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Vitamin D is Really Amazing

By Jackie Khor

20 September 2011

Whatever condition and disease you study, Vitamin D keeps coming up as a major factor. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays multiple roles in human health.

Vitamin D in calcium metabolism and bone health is well recognized but more recently, its role in cardiovascular health, immune function, glucose metabolism, and cell differentiation and proliferation have been defined.

It is well established that vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets in developing children but more current research has also linked vitamin D deficiency with osteoporosis, osteomalacia, impaired muscle function, infection, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and some cancers in adults. Thus, achieving optimal vitamin D status throughout life is essential to maintaining overall health.

Vitamin D is unique among other vitamins, in that very little is obtained through a normal diet. The principal source of circulating vitamin D is endogenous production in the skin following exposure to sunlight. Thus, factors that limit sun exposure and/or endogenous vitamin D synthesis greatly reduce circulating vitamin D concentrations. Some of these factors include geographic latitude, season of the year, melanin content of the skin, use of sunblock, lack of outdoor activity, age, and more. Any of these factors, among others, can lead to chronic vitamin D deficiency.

Deficiencies of vitamin D are common. It is currently estimated that more than 1 billion people worldwide and 30-to-40% of the population between 15 and 49 years of age in the United States suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Consensus is building that adequate circulating vitamin D concentrations should be greater than 30 ng/mL and optimally above 50 ng/mL (7-10). Because relatively small amounts of vitamin D are obtained through the diet and so many lifestyle factors reduce endogenous vitamin D synthesis, supplementation becomes an important avenue for achieving and maintaining optimal vitamin D status. It has been shown that 100 IU of vitamin D per day increases circulating concentrations of vitamin D by ~1 ng/mL (7-10). Thus, supplementation with advanced doses of vitamin D (2000-4000 IU/day) depending on lifestyle, are required to reverse vitamin D deficiency, boost vitamin D levels into the optimal range, and maintain them thereafter.

There are several forms of vitamin D including D1, D2 and D3. You want to take D3 (calciferol). Vitamin D3 is converted in our bodies to the active form which is dihydroxy vitamin D. Doctors and pharmaceutical corporations keep promoting dangerous, synthetic, expensive, prescription only analogs of vitamin D. These can be patented and not sold over the counter. It is important not to take too much D3 as it is oil soluble, toxic in excess, and can result in side effects. Since you can’t get any meaningful amounts in common foods, this is not a problem at all.

Remember how popular cod liver oil has been for decades now? This is really because of the vitamin D content. People often really do get dramatic results from simply taking a spoonful of cod liver oil. This is because they are getting the vitamin D they need so badly. Of course, taking a multivitamin of inexpensive 400 IU vitamin D supplement is a much more practical and tasty way to do this.

There are many reasons we suffer from so many diseases and conditions in the richest country in the world with the highest standard of living. One important and proven reason is lack of vitamin D in most people. Study after study shows people of all ages in most countries are deficient in vitamin D by blood analysis. This is especially true of the poor and the elderly. Along with your multiple vitamin just take an extra 400 IU capsule of inexpensive vitamin D when you’re not getting out in the sun regularly. No matter how well you eat you aren’t going to get any significant amount in your diet.

The science behind this is just overwhelming. People of all ages should take it. The international published science here is endless and growing. Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide epidemic.

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