Vitamin D

Writing about Vitamin D poses a real challenge to keep from generating an article the length of a book when it comes to discussing the health benefits of this vitamin, so here is a very stripped down version…..

Turns out that Vitamin D is not a vitamin, but actually a hormone.  It is used in metabolic processes throughout the body and effects over 200 different genes. We especially like it for its ability to modulate the immune system which has been documented in over 200 studies, making it extremely important in the fight against cancer.  Here are just a few to review…….

  • A group of about 1,100 post-menopausal women started out with no cancer… One group got [oral] vitamin D [and calcium] and the other group received a placebo. At the end of four years, there was a 77 percent difference in cancer incidence between those that had the vitamin D and calcium versus the placebo. Wow….
  • Optimizing your vitamin D levels could help you to prevent at least 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers.
  • Some 600,000 cases of breast and colorectal cancers alone could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels among populations worldwide were increased according to epidemiologist Dr. Cedric Garland, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
  • A large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled study on vitamin D and cancer showed that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by as much as 60 percent. This was such groundbreaking news that the Canadian Cancer Society has actually begun endorsing the vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy.

There are also over 2500 studies stating its physiological impacts throughout the body. A few areas that supplementation with Vitamin D supported included:

  • Improving depression by neurotransmitter modulation
  • Enhancement of secretion and action of insulin
  • Improving bone mineral density and reducing cardiovascular risk (along with vitamin K) by controlling calcium levels
  • Improving detoxification mechanisms

Overall, “… high serum 25(OH)D level in response to vitamin D supplementation may be just a marker for the presence of other health-promoting biochemical capabilities” according to Dr. J. Moss, supporting the fact that supplementation with Vitamin D3 may have additional health benefits that we have yet to uncover.

Testing

Please consider getting your levels tested and optimized.  If you have an autoimmune condition, please also consider having your 1,25 di-OH Vit D levels tested as well. Fortunately, blood testing for Vitamin D3 is now a commonly run test and has become very affordable.

Supplementation

It is estimated that 85 percent of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D and may need to supplement (as it is extremely difficult to get the therapeutic amounts from sunlight alone even here in sunny San Diego). Personally, we see levels of less than 20ng/dL in many of our new clients. Researchers state that the current RDA of this nutrient is way too low and that optimal levels should be maintained between 40-80ng/dL. Optimal intake may be somewhere around 2000-5000IU per day depending on the individual. It is also important to note that there are a few individuals who have genetic issues or autoimmunity which may require larger than normal amounts of this nutrient.

Make sure that you take it with a meal for best absorption. For those who choose to supplement with cod liver oil, care must be taken to insure that they have the ability to breakdown fats effectively in order to absorb this key nutrient. Emulsified forms are available for those who are unable to processed oil-based formulations. In addition, Vitamin K is being added to many supplements since they may be synergistic.

References

If you want to learn more, we recommend these two sites for up-to-date Vitamin D information:  http://www.vitamindcouncil.org and http://www.grassrootshealth.net.

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