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Ask Me Anything #4: Vaccine | Vitamin D | Low-Carb | Colonoscopies

Today I present another installment of AMA.  For those who have submitted questions that haven't been answered in previous newsletters, please note that some highly specific health matters are difficult to comment on without doing an actual evaluation and taking into account lab and imaging studies.  There are also some conditions like tinnitus for which I'm not aware of a natural remedy.  Without further ado, let's dive into today's questions.

1.  My family and friends are pressuring me to get the vaccine.  What can I tell them to get them off my back?

My feeling is that this is a highly personal decision that each person must make on their own.  I only feel comfortable stating that I don't plan on getting vaccinated at this time - this takes into account my current health status and the fact that I work from home and can largely minimize my exposure to others.

For the most part, it looks like efforts to mass vaccinate are leading to positive results.  I'm aware of a few case studies of people who have experienced significant negative effects, but for the most part, early macro data is promising.  And there's no denying that the economic and social benefits of vaccinating as many people as possible are highly welcome by governments, businesses, and individuals alike.  

Years ago, I used to share more specific thoughts on vaccines and flu shots, but I stopped because some people who were strongly against vaccinations would cite my opinions in arguing with pro-vaccine family members, who would then target me with their vitriol - this is a scenario that I prefer to avoid, so please understand why I won't share with more specificity.

2.  I'm having a heck of a time getting my kids to go outdoors.  They argue that since they are taking vitamin D drops, they don't need sunlight.  Thoughts?

While supplementation with vitamin D can help prevent health issues associated with D deficiency, people should know that when UV rays in sunlight react with cholesterol in skin, a number of beneficial compounds are produced along with vitamin D.

For those who appreciate further detail, 7-dehydrocholesterol in skin is converted to previtamin D-3 by UV-B rays.  Previtamin D-3 transforms into vitamin D-3.  UV-B rays further react with previtamin D-3 and vitamin D-3, converting them into a number of photoproducts that have beneficial systemic health effects.  People who rely solely on supplemental D-3 miss out on the benefits of photoproducts, which is why it's never ideal to completely avoid exposure to sunlight.

Ultimately, vitamin D is metabolized in the liver and kidneys to become 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D which is the biologically active form of vitamin D - this active form is what regulates systemic phosphate and calcium metabolism which is why vitamin D is essential to skeletal health.  1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D also plays a significant role in a number of biological pathways that, when not optimally supported, leads to increased risk for development of chronic degenerative diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer and autoimmune illness, GI tract issues, infectious disease, and even schizophrenia.

I normally refrain from sharing this level of biochemical detail, but am happy to share more such granular information if enough of our readership wants this.  All such detail can be found in Lehninger's classic textbook on Biochemistry.

3.  Can you post more low-carb meal ideas?

Yes, I'll aim to snap more photos of everyday meals that I whip together and post them to my Instagram page:

https://www.instagram.com/dr.ben.kim/

4.  Do you believe in colonoscopies?  

Absolutely.  Colo-rectal cancer is arguably one of the most preventable types of cancer that we know of.  I strongly recommend following your physician's guidance on a screening schedule.  Generally, people without a family medical history of colo-rectal cancer will have their first colonoscopy at 50 years of age.  Those who have blood relatives who have had colo-rectal cancer may want to begin screening when they are 40 or thereabouts.  

On an everyday basis, you want to do all that you can to have comfortable bowel movements that are free of blood or mucous.  Very generally, if your bowel movements are relatively consistent and comfortable and if your stools are free of blood and mucous, chances are good that your GI tract and colon in particular are in a healthy state.  

For those who aren't sure about relatively safe screening measures, it may be helpful to review the concept of doubling time - a brief post on this can be found here:

https://drbenkim.com/how-fast-does-cancer-grow-spread

That's all for today, save best wishes for more safe and healthy days ahead.

Until next time,

Ben

 
 

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