April 10, 2012
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate, and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
There were sixteen in attendance today, including: Dr. Ashley May, ND., his wife Jennifer May and their three children, Kat McElroy, David Poppe, Bonnie Reed, Brian & Gabe Blair, Virginia Young, Tim Horn, Art & Terry Thompson, Bill Troxel and Miles Martin. We enjoyed potato soup, mixed green salad, spelt bread, cream-cheese and butter for lunch.
WELCOME by this week’s chair-person, Tim Horn, followed the MISSION STATEMENT.
PRAYER was led by Brian Blair, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There was no change to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Minutes were not submitted.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: Tim introduced Dr. May, Jennifer and their children.
Vitamin D Iniative—Eradicating an Epidemic:
Dr. May provided a handout of a power-point presentation about Vitamin D that explained basically why humans do not now get enough Vitamin D, especially in Northern latitudes, some of the risks associated with this deficiency and strategies for increasing Vitamin D levels for children and adults.
At his clinic, Alaska Center for Natural Medicine, in Fairbanks, he said, they test for vitamin D levels and typically adults and children are low, way below the minimum set by federal standards. They are working to increase awareness of the issue, encourage testing of Vitamin D levels as a standard medical practice and educate the public. Representative Paul Seaton of Homer has entered a resolution to the Alaska House of Representatives to this effect, which his clinic supports. The Alaska Vitamin D Resolution urges the Department of Health & Social Services to promote vitamin D supplements for the elderly to prevent bone loss, falls, fractures and other age-related health problems, to determine the relative effectiveness of influenza vaccination as compared to vitamin D supplementation, to investigate vitamin D supplementations as a cost-effective method for preventing influenza in the adult population not identified as high risk and to promote vitamin D supplements for pregnant women and infants to prevent pregnancy complications, type 1 diabetes and rickets.
Vitamin D, he explained, is not technically a vitamin at all as it is manufactured in the body. There are two types of vitamin D. D2 (ergocalciferol) is extracted from UV irradiated yeast and can be had only by prescription. D3 (cholecalciferol) is the form that natural occurs in humans, and is usually extracted from UV irradiated lanolin. Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids. In humans it functions as a prohormoine and is synthesized as vitamin D3 if sun exposure is adequate (which is why it is nicknamed “the sunshine vitamin”).
In the skin, 7-dehydrocholesterol plus UV light (UVB) equals the manufacture of vitamin D.
The optimum wavelength of light for this to occur is only present in Alaska during our short summer season. It is almost impossible to get sufficient exposure to sunlight to produce the amounts of vitamoin D needed for basic human functioning in the northern latutudes. Traditionally, people supplemented their own sunlight induced vitamin D production with a diet rich in fish, animal fat and organ meat. This is no longer the usual case.
Vitamin D is needed to regulate absorption of calcium and bone metabolism, prevents and treats rickets in children and the adult form known as osteomalacia, may prevent and treat posteoporosis, regulates the immune system, enhances the killing effects of white blood cells and reduces inflammation. Vitamin D receptors are found in the following tissues: brain, heart, skin, bowel, gonads, prostrate, breasts, immune cells, bones, kidneys and the parathyroid glands.
Normal levels of Vitamin D in the human body should be between 30-100 ng/mL. Unfortunately, averages in Alaska fall far below that. A study of Alaska Natives in Ketchikan in 2008 by the Indian Community Tribal Health Clinic found an average of 13 ng/mL and an earlier study in 19866 of Caucasian makes in Fairbanks showed an average of 27 ng/mL. At the Alaska Center for Natural Medicine, of 361 patients tested between 2009-2011, the average levels for individuals without supplements was 28.9 ng/mL. Individuals on vitamin D supplements on the other hand averaged 55.2 ng/mL.
Dr. May showed charts depicting the incidence of disease prevention attributed to vitamin D levels with a dramatic decrease in risk (30 to 80 % decrease in risk) of cancers of many kinds, type 1 diabetes, fractures, multiple sclerosis and heart attack and the incidence of influenza. He talked about the risks of toxicity, primarily associated with D2, at levels of 200 to 250 which would require taking 40,000 to 2,000,00 IU per day. Some symptoms of toxicity would include: hypercalcemia and digestive and neurological symptoms which are reversible with cessation of dose.
Lastly, Dr. May said that a typical adequate vitamin D supplement would cost on average about a nickel a day, about $1.33 per month, per person. It is his goal to see low-cost testing and supplements be made available to those who need it. A barrier is there is no known funding through government, the city of Fairbanks, the borough, or the state. Unless you ask specifically, a typical blood work-up will not include testing for vitamin D.
Dr. May’s web site is www.drmay.me where you may read more about him, his practice, and current legislative action, Senate Bill 175/ House Bill 266, regarding the scope of practice for Naturopathic Medicine and therapies such as herbal medicines and injectable vitamins.
About Those Burn Barrels: Kat McElroy brought information provided to her by Suzanne Hill at the city office about specifications for burn barrels, of which she had made copies to hand out. Burn permits are required between April 1st and September 30th. People burning without a permit are subject to a one hundred dollar fine. Permits may be obtained at the city office. They are FREE. The guidelines pertain to what may and may not be burned. Do NOT burn: plastics, garbage, rubber, Styrofoam, asbestos and things that do not burn easily. DO burn: clean wood, paper, unwaxed cardboard. Burn barrel material should be dry and fed into the fire in small amounts so that it will burn more easily, in a strong flame which will result in less smoke. Do NOT allow the burn barrel to smolder overnight. Do not burn if the wind speed is more than ten miles per hour. If a public safety or health official requests, a burn barrel must be out immediately, so have tools and water on hand to be able to do so. Attend your fire until it is out!
The hand-outs included guidelines for burn barrel design. You may pick this material up from the city office.
Bill: Baby Emily has outgrown her baby clothes and is moving on to Toddler clothing.
Bonnie: They had a good turnout for the Easter lunch last friday at the Senior’s.
Kat: Will not be here next week; she is teaching a two day workshop in Fairbanks on Thinking Errors.
David: Moved the new baby chicks out into the greenhouse. Anything else would justr be whining!
Virginia: Will be leaving in two weeks for a week to help her mom move into assisted living quarters.
Miles: Will be asking the city for permission to use the old salmon bake building this summer for an arts and crafts market as a fundraiser for the library.
Art: City Assembly meeting thursday night, 5:30 PM, at the Senior Center.
Terry: Rebecca took four Nenana students to an arts festival down in Craig.
Tim: Music Festival April 19-21st with the final concert at 2 PM on the 21st in Healy.
Book Club Friday the 20th at 7 PM, at Kat and David’s place.
Secret Sister Luncheon the 22nd at the Monderosa at 2 PM.
On the 24th, Joe Forness will be presenting at WIN.