Book review: “Athlete’s Edge – Faster Quicker Stronger with Vitamin D.”
I’ve just finished reading (twice) the book “Athlete’s Edge – Faster Quicker Stronger with Vitamin D” by John Cannell. The author is the founder and executive director of the Vitamin D Council and what he doesn’t know about vitamin D is probably not worth knowing.
In fact this book is for everyone who wants to live a healthy life even if your present peak athletic performance is to get up from the bed in the morning or to tie your shoe laces.
Dr. Cannell gives you so much useful information about vitamin D; what it does for our health; the reasons for why most of us are deficient; which blood levels are natural; and how we should reach those natural levels in the way Mother Nature intended it, that you just have to read the book at least twice in order to grasp it all.
Everything in “Athlete’s Edge – Faster Quicker Stronger with Vitamin D” is backed by scientific evidence. There are 20 pages in the book with the references to more than 400 research reports.
Below are some quotes from the book which I, from the perspective of vitamin D tanning and the sun scare, find most interesting. But I really recommend you to buy the book. You can get it from Amazon by clicking this link: http://thegurulikes.com/athletesedgewithvitamind
Before you read the quotes from the book, you can watch this YouTube video in which Dr. Cannell makes his comments to the Food and Nutrition Board’s of the American Institute of Medicine latest recommendations.
Chapter 2 – Messing with the Mother Nature
The Sun and Skin Cancer
Our society’s problem started about 40 years ago when the cosmetics industry realized it could increase sales by going beyond beauty issues to target health concerns, put sunscreen into cosmetic products and then scare people into believing that any sunlight is dangerous. They founded dermatology departments all around the country, getting professors to begin campaigns to warn of “the evils” of sunlight. Their propaganda campaigns worked; about 25 years ago, the medical establishment and the government began telling us to completely avoid the sun. The government even listed sunlight as a carcinogen. Sales skyrocketed as women bought more and more sunscreen-containing cosmetics to protect their skins from the “evil” sun.
It’s as if Mother Nature knew we would get skin cancer from the sun and provided a ready-made chemotherapy in the form of activated vitamin D. But now, modern medicine has made sunlight Public Enemy Number One, and that has taken away our protection from internal cancers and many other diseases. It is not wise to try to fool Mother Nature.
One point that the gets lost, however, is that the sun exposure is only one risk factor for skin cancer. Diet is probably more important as is genetic tendency. An important fact to keep in mind is that deaths from these two forms skin cancer [SCC and BCC] total only about 1500 Americans a year. Other cancers – cancers that vitamin D deficiency may course – kill almost 1500 Americans every day!
However, the skin cancer we fear most is malignant melanoma, which kills about 8,000 Americans a year. But the published incidence of malignant melanoma has tripled over the past 40 years in spite of the fact that more and more people now avoid the sun and use sunblock. While getting a frequent severe sunburns, especially as a child, does increase the risk of malignant melanoma, few people know that frequent sun exposure, without burning, actually decreases melanoma risk.
Another fact about melanoma has recently come to light. That is the fact that although the diagnosis of melanoma has been steadily increasing, melanoma death rates have not. The dermatologist will tell you that’s because they’re doing such a good job, detecting early melanoma and curing it. However, before you congratulate them, consider this. The only type of melanoma that has been increasing is microscopic melanoma, that is, melanoma that can only be seen by the microscope; the more advanced cases of melanoma, such as when it spreads to the local skin, or a lymph node, or to other organs, have not increased much at all.
Apparently, none of the organizations and government agencies with “avoid the sun” campaigns considered the possibility that avoiding the sun would harm anyone. Similarly, no one thought about how sunlight might help us. No one remembered that humans evolved in the sun, living naked in the sun for most all of our two million years on the planet. Only in recent years did we start avoiding the sun. In other words we started messing with Mother Nature.
Chapter 4 – The Fact
Increasingly, it becomes apparent that the government made a big mistake with vitamin D, a mistake that dwarfs previous nutrition related errors, such as failing to rapidly recognize the importance of folic acid in preventing birth defects. The government informed us, through the 2010 Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, that the adequate daily intake of vitamin D is only 600 units, depending on age. It now appears most of us need about 5,000 units a day if we avoid the sun. The government was off by a factor of ten; an “order-of-magnitude” error. Mistakes of the scale are rare in medicine. It appears that this mistake caused great harm, but the possibility of rectifying this mistake holds promise of doing great good.
There is no other nutrient where the error was so great. It’s as if a huge unplanned experiment was conducted on the American people, the essence of which is to find out if humans suffer ill effects when deprived of naturally occurring amounts of vitamin D. In other words, if you avoid the sun, you are part of this massive unintended study.
Conspiracy or incompetence?
It is easy to suspect a conspiracy, but in the final assessment, it usually has more to do with incompetence than deception.
Modern medicine is for-profit business. One can argue that’s those in charge of the business are maintaining profits by suppressing the studies that demonstrate the robust preventive effects of vitamin D. Nevertheless, that would be wrong. Medicine doesn’t suppress research, it just ignores some of it for the reasons we’ve mentioned.
The Correct Standard
So, what is the standard for vitamin D? Living in the sun produced a system that achieves natural levels of vitamin D. That’s how we evolved – naked in the sun.
… In evolutionary time, it’s only been in the last day of the century that we migrated away from the equator; only in the last several hours did we put on clothes; only in the last few minutes did we start to work indoors; only in the last minutes did we start traveling behind the glass in cars, and only in the last second did we slather on sunblock. One need only consider the vitamin D levels of lifeguards to know that our natural levels are around 50 ng/ml. Shouldn’t any deviation from natural conditions require a rigorous standard of proof for safety?
It’s as if we started from the last second of our evolutionary existence and assumed that lower levels of vitamin D were normal. We assumed that any deviation from the norms of the last moment of human existence required rigorous proof of safety. No, no, no! Any recommendation to deviate from the normal state, such as avoiding the sun or smearing on sunblock three times a day, should require the rigorous proof of safety and not the other way around.
Chapter 16 – How Should I Get My Vitamin D?
If you want to obtain ideal vitamin D blood levels, you only have three choices: ultraviolet light from the sun, ultraviolet light from sunbeds, or oral vitamin D supplements.
I personally use all three because I am a conservative person. That may surprise you that I’d say using sunbeds or sunbathing is conservative but a photon is a photon, no matter where it comes from, and low-pressure type sunbeds replicate equatorial sunlight, the sunlight that was present when humans evolved. Exposing your body to photons simply replicates one of the conditions present when the humans first became humans, so that seems like the conservative thing to do.
In the summer I sunbathe, in the late fall, winter and early spring I will use the sunbeds every few weeks and take vitamin D supplements on the days I don’t use sunbeds. I know that both the sunlight and sunbeds will damage my skin if I stay under them too long, like water will damage me if I drink too much. But I know that the skin needs ultraviolet light like my body needs water.
I use the sunlight and sunbeds because I don’t know everything. I know the damage ultraviolet light can course and I know about the vitamin D ultraviolet light can trigger in my skin. But, I frequently ask myself, “What other things does ultraviolet light do that science has yet to discover.”
So which is the radical position: to live as humans have always lived, exposed to the sun’s photons, or to avoid those photons like the plague? I find it hard to understand why having a normal human relationship with the sun has become such a radical idea in the minds of many people. To my mind, sun avoidance is the new and radical position.
So I do the conservative thing. I do what humans have done for millions years; I expose my body to ultraviolet light. I know science does not know everything and that nature is seldom wrong. The job of science is to reveal the mysteries of nature. If you avoid ultraviolet light you’re taking an unnecessary risk, unless you think that the only good thing ultraviolet light does is make vitamin D and I doubt that is true.
Remember, for most light-skinned persons, 10 minutes of summer midday sun exposure or a 10 minutes exposure to a low pressure tanning bed (on both sides of the body) puts more than 10,000 units of vitamin D into your circulation so two such exposures a week should maintain vitamin D levels in healthy ranges; three certainly will. Ultraviolet B light exposure (as opposed to oral supplementation) does not require monitoring of vitamin D levels for toxicity since the body has a self-limiting system to prevent high 25(OH)D levels.
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