Take Vitamin D, live longer, and prevent a host of debilitating diseases. The wonders of vitamin D are well known by the Poliquin readership, and a new research review published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition provides overwhelming evidence of the role of this vitamin in optimal health.
If humans around the world doubled their vitamin D levels from 54 to 110 nmol/l they would reduce mortality rate from diseases related to vitamin D by 20 percent. When we remember that many of the leading disease killers are linked to vitamin D levels—cardiovascular disease, various cancers, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, and sever upper respiratory disease—the impact of decreasing death rates becomes clear.
Research on the role vitamin D plays in keeping us healthy has grown rapidly over the past decade. Researchers caught on to the fact that adequate vitamin D levels are critical for human health in light of evidence regarding the evolution of human skin color around the world. Because humans produce vitamin D in response to sun exposure, pale skin was necessary at high latitudes to produce vitamin D as efficiently as possible because humans had limited exposure during the winter. Humans in the tropical sun-drenched plains produced adequate vitamin D and needed to develop dark skin to protect against damage from free radical production. In fact, the ability to tan to change skin pigmentation arose in the mid-latitude region to accommodate seasonal changes in solar ultraviolet doses and still get optimal vitamin D levels.
Researchers suggest raising global vitamin D levels from 50-70 nmol/l to 105-112 nmol/l could reduce the all-cause mortality rate by 20 percent and lower the direct economic burden of disease by 10 percent. That’s right! You can save money in the long run by buying a vitamin D supplement and taking it daily. Additionally, public health officials should spread the word about how this easily consumed vitamin can keep people healthy and ease the financial strain on health care systems.
The vitamin D is strongly linked to mortality from a variety of cancers, including breast, colon, ovarian, pancreatic, and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. One study found that supplementing with calcium and vitamin D is the ideal breast cancer prevention strategy: Postmenopausal women who took calcium and vitamin D for four years had a 77 percent reduction in all-cancer incidence, while those who just took calcium had a 41 percent reduction (clearly calcium is important as well).
Of interest, particularly to pregnant women and anyone interested in starting a family, is the fact that evidence shows the benefits of vitamin D start to accrue in utero and continue throughout life, meaning doubling vitamin D levels at the global level at a given time would result in reductions in mortality rates that would slowly increase. Also, take note that the impressive 20 percent mortality rate reduction associated with doubling vitamin D levels is degraded somewhat to account for the unknown complications of several diseases, as well as not knowing at what stage of life vitamin D is most effective.
The best strategy for raising vitamin D levels is to both supplement and eat foods that provide high amounts of vitamin D. Fish is by far your best bet for upping D in your diet. Other high vitamin D foods such as soy, fortified cereal, and dairy products are discouraged because they cause other nutritional complications. Take at least 5,000 IUs a day, or another approach, which I prefer, is to supplement twice per week with about 30,000 to 100,000 IU of D. Consider my D3 Excellence Softgels
to keep you healthy.
Grant, WB. An Estimate of the Global Reduction in Mortality Rates Through Doubling Vitamin D Levels. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. September 2011. 65, 1016-1026.