Book Excerpt: 'The Vitamin D Solution'

In his latest book, "The Vitamin D Solution," Boston University researcher Dr. Michael Holick recommends that people get 15-30 minutes of sun on their arms and legs in the middle of the day two to three times a week, in order to get enough vitamin D.  Dr. Holick cautions that people should never burn their skin and should wear sunscreen or a hat to keep sun off the face.  Holick is a professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University.

Chapter 1: From NASA to the National Zoo

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have developed a general sense of what’s good and bad for our health. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables: good. Drinking a bottle of whiskey a day: bad. Exercising a few days a week: good. Basking in the sun without sunscreen: bad.

I agree with the first three ideas but emphatically disagree with the notion that sunbathing is always bad. And I’m going to prove to you in the book. In fact, I’m going to show you—backed by more than thirty years of science, including some astonishing discoveries in just the last years alone—how valuable and necessary the sun is in powering your health, enhancing your well-being, staving off typical causes of disease, and extending your life.

If I had to give you a single secret ingredient that could apply to the prevention—and treatment, in many cases—of heart disease, common cancers, stroke, infectious diseases from influenza to tuberculosis, type 1 and 2 diabetes, dementia, depression, insomnia, muscle weakness, joint pain, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and hypertension, it would be this: vitamin D.

Surprised? I actually like to start with the fact that we suffer from a serious shortfall in this vitamin that threatens our livelihood and longevity. I have been traveling around the world not only lecturing about vitamin D but also hearing from physicians how common vitamin D deficiency is. It’s not only the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, but it’s also the most common medical condition, affecting at least one billion people.

  • 50 percent to 100 percent of children living in Europe and the United States are at high risk of being vitamin D deficient.
  • A recent study revealed that there’s been a 22 percent reduction in vitamin D levels in the general U.S. population in the past decade.
  • In 2009 researchers from Harvard and the University of Colorado revealed that 70 percent of whites, 90 percent of Hispanics, and 97 percent of blacks in the United States have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D: their study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
  • Near the equator—in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, Australia, Brazil, or Mexico, for example—it’s been estimated that between 30 percent and upwards of 80 percent of children and adults who have minimum sun exposure are vitamin D deficient or insufficient.

You may wonder: Why is this happening and what can we do about it? How can a single vitamin be associated with so many conditions?

That’s exactly why I wrote this book. One of my goals is to convey to you just how critical this vitamin (actually a hormone) is in our lives and inspire you to spring to action and welcome the rewards that a healthy vitamin D status has to offer. The list of health conditions associated with a deficiency is overwhelming (I listed just a choice few above), and the amount of research that has emerged lately as this vitamin of vitality begs for a book that shares this latest knowledge in a why anyone can understand and use to become a healthier, happier individual. Contrary to popular wisdom, vitamin D isn’t just about strong bones and teeth. And you can’t get enough from foods and multivitamins alone.

Excerpted with permission from "THE VITAMIN D SOLUTION: A 3-Step Strategy to Cure Our Most Common Health Problem," by Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., from Hudson Street Press / Penguin Group (USA).


More from Here & Now

Listen Live