All participants in the Pure North program have the opportunity to be a part of something much larger than their own personal health improvement program.
After amalgamating and anonymizing health information, of participants, with permission, Pure North provides the dataset to independent researchers. Research is done to determine the effect of the program on the health and wellbeing of participants as a whole. With this information Pure North is hoping to inform a shift in the paradigm of healthcare to better help people stay health.
Research has shown that the program works.
The following research papers feature the use of Pure North datasets.
Title: The Effect of Changing Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations on Metabolic Syndrome: A Longitudinal Analysis of Participants of a Preventive Health Program
Researchers: Pham T-M, Ekwaru JP, Setayeshgar S, Veugelers PJ. 2015.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of health conditions — high blood pressure, high blood sugar level, obesity around the waist, abnormal cholesterol levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Up until recently, diet, exercise and medications were thought to be the only ways to decrease the risk of Metabolic Syndrome. This study, conducted using the data collected by Pure North, shows that adding vitamin D supplements and increasing vitamin D levels by 25 nmol/L reduced the risk of Metabolic Syndrome by 6%.
Title: The Relationship of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Insulin Resistance among Nondiabetic Canadians: A Longitudinal Analysis of a Preventive Health Program Researchers: Pham T-M, Ekwaru JP, Loehr SA, Veuglers PJ. 2015.
Insulin is naturally produced by the body and serves as a gatekeeper, measuring the amount of glucose that enters the cells to be used as energy. Insulin resistance a condition that occurs when the body can’t respond to or use the insulin it produces. The result is too much glucose in the body and that can lead to diabetes, one of the leading causes of death in Canada. Overcoming insulin resistance is a way to avoid diabetes. This is where vitamin D supplements can help. This study, conducted using the data collected by Pure North, measured insulin resistance for 5,730 participants. The results showed that over half of those that were most at risk for insulin resistance were also vitamin D deficient. Simply put, increasing vitamin D levels decreases the risk for insulin resistance and the risk of developing diabetes.
Title: The Importance of Body Weight for the Dose Response Relationship of Oral Vitamin D Supplementation and Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in Healthy Volunteers
Researchers: Ekwaru JP, Zwicker JD, Holick MF, Giovannucci E, Veugelers PJ. 2014.
This study shows that body weight and body mass index (BMI) were key in determining a person’s appropriate dose of vitamin D supplements. The study examines the relationship between the amount of vitamin D supplements taken and the body’s response, as in its ability to increase levels of vitamin D after the supplements were taken. Research concluded that the amount of vitamin D required for overweight and obese individuals is 2 to 3 times more than the amount needed by a normal weight individual.
Levels of vitamin D required based on weight:
- Normal weight people need 5,000 to 9,000 IU/d
- Overweight or obese people need 12,000 to 20,000 IU/d
Title: Vitamin D and Health-Related Quality of Life in a Community Sample of Older Canadians
Researchers: Chao YS, Ekwaru JP, Ohinmaa A, Griener G, Veugelers PJ. 2014.
This study found that in Albertans over 50 years of age, that people with higher vitamin D levels were less likely to have problems with mobility, usual activities, and depression and anxiety. People with vitamin D levels above 125 nmol/L had the best quality of life scores. Supplementing with vitamin D can help improve your quality of life.
Title: The Effectiveness of a Preventive Health Program and Vitamin D Status in Improving Health-Related Quality of Life in Older Canadians
Researchers: Ekwaru JP, Ohinmaa A, Veugelers PJ. 2015.
This study, conducted using data collected from Pure North participants, found that after a year in the program participants were less likely to have problems with mobility, usual activities, pain/discomfort and depression and anxiety. Increasing vitamin D levels were found to increase quality of life.
Title: The fiscal, social and economic dividends of feeling better and living longer
Researchers: Emery HJC, Fyie K, Brunel L, Dutton DJ. 2013.
The health care system spends very little of the budget on prevention of disease (<5%). Failure to invest in chronic disease prevention leads to increasing growth in health care spending as the prevalence of chronic disease rises. Besides the benefits to the patients, preventing poor health comes with numerous societal benefits. Keeping someone in good health can free up money to treat someone else. The social return on investment (SROI), the quantifiable economic value obtained in relation to the cost, for the Pure North program is $13 for each $1 invested. These benefits are found directly in reduced health care costs, indirectly in increased productivity and in improved quality of life.
This study of the Pure North program — wherein health care usage by program participants was measured against age- and sex-matched control samples — found genuine and significant cost savings for Canada’s single-payer health care system within one year. Participants in the first year of the program required 25% fewer hospital visits and 17% fewer emergency room visits compared to the control group. For the people that stayed in the program for one year the savings were even greater. People in the program for a year or longer had 45% fewer hospital visits in the year after joining, and 28% fewer visits to emergency departments, compared to the control group.
This represents real cost savings for a public health service: From $388 per person who joined the program to $677 per person who stayed in the program for one year or longer. As a proportion of annual health spending for these participants on hospitals, emergency departments and general practitioners, this represents a cost reduction ranging from 22% to 39%. If the Alberta government were able to implement this kind of program province-wide (at an estimated cost of $500 per participant),, it is possible that the province could free-up the equivalent of 1,632 hospital beds every year. That is roughly the same as building two entirely new hospitals each on the scale of Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre.
Title: Vitamin D status of Canadians employed in northern latitudes
Researchers: Chao Y-S, Brunel L, Faris P, Veugelers PJ. 2013.
This study aimed to assess the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), >27.5 nmol/L) and insufficiency (>37.5 nmol/L) in Canadian workers and investigate risk factors. It was found that residing at a more northern latitude increased the likelihood of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency and that male employees were significantly more likely to be vitamin D deficient and insufficient than females.
Title: The importance of dose, frequency and duration of vitamin D supplementation for plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels
Researchers: Chao Y-S, Brunel L, Faris P, Veugelers PJ. 2013.
This study examined the importance of the amount of vitamin D (dose), how often (frequency) and how long it has been taken (duration). It concludes that doses of at least 5,000 IU/d for 5 months or more were needed to raise vitamin D levels a sufficient amount.
Title: A novel approach localizes the association of vitamin D status with insulin resistance to one region of the 25-hydroxyvitamin D continuum
Researchers: Heaney RP, French CB, Nguyen S, Ferreira M, Baggerly LL, Brunel L, Veugelers P. 2013.
Vitamin D status has a protective role in insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. This study defines a range of vitamin D status in a cohort of non-diabetic adult Canadians. Higher vitamin D levels are associated with improved insulin response and lower blood pressure. Further, the range of vitamin D status that is found to help insulin response is above the range established for bone health.