Vitamin D

I've been reading in the UK how The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says up to 25% of UK children are vitamin D deficient, leading to a rise in rickets cases.

In France, my Medecin prescribes Vit D drops (ZymaD) daily up 18months old then twice yearly Vit D supplement end Feb & end Sept for my girls & myself whilst I was pregnant & breastfeeding.

Is it standard in France to issue Vit D or just my Medecin? The UK Dr seemed surprised we were given it as routine but it looks like more should be given it. The UK government said those with the greatest need already received free supplements and the RCPCH said other options to increase vitamin D levels, such as fortifying a wider range of foods, should be considered.

If you eat fresh food then you can't fortify it so I'm assuming they're talking about fortifying processed foods? Isn't it easier to just give daily drops like we do?

By the way, I believe they are polycyclic hydrocarbons or fat-soluble secosteroids that enable intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphates rather than being called hormones.

I read an article in an online paper, probably Véronique read he same. Orkneys, not Shetlands. I believe deficiencies (not only Viet Nam in the region I am sure) have been traditionally associated with a rice based diet, whereby that staple has often been in the 85-90% of intake and only the remained locally available vegetable and animal sources. That is quite unlike India, for example, where the diet is far more diverse. But since it is the children and youth in a social and economic context I work with and the bits and pieces of health info I pick up are simply supplementary for me, I am not capable of working out the whys and wherefores. Traditionally children spent most daylight hours outside, particularly in the main rice growing areas such as the Mekong Delta and along the river and now with school are less in the sun, however healthier. So, there is clearly much more to the issue than sun exposure.

Dyment D A, Cader M Z, Willer C J, Risch N, Sadovnick A D, and Ebers G C (2002), following your reco, is perhaps indicative of where those of us who are laypeople might look within our family, wherever possible, to see where hypovitaminosis D might have occurred as shown by possible links with a considerable list including cancer (bone cancers especially), depression (might actually be 'SADS'), high blood pressure, periodontal disease, multiple sclerosis and even tuberculosis. My father certainly had periodontitis and I think my grandfather died of cancer of the jaw, so when I replied that to the specialist's questions he prescribed very fast despite my diet and the amount of sunlight I certainly get when we are in those times of year to better most.

Whence comes your Shetlander data?

I think I recollect that Icelanders gets lots of Vit D supplements. I can't explain rickets in Vietnam, but then I can't explain why they take Vit D3 either. They're not covered head to toe (or stuck indoors) all day long are they?

There are some nice data showing changes in MS prevalence running North South (in France in one case, using just people affiliated to the MSA, ie agricultural workers so less limited in their exposure to the sun than the general population). Check out Ebers G from Oxford.

For the sake of the thread I should just rehearse that Vitamin D isn't really a vitamin in the ordinary sense, it's a hormone.

I read that too. But then the Shetlanders should have similar MS rates and Icelanders far worse, etc. As for the city of Longyearbyen on Spitzbergen, that should be very grim. Somehow it does not appear that way, so the comparative with cystic fibrosis and the cluster seems to point in that kind of direction. However, such things need more than random samples. Vitamin D3 is distributed throughout Viet Nam to children up until about secondary and they certainly tend to get plenty of sun and their diet is also good, however rickets was common in the country until well after reunification, cannot be attributed to the war or the chemicals (an entirely other story) or better in South or North VN. It is all but gone except a few of the minorities in the north. I have seen more healthy schoolchildren there than most other countries in fact. Vitamin supplements are distributed at school, perhaps there is something that should tell us.

I think I have seen an article recently re MS in the Orkneys that claimed a possible link with Vit D deficiency too.

But I wonder how much is also the result of genetic predisposition + conditions, there's an interesting stat about the cystic fibrosis rate - it is twice as high in Brittany as in the rest of France & twice as high as Brittany's in the UK.

And my point is...? Nothing,just random musing.

check this rather interesting article out.....goes to show just how important Vit D really is- I am starting to feel the clouds closing in... need some sun... please stop raining... in N. Ireland


Got you there Véronique. Our two went to South Wales at 3 and 1 respectively, closer even to the Atlantic and on the Bristol Channel there is a choice! The usual cloud or fog. Sun? Catch a plane to another country is the only guarantee, which even locals told us. Sorry, Welsh folk just joking but sun in the Gower region is rather rationed...

They were also on D supplements from almost the time we arrived, the health visitor before they started school recommended them and the GP simply wrote the prescription without discussion. Not a French thing at all.

Your Dr is probably just being belt & braces - I lived in Cheshire (possibly the greyest place on earth)for too long & my GP prescribed vit D supplements as a matter of course for all of my children (nos 3 & 4 were born there). I hope I haven't offended any natifs du Cheshire but oh dear I found it VERY hard to deal with constant leaden skies.

Thanks - will do some further reading :)

I am on vitamin D3 supplements for the broken shoulder, to help bone regeneration. Hypovitaminosis D causes rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults and is on the rise in Europe after having declined sharply after WW2. I have seen it a lot in developing countries where, despite the amount of sunlight, children are still indoors too much and not able to make it. Vitamin D is unique because it can be taken in as calcium cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) or ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and sincethe body can also synthesise it. (So, despite the bad publicity ,cholesterol produces it when sun exposure is insufficient. However, medics are a bit averse to prescribing high cholesterol diets and give D3 pills or solutions. In this part of the world they are useful between late October and early March after when we just need to get out more. It does not require direct sun, so sunbathing is not necessary, just being out and get the right amount of sunlight. The drops and pills do no harm. The surplus is pee-ed out and it takes and awful lot of them to overdose with any real danger to health or life. In fact, it seems they would probably be rejected by the upward route fairly quickly! Read up on it as I did when I was first given them this autumn.

Plan A is bronzer, get a tan. Which you can't in winter even in the midi, so stock up next spring and summer. You can get a blood test (the one to go for is called 25(OH)D), about 25€ if you get it done at the same time as some other blood test. There's quite a fight going on about what constitutes a good level, and what doses are safe.

Lots of people are dead keen on the notion that insufficient Vit D causes all manner of serious health difficulties, starting with Multiple Sclerosis, and what strikes me most is that it seems as least as likely as not that staying out of the sun as much as possible might make you more likely to suffer from skin cancer! Start at