Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for August 03, 2007


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When I saw this article I was stunned but not surprised. You’ve really got to question what we are doing to our health when you read stories like this. So is it the sunblock or not?

Age-old children’s disease back in force

Diagnoses of rickets, caused by lack of vitamin D, on the rise

Jul 25, 2007 04:30 AM
Suzanne Carere (Special to the Star)

A primitive disease has skulked back onto the scene, hidden in the wake of new health concerns that seem to arise each week.

Rickets, the disease that weakens bones in children, is back.

Although it’s hard to believe, a growing number of studies across North America shows that children of the 21st century are suffering from the same vitamin D deficiency that devastated families more than 100 years ago. The difference is that today we should know better.

Rickets was first described medically in 1650 by Francis Glissen: “We affirm therefore, that this disease doth rarely invade children presently at birth … but after that it beginneth by little and little daily to rage.” The disease became an epidemic in industrialized cities across Europe and North America. Heavy smog blacked out the sun in large cities, making it impossible for growing children to create enough vitamin D through their skin.

The result was weak bones, including leg bones bowed under the weight of children’s upper torsos.

At the time, the disease hit hardest at black people living in England, because darker skin pigmentation requires greater sun exposure to create vitamin D.

Finally, in 1921, Elmer McCollum, an American biochemist, isolated from certain fats the substance that prevents rickets. He named it vitamin D because it was the fourth vitamin discovered.

Soon, it was discovered that irradiating certain foods with ultraviolet light produced vitamin D. Harry Steenbock, a researcher from the University of Wisconsin, patented a highly effective technique for irradiating milk that led to an almost-instant reversal of rickets. By 1930, the disease was nearly eradicated in North America.

That lasted until now.

Rickets is no longer a disease of the past, according to a report published in American Family Physician in 2006. The journal explains that, though there’s a lack of national data at the moment, more and more cases of rickets are being discovered by physicians in the U.S.

Health Canada has noted on its website: “Canadian studies and the ongoing surveillance of childhood illnesses by the Canadian Paediatric Society provide evidence that vitamin D deficiency rickets has not been eradicated.”

According to the pediatric society, 69 cases were confirmed within the first 18 months after the society launched a surveillance study in 2002. The society concluded that “the incidence of vitamin D deficiency rickets is rising worldwide” and “Canada is no exception.”

The reasons for this resurgence appear to be common among all studies. They involve cases of cautious mothers who were doing everything they thought they should to keep their infants safe. Their children were breastfed exclusively and were covered up when exposed to sunlight using a combination of clothing and high-SPF sunscreens.

Unfortunately, breast milk (unlike infant formula) is not a good source of vitamin D and without adequate sun exposure, children are unable to make it themselves.

Although pediatricians know to give supplements in these cases, the pediatric society notes that many children in Canada do not have pediatricians.

This situation represents only half the problem. The other involves the nutritional status of the mothers.

If a pregnant woman is deficient in vitamin D, her child can be more susceptible to rickets after birth. A study published in May in the Journal of Nutrition reported that, in the U.S., “92.4 per cent of African-American babies and 66.1 per cent of white infants were found to have insufficient vitamin D at birth.”

The obesity crisis has brought to light the lack of outdoor activity in both adults and children. Mix this with fears about hormones in milk, skin cancer from sun exposure and mercury in fish such as salmon that contain plenty of vitamin D and a deficit is created.

The solution is straightforward: Drink milk or fortified soy milk, eat fish more often, play outside with your kids at least once a week and ensure you talk to a doctor about including formula or vitamin D supplements when breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization defines health as “the state of complete physical, mental and emotional well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Translation: Live more, not less, by learning to keep your overall health in balance.

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August 2, 2007 - Posted by | Health | , ,

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