A Study Of Vitamin D and Advanced Glycation End Products In Modern Society
I would like to touch on two different subjects in this article. I believe both of these are very vital to our health, and both are easily overlooked by the general public. The first item will be vitamin D, and the second will be Advanced Glycation End products or AGEs. I will briefly touch upon what happens if we lack below normal levels of vitamin D in our bodies, and also what the presence of AGEs will do to our overall health. These two problems both have very easy solutions and keeping an eye on both of them will ensure a healthier future for us and our families.
Vitamin D, the Sunshine Vitamin
Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of about 17 forms of cancer, as well as in stroke, cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression, autoimmune disorders, muscle wasting, and birth defects.
Vitamin D or the “sunshine vitamin” is produced in the body following sufficient exposure to sunlight. It’s been appearing in the news more often lately due to the medical community’s new research and findings on how profoundly it affects our health and potential risks for diseases, if it does not exist in sufficient amounts in our bodies.
Because most people no longer spend time in the sun without sun protection-sun blocks block vitamin D production-vitamin D has become widespread. The elderly are especially at risk of vitamin D deficiency because of limited time spent in the sun, and a reduced ability to make vitamin D, which occurs with aging.
According to the Vitamin D Council, “the skin produces approximately 10,000 IU vitamin D in response to twenty to thirty minutes of summer sun exposure. However, if well adults and adolescents regularly avoid sunlight exposure, research indicates a necessity to supplement with at least 5,000 IU of daily vitamin D.
Vitamin D Monitoring
The body does not begin to store vitamin D in fact and muscle tissue until its levels get to above 50 ng/ml. At levels below 50 ng/ml, the body uses up vitamin D as fast as you can make it-or take it as a supplement-and it will always be deficient in vitamin D. For that reason, vitamin D levels in blood should always be between 50 and 80 ng/ml.
Vitamin D Supplements
Sun exposure is the best way for vitamin D synthesis in the body. If that is not a possibility, the patient will need to take a vitamin D supplement. Sometimes supplementing therapeutic amounts of vitamin D3 (the kind our body would make following sun exposure) will create a need for more of the other fat-soluble vitamins, A, E, and K. Therefore, taking a vitamin D complex is best for patients with “malabsorption issues, or patients with celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic insufficiency, or ulcerative colitis.” Summertime is the best time to look into vitamin D levels in the body, and to supplement and store enough so that when the winter times come and we are exposed to less sunlight, our body will have enough to get us through.
Advanced Glycation End Foods in Our Diet
Excess blood sugar can react with proteins and lipids in the body to form a toxic end-product called Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs).
AGEs are formed constantly in the body and accumulate over time, even under normal circumstances. However, their production is accelerated in the presence of extra glucose in the bloodstream (for example with diabetes.) Scientists believe it’s the AGEs that place diabetics at high risk for artery, nerve, and kidney damage.
AGEs are also formed when food is cooked at very high temperatures. A similar chemical reaction occurs between proteins and sugars in foods outside the body which will lead to the formation of toxic “Maillard products,” which can be recognized by the browned areas on fried, grilled, or broiled meats and cheeses.
Within the body AGEs cause inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation is a direct contributor to colitis, Cohn’s disease, kidney, and heart disease. These diseases could manifest as shortness of breath or asthma attacks, high blood pressure, kidney failure, cramps and diarrhea.
Oxidative stress is also a leading cause of chronic disease and aging, and has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, asthma, IBD, arthritis, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
Cooking or heating foods at high temperatures increases the production of AGEs in the food. Foods that are high in AGEs include grilled, fried, broiled, or roasted foods, also pasteurized and sterilized foods. This is one reason why many medical professionals do not support high-temperature pasteurization of milk, but I will leave that subject for another article.
How to avoid AGEs in your diet?
- Limit the amount of grilled, fried, or broiled foods you eat.
- Use “wet” cooking methods; stewing, boiling, braising, crock pot, steaming. Also, it significantly helps to trim any excess fat off the meat before grilling or even stewing.
- Stay away from the charred portions of cooked meats, cheeses, even breads.
- Consume less processed foods, which are often pasteurized at high temperatures.
LA Integrative Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 62: 427-433.