Jonathan Otten, a naturopathic medicine student at National University, along with Daniel Richardson, a professor and assistant dean, recently co-authored a paper published in The Original Internist. The article is titled: “Vitamin D: Shedding the Light on the Sunshine Vitamin’s Emerging Role in the Health of the Central Nervous System.”
Jonathan Otten, currently a seventh trimester student, is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BS degree in nutrition from the University of Minnesota. “Back then I became interested in vitamin D after looking at the increasing rates of breast cancer the further you move away from the equator. There seemed to be a direct correspondence with breast cancer rates rising, as well vitamin D levels dropping, respective to distance from the equator.”
“Everyone knows about vitamin D as it relates to bone health, osteoarthritis, and the immune system,” says Otten. “But Dr. Richardson and I found, after searching the literature, that all over the world people are doing research on vitamin D and central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorder, and Parkinson’s disease.”
Dr. Richardson says, “Our interest in nutrient depletion by medication and environmental pressures led us to writing this paper. As a naturopathic student, Jonathan is keenly aware that when one system is affected, then all systems begin to have a dysfunction as they relate to each other.”
Dr. Richardson hopes that more students take advantage of the many research opportunities at National University, whether it is through the Research Department or working in tandem with faculty members on individual projects: “It is exciting to see our students excel in both academics and research; Jonathan enjoys and excels in both!”
In the future, Jonathan would like to continue writing research literature reviews. “My biggest interest is in nutritional medicine,” he says. Nutritional medicine is using specific natural agents, such as vitamins and minerals, to effect a specific action in disease, similar to the aim of a pharmaceutical. “It’s more than just telling a patient to eat a healthy diet. It takes a great deal of education to be able to practice it well.
“There’s a need for more research, but unfortunately in nutritional medicine, there isn’t the same incentive money as there is in pharmaceutical research. A lot of the studies we need are slow to happen without that money – even though these are medicines and therapies that are extremely cost-effective and often more effective than their pharmaceutical counterparts.”
Jonathan is the second ND student at National University to publish an article in a scientific journal this year (in addition to Darius Lembert), and carries forward the university’s commitment to evidence-based practice.