A recent study suggests that vitamin D may be one of our most crucial nutrients to health and long life continues to mount:
CHICAGO – New research linking low vitamin D levels with deaths from heart disease and other causes bolsters mounting evidence about the “sunshine” vitamin’s role in good health.
Patients with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D were about two times more likely to die from any cause during the next eight years than those with the highest levels, the study found. The link with heart-related deaths was particularly strong in those with low vitamin D levels.
Science used to believe that vitamin D was simply needed to prevent rickets, a disease of soft bones, and that people needed only 200-400 international units (IUs) for this. In the past decade we’ve learned that vitamin D is crucial to the health of every cell in the body, and that heart health, brain health, immune system health, and cancer prevention all rely heavily on robust levels of this vitamin in our bodies. Not only that, we’re learning that nutrition scientists were off by a factor of 10 in how much is optimal. In other words, we need 2,000 to 4,000 (and in some cases 6,000) IU of vitamin D daily for optimal blood levels (above 50 ng/ml). What wasn’t known for a long time is that a healthy human exposed to summer (or tropical winter) sun for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how dark or light skinned we are, will make between 10 and 10 THOUSAND IUs of vitamin D. When we started subtracting sun exposure (or using sunscreen) from our lives some 30 years ago, we shut off the tap of the “sunshine vitamin”, and our food “fortifications” and multivitamin pills had far too little vitamin D to make up for it. I recommend to everybody to take at least 2,000 IU daily, and after a few months, to ask their doctor to order a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level–this number may be more important to your health than knowing your cholesterol level or your blood pressure–and for optimal health, you want it to be between 50 and 100 ng/ml, even though 30 is considered “adequate”–and you wouldn’t believe how many millions of people are well below 30!