Benefits Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D facts and education: Discover the many benefits of Vitamin D in preventing and removing disease. Infections, colds, flu, fibromyalgia, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, more. "Vitamin D has really gotten the attention of the medical community," says Michael Holick, M.D., director of the Bone Health Care Clinic at Boston University School of Medicine.
Vitamin D Benefits
The benefits of Vitamin D include its action as a natural antibiotic and antiviral supplement that helps your immune system fight off colds, flu and other infections. Researchers now believe that because people get less sunlight, and therefore less Vitamin D, in the wintertime, that is why colds, flu, and other infections happen more frequently in the winter.
But it's much more than that. Lack of Vitamin D has been directly linked to 22 different forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, flue, depression and heart disease. One study showed that women who took Vitamin D supplements had as much as 77 percent lower risk of cancer than women who didn't take it. Vitamin D deficiency is also related to the likelihood of spinal problems, such as vertebral fractures, herniated discs, and so forth.
In Canada, up to 97 percent of the population has a lack of Vitamin D in the winter. The Canadian Pediatric Society increased their recommendations for Vitamin D intake for pregnant and lactating women to 2000 IU per day and they are considering recommending even higher dosages.
Even in places like Southern California, the winter sun does not convey enough Vitamin D for protection from disease. From mid-fall through winter, you are at greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency, especially if you live above the 38 degree north latitude, which runs approximately through Baltimore, St. Louis, Denver and San Francisco. In these areas, winter sun exposure is practically useless for producting Vitamin D.
In support of this theory, a study published by John Cannell, M.D., Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council (vitamindcouncil.com), showed these benefits of Vitamin D:
- Children who go out in the sun are less likely to catch colds.
- Flu season peaks in the months that have the shortest periods of daylight.
- Flu virtually disappears in midsummer.
- Taking a cod liver oil supplement, one of the best sources of Vitamin D, reduces viral respiratory infections, such as colds and flu.
- Even in the tropics, with so much sunlight, flu is more common during the rainy season.
- UVB sunlamps, which produce Vitamin D in the skin, reduce colds and flu in schoolchildren.
- Doctors who gave high doses of Vitamin D to kids constantly sick from colds and flu found that the kids became free of infection.
Dr. Cannell had his eyes opened to the benefits of Vitamin D at a California maximum-security hospital where he was working in 2005. Early that year, the hospital had a severe flu epidemic. In Dr. Cannell's ward, however, no one got sick, even though they had been exposed. The difference was that Cannell's patients had been taking 2,000 IU of Vitamin D daily for several months.
Vitamin D and Autism
A seven-year-old autistic boy showed seasonal variations in his symptoms--he gets better in the summer--so Dr. Cannell recommended cessation of vitamin A supplements and taking 5000 IU, temporarily, of Vitamin D3 per day. Within a week, his symptoms were better--language, muscle strength and more--and he cut back to 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. Dr. Cannell warns that this is only one case and does not prove a permanent effect. For more on Vitamin D and autism, read the June 2008 newsletter at vitamindcouncil.org.
Always check with your doctor before trying anything you read here. Everyone is different, and what might be good for some people might be bad for you, considering your medical history and medications.
Julian Whitaker, M.D., who has a well-known alternative health clinic in Newport Beach, California, is firmly convinced of the benefits of Vitamin D. He says:
If Vitamin D were a drug, conventional physicians would be all over it...Low Vitamin D levels are associated with increased risk of cancer, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity in people of all ages. In older people, deficiencies of this vitamin are also linked with weakness, increased likelihood of developing macular degeneration, and a 2.5 times greater risk of death.
More benefits of Vitamin D: Supplemental Vitamin D reduces risk of cancer of the breast, colon, lungs, and blood in older women by nearly 60 percent. It improves both mood and balance in older people. Vitamin D reduces symptoms in patients with autoimmune disorders, and just one dose significantly enhances immunity in people exposed to tuberculosis. The benefits of Vitamin D include decreasing bone loss in the elderly and increasing bone mineral density in those younger than age 70. Oral supplements relieve pain of osteomalacia, which is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia, and when applied topically, it's a good treatment for psoriasis.
The benefits of Vitamin D are so far reaching that researchers are calling it a "super nutrient," one of the most important nutrients of alternative medicine in fighting off disease. It is essential to alternative health. The benefits of Vitamin D may include reducing the risk of a variety of health problems, including some cancers and autoimmune diseases, Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other health problems mentioned in this article. Note: For more information on multiple sclerosis and Vitamin D and for information on other multiple sclerosis treatments, see our multiple sclerosis page.
Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms and Lack of Vitamin D Effects
Dr. David Williams, a medical researcher, is enthusiastic about the benefits of Vitamin D. Every major organ system is influenced to some degree by Vitamin D, he says, as well as our immune system. Here is a quote from Dr. Williams:
Regardless of whether it's the flu bug or some other pathogen, there are always some individuals who are exposed but don't come down with the disease...it's because their immune system is strong enough to keep the bug from getting the upper hand.
We now know that even a slight deficiency of Vitamin D can seriously compromise the immune system. This is particularly important if a flu epidemic hits in the winter months and you happen to be dark-skinned or live in the northern states. Something as simple--and inexpensive--as the benefits of Vitamin D may be the key to stopping such an epidemic dead in its tracks. It may be one of the easiest ways you can boost your immune system and stay protected.
In November, 2007, Scientific American published an article about the benefits of Vitamin D, indicating that Vitamin D response elements (VDREs) are involved in the formation of natural antibiotics within the body. This discovery sheds new light on why sunshine was used effectively in the past to cure tuberculosis, before other treatments were developed. The benefits of Vitamin D are many and varied.
Vitamin D and Aging
And what about the benefits of Vitamin D to slow aging? In a study of more than 2,000 female twin pairs, researchers found that those with the highest Vitamin D levels had less inflammation and body stress, factors involved in aging.
Vitamin D and Asthma
Resarchers at the National Jewish Health center in Denver found better lung function and better response to treatment among asthmatics who have high levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D and Backaches
More benefits of Vitamin D: Backache symptoms imporved in 95% of a group of 360 chronic back pain patients who took a high dose (See your doctor!) of Vitamin D daily for three months.
Vitamin D and Bones
Data on more than 93,000 postmenopausal women showed that women with the lowest Vitamin D blood concentrations were 71% more likely to have a hip fracture. A United Kingdom study showed that 95 percent of hip fracture patients were deficient in Vitamin D, and that having adequate levels could reduce hip fractures by up to 50 percent.
Benefits of Vitamin D for Preventing Cancer
Although a 2007 study says the only cancer Vitamin D helps to prevent is colon cancer, other studies done over the last seventy years have linked low levels of Vitamin D with 18 different kinds of cancer, as well as osteoporosis, lupus, hearing loss, high blood pressure, psoriasis, heart disease and diabetes.
Vitamin D and Colon Cancer
Newsmax Health, 1/22/10: A study of 500,000 Europeans from 10 Western European countries indicates that high levels of Vitamin D correlate with a lower risk of colon cancer--up to 40 percent lower risk for those with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D. Further work is needed, said the researchers, to firm up the connection and to assess Vitamin D from sunlight and food versus Vitamin D from supplements.
Newsmax Health 5/10/10: High amounts of Vitamin D may reduce colon cancer rates by 67%, according to a study by cancer prevention specialists at Moores Cancer Center at the University of California.
Vitamin D and Breast Cancer
A study published in 2008 followed more than 2,700 women. Risk of breast cancer went down as Vitamin D levels went up, to a blood level of 75 nmol/L. Says Robert Jay Rowen, M.D., "...those with the highest Vitamin D levels had up to a 70% decreased risk of breast cancer. That's similar to the level needed for preventing high blood pressure."
More on breast cancer and the benefits of Vitamin D from Jonathan Wright, M.D: A German study published in 2008 indicates that women who are deficient in Vitamin D are at increased risk of breast cancer. Another study, this time from Canada, suggests that women who have breast cancer are 94 percent more likely to have their cancer spread and 73 percent more likely to die if they are deficient in Vitamin D than women who are not deficient. Dr. Wright recommends spending "some time outside in the sunshine with your arms and face exposed (and sunscreen-free)," until your skin just starts to turn pink.
Newsmax Health 5/10/10: Research shows that women with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D lowered their risk of breast cancer by 50 percent versus women with the lowest levels of Vitamin D.
Benefits of Vitamin D for Cardiovascular and Other Heart Problems
People with low blood levels of Vitamin D are more likely to have cardiovascular problems. A study involving more than 15,000 Americans found that those with low blood levels of Vitamin D had a 30% higher risk of high blood pressure, 47% more likely to have high triglycerides, 98% higher risk of diabetes, and 129% more likely to be obese.
A ten-year study of 18,225 men age 40 to 75, who did not have cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study, showed the following results: Men with the lowest levels of Vitamin D were twice as likely to have a heart attack as men with the highest levels.
A British study showed that high levels of Vitamin D reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 33 percent in middle-aged and elderly people. Utah scientists saw risk reduction of 33 percent for heart attack, 20 percent for heart failure, and 30 percent reduction in risk from dying of any cause with good blood levels of Vitamin D.
The benefits of Vitamin D include helping the heart in general. A study published in April, 2008, in the journal Circulation looked at patients with high blood pressure. Those who were deficient in Vitamin D were twice as likely to have angina, a heart attack, heart failure or a stroke as those with normal Vitamin D levels.
Diabetes: Vitamin D and Type 1 Diabetes
New benefits of Vitamin D are related to childhood diabetes. Researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego found that rates of Type 1 diabetes in children are related to geographical locations, specifically the amount of sunshine found at those locations. Says Cedric F. Garland, Dr. P.H., professor of Family and Preventive Medicine in the UCSD School of Medicine: "This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that higher serum levels of viatmin D are associated with reduced incidence rates of type 1 diabetes worldwide. "...childhood type 1 diabetes may be preventable with a modest intake of Vitamin D3 (1000 IU/day) for children, ideally with 5 to 10 minutes of sunlight around noontime..."
The study found that those living near the equator, with lots of sunshine, had significantly lower rates of type 1 diabetes than those living at northern latitudes. See the study in the scientific journal Diabetologia, June 5. See more details in the entire article from newsmax.com by clicking the link in the footnote below.
Researchers at Warwick Medical School that adults with the highest blood levels of Vitamin D had a 55 percent reduction in risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Vitamin D and Disability
Also, there may be benefits of Vitamin D in connection with disability: A study of 976 people showed that those with low blood levels of Vitamin D scored five to ten percent lower on tests measuring grip strength, balance and walking speed than those who had higher levels.
Vitamin D and Fertility
Important benefits of Vitamin D include fertility. Vitamin D may help the up to 25% of couples who are infertile, according to Robert Jay Rowen, M.D., who received a letter from a Registered Nurse detailing the effects of Vitamin D on three couples at the hospital where she works. One couple was infertile for ten years, another for three years, and a third had no cycles for three years. Within six weeks of Vitamin D treatment, all three couples returned to full fertility.
Vitamin D and Migraine Headaches
Vitamin D may help to prevent migraines, according to information in the March 2011 issue of Natural Solutions magazine. Researchers found that people who get migraines are more likely to show a deficiency of Vitamin D than those who do not get migraine headaches. The longer they had suffered with migraines, the more likely they were to have a Vitamin D deficiency. In migraines caused by hormone imbalances, Vitamin D also helps, because it helps the body absorb calcium. Studies show these two supplements together ease migraines caused by hormones.
Vitamin D and Pelvic Floor Disorders
Dr. John Cannell, M.D., of the Vitamin D Council, reports that pelvic floor disorders in women are associated with low Vitamin D levels, according to researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse New York, who studied 1,961 women.
A paper on the study by Dr. Samuel Badalian and Paula Rosenbaum, was published in the April 2010 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Low Vitamin D levels predicted pelvic floor disorders, even in younger women, the study showed, and urinary incontinence was twice as likely in women who were deficient in Vitamin D as compared with women with higher Vitamin D levels.
Benefits of Vitamin D for Periodontal Disease
A Tufts University study of more than 11,000 subjects found a significant association between low levels of Vitamin D and an higher risk of tooth loss from periodontal disease. A separate, British study of 170 people found an association between Vitamin D deficiency and inflammation, such as periodontal inflammation.
Vitamin D and Peripheral Artery Disease
April, 2008: Vitamin D may protect against peripheral artery disease, also known as "PAD," a condition in which fatty deposits in the arteries affect circulation to the legs, resulting in numbness and pain, and sometimes leading to amputation.
In a study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, 4839 adults were monitored for Vitamin D blood levels in relation to PAD. Those who had the lowest levels of Vitamin D were most likely to have peripheral artery disease.
These results are preliminary, and more studies are needed to confirm the results, said the researchers. Read the entire article.
Childhood Rickets and Adult Rickets
Among the benefits of Vitamin D is that it strengthens bones. Vitamin D is well known for bone health, as it facilitates the absorption of calcium. Perhaps the best known Vitamin D deficiency disease is childhood rickets, which is characterized by soft, weak bones.
Do adults get rickets? Maybe. World-renowned Vitamin D expert Michael Holick, M.D., PhD, of Boston University Medical center thinks 40 to 60 percent of fibromyalgia diagnoses are actually osteomalcia, which is adult rickets. Like fibromyalgia, those with osteomalacia have "diffuse pain with tenderness at specific points." Unlike fibromyalgia, however, osteomalacia has a known cure--Vitamin D supplements.
My brother was diagnosed by an M.D. with fibromyalgia, and he was in severe pain for years. He started taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 along with EZorb, a calcium supplement that claims to help fibromyalgia. His pain is gone. Note that a 2003 study at the Mayo clinic looked at patients with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and similar chronic pain and found that 93 percent were deficient in Vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about this.
Benefits of Vitamin D may include helping to control pain in general: The Mayo Clinic found that patients deficient in Vitamin D required almost twice as much medication as patients who were not deficient.
You might be interested in this book:
Vitamin D Supplements and Vitamin D3
Want the benefits of Vitamin D? You can find out your Vitamin D levels from your doctor, with a blood test. To find our your recommended Vitamin D intake, consult your doctor or other health professional. Julian Whitaker, M.D., recommends a Vitamin D dosage of 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily, especially in fall and winter. Note that D3 (not D2) is the best form of Vitamin D supplement to take. Dr. Whitaker says that some people require much more to bring their blood levels up to normal, to get the benefits of Vitamin D. Old age, obesity and darker skin are factors that increase the need for Vitamin D supplements.
Dr. David Williams believes that all darker skinned people should take Vitamin D supplements, such as cod liver oil or other D3, to get the benefits of Vitamin D, since few would spend the up to 50 times greater time in the sun than fair people to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D. He also says that the campaign to get people to avoid the sun or wear heavy sunscreen is contributing to disease, such as type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that the lower your Vitamin D level, the higher your blood glucose.
Dr. Williams says that to get the benefits of Vitamin D, 800 IU of Vitamin D is the "bare minimum" for a Vitamin D supplement, and even then, you should consume fatty fish regularly and get out in the sun to get adequate Vitamin D. The upper limit has been considered to be 10,000 IU per day because that's about what an adult lifeguard's body will produce in the middle of summer, he says. "A daily dose of 4,000 to 5,000 IU wouldn't be out of line based on the current research," says Dr. Williams, especially in the winter. One of my doctors, Merle Janes, M.D., takes 5000 IU a day, and he showed me the bottle of Vitamin D3 that had 5000 IU in a single capsule.
Robert Jay Rowen, M.D., says that almost everyone needs to take a daily dose of 5000 IU [of Vitamin D] per day. He recommends that you have your blood levels of Vitamin D checked annually, even if you spend a lot of time in the sun. If your levels [of Vitamin D as indicated by a blood test] are substantially below normal [according to your doctor], then take 10,000 IU daily until your levels move into the sufficient range, he says. But HEY YOU THERE, READING THIS...CHECK WITH YOUR OWN DOCTOR! He/she may know of conditions you have that would alter the recommendation of a doctor who has never even met you!
To get the benefits of vitamin D, your blood levels of vitamin D should be between 40 ng/mL and 60 ng/mL says Mark Stengler, NMD. A study in Anticancer Research revealed that 4000 to 8000 IU daily is needed to maintain such a blood level of vitamin D in order to reduce risk of disease, including cancer and diabetes. No adverse effects were noted in the study, even after five years of these doses. Stengler says most of his patients require 5000 to 10,000 IU daily, with him monitoring their blood levels closely. Get a blood test for vitamin D levels from your doctor and have him suggest a dose and monitor you.
Regarding cod liver oil Vitamin D supplements, I've had recommended to me by experts the Carlson brand of Norwegian fish oils, but fish oil upsets my stomach, so I take Vitamin D 1000 IU gels. The source is cod liver oil, but they don't upset my stomach. No, I'm not going to tell you how much I take. Ask your doctor.
Vitamin D Toxicity?
For those concerned about too much Vitamin D or a Vitamin D overdose, Dr. Whitaker notes that the Washington, DC-based Council for Responsible Nutrition says that "regular doses of 2,000 IU [of Vitamin D] have no known risk." In addition, an article in USA Weekend, October 5-7, 2007 has this quote: "Vitamin D supplements are safe up to a daily dose of 10,000 IU, experts say." (Nevertheless, always check with your doctor or health professional about what's safe and right for you.)
Foods with Vitamin D###
Apparently our bodies were designed to get most of our benefits of Vitamin D from sunlight, because there are not a lot of natural sources of Vitamin D. Foods high in Vitamin D include oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and herring. Other Vitamin D food sources are egg yolks and liver. There are also a variety of fortified foods containing Vitamin D.
Sources for this article:
Bottom Line Natural Healing with Dr. Mark Stengler, June 2011
The Bob Livingston Letter, July 2010, reporting on information from John Cannell, M.D. about a study at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York .
Newsmax Health, May 10, 2010 Vitamin D Protects Health 12 Ways www.newsmaxhealth.com/headline_health/vitamin_D_protects_health/2010/05/11/315173.html
Newsmax Health, January 22, 2010 Can Vitamin D Cut Colon Cancer? www.newsmaxhealth.com/health_stories/vitamin_D_colon_cancer/2010/01/22/309906.html
Newsmax.com, November 9, 2007 Vitamin D May Affect Aging
Alternatives newsletter, April 2007, and February 2008, by Dr. David Williams
USA Weekend, October 5-7, 2007.
Denise K. Houston, PhD, RD, instructor department of internal medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, as seen in Bottom Line Health, September 2007.
Health Sciences Institute newsletter, December 2007
A D-Lightful Way to Stay Healthy This Winter, Special supplement to Health & Healing newsletter by Julian Whitaker, M.D.
Health & Healing newsletter, by Julian Whitaker, M.D., October 2007.
Health & Healing newsletter, by Julian Whitaker, M.D., July 2008.
Women's Health Letter, February 2008, by Nan Fuchs, PhD
Vitamin D: Good for More Than Bones, Newsmax.com, May 25, 2008 Read the entire article here.
Second Opinion Health Alert by Robert Jay Rowen, M.D., June 6, 2008
Nutrition and Healing Health e-Tips, by Jonathan Wright, M.D. June 6, 2008
Study Links Vitamin D, Type 1 Diabetes, Newsmax.com, June 5, 2008. Read the article here.
Fight Winter Aches and Pains with Vitamin D, Newsmax.com, November 5, 2008. Read the article here.
Arch Intern Med 08;168:1174-1180
Alternatives newsletter, October 2008, by Dr. David Williams
Bottom Line Natural Healing with Dr. Mark Stengler January 2009
Annals of Internal Medicine, August 19,2008, as described in Bottom Line Natural Healing with Dr. Mark Stengler January 2009
Prevention magazine, December 2008
Prevention magazine, February 2009
Second Opinion Newsletter by Robert Jay Rowen, M.D., October 2009
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