Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vitamin D - Higher levels linked to longer life


In the past year, I can't open a journal without seeing more and more evidence that we have been underestimating the benefit of Vitamin D on health and longevity.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods. It is also produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight trigger synthesis in the body. Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure, food and supplements must then undergo two hydroxylations in the body to become active so it is a complicated process. A number of drugs interfere with Vitamin D synthesis also.

Vitamin D (along with Calcium) is essential for promoting bone health. But is also is important in neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation. It affects genes that encode proteins and other cells have Vitamin D receptors.

A new study from Archives of Internal Medicine reports low levels of Vitamin D are associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer and overall shortened longevity. Not only is this a big WOW but this applies to levels that are at the "lower" end of normal. So having Vit D levels in the lower quartile was an independent predictor of mortality in both men and women.

I am starting to check Vitamin D levels in all patients and I'm finding a high percentage of people who have levels that are too low. Sunlight, fortified milk, cereal, yogurt, eggs, salmon, tuna and mackerel are good sources of Vitamin D but may not be enough. Supplementing with 1000 mg of Vitamin D a day is often needed in addition.

11 comments:

Healthnut said...

I was at some health fair where they where testing people for osteoporosis. I was surprised to see how many young females could not pass the test.

Kate said...

Couldn't agree more. Thanks for bringing this issue up again; it's important. Do you mean 1000 International Units (IU) rather than mg for your daily recommendation?

ERP said...

I read somewhere that health care workers have amongst the LOWEST vitamin D levels of anyone. I bet it is because we are indoors so much! I started taking my supplements last year....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for informing us on this. I'm going to ask my doctor if I need to be checked to see what my level is.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't lack of vitamin D also cause Rickettes?
KM

Toni Brayer MD said...

Kate: Thanks for your eagle eye. Yes, it is IU, not mg.

KM: Yes, lack of vitamin D causes rickets and other bone diseases.

Judy S said...

toni - instead of supplements, should we just all go out in the sun more? I used to chafe at writing all those articles warning about sun exposure. Just seems we humans were meant to be in the sunshine. Judy S from Sutter

Toni Brayer MD said...

judy S: What we are finding is that sunlight is not the entire answer. Even sun exposed people can be deficient. It is a complicated hydroxylation in the body to make Vit D and there may be other factors that are interfering. Also our "normal" range for the blood assay is probably too low. Numerous studies are showing that "low normal" is associated with shorter longevity.

Raymond Bouchayer said...

I am glad to see that the medical professional are starting to look at supplements . The old saying " you get all your nutrient in a balance diet " has been proven over and over not to be so . For the beginner "Adelle Davis "Eat right to live longer " than graduate to "life extension by "Sandy Shaw and Dirk Pearson " , sorry about their name spelling , but those books talks about what Dr. Toni mentions about vitamin D and other ailments

Anonymous said...

I just had a physical today and found out my vitamin D level was only 12. Normal is about 30. I am taking high doses of vitamin D each week for 12 weeks. I read about how important this vitamin is to help prevent diseaes.

Yulanda Mccargo said...

Vitamin D is really important in our body -- more than we can imagine! It’s not just about bones or having healthy skin, but it directly affects the synthesis in our body. A good exposure to the morning sun, coupled with eating food rich in Vitamin D, can already supply the much needed Vitamin D in our system.

-Yulanda Mccargo