According to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers discovered a link between chemical exposure and reduced serum vitamin D levels.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been known to cause adverse health effects such as diabetes and obesity by interfering with hormones in the body. There is more evidence than ever before, as hundreds of studies have confirmed this over and over again.
EDCs are found in everyday products and throughout the environment. There are more than 85,000 manufactured chemicals, and of these, thousands may fall into the category of EDCs. Many of these chemicals mimic, block or interfere with the body's natural hormones and as a result, EDCs alter the way cells proliferate and develop.
Examples of EDCs:
- Bisphenol A (BPA) – found in food can linings, some water bottles, and cash register receipts
- Phthalates – found in plastics (PVC products, vinyl shower curtains) and cosmetics (perfumes, nail polish, lotion)
- Flame retardants, solvents, lubricants (PCBs, PBBs, and PBDEs)
- Pesticides (sprayed on conventional fruits and vegetables), insecticides
- Heavy Metals – cadmium, lead, arsenic, mercury
We are all exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, so the connection between these chemicals and vitamin D levels has a significant impact on our health. Vitamin D plays a significant role in musculoskeletal, immune and cardiovascular health, as well as diabetes and cancer.
This new study investigated data from 4,667 adults between 2005 and 2010. EDC exposure was measured by a urine analysis. The researchers found that individuals who were exposed to larger amounts of phthalates had lower levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream than those who were exposed to smaller amounts of the EDCs. This association was more prevalent in women. It is possible that EDCs alter vitamin D through some of the same mechanisms that they use to impact other hormones in the body.
We live in an ever-increasing toxic environment. We are exposed to pesticides, herbicides, chemical solvents, xenobiotics, and industrial chemicals of all kinds through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. These toxins accumulate in our body and contribute to the total toxic load that can cause a variety of health problems.
We need to do our best to minimize further exposure to toxins as much as possible. We also have to keep in mind that our indoor environment is often more toxic than our outdoor environment.
Tip to Help Avoid EDCs:
- Eat organic produce (join your local CSA).
- Eat free-range, organic meats to reduce exposure from added hormones and pesticides.
- Buy products available in glass containers rather than plastic or cans when possible.
- Replace non-stick pans with glass, ceramic, or cast iron.
- Drink filtered water.
- Use a shower head with a filter.
- Use household products that are free of phthalates, BPA, and fragrances.
There is also significant evidence demonstrating the importance of diet and nutritional supplementation in maintaining detoxification pathways.
Nutritional Support for Detoxification
- Milk Thistle – one of the most protective herbs for the liver with hundreds of studies that confirm its protective properties
- N-Acetyl Cysteine – supports phase II detoxification and is a precursor to glutathione
- Calcium D-Glucarate – aids in liver detoxification through the glucuronidation pathway. Xenobiotics, environmental toxins, and excess estrogens are cleared through this pathway.
- EGCg – the most extensively studied green tea polyphenol. Green tea supports detoxification by enhancing the glucuronidation pathway. It also helps modulate blood glucose, and possesses antioxidant and cancer-protective properties.
- A Detoxification Program – one that is carefully designed to provide the proper nutrients needed to support and balance phase I and II metabolic pathways, and to promote healthy liver function and elimination
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are virtually impossible to avoid. Thus, we need to do our best to limit our exposure, and make lifestyle and nutritional choices to properly detoxify these chemicals.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
Source: Lauren E. Johns, Kelly K. Ferguson, John D. Meeker. Relationships Between Urinary Phthalate Metabolite and Bisphenol A Concentrations and Vitamin D Levels in U.S. Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2005–2010. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2016; jc.2016-2134 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2016-2134