Did you know that a majority of Americans are probably deficient in Vitamin D and don’t even know it? The problem is that your Vitamin D stores need to be incredibly low before you even begin experiencing symptoms. To better understand why this vitamin is so important, let’s talk about the following:
• Where it comes from
• Why Vitamin D3 is important
• How much Vitamin D3 you should be taking
Vitamin D3 is produced from cholesterol within our own bodies. But this process requires sun exposure. And when we heed the suggestions of Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons and avoid the sun (to reduce our risk of skin cancer), we actually reduce our levels of Vitamin D3 conversion. Deficiency is widespread within the United States as well as the rest of the world. One study from France showed that 14% of healthy adults had extremely low levels. Another study from New England looked at a cohort of medical personnel at the end of winter and found that 42% of those study participants who were not supplementing were deficient while 11% of those who were supplementing were still deficient.
Vitamin D3 is important for a number of functions including its positive benefits on inflammatory conditions, neuromuscular function, and in the prevention of Rickets. The disease of Rickets was first discovered in the 1600’s and became increasingly common as people began moving from largely rural areas (where they had adequate sun exposure) to more indoor environments (where they did not).
Vitamin D3 is important for a number of biologic processes including the following:
- • Reduction in fracture risk
- o Several studies have documented the positive bone-sparing effects of Vitamin D in women and noted a moderate increase in hip bone density following supplementation as well as an overall reduction in the incident of hip fractures.
- • Proper immune function
- o Most of our immune cells contain Vitamin D receptors and so a deficiency can potentially lead to an increased risk of infection as well as the development of autoimmune disorders.
- • Prevention of cardiovascular disease
- o Several studies have demonstrated the power of Vitamin D3 supplementation in favorably affecting risk for cardiac disease
- • Possible prevention of cancer
- o By regulating cellular growth and differentiation, Vitamin D appears to play a very positive role in the inhibition of cancer. A decrease in cancer incidence has been shown for cancers of the bladder, colon, biliary tract, prostrate, rectum, stomach, uterus, and vulva as well as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and malignant melanoma.
- • Possible prevention of Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease
- o Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to the development of both Parkinson’s as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
- • Possible prevention of Multiple Sclerosis
- o There is evidence in the scientific literature to suggest that relapses in MS may be more frequent in patients low in Vitamin D and that supplementation may potentially modulate behavior and progression of this disease.
- • Positive Anti-Aging benefits
- o One meta-analysis concluded that Vitamin D supplementation in the elderly produced a slight reduction in overall mortality.
Now that we know the importance of Vitamin D, let’s talk about how much you should be getting. In reality, dosing is best accomplished on an individual basis by actually measuring your levels. That being said, the recommended dietary intake of the United States Institute of Medicine has been established at 600 IU/day for patients 1-70 years of age and at 800 IU/day for pregnant/lactating women. However, other groups suggest higher daily levels of up to 800-1000 IU/day. How much should you be taking? It really depends on what you need. The best recommendation is to have your levels checked and go from there. Everyone is a little different and so what you need may not fit neatly into these guidelines.
I hope this information was helpful and look forward to providing more insights into how you can achieve Optimal Wellness. The ability to look and feel your very best is up to you. So, what are you waiting for?
Be well! We look forward to hearing from you!
*Much of this information was provided from the following source:
American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, “Guide to Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine” (Chapter 3: Mechanisms of Aging and Disease & Lifespan Research / The Top 10 Life Extension Nutrients and Drugs – Terry Grossman, MD)