Quality of Life: Vitamin D – further investigation

Following a short piece about vitamin D last issue our health detectives have been investigating further and have found some exciting new information that indicates how this vitamin can help prevent serious illness. Vitamin D deficiency appears to be much more common than we thought and so their comprehensive guide below is essential reading for everyone interested in maintaining natural good health.

Vitamin D is an extraordinary substance. We have all heard about vitamin D’s role in getting calcium into the bones to help prevent osteoporosis, but it also acts like a hormone, regulating cellular growth and differentiating between the cells, thus being essential in preventing cancer. It plays a role in regulating our immune system and in auto immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) and diabetes. It is created when the sun rays hits the skin and the level of active vitamin D can easily be called by a blood test.

Research indicates that the risk of a blood clot in the heart or brain is far less for those who get sufficient vitamin D, and also that vitamin D can protect against high blood pressure. This information is based on research from Frammingham, a little town in Massachusetts, where the health and life style of several thousand citizens and their children have been monitored since 1948 in order to find lifestyle causes of heart related diseases. The Frammingham study is the most famous and respected of its kind, and nowadays, when we take for granted that exercise, healthy food and aspirin can help prevent heart disease, we have to thank the Frammingham study.

The report clearly showed that people with low vitamin D counts in their blood were much more prone to blood clots, one in four compared to one in ten with higher counts. This may suggest that it is better to take Vitamin D to prevent heart and circulatory diseases than Aspirin and medicine for lowering cholesterol. There appear to be even more benefits of vitamin D if we suffer from high blood pressure, which is the main cause of heart and circulatory diseases. For those with high blood pressure the risk of heart and circulatory diseases was only 50 % for those with vitamin D count over 37 nmol/l (amount per litre of blood) compared to those with Vitamin D counts under 37 nmol/l! This corroborates other scientific investigations where low vitamin D counts, high blood pressure and calcification in the arteries in the heart seem to go together.

90% of the active vitamin D in our body is made in the skin and the rest can be obtained from food such as fatty fish like sardines, mackerel or salmon. Cod Liver oil is also very rich in vitamin D. For the over 60s, digestive problems or alcohol consumption can reduce the amount of vitamin D that we can absorb from food, so even those living on the Costa del Sol with 300 sunny days a year can still be at risk of getting too little vitamin D. Extensive use of sun blockers to avoid skin cancer also reduces the amount of vitamin D made in the skin. In northern Europe one in three teenagers has under 25 nmol/l,which is a severe deficiency, and more than 90% of them would have ended up in the group with severe arteriosclerosis according to the Frammingham study results.

How much vitamin D do we have to take? In a normal multivitamin tablet the vitamin D is approximately 200 IU or 5 mcg. According to the Frammingham Study we need more Vitamin D and it takes 1,000 IU or 25 mcg to raise the level of Vitamin D in the blood to 75 nmol/l. In order to reach the optimum level of 115 – 128 nmol/l we would need to take 2,000 IU or 50 mcg daily, which is a safe daily amount. However vitamin D takes time to reach optimum levelsand may take between 3 -5 month to build in enough of the fat soluble Vitamin D that we need.

From our investigations we found that vitamin D definitely has a role in preventive medicine, and we should not rely on the sun to provide us with enough. We also need to eat more fatty fish or take supplements to keep our quality of life and health in good balance.

Vitamin D counts:
Optimal vitamin D values are:
115-128 nmol/l or 45-50 ng/ml

Normal vitamin D laboratory values are:
50-140 nmol/l or 20-56 ng/ml

According to the latest investigations your vitamin D level should NEVER be below 80 nmol/l. Any levels below 50 nmol/l are considered serious deficiency states and will increase your risk of heart attack, strokes, breast and prostate cancer and autoimmune diseases like diabetes, MS and rheumatoid arthritis.

This article is part of a series and you can read more

Pernille Knudtzon, MD
Tel: 678 253 510
Contact: 678 253 510

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This post is also available in: Spanish

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