Vitamin D can improve your health in multiple ways. Multiple studies have confirmed that if you can get your blood level of vitamin D in the higher range, you can benefit through a decreased risk of many cancers, less heart disease, less bone problems, and less chance of developing brain deterioration.

A recent study found low vitamin D levels significantly increased your risk of developing cancer overall.[1] Multiple other studies have confirmed a reduction of cancer with higher levels of vitamin D.[2] One study calculated that higher levels of vitamin D could reduce your risk of getting cancer by 77%.[3] Moreover, if you happen to get a cancer, if you have higher levels of vitamin D you have a better chance of living longer, i.e. improved survival. Also you have less risk of dying from 15 different types of cancer with higher levels of vitamin D.[4]

Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption and metabolism to strengthen our bones. If you have low levels of vitamin D, your ability to make new bones is reduced. If your level is very low, rickets can occur as a child and osteomalacia as an adult. As you get older, low vitamin D levels are known to be a risk factor for development of osteoporosis (a thinning of the bones) and falls with resultant fractures. [5]

Multiple other studies have also shown that higher levels of vitamin D decrease heart disease (cardiovascular disease)[6] and decrease risk of you developing diabetes.[7] Thus vitamin D insufficiency is a major health concern as you get older[8] and maintaining high levels is important for improving your health.

Unfortunately, three out of four Americans don’t get enough vitamin D.[9] Vitamin D is made from cholesterol in your body (making some people call it a hormone) when exposed to adequate UV radiation from sunlight. However, we tend to not go out in the sun due to the fear of developing skin cancer, and when we do go out we tend to smear sun blocker on our skin which prevents the production of vitamin D.

Thus, part of the problem is we don’t get enough sun exposure. Thus, you must get it from food or supplements.

The best food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. One serving a day of those foods will get you between 200 and 360 IUs of vitamin D. But that’s not enough.

Typically, to increase your levels of vitamin D adequately, you need at least 5,000 units a day. It’s hard to do that with food, so just take a supplement. Vitamin D supplements are not expensive and when you consider the health related benefits you receive from increasing your level, they are a major bargain.

So make sure you are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D daily. Get your blood level of vitamin D greater than 50 nmol/ml for the best benefit. At our office, we like to check your levels regularly and we carry pharmaceutical grade vitamin D that will help you achieve these goals. We encourage you to become as healthy as you can be, and taking a Vitamin D pill daily is one of the many easy steps you can do to fulfill this goal.

 

References:

[1] Ordóñez-Mena J, Schöttker B, Haug U, Müller H, Köhrle J, Schomburg L, Holleczek B, Brenner H. “Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and cancer risk in older adults: results from a large german prospective cohort study.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013;22(5):905-16

[2] Van der Rhee H, Coebergh JW, de Vries E. Sunlight, vitamin D and the prevention of cancer: a systematic review of epidemiological studies. Eur J Cancer Prev2009;18:458–75.

[3] Lappe, J.M., et al, “Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial,” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. June 2007;85(6):1586-91

[4] Grant, W.B. et al, “The association of solar ultraviolet B (UVB) with reducing risk of cancer: multifactorial ecologic analysis of geographic variation in age-adjusted cancer mortality rates,”Anticancer Research 2006; 26:2687-2700.

[5] Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al. Effect of vitamin D on falls: a meta-analysis. JAMA 2004;291:1999–2006.

[6] Elamin MB, et al. Vitamin D and cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2011;96:1931–42

[7] Pittas AG, Lau J, Hu FB, Dawson-Hughes B. The role of vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2007;92:2017–29.

[8] Pilz S, Tomaschitz A, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Dobnig H, Pieber TR. Epidemiology of vitamin D insufficiency and cancer mortality. Anticancer Res 2009;29:3699–704.

[9] Ginde AA et al. “Demographic differences and trends of vitamin D insufficiency in the US population, 1988-2004.” Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):626-32