VITAMIN D “ the nutrient of the decade”
Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly common in the US, but many Americans mistakenly believe they aren’t at risk because they consume vitamin-D-fortified foods (such as milk).
There are very few foods that actually have therapeutic levels of vitamin D naturally and even fortified foods do not contain enough vitamin D to support your health needs.
While technically not a “vitamin” ( the body is able to produce vitamin D on it’s own– if exposed to sunlight), it is in a class by itself- a secosteroid hormone—a fat soluble hormone. We call it a vitamin– because most of us do not produce enough for optimum health, the convenience of name, and probably tradition in medicine.
There are two major forms of Vit. D , D2 ergocalciferol—which is found in plants, fungi, and fortified foods; and D 3—cholecalciferol–which is made by our skin when it is exposed to UBV sunlight and some animal food sources. Full body (bathing suit—shorts tank top ) for 30 minutes allows the average person to make 10,000 units of vit D. Our current maximum allowance in vitamins has been upgraded to 800 International Units. Our current medical culture preaches “avoid sunlight to prevent skin cancer.” “Use sunblock to prevent skin damage”. Note: using omega 3 –fish oil– keeps our skin healthy so that sun exposure is not dangerous. It’s no surprise that our health is not optimum.
Areas physicians have shared with me that most of patients tested between 13 and low 20’s. Optimum levels are at least 50 to 80 ng/ml or 125-200 nM.L. A national group of individuals that are “health nuts” concerned with taking supplements and eating correctly—not John Q Public– averaged only 30 to 35 ng/ml!
What dose do we need? The average American needs 20 to 25 IU of vitamin D per pound of body weight. A 150# person would need 3,000 to 4,000 units of Vit D daily with average sunlight exposure. Our total needs per day are about 10,000 IU. This is why the flue, colds and etc are much worse in the winter—increased lack of Vit D. The more obese you are, the more Vit D required: remember Vit D is fat soluble and the more held in fatty tissue, the less available for circulation the blood stream. Most knowledgeable experts recommend 5,000 to 10,000 units a day. Toxic levels require doses in millions of units daily for extended times. “ Take 5,000 to 10,000 units a day for 2 or 3 months, then obtain a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Adjust your levels so that you maintain 50-80 ng/ml year-round” according to John Jacob Cannell, MD.– Executive Director of Vitamin D Institute.
A review article in the July 19, 2007 New England Journal of Medicine points out that at least 40% and up to 100% of Americans and Europeans are deficient in Vit D. Adding Vit D to our diets could reduce Type 1 diabetes in children by 78%, 72% reduction in falls in the elderly, reduce cancer by 30-50%, and reduce M.S. by at least 40%. Governmental control in Europe forbids any dietary supplement to contain more than 400 IU of vitamin D! We in U.S. still have the freedom of adequate dosing –although FDA still says 800 IU is all we need.
The Iowa Women’s Health Study (34,321 women ) concluded that increased intake of Vit D decreased the risk of breast cancer. A level of 52 ng/ml of vit D was associated with 50% reduction in breast cancer.
“Brittle Bones and Hardened Arteries: The Hidden Link” by Julius Goepp MD — ties Vitamin D deficiency with arterial disease and soft bones. The study is a documentation of atherosclerosis and osteoporosis, the calcification of arteries and DE-calcificaton of bones. Lack of vit D and vit K are vital to prevent this deadly reversal of our body’s health. Vitamin D importance in healthy bones has been established for decades. We just didn’t realize how important Vit D is to healthy heart and cardiovascular system in more ways than just atherosclerosis.
Vitamin D combats colorectal cancer. Levels of 33 ng/ml reduces risk of colorectal cancer by 50% or more. Taking a modest amount of calcium also appeared to reduce adenomatous polops along with vit D .
Vit D also protects against prostate cancer and appears to modulate PSA levels Vitamin D has been reported to reduce pain, increase muscle strength and other benefits in those whose cancer had metastasized to the bones. Other anti-inflammatory nutrients also offer great promise in reducing prostate cancer.
Gingivitis risk are lowered significantly if adequate levels of Vit D are present.
University of Minnesota Medical School observed that 93% of patients with persistent, non-specific musculoskeletal pain were severely deficient with vit D , some with levels too low to detect. Vitamin D seems to up-regulate the immune system preventing and managing Rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, skin disorders of keratosis, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Metabolic syndrome… a multiple symptom disease of type 11 diabetes, hypertension, high triglycerides, and high cholesterol, is increased with a deficiency of vit D.
As noted by Nephrology News:”Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to prediabetes, which is a blood glucose, or sugar, level that is too high but not high enough to be considered diabetes. In the new study, every unit increase in vitamin D level after supplementation of the vitamin decreased the risk of progression to diabetes by eight percent… ‘Without healthy lifestyle changes, nothing works to prevent diabetes in at-risk individuals,’ said the lead author, Deep Dutta, MD, DM.
Research in Japan indicates that adequate of intake of vit D, protein, and B complex have decreased risk of tooth loss.
There are several co-factors — substances that work with or enable Vit D to function. Magnesium is probably the most important co-factor. Magnesium helps the body to use calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and vit D. We need about 400mg of magnesium / 160 # person per day.
Vitamin K is needed to keep calcium in correct place. Small amounts of vitamin A are also needed. Zinc helps vit D bind to it’s receptors. Boron helps bone structural.
Vitamin D is very important for the growth, and maintenance of a person’s healthy body and we under estimate the importance of this inexpensive and readily available nutrient.
For better health,