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Vitamin D Lowers Risk of Disease

By Expert HERWriter
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Everyone is talking about Vitamin D because the research behind it is exploding with great information! Recently, two studies done at the Intermountain Medical Heart Institute found that those who had higher levels of vitamin D had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney failure, diabetes and more when given over time. In some it was as much as 30 percent.

Many scientists and Vitamin D experts believe the current levels for Vitamin D are too low when looking at the blood work. Most labs consider 30ng/ml and lower to be a problem however these two studies were looking at levels above 30ng/ml or above 43ng/ml. Research using vitamin D and cancer prevention (colorectal, breast, and ovarian cancer) found optimal levels to be between 80 to 100ng/ml. This is a big difference!

Living and practicing in a minimally sunny state I find that many of my patients are low in Vitamin D. In fact today I had peri-menopausal woman whose Vitamin D level was 10ng/ml. She was experiencing mild depression, fatigue, and increase joint and muscle aches. I explained to her that low levels like hers can cause many of the symptoms she complained about plus it is heart and cancer protective. Unfortunately, I also find that those living in sunny states are low in Vitamin D too because they don’t go outside due to their job, or they wear protective sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and clothing that blocks the absorption into the skin.

Many who are low in Vitamin D hope to eat more fortified dairy products in an attempt to raise their levels but I find this is not adequate enough and ends up requiring supplementation. Talk with your healthcare provider about vitamin D testing and make sure to request the 25(OH) Vitamin D3 level, not the 1,25(OH)Vitamin D3. When supplementing, look for the vitamin D3 also called cholecalciferol, not the Vitamin D2. Be careful not to exceed 100ng/ml on your test or else this can lead to toxicity symptoms.

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Perhaps the most exciting research about vitamin D is its ability to prevent some cancers. Vitamin D appears to play a role in cell proliferation (division) and differentiation (making sure dividing cells don’t become cancerous cells). In addition, vitamin D is involved in proper death of unhealthy or old cells, a process known as "apoptosis," and in the prevention of blood vessel formation to feed existing cancers, known as "angiogenesis."

The first randomized, placebo-controlled trial evaluating vitamin D supplementation and the incidence of cancer was published, in 2007—in that study, women using 1100 IU of vitamin D3 daily for 4 years had a 60% lower cancer risk than the placebo group. When patients who were diagnosed with cancer during the first year of the study were excluded (with the assumption that they likely had cancer when they entered the study), the reduction was 77%. This is exciting news since there aren’t many supplements that have been shown to lower cancer risk by such a large margin.

Your skin makes vitamin D from exposure to the sun. As you age, however, your skin becomes less able to make vitamin D. When taking vitamin D, it’s important to measure and monitor vitamin D levels closely. Too much vitamin D can cause calcification of soft tissues and an increased risk of kidney stones. It’s especially important to monitor your levels if you are supplementing with doses greater than 2,000 IU of D3 per day. In addition, anyone with primary hyperparathyroidism should not take vitamin D supplements without first consulting their physician.

Enjoy the Sunshine

In Health

Daniel Soule
Portland, OR

May 13, 2010 - 8:30am
Expert HERWriter

Vitamin D3 is the better form of Vitamin D - it's also called cholecalciferol.

March 24, 2010 - 8:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

When information talks about Vitamin D benefits, I am confused. Is Vitamin D the same as Vitamin D3 or D2 or can you purchase just Vitamin D.

March 24, 2010 - 7:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

The evidence for the benefits from vitamin D is nothing short of astonishing and keeps coming in. From helping to ward off cancer to possibly curing the common cold to preventing influenza and other positive findings, the sunshine vitamin has a bright future indeed. When you throw in that becuase of poor diet and a modern lifestyle which decreases exposure to sunshine average vitamin D levels are likely lower than in the past, it is not a stretch to speculate that very many of the diseases of modern society may be directly related to or partially influenced by a deficiency of this lion of a vitamin. There is a little bit of an intro to the topic here,
and here
if anyone is interested, also the web abounds with resources on the topic. Oh yeah and bone health effects that have been known about for a while longer.

So get out and enjoy the sun on your face this Spring, won't even cost you a dime.

March 23, 2010 - 9:58pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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