic Doctor Toronto Would Recommend Fish Oil?

February 24, 2010

What is Fish oil?  Who needs it?  How much should I be taking?

Odds are if you haven’t already heard of it, you’ll be hearing much more about fish oil in the near future!  This is something I as a “Naturopathic Doctor”  recommend to all of my patients because it really is a great all-around nourishing and preventative supplement and in terms of preserving your health, it will save you a lot of trouble down the line.  With February being Heart Health Month I feel it’s my personal duty to clue you in to the wonders that fish oil has to offer!

An astounding body of evidence has been emerging over the last few decades supporting that fish oil, high in omega-3 fatty acids, is one of the best things you can be taking to improve your health.

Oils are found in every single cell of our body and exist as components of our cell membranes, backbones to our crucial hormones, moisturizers for our skin, and even lining the nerve cells allowing our brains to think clearly and deliver messages to the rest of our body.  By ensuring the oils composing these structures are of high quality, this improves the overall efficiency and health of the body as a whole.

Here is a short list of what fish oil can be used for:

  • Improving heart function and decreasing LDL cholesterol
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Supporting brain health and mental focus
  • Supporting positive mood & emotional well-being
  • Healthy immune system function
  • Enhances appearance and moisturization of skin and hair
  • Promotes optimal fat metabolism and hormone synthesis

Fish oil can be obtained from adding fish to your diet, but these powerful essential fatty acids are most effective by taking a fish oil supplement.  An effective supplement will specify the levels of EPA (eicosopentanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid) which are the active omega-3 components of the fish oil, and the combined amount of EPA and DHA should be somewhere between 1000-3000mg per day.

So whether you’re suffering from high cholesterol, hypertension, depression, pain, dry hair and skin, menstrual abnormalities, decreased concentration, or even just looking for health prevention in general, fish oil has a lot to offer and is one of the best investments you can make in your health!

To know more about me as a naturopathic Doctor Toronto please click at the link

What is Naturopathic Medicine

February 12, 2010

Naturopathic Medicine is a complex system combining modern medical sciences with natural therapies.  As a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) I aim to work with the innate healing power of the body and treat the root cause of disorders to regain health.  This approach emphasizes the patient taking an active role in their health while the ND educates them to re-gain control of the body and harmonize the organs which are out of balance.  With a long-term focus on prevention, this system fills in the gaps that are often missing through conventional care.  By working with the body and recognizing symptoms as signals of internal disorder, your ND will develop a treatment plan to bring you back to health safely and without side effects.

A visit to an ND consists of a thorough intake and history of chief concerns, a screening physical exam, as well as laboratory evaluations when warranted.  This in-depth analysis gives your ND a clear picture of your conditions and their potential causes so they can be more efficiently addressed.  Treatments may include clinical nutrition, lifestyle counseling, botanical medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy and/or physical medicine.  All treatments implemented are in keeping with current research and can be coordinated with your conventional care.

Common ailments treated by Naturopathic Medicine include colds and flu, digestive concerns, skin conditions, metabolic and hormonal issues, allergies and immunological concerns, heart disease, menstrual irregularities and pediatric conditions.  In addition my personal area of interest lies in sports medicine and pain management.  I tend to focus a large part of my treatments on nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits as these are two of the major cornerstones of health and combating disease.  In the words of the founding father of medicine, “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.”

About the Author : Kathy Van Zeyl, Hons. B.Sc., ND is a Naturopathic Doctor in Toronto . You can reach her at Naturopathic Toronto .

Welcome To Davisville Health

July 31, 2009

Davisville Health is a Wellness Centre that is focused on providing exemplary care for the community of Torohomento. We pride ourselves on offering individualized patient care, taking time to educate our patients about their health, and provide them with tools needed to lead a healthy and pain free life. To meet the expectations of our patients we offer Registered Massage Therapy, Naturopathic Medicine, Chiropractic, and Acupuncture treatments.

Serving the Davisville, Eglinton, and St. Clair areas of Toronto, Davisville Health is centrally located in the Medical Building at 1849 Yonge Street, just south of the Davisville Subway Station.

We offer same day treatments and a scheduled appointment is strongly recommended to ensure one of our practitioners will be available for you. You can schedule an appointment through our online booking calendar, via email or you can call us directly.

We look forward to meeting you and assisting you in your goals towards better health.