June 23rd, 2024

Couple biking across the country to promote vitamin D awareness

By ANNA SMITH on May 24, 2024.

Kanji Nakatsu begins a day's ride in Cache Creek, B.C. for his cross-country trip to raise awareness of vitamin D deficiency.--Submitted Photo

asmith@medicinehatnews.com

Senior couple Kanji and Susie Nakatsu are biking across the country in order to help spread awareness for an issue that plagues a majority of Canadians.

Kanji Nakatsu is a retired pharmacology professor, who remarked that while he taught about the health issue he’s campaigning for, vitamin D deficiency, he hadn’t had an opportunity to research it deeply until he retired.

“One of the things I’ve learned over the last four years is how vitamin D is important for so many body functions, not just bone health, but for other things as well, there are vitamin D receptors in practically every cell in our body,” said Nakatsu.

He explained that insufficient levels of vitamin D are associated with cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, viral and bacterial infections, multiple sclerosis, dementia, other neurological disorders and poor oral health.

However, most Canadians are not enjoying the benefits of enough vitamin D, said Nakatsu, due to the rise of indoor jobs and the lack of sunlight in the winter.

Nakatsu explained that it’s estimated that a population with sufficient amounts of the vitamin would save the health-care system roughly $23 billion annually.

With all of these benefits in mind, the couple took to the road to hopefully create visibility for their cause. They will be in Alberta, going through Banff, Calgary and Medicine Hat, until Saturday, when they estimate they will cross over into Saskatchewan.

Though they have had to change some of their plans due to an unforeseen medical issue, the trip has been successful in promoting awareness, said Nakatsu. He encourages Canadians to research the benefits of vitamin D, as well as speak to their doctor about getting their levels tested.

“This issue is very prevalent amongst Canadians, and it’s costing all of us pretty much in terms of optimizing our health. We’re not as healthy as we could be. But I think we have an opportunity here to improve the health of Canadians overall,” said Nakatsu. “And it would be a very limited cost, because the cost of supplementing with vitamin D is really minimal.”

Experienced cyclists are invited to join Nakatsu on the road as he comes through town, as well as children if the road conditions are safe. He expects to travel roughly 100 km a day, possibly more if the wind is on his side.

Those interested in learning more can visit areyougettingenough.info, as well as follow the trip on Nakatsu’s Instagram and Facebook.

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