Make Sure You Take Your Vitamin D
A close friend of mine has been battling stage-4 lung cancer. She is an amazing woman of faith and doing everything she can possibly do to fight the good fight. Recently she randomly told me to make sure I took my vitamin D. “Why?”, I asked. She went on to share something she had just learned during her experience with cancer. Apparently, studies have shown that people who learn they have cancer often discover they are deficient in vitamin D. She said, “I hardly had any vitamin D in my system when they discovered I had cancer.”
I was shocked to learn this about her since she was always one to eat healthy and take care of herself. Talk about feeling an urgency and conviction to take something! I was aware that vitamin D was important for strong bones, but I had no idea just how vital vitamin D is to the healthy functioning of our body and for fighting against a host of diseases. I’m so grateful she happened to share this information with me. It left me eager to learn more and to check my own vitamin D level.
The next day, I began doing my own research on the topic and called my doctor to schedule a blood test for myself. What I found out about the importance of taking vitamin D is so overwhelming—I couldn’t wait to share it with you.
Here’s what I discovered:
My vitamin D level was low.
My doctor did a blood test and the results showed I was deficient in vitamin D. I also encouraged my 16-year-old daughter to have a blood test that determined her vitamin D was also low.
Studies show that most of us are deficient in vitamin D. Here are some startling facts I found on LifeExtension:
- Two-thirds of the U.S. population was deficient in vitamin D from 2001 to 2006.[i]
- An estimated 1 billion people do not have adequate vitamin D levels.
- 64% of Americans don’t have enough vitamin D to keep all of their tissues operating at peak capacity.
- And, 64% of Americans don’t have enough vitamin D to keep all of their tissues operating at peak capacity.
It’s challenging to get enough Vitamin D naturally.
- It’s near to impossible to get enough vitamin D from the food you eat (it’s fat-soluble and not naturally present in very many foods, except fortified cereals and dairy).
- We need sunlight for our body to make Vitamin D. For many of us that live in climates with limited year round sunlight, it’s nearly impossible to get enough. (In the U.S., only people who live south of a line drawn from Los Angeles to Columbia, S.C., get enough sunlight for vitamin D production throughout the year).
- Dark skin absorbs less sunlight so it’s especially challenging to get enough vitamin D for darker skinned people and African Americans.
You don’t want to be deficient in vitamin D.
If you’re deficient in vitamin D, you open the door to a host of disorders. Vitamin D is vital to every tissue in the body functioning properly.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased risk of many diseases.
- Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of a long list of diseases – breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and Alzheimer’s to weak bones and diabetes.
- Low levels of vitamin D in the blood are strongly associated with elevated cancer risk. Those with low levels have an 83 to 150% increased risk of developing cancer than those with higher vitamin D levels.,6,7
- If your vitamin D level is in a lower range, you have a 42% increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease and a 49 to 64% increased risk of a stroke.,
- The risk of having clogged coronary arteries (the precursor of a heart attack) is more than doubled for people with vitamin D deficiency.
- Low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of non-Alzheimer’s dementia almost 20 times.
- A vitamin D deficiency makes you 91% more likely to progress to insulin resistance, or “pre-diabetes” (even for those with normal blood sugar). Additionally, a vitamin D deficiency more than doubles your risk for progressing to full-blown type II diabetes.
- Too little vitamin D results in soft bones in children and fragile, misshapen bones in adults.
Here’s the Good News when you get enough vitamin D:
Vitamin D Keeps All Your Tissues Operating at Peak Performance.
- Vitamin D Supports Cardiovascular Health
- It lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- In a study of vitamin D supplementation in obese and overweight women supplementing with 1,000 IU/day, it significantly raised protective HDL-cholesterol levels and significantly lowered body fat mass after 12weeks.
- Studies show that supplementation with vitamin D3 can reduce blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol.
Vitamin D Helps With Diabetes.
- Studies have shown that vitamin D shows the potential to help reverse the process of diabetes.
- Vitamin D supplementation also benefits those who already have diabetes. Diabetics receiving 1,000 IU/day of vitamin D in yogurt saw significant decreases in fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, insulin resistance, waist circumference, and body mass index, compared with those receiving no vitamin D.
- Studies show that supplementation with vitamin D3 can reduce blood pressure, total cholesterol, and LDL-cholesterol—all risk factors for the heart and kidney diseases for which diabetics are at an increased risk.
- Treatment with active vitamin D3 also significantly reduces protein levels in urine, a marker of kidney disease.
Vitamin D Protects Brain Cells.
- Vitamin D is especially powerful against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. And, higher vitamin D concentrations are correlated with lower severity in Parkinson’s disease.
- Supplementation with vitamin D has such potent benefits for the brain because the brain relies on vitamin D receptors for protection against a variety of destructive processes—nerve and cell growth and helps with “plasticity” of connections that’s so essential for normal learning and memory. Without adequate vitamin D, all of those functions suffer, and some fail.
- A recent study showed that adding vitamin D to a standard memory drug for 6 months in newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients produced significant gains in cognition, suggesting a synergism between vitamin D and the drug.
Vitamin D Blocks Cancer.
- It helps regulate inflammation, tumor growth, and the immune system.
- Treating cancer cells with vitamin D produces a number of actions that help fight against cancer: it decreases tumor cell proliferation, reduces invasiveness, and increases tumor cell death. The benefits of these actions are especially seen in cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon.
Vitamin D Helps Keep Your Bones Strong.
Your body must have vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote bone growth.
Vitamin D Helps With Autoimmune Disease.
- Studies show that restoring vitamin D levels to the healthy range through supplementation can help patients with autoimmune diseases. Supplementation has been shown to increase the number of regulatory cells that restore immune system activity to its normal state, preventing the overactive response characteristic of autoimmune diseases.
- It causes a decline in the disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.,
- It reduces the risk of developing type I diabetes and preserves insulin-producing pancreatic cells once the disease has started.
- It suppresses the development of multiple sclerosis in animal models of the disease, and a large human trial has shown that supplementation was associated with a 40% reduction in the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.,
Interesting Additional Fact.
Many older people lose their balance not because of their age, but because they have low levels of vitamin D, which helps regulate muscle and balance (neuromuscular system).
Supplementing with Vitamin D Can Be a Powerful Way to Optimize Your Health:
- Checking vitamin D levels is still not standard for many physicians; yet assessing your vitamin D status is one of the most important health-protecting steps you can take. It’s easy, inexpensive, and can help protect you from a wide range of diseases.
- The Vitamin D Council recommends adults take 5,000 IU a day, saying smaller amounts aren’t enough to meet your body’s needs. But, ask your doctor to make sure your dose is right for you.
Easy To Do Next Steps:
- Discuss with your doctor if you are interested in taking Vitamin D.
- Ask for a blood test. It’s a good idea to test your vitamin D level annually to make sure it’s at a healthy level in your body.
- Tell your doctor about other medications you are taking. Supplements can also cause side effects or interactions with other medications so be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
- Make sure to take vitamin D3 rather than vitamin D2. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006 showed that vitamin D2 is less potent than vitamin D3.
- According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.
- Wacker M, Holick MF. Vitamin D – effects on skeletal and extra-skeletal health and the need for supplementation. Nutrients. 2013 Jan 10;5(1):111-48.
- Mitchell DM, Henao MP, Finkelstein JS, Burnett-Bowie SA. Prevalence and predictors of vitamin D deficiency in healthy adults. Endocr Pract. 2012 Nov-Dec;18(6):914-23.
- Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=vitamin-d-deficiency-united-states. Accessed May 21, 2013.
- Bilinski K, Boyages J. Association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration and breast cancer risk in an Australian population: an observational case-control study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 Jan;137(2):599-607.
- Amaral AF, Mendez-Pertuz M, Munoz A, et al. Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) and bladder cancer risk according to tumor stage and FGFR3 status: a mechanism-based epidemiological study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012 Dec 19;104(24):1897-904.
- Roskies M, Dolev Y, Caglar D, et al. Vitamin D deficiency as a potentially modifiable risk factor for thyroid cancer. J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Jun 1;41(3):160-3.
- Wang L, Song Y, Manson JE, et al. Circulating 25-hydroxy- vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2012 Nov;5(6):819-29.
- Sun Q, Pan A, Hu FB, Manson JE, Rexrode KM. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of stroke: a prospective study and meta-analysis. Stroke. 2012 Jun;43(6):1470-7.
- Holick MF. Vitamin D: evolutionary, physiological and health perspectives. Curr Drug Targets. 2011 Jan;12(1):4-11. Mitchell DM, Henao MP, Finkelstein JS, Burnett-Bowie SA. Prevalence and predictors of vitamin D deficiency in healthy adults. Endocr Pract. 2012 Nov-Dec;18(6):914-23.
- Huang Y, Li X, Wang M, et al. Lipoprotein lipase links vitamin D, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes: a cross-sectional epidemiological study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2013;12:17.
- Salehpour A, Shidfar F, Hosseinpanah F, et al. Vitamin D3 and the risk of CVD in overweight and obese women: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2012 Nov 28;108(10):1866-73.
- Nikooyeh B, Neyestani TR, Farvid M, et al. Daily consumption of vitamin D- or vitamin D + calcium-fortified yogurt drink improved glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Apr;93(4):764-71.
- Bonakdaran S, Hami M, Hatefi A. The effects of calcitriol on albuminuria in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl. 2012 Nov;23(6):1215-20.
- Krairittichai U, Mahannopkul R, Bunnag S. An open label, randomized controlled study of oral calcitriol for the treatment of proteinuria in patients with diabetic kidney disease. J Med Assoc Thai. 2012 Mar;95 Suppl 3:S41-7.
- Annweiler C, Herrmann FR, Fantino B, Brugg B, Beauchet O. Effectiveness of the combination of memantine plus vitamin D on cognition in patients with Alzheimer disease: a pre-post pilot study. Cogn Behav Neurol. 2012 Sep;25(3):121-7.
- Bock G, Prietl B, Mader JK, et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on peripheral regulatory T cells and beta cell function in healthy humans: a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2011 Nov;27(8):942-5.
- Amital H, Szekanecz Z, Szucs G, et al. Serum concentrations of 25-OH vitamin D in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are inversely related to disease activity: is it time to routinely supplement patients with SLE with vitamin D? Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 Jun;69(6):1155-7.
- Andjelkovic Z, Vojinovic J, Pejnovic N, et al. Disease modifying and immunomodulatory effects of high dose 1 alpha (OH) D3 in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 1999 Jul-Aug;17(4):453-6.
- Li X, Liao L, Yan X, et al. Protective effects of 1-alpha-hydroxyvitamin D3 on residual beta-cell function in patients with adult-onset latent autoimmune diabetes (LADA). Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2009 Jul;25(5):411-6.
- Brown SJ. The role of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis. Ann Pharmacother. 2006 Jun;40(6):1158-61.
- Cantorna MT, Zhao J, Yang L. Vitamin D, invariant natural killer T-cells and experimental autoimmune disease. Proc Nutr Soc. 2012 Feb;71(1):62-6.