Vitamin D: crucial to our health

Over the past several years, the medical community has been buzzing about vitamin D and it’s importance to our health and well-being. Dr. Joseph Mercola and others have led the way, urging EVERYONE to get their levels tested and supplement when needed (in addition, of course, to consuming healthy sources of Calcium and D rich foods).

Now, finally, the mainstream media is catching up with the idea that vitamin D is much more important than was assumed until recently and that insufficient levels can have disastrous effects on our bodies.

Here are a stories with details and studies:

    Which Vitamin Will Improve Your Life Expectancy the Most?

(from Mercola.com)

Vitamin D supplements may lower your risk of dying from any cause, according to a new European study.

Researchers from the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France, reviewed 18 trials of more than 57,000 people.

The trials involved doses of vitamin D ranging from 300 international units (IUs) to 2,000 IUs. The average dose was 528 IUs.

After a period of six years, the data showed that people who took vitamin D supplements had a 7 percent lower risk of death compared to people who did not take the supplements.

Further, according to the nine trials that collected blood samples, people who took vitamin D supplements had a 1.4- to 5.2-fold higher level of vitamin D in their blood than those who did not.

Because vitamin D can reduce the proliferation of cells, which occurs in cancer, the researchers believe their finding could lead to new drugs to fight cancer and other illnesses.

Vitamin D also helps your body to uptake calcium for bone health.

The researchers recommend taking between 400 IUs and 600 IUs of vitamin D daily. Your skin can also produce its own vitamin D by getting moderate sun exposure each day.

Archives of Internal Medicine September 10, 2007;167:1730-1737
Forbes.com September 10, 2007

    More Evidence Vitamin D Prevents Cancer

Two new meta-analysis studies (which combine data from multiple reports) have found even more evidence that vitamin D is an important cancer-fighting tool. The first study examined nearly 1,800 records and found that:

People with the highest blood levels of vitamin D had the lowest risk of breast cancer
The opposite was also true: those with the lowest vitamin D levels had the highest rates of breast cancer
The second study, which looked at nearly 1,500 people, found similar results. Raising vitamin D levels (serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D) to 34 ng/ml reduced rates of colorectal cancer by half, while raising levels to 46ng/ml cut the risk by two-thirds.

Optimizing your sun exposure and levels of vitamin D may, indeed, be one of the most important physical steps you can take in support of your long-term health, but it is important to understand that the ideal and STRONGLY preferred method of increasing your vitamin D level is through moderate and appropriate sun exposure.

Science Daily February 8, 2007



    From today’s New York Times:

    Doubling of Vitamin D for Children Is Urged

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHICAGO (AP) — The country’s leading group of pediatricians is recommending that children receive double the usually suggested amount of vitamin D because of evidence that it might help prevent serious diseases.

To meet the new recommendation of 400 units daily, millions of children will need to take vitamin D supplements each day, the American Academy of Pediatrics said. That includes breast-fed infants — even those who get some formula — and many teenagers who drink little or no milk.

Baby formula contains vitamin D, so infants fed only formula generally do not need supplements. However, the academy recommends breast-feeding for at least the first year of life, and breast milk is sometimes deficient.

Most commercially available milk is fortified with vitamin D, but most children do not drink enough of it — four cups daily would be needed — to meet the new requirement, said Dr. Frank Greer, who helped write the report.

The new advice is based on mounting research about potential benefits from vitamin D besides keeping bones strong, including suggestions that it might reduce the risk for cancer, diabetes and heart disease. But the evidence is not conclusive, and there is no consensus on how much of the vitamin would be needed for disease prevention.

The advice replaces a 2003 academy recommendation for 200 units daily. That is the amount the government recommends for people up to age 50; 400 units is recommended for adults ages 51 to 70, and 600 units for those 71 and older. Vitamin D is sold in capsules and tablets, as well as in drops for young children.

The Institute of Medicine, a government advisory group that sets dietary standards, is discussing with federal agencies whether the recommendations should be changed based on the new research, said a spokeswoman, Christine Stencel.

The recommendations were to be released Monday at an academy conference in Boston. They will be published in the November issue of the academy’s journal, Pediatrics.

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